The future of gaming is experiential: Mark Skaggs, creator of Alia Bhatt 'Star Life'
After creating games like Farmville, Cityville and Lord of The Rings: Battle for Middle Earth Mark Skaggs created an entirely new game launching on both IOS and Play Store which can make anyone live the star life of Alia Bhatt virtually. The name of India’s first narrative mobile game is called Alia Bhatt: Star Life. Mark speaks about his journey and sheds light on experiential gaming in an interview with Everything Experiential.
Moonfrog Labs recently launched a narrative game which makes anyone live a virtual fantasy star life of the Bollywood Star Alia Bhatt. Along with Alia Bhatt were the developers of the game Mark Skaggs and Tanay Tayal; Rohan Joshi from AIB hosted the launch event.
“The players will always feel my presence in the game as my voice would be guiding them and talking to them about how to get through the game. More than that they could also understand my wardrobe, dressing sense, hairstyles, accessories and more about my daily routine. They would also be notified about my upcoming movies and promotions and that is one of the most effective way to indulge with my fans through the game.” Says Alia
In an exclusive chat Mark Skaggs, Director, Moonfrog Labs talks about the game and its experiential gaming aspect.
What does experiential mean to you?
Experiential from the gaming point of view is about a player fulfilling a fantasy and experiencing a game by being a part of it. Alia Bhatt: Star Life is a simulation game so that means the player is a part of the game and gets to play a fantasy of being a certain person, modify their looks, choose what to wear and be able to engage with different activities/quests and do things a movie actor would do. Games have generally been about winning or losing but here's the opportunity to live a life that you have never seen before. That is the zone that defines experiential with respect to the gaming world.
What is the experiential quotient of the game Alia Bhatt: Star Life?
With Alia Bhatt: Star Life the goal is to give players the experience and have fulfil their fantasies of what it’s like to be in Bollywood as a newcomer and work your way up as a movie star. Now when we say engage them with that experience we (Moonfrog Labs) want to give them a light and fun experience. For example when we made FarmVile, we didn’t take the hardcore reality of farming sim, we made something fun like Lisa and that’s the same as the Bollywood world in the Alia Bhatt: Star Life.
How are you going to monetize it?
The end goal of the game is to monetize it through well-crafted mechanics that we built in the game. At this point of time we feel it’s too early since we are focusing more on growing the game, getting our users and testing some features for the game and analyzing the data to figure out what works and what is good for the game and over time we seek to tune the game to the purpose of monetizing it.
How did Moonfrog Labs associate with Alia Bhatt for the game?
When we started thinking about what genre games we need to build for India, it was a no brainer for one of the games we wanted to make was to focus on Bollywood. We wanted to do a live simulation game and Alia was but a natural choice given that she has won so many hearts in India because of her acting talent and being the youth icon she is today. In our first meeting she was extremely gracious, full of ideas and totally got the genre and the game. She also made a smooth transition to the mobile screen where she put in a lot of inputs in the game hence it was a totally natural choice.
What other games have you created before Alia Bhatt: Star Life
I have been playing games for over 24 years I just did an accounts which shows that I have launched 20 games over a period of time which includes puzzle games, arcade shooter games, strategy games, life simulation games and games like FarmVille, CityVille. Some of them were really big hits where FarmVile had more than 350 million Hits. Some of them have been very casual and some of them have been pretty hardcore like ‘Comand and Conquer’. ‘Teen Patti Gold’ is one of the games we developed in the past. It has been downloaded more than 20 million times and it’s one of the top crusing games in India consistently, both on Google Play Store and App Store IOS.
Are there any other experiential games in the pipeline for Moonfrog Labs?
We wouldn't talk about unannounced product yet but obviously we have big plans for this genre and style but right now we’re focusing on Alia Bhatt: Star Life. We have a full slate which will be having a lot of releases and with each game that we build, we also build an engine around it. Like Alia’s game we are adding the star life engine which we could potentially leverage and build more content around that in the future.
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