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Entertainment, Food & Beverage

First S'pore-created PlayStation 3 game to hit stores

A local start-up has produced a game exclusively for Japanese electronics giant Sony's PlayStation 3 (PS3) console.
The Straits Times - November 2, 2012
By: Lisabel Ting
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First S'pore-created PlayStation 3 game to hit stores The team behind the first Singapore-developed PlayStation 3 game are (standing, from left) Red Hare Studios game designer and art director Ho Qing Xiang, 28; programmer Justin Cheng, 34; programmer Simon Goh, 29; game artist Athena Wu, 29; programmer Desm

IN A first for the gaming industry in Singapore, a local start-up has produced a game exclusively for Japanese electronics giant Sony's PlayStation 3 (PS3) console.

The game, Page Chronica, was developed by Red Hare Studios at Nanyang Polytechnic with the support of Sony Computer Entertainment Asia (SCEA) and the Media Development Authority's (MDA) Games Solution Centre.

Describing it as a cross between Scrabble and Super Mario Bros, Red Hare Studios game designer and art director Ho Qing Xiang said the action game has players form words out of scrambled letters to progress through levels.

The game can be played singly or with a friend, and is targeted mainly at children aged 10 to 14, as well as parents who may play it with their school-going children.

The launch of a console game is a milestone for the local industry because, unlike computer games, developing console games requires access to development kits from the console manufacturers, which are difficult to obtain and costly.

To pave the way for that to happen, Nanyang Polytechnic's School of Interactive and Digital Media approached Sony in 2009 to set up a Games Resource Centre, which would house four local companies that had access to the exclusive PS3 development kits.

The nine-man development team from Red Hare Studios, whose ages range from 23 to 33, was one of the four. They began development of Page Chronica later that year.

The three other studios are also in the process of developing games for the PS3, as well as its handheld counterpart, the PlayStation Portable.

Red Hare Studios took its game to six Sony roadshows overseas, in places such as Los Angeles, Hong Kong and Tokyo.

This allowed the game developers to test Page Chronica in a real-world environment, and to garner public reactions.

While navigating the world of Page Chronica can be done via the flick of a joystick, the real-life journey to commercial release was not as user-friendly.

"The deadlines for the roadshows were especially stressful, as there was a lot of bug-fixing and visual tweaking to make sure the game was looking good and wouldn't crash," said Mr Ho.

Financial roadblocks were also not resolved as easily as the in-game puzzles.

"I had to ensure that our budget would last long enough to complete development of the game," said Dr Koh Wee Lit, a producer at Red Hare Studios.

He declined to say how much it cost, but said funding from the MDA covered 30 per cent to 40 per cent of the total.

And now the taste of victory is near.

After more than 320 hours of play-testing and a lot of hard work, Page Chronica will be released in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Taiwan and Hong Kong on Nov 21, and in America and Europe later this month. There are also plans to release it in Japan early next year.

"Page Chronica is a very unique game, which is a testament to the hard work and innovation of Dr Koh and the staff at Red Hare Studios," said Mr Eitaro Nagano, director of SCEA's planning and development section.

The game will also be available from the online Sony PlayStation Network on Nov 21 and will cost US$10.99 (S$13).

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