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Posted On: 12 January 2023 09:00 am
Updated On: 12 January 2023 05:20 pm

Meet Khalifa Al-Kuwari- founder of Tawar Games & developer of 'Jumbo!'

Cassandra Pallagud
Cassandra Pallagud
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Undoubtedly, the gaming community in Qatar has incredible talents, from content creators to pro gamers, cosplayers, and game developers! A few game-developing companies based in Qatar have started to come out with amazing games over the past few years.

The ILoveQatar.net (ILQ) team caught up with the founder of Qatari game studio Tawar Games, Khalifa Al-Kuwari, who is the sole developer of the action-platformer adventure "Jumbo!". We learnt about his journey, the game he has developed, and a future project he is working on.

ILQ: Please tell us about yourself.

KA: My name is Khalifa Bin Tawar Al-Kuwari. I'm currently a Junior student at Northwestern University. I like to play games during my free time; I'm a big fan of Fallout & upcoming Starfield series.

I got into game development during high school when I started learning programming fundamentals in an online course. A few months later, I created the "Jumbo!" prototype, which I showcased in Geekdom back in 2019 to gather feedback.

The game's global launch followed in 2020 on the App Store & Play Store and will soon come to PCs through Steam.

ILQ: Can you tell us about your game 'Jumbo!'?

Jumbo
Image credit: Tawar Games

KA: "Jumbo!" is an action-platformer adventure game- you can embark on a story in an open side-scroller world, meet and trade with characters, adopt pets, and more! My goal is to have something for everyone.

"Jumbo!" is available now on iOS and Android for free; players can expect a major expansion update arriving this year on mobile, which will ultimately conclude the story and add a bunch of improvements to the game. That's not all; "Jumbo!" makes its way to Steam this fall and is available on Wishlist now!

ILQ: What was the inspiration behind the game?

Jumbo
Image credit: Tawar Games

KA: I didn't want to create just any game. I wanted to build a unique and interactive story-driven world. At a distance, obvious inspirations stem from classic pixel games like Super Mario.

As I continued building and designing the game towards launch, "Jumbo!" started to build its unique identity. This ultimately made it stand out against other similar games, making it a recognizable and memorable experience.

ILQ: Can you tell us about the process of developing a game?

Tawar Games behind the scenes
Image credit: Khalifa Al-Kuwari

KA: At the start, I had no idea how to design a game. As you can imagine, there were a lot of obstacles. I had to learn not just game design but full-on programming and art. I took online courses and started tinkering with prototyping certain mechanics before eventually jumping into "Jumbo!".

To sum it up, the initial pre-production took around three to four months, involving aspects such as design, mechanics, and prototyping. Full-on production took me around seven months, and finally, post-production involved testing and making changes for two months.

The entire development cycle for the base game took up to one year, and that was just the beginning. "Jumbo!" has evolved with new stories and characters, all-new features and improvements, and the addition of pets!

ILQ: What challenges did you encounter during the development of the game?

KA: Game development and design aren't easy, especially for a solo developer. One of the fundamental challenges I had with "Jumbo!" started with designing a game and figuring out what works and doesn't.

You'd have to explore where the "fun" is and how the player would feel about certain aspects of the game. As the game has evolved since its launch, my game design and development skills have evolved.

Overall experience and learning from your mistakes are essential to create the best experience possible.

ILQ: What is your personal favourite thing about 'Jumbo!'?

Jumbo
Image credit: Tawar Games

KA: My favourite thing about "Jumbo!" is, well, Jumbo himself! I love the overall mystery and versatility behind the character and how he interacts with the world around him. He's been really fun to work on!

In the next story expansion arriving soon, Realms, players will finally be delving deeper into Jumbo's origins and where he came from in a way not done before, which is exciting.

ILQ: Are you planning on developing other games soon?

KA: I haven't talked about this before, but… yes! I can confirm that another game is in the works; currently early in pre-production.

While I can't reveal much just yet, it will greatly emphasize cinematic visuals and storytelling, which I'm very excited about. It will be more of a collaborative project than "Jumbo!", which was mostly a solo project.

Can't wait to share more!

ILQ: What do you think about the gaming community in Qatar?

KA: The gaming community in Qatar is great, especially with the rise of e-sports in the region. There are wonderful "Geek" culture events like Geekdom, where people with common interests can come together and celebrate their passions.

Unfortunately, game development isn't very strong in the region. Still, I hope to continue pushing towards and representing the game development industry in Qatar and the ability to tell stories with interactive experiences.

ILQ: Are there any gaming-related events you wish to see more in Qatar?

KA: I'd love to see dedicated local game development conventions and workshops!

ILQ: Is there anything else you would like to tell us?

KA: For updates about "Jumbo!" and future games, I'd advise everyone to follow @TawarGames on Instagram and Twitter. I'm proud to continue representing the region and inspiring future innovative storytellers.

Thank you so much for the interview; it's been a pleasure.

Check out Tawar Games here:

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Have you played 'Jumbo!'? What do you think of the game? Let us know in the comments! Do share this article - it keeps us going!