Co-founders of local company XII Braves, Chris Ng (left) and Jonathan Leong, want the world to know that Singapore can develop games for the global arena.
By Peter Yeo
Don’t ask Jonathan Leong if Valiant Force was an overnight success. The co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of XII Braves (pronounced “12 Braves”) will detail the amount of research and planning that went into its successful regional launch.
The rising star of the Singapore mobile gaming industry is a turn-based strategy mobile game that imbues flavours of classic Japanese role-playing games (RPG) with a special aura combat system that lets your characters benefit from each other’s auras.
“Playing Valiant Force is like playing chess. But your knight now has an aura that gives your rook the ability to kill two targets. It comes from the reaction to another character on the board and the dependency on the grid-based battlefield.”
To build a game of this depth requires thought – lots of it. The passionate Jonathan lists in rapid-fire fashion what it takes to succeed, “We want to create a super high-end product. We want to be unique. We want to be competitive. We want it to be engaging.”
Valiant Force main character Leon. Photo credit: XII Braves
According to Jonathan, before creating the game, the pioneering team spent a lot of time on pre-production. “I have over 20 goals. I always tell indies and start-ups who ask me what is our secret, to list down your goals. Your pre-production goals should not change even when you’re in production. That’s why you set the goals. That’s the vision of the game. And if you change it mid-way, you’re not being true to your vision and it makes it inconsistent,” he added.
What is equally important is the support from the gaming community. Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Chris Ng said, “A lot of players like us because we listen to them. We live in an era where it’s really important to engage with the user. It’s not enough to give gamers our game, we need to empathise with their needs and wants. Of course, we wouldn’t execute all suggestions but we do sieve out the good ones and discuss internally if we can add this feature to the game.
“We did pretty well in developing the community. When Valiant Force was launched, the organic download – without any external marketing – was awesome. We were placed in the 10 top-grossing games on Apple and Google by the second day of our launch. And that’s a rare thing for a Singapore-made game.”
One can tell how proud the duo is of their creation but more palpable is the patriotism welling up within. Chris says part of the reason behind XII Braves is that they want to let the world know that Singapore game developers are capable of creating popular games.
“It’s very, very depressing in the gaming industry overseas. Gamers always doubt us when we tell them Valiant Force is a Singapore-made game. They think we’re Japanese. Even Singaporean gamers think we’re a Japanese company when we exhibited at local game convention GameStart. Here’s a funny story: Two kids came to our booth and said, “I saw this game in Japan and I played it. Now they’re bringing it here and localising it.”
“We had not even launched it then,” laughed Jonathan. “So, yeah, I don’t know if I should take it as a compliment or not,” Chris added. “Even our distribution partner Fun Plus told us we have to make it work, to prove to other publishers and other investors that we can do something in Singapore. That’s our fire too – to prove that Singapore game makers can make it in the global arena.”
Jonathan, too, is fuelled by the same vision. “When other people (start-ups) get funding, they’d celebrate; second round of funding, they celebrate. For us, we acknowledge our successes with little fanfare and get back to work.
“We’d only celebrate when our game has gone global. Right now, it’s only a regional success,” added Jonathan.
Valiant Force is now available free on Google Play Store and Apple App Store.