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Road to the Student IGF: Mahdi Bahrami on Engare

"Engare," Persian for "incomplete pattern," is an upcoming experiment from Mahdi Bahrami, the creator of Bo and Farsh . At only 21, this is his third nod by the Independent Games Festival.
At the age of 21, Iranian developer Mahdi Bahrami's future in games seems bright. Engare marks his second game in the Student IGF, his third game, Bo earned an honorable mention, and his creations will demoed at GDC's 12th Experimental Gameplay Workshop. Details on Bahrami's Student IGF finalist Engare are scant online, but he says the game involves trying to draw line shapes inside different scenes. Players click on a particular part of an object in the game, and it traces a path as it moves. The goal is to match the path trace with the one requested by the game. As part of the Road to the IGF series, we speak to Bahrami about the game's Persian art influences, his two-year partnership with musician Moslem Rasouli, and his choice of platform for the mysterious prototype. How did you come up with the concept? When I was in high school, one day our geometry teacher asked us a question about the curve traced by a point on the rim of a circular wheel as the wheel rolls along a straight line. All of us were fascinated by that question. I decided to make a game about it. What development tools did you use? Unity and Photoshop, a great percentage of the visuals are generated by the game mechanic itself. How long did you work on your game, and why did you choose your target platforms? About one year, however, I made the first prototype about four years ago but was not working on it for a long time. I chose Windows and Mac because it's necessary to have a mouse as the input device. I'm not sure if this game mechanic could work on tablets or consoles since a mouse is a lot more accurate than touching a tablet screen or using a console game controller. How many people were on your team, and what lessons did you learn in working as a team? Two people, joined by Moslem Rasouli, who made the music for the game. It's been more than two years that we have been working together on different projects, and now we are very familiar with each other's view, style, and mentality. Your game contains Persian music and art, right? Yes, it does. There are some geometric shapes and patterns drawn during the game which have some similarities with shapes we have in Persian art and architecture specially in Isfahan, a beautiful city in the middle of Iran, full of mosques and Islamic art. The fact that artists in the ancient Islamic world were not allowed to draw living creatures forced them to use abstract shapes. This made their works mathematically more interesting. For me, it was a source of inspiration. What indie games have you played in the past 12 months that impressed you and why? Papers, Please is something very special for me. Since I need to apply for a US visa to go to GDC, I kind of see myself inside the game every time I play it. Gorogoa is so beautiful. I've played the demo version too many times. Corrypt made me feel something very different and special. What games influenced you in deciding to go to school to make games? Playing Syberia made me eager to start making games, but the main reason for going to school was to experience something new in my life. How do you feel your school prepares students for independent game development? Currently, I'm studying programming at NHTV, which focuses more on AAA work. There is another track called Indie Game Development where students learn programming, design, and art at the same time. I think it depends on the students how and where to use the stuff they learn at school.

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