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Kashkool Games: The Emirati video game developer behind ‘Sheba: A New Dawn’

The latest RPG Metroidvania game from the Arabian developer is coming next month. (Supplied)
The latest RPG Metroidvania game from the Arabian developer is coming next month. (Supplied)
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05 Mar 2024 02:03:06 GMT9
05 Mar 2024 02:03:06 GMT9

Amin Abbas

ABU DHABI: Emirati indie game development company Kashkool Games creates immersive, engaging games and takes inspiration from other video games, including Japanese ones.

Kashkool is Arabic for ‘scribble book.’ The company aims to produce fun games that deliver extreme enjoyment while playing them.

Speaking to Arab News Japan, CEO and Founder of Kashkool Games Omran Almansoori said the initial inspiration for their debut in the video game industry were titles such as Final Fantasy IX and Ragnarok Online.

“Our favorite games are Ragnarok Online, League of Legends, and Metal Gear series,” he said.

“We started to develop video games at a young age, and we started by hosting a Ragnarok online private server called ‘Ancient Tears.’ We were using ‘Hamachi’ on our PC to run the server. Then we moved to RPG maker, then Game Maker. After graduation from university, we decided to take it seriously and open a video game studio.”

He added: “Our concept in this industry is to deliver a unique RPG style games mashed with various of game genres with a huge emphasis on middle easter culture, mythology, and history. It’s time for this region to share its heritage with the world instead of just receiving others. We also aim to show how ‘fun’ can a game be in the perspective of the middle eastern gamer.”

“After fiddling around with RPG maker, we quickly moved to Game Maker where we made our first complete project. The first project was called ‘The Last Battle.’ It was a purely local 3 players PVP game where fight your opponents with various weapons. Those weapons spawn randomly on a destructible level. It was a 2D platformer smash them all style. The game was not officially released anyhow but we uploaded it in various of forums back then. Ironically, no one believed it was our game,” he said.

Almansoori said that the company was established in 2016 with the concept of making animations as “smooth as possible.”

“This means the more the animation enhances the gameplay, the better it is,” he said. “Animation is one of the best tools a developer can use to make the gameplay fluent. Some companies prefer to do hard and realistic animations, but we prefer the fast smoothly transitioning animation that enhances the gameplay instead of crippling it.”

Sheba: A New Dawn is Kashkool Games’ first official project since their establishment, Al Mansoori told Arab News Japan the story behind developing the game: “Sheba: A New Dawn is an RPG Metroidvania game that focuses on story telling. The story happens in an ancient civilization in the middle east called Sheba. At that time Jinn were present and the conflict between humans and jinn has just sparked. A jinn named ‘Mirah’ is running from the villain ‘Marid.’ Somehow Mirah uses Enar, the hero, as a vessel to run from Marid. The story continues as Enar tries to get rid of Mirah. The story mainly focuses on the character development between Enar and Mirah.”

About the challenges during the development of ‘Sheba: A New Dawn’, Al Mansoori said: “Developing a video game is a harsh long process that is usually done by a large number of people. In our case, we are only 3 people. Having very limited time because of our day jobs was a huge challenge. Lack of sleep was a normal habit in the beginning. We couldn’t quit our day jobs because it was the only way to fund the company.”

“We decided to do more than a single role each to cover up the missing gaps. Overloading ourselves with tasks from various game design and development fields was a natural habit. The workload was very difficult to manage,” he added.

Kashkool Games have participated at Tokyo Game Show 2022 to showcase ‘Sheba: A New Dawn’ at the event, the team got positive responses and feedback from the people who have tried their game. Al Mansoori said: “Our participation at the Tokyo Game Show 2022 was an exhilarating experience that exceeded our expectations. From management which ensures a smooth registration process and their execution that helped a lot in position our booth in the event to the amazing audience who were more that exceptional in enjoying our game at the event. We were thrilled to see the enthusiastic reception of our game. It was nice to see people enjoy our culture and want to experience it in our video game, truly exceptional feeling.”

“The positive feedback and genuine interest from the gaming community there have filled us with immense happiness and motivation. We’re deeply thankful for the opportunity to connect with fans and fellow gamers at such a prestigious event. It was also nice to have met UAE’s ambassador in Tokyo, fans and press from the region in the evet which gave us an exceptional motivational boost,” he added.

Kashkool Games has also participated at Gamescom 2023 in Germany as well various events in the UAE, one of the most highlights of ‘Sheba: A New Dawn’ is winning 14 NYX Gold Game Awards.

Regarding ‘Kashkool Games’ upcoming projects, Almansoori said:” We have the passion to continue the second part of “Sheba: A New Dawn”. But this will be hugely dependent on the players’ support. Nevertheless, we have many ideas and stories that we are so eager to show! But when the time comes.”

Sheba: A New Dawn will be released on April 9 on Steam.

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