We had a chance to speak with the young talented concept artist and level designer from Indonesia, Raihan (a.k.a Ray_Ark).
Ray, thank you for taking the time for this interview.
Tell us a little about yourself, growing up, where you’re from, your education, and how you got into the game industry.
So I’m Ray. I’ve been in the game industry since I was 12! I’m from Indonesia, and am currently finishing high school and preparing for the final exams and college admission (wish me luck!). I got into the game industry because of Elder Scrolls Arena and Daggerfall. Literally, thats the first game I played in my life, and my dream back then was to make something… something that can be memorable as Daggerfall. I used my imaginations a lot while playing games. My brain always generates alternative storyline of the game I played (feels weird at times) but thats what made me jump into game industry.
When did you decide you want to work on making games, and how did you start about doing that?
The first time I decided to jump into learning game making is at 5th January 2012. That’s when Idownloaded RPG maker. I started as a lone indie developer xD.
after finishing Daggerfall, I totally disliked the ending. So I started writing some alternate stories in notebooks.
So Ray, you are a concept artist, and a level designer. What are your tools of choice?
As a concept artist, I use the most basic but magnificient tools : Pen and Paper. I really can’t afford buying photoshop and such, as I need to save money for college. Sometime, I’d borrow my friend’s tablet and draw some paintings on it.
For level designing, I use all Game Engines that is available freely to be used, like Unity, UE4, and Cryengine.
Over the span of a short time, your skills have improved dramatically. How did you develop and improve on your skills?
“improved dramatically” LOL! I disagree. I think there’s a LOT for me to learn in the future. But yeah, from using simple 2D RPG maker to using something as sophisticated as UE4 and Cryengine, it took me a hell lot of time, blood, and tears (literally).
But when I learn something, I always remember the old saying “Man Jadda Wajadd” which mean in Arabic whoever strives shall succeed. And this keeps me on track, to keep improving my skills little by a little, but on constant rate, or being “ Istiqamah”, as they say in Arabic.
What game or games are you working on right now, and how did you land those jobs?
I am working on two games right now, The Immortal Rift Series (an MMORPG) and Endless War, which the basic mechanic prototype has been released on Indiedb.
And lately, I’ve been working as a freelancer on mid Indie devs projects that are under NDA.
As to how I landed these jobs… I don’t know. They just keep coming over me. Sometimes by just commenting on my Instagram, sometimes posting works on it.
I am also involved in another project with Tinman Studios, who are raising fund for their studio through the FedEx Small Business Grant Contest.
Where do you get your inspiration from when drawing a concept or desigining a level?
Inspirations comes to me at any time and any place. Sometimes those inspirations are unrelated to anything I have worked on. I could be watching a movie, playings games, or going somewhere in real life.
Sometimes even during the physics and chemistry experiments! (chuckles). But thats a long and silly story that I won’t be telling here.
When are the game(s) expected to be released?
The Immortal Rift might be in open beta somewhere in Q4 this year. I’ll give you alpha keys if you want ;).
Endless War : Demons Touch is more of a long term project, involving 30 members. The game might be released somewhere next year. It’s going to be great.
The only hint you’ll get at this point is from the very very early prototype on MODDB, and that the current environment state on internal prototype involves Japanese tombs, ruins, and forests,. This is far from the prototype that has been released to public :)
The other two projects that i worked on are NDA so I can’t speak about them.
Ray you’re still in high school. And yet you’re working remotely on promising games. That’s very exciting. But can you balance study with your game projects? Or is one affecting the other?
Well, I do multitasking. Even right now. I’m in front of my desktop doing some jobs, phone, and A LOT of books preparing for final examination. And I only do game development works on weekends and on holidays.
What are your plans for college? Are you aiming at some game design school?
Hopefully. I’m looking for game design school, but primarily I’m looking for scholarships abroad, and haven’t found anything till now. Most of them aren’t really scholarships. They are just providing “service” to help you to study abroad, with insanely high prices. Sort of like what a “travel agency” would do.
The genuine real scholarships, haven’t found yet. It’ll be a good thing if you helped me to find a scholarships on game design
Yes sure. I’ll try to go through some of the brochures I gathered before. Maybe something will help.
How is the game development community in Indonesia? Describe it to us. Are there regular meetups, and many game studios? Any good games we should know about?
Well, it’s fun and growing really fast. We have a couple of Game Dev Gathering around here, and on 12th April I’m invited to attend the Unity Roadshow. Sadly won’t be able to make it, as at that time I’ll be doing my final National examination.
With regards to how many game studios here, it’s increasing at a speed of 100%. Most of them are mobile devs though. But you can see DreadOut. That was made by an Indonesian team. And lately, there’s been a jump on Creative Industries economic percentage in Indonesia, which means that game devs here are rising. A the Government seems to be supporting the game development community.
Being from Indonesia means you’re far away from where the biggest action in the game industry happens. But do you think it has some advantages?
I think I disagree with that. Indonesia’s Game industry is rising, and we are surrounded and near great countries who make great games, like Singapore, they have Ubisoft there, Japan, has Square Enix there, Australia, China, and even some AAA studios have opened their branches in Indonesia, like Gameloft.
And, being Indonesian means that you can have a strong reason not to attend weekly meetings because of timezone problems (laughs).
What are your career plans in the game industry? Do you have a dream job or company you’d like to work on?
I really love Elder Scrolls, and I’m hoping one day I will get a chance to work with their team on Elder Scrolls VII. Or Join the Star Wars movie crew and create the digital CGI environments for their future projects! Level designing isn’t only for games, you know. Movies landscaper, writer, architects… they’re all basically a level designer in their own ways ;).
Is there a specific artist, level designer, or someone you lookup in the game industry?
Do you have a favorite art style to work with? I noticed you’re huge fan of DOOM.
Well I played DOOM a few months ago, and I loved it. But no. I’m a huge fans of Star Wars, Elder Scrolls, and LOTR.
I’m currently experimenting with Realistic Artstyle. but some of my projects show otherwise. As you can see, Endless War have stylized artsyle, kinda like Overwatch.
I can work with any artstyle. I don’t want to limit myself. For sketching, I prefer doing crosshatching as it is the fastest ways to throw ideas on paper.
What kind of games do you like to play? And have you played any game recently that you’d recommend readers to try? Something not mainstream perhaps?
You’re really the Elder’s Scroll fan aren’t you?
Well Ray, we’re reaching the end of the interview. Is there anything you’d like to add at the end?
Only god knows what’s good and what’s bad on the path you have chosen in life. so never fall if something unpleasant happens in your life, and don’t be too proud or feel glorious either of what have you achieved, for this achievement might eventually lead to your fall.
Keep trying. Never give up on trying. Edison Failed a thousand times before he realized success.
Check Ray's portfolio to learn more aout him and get in touch.