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Posted On: 26 January 2023 03:00 pm
Updated On: 26 January 2023 02:38 pm

Meet Mezan Studios, Qatar-based team developing Arabian-inspired game 'Nightscape'

Cassandra Pallagud
Cassandra Pallagud
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Mezan studios qatar based team indie game nightscape

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 (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!

ILQ: Who are the people behind Mezan Studios?

Mezan Studios Team
Image credit: Mezan Studios
  • Hamad AK - Founder and Creative Director
  • Tony Davis - Lead Producer
  • Mohammed Abdel Rahman Abdo Idris - Gameplay Programmer
  • Nabeel Shariff - Level Designer
  • Zaki Mohammed - Technical Artist
  • Sumam Azzam - Concept Artist
  • Guillaume Rouseré - Sound Design and Implementation
  • Simon Engler - Music and Composition

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.

ILQ: Can you tell us more about Mezan Studios?

Mezan Studios Team
Image credit: Mezan Studios

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.

ILQ: Can you tell us about Nightscape?

Nightscape by Mezan Studios
Image credit: Mezan Studios

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!

ILQ: What are the Arabian elements integrated into the game?

Nightscape - Arabian elements
Image credit: Mezan Studios

We're taking great care to infuse Arabian inspirations wherever we can, but here's a non-exhaustive list:

  • Constellations & folklore. The stars and night sky within Nightscape are aided by constellations which are re-formed after releasing stars back into the sky. These are based on key characters and groups of stars known in astronomical folklore - be it a playful goat kid 'al-lady,' a beautiful woman figure with an amputated arm 'Al Thuraya', and many more.
  • Environment & sceneries. Micro-biomes of the Arabian peninsula inspire different environments within Nightscape. For example, a lush peninsula from the beautiful subtropics of Salalah and Socotra in Oman, a rocky desert oasis from Al Ula in Saudi Arabia, and a braided sea inspired by our inland sea here in Qatar.
  • Architecture, clothing, characters. Players will see a lot of work put in here. We don't want to restrict ourselves with what's there, as this is a fictional setting. We're seeking to expand on that and take our creative direction. We can't wait to show you more of that as we progress, and we're excited.

ILQ: How long has Nightscape been in development, and when can players expect its official release?

Nightscape concept art
Nightscape's concept art. Image credit: Mezan Studios

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.

ILQ: Can you tell us more about the process of developing Nightscape?

Mezan Studios Team
Image credit: Mezan Studios

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.

ILQ: What were the challenges faced in developing Nightscape?

Mezan Studios
Image credit: Mezan Studios

Endless, endless challenges, but you never really know until you sign up for the journey! Here are our top 4:

  • Until the last year or so, we have not seen this industry taken seriously despite being a $200bn+ global market.
  • The variety of skill sets needed to make a game of this scale is pretty large; you need developers, artists, producers, narrative designers, a publisher, and market awareness. The list goes on and on!
  • Having a vision but no expertise was agonizing; you have to learn on the go and make many expensive mistakes on the way. But what's important is that you learn.
  • People will take you a lot less seriously if you're a studio from this region, and it's even more challenging when it's a pre-production concept at our stage.

ILQ: What advice would you give aspiring video game developers?

Nightscape early concept art
Nightscape early concept art. Image credit: Mezan Studios

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.

ILQ: Does Mezan Studios plan on having other projects?

Mezan Studios at Geekdom
Image credit: Mezan Studios

We discussed many other exciting ideas but are busy making sure Nightscape comes to life right now!

ILQ: Can you tell us about the gaming community in Qatar?

Mezan Studios at Geekdom 2023
Image credit: Mezan Studios

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.

Check out Mezan Studios here:

  • Instagram: @MezanStudios
  • Twitter: @MezanStudios
  • Website:
  • Stay updated on Nightscape:
    • Twitter: @playNightscape
    • Instagram: @playNightscape


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!