With the recent developments in the gaming industry in Qatar, more and more talents in the community have come together to create amazing things. It's no surprise that Qatar-based game development studios have started gaining recognition.
The ILoveQatar.net (ILQ) team got to know Mezan Studios, a small, diverse team behind the indie game 'Nightscape', which features Arabian elements and is being developed right here in Qatar!
We've been supported by a raft of wonderful advisors to get us to this point, and we are thankful to every single one of them.
We started officially in January of 2021, but spiritually the journey goes back a few years before the idea of Nightscape was conceived and progressed.
Developing a game of this scale required a home, a team, and not just a series of contractual arrangements to develop an idea - and thus, the studio was born. Nightscape was the reason for Mezan Studios to exist.
From there, we looked at what the game is about and what we stand for and work our way backwards to determine our mission - to create fun and meaningful games inspired by the Middle East. Our focus is on PC & console game development.
The primary drivers were the passion for making games despite most of the team's relative inexperience (Tony being the notable exception) and the fact that very sparse content is being created in the region.
We want to appeal to vast and highly growing yet under-represented markets. We estimate about 14 million console owners in the MENA region alone barely consume any content developed from within the region and therein lies a huge market opportunity to be tapped.
Nightscape is a single-player 2.5D atmospheric adventure game set in a fictional ancient Arabia. In simple form, you are thrust into Nightscape's world, playing as Layla, an avid stargazer who finds herself in the middle of a cosmic drama.
All the stars fall to Earth, and the night sky goes completely dark, causing chaos. Her quest is to return key stars to the sky, restoring order.
It's a game inspired by the lore of ancient Arabian astronomy, and its essence was thought out from the lens of looking at what provided a shared context in the region. What's more beautiful, poetic, and fitting than the night sky itself... hence, Nightscape!
We're taking great care to infuse Arabian inspirations wherever we can, but here's a non-exhaustive list:
About 2.5 years now, but we've been through one major iteration and had to shelve that concept, beginning anew. We can't place a new release date just yet as we seek international publisher support to help us bring Nightscape to the masses.
We started by figuring out the fun player actions and how they can work with our night sky and constellations theme. In the first version, our character Layla was completely 2D, letting us focus on what she did instead of how she looked. This helped us to figure out the camera position, how fast she moves, and how she gets past obstacles.
Then we started thinking about the stellar cast, Layla's constellation friends in the sky, and how they might be able to help her quest. We call this the "sky-to-ground connection." How does wind from Al-Jawza change the gameplay? What about rain from Al-Thuraya? How does Lion's power help? We keep iterating on these features, play-testing with friends and family to establish the game's identity and how it plays.
The next stage for us is a big one - going into production and building out the whole experience from the beginning to the end.
Endless, endless challenges, but you never really know until you sign up for the journey! Here are our top 4:
There's so much knowledge on the internet, do not let it go to waste. Develop a skill, and when you've established a base, don't be afraid to try further.
We discussed many other exciting ideas but are busy making sure Nightscape comes to life right now!
I think the word gaming community is outdated, like 'web surfers' back in the late 90s. Nowadays, most mobile owners play games on their phones in one form or another. Many people play games, not just people with consoles and PCs!
That being said, there is an inherent interest to satisfy an angle of representation in the Qatar community and elsewhere in the region, which we hope we can fulfil here. The feedback at Geekdom 2023 has been fantastic and helped us chart our trajectory as we start thinking about production.
What do you think of Nightscape? Are you interested in playing it? Let us know in the comments! Do share this article - it keeps us going!
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