Konnichiwa! My name is Jennifer Schneidereit and I am one of the co-founders of a small independent developer in the UK called Nyamyam. In collaboration with my friends and fellow Nyamyamers Phil Tossell and Ryo Agarie, I am co-creating a game called Tengami.
Gamezebo have kindly given us the opportunity to write a monthly development diary where, among other things, we will talk about Tengami‘s journey from the first paper prototypes to a fully playable game. We will also talk about our inspirations and philosophies as game creators.
For this first diary entry I would just like to introduce you to Tengami and the people making it. In subsequent entries Phil and I will alternate the writing duties to give you a more varied insight into how we do things at Nyamyam.
What is Tengami?
Tengami is an atmospheric adventure game that takes place inside a beautifully crafted Japanese pop-up book. You control a lone wanderer and explore the pop-up book world at your own pace, encountering obstacles and puzzles that can be solved by manipulating elements of the pop-up book. A simple example early on in the game is the river section in the screenshots below. You come across a seemingly impassable river, but if you look a little closer into the water, you’ll notice a very faint glow. If you interact with the glow then you can unfold a bridge to cross the river.
The atmosphere in Tengami is very important. It is a calming and reflective game, with an almost Zen-like feeling. There is also an aspect of mystery as you go deeper into the narrative of the game and discover what the story of Tengami is all about. The story is told in an entirely implicit way and we hope that players will piece together Tengami‘s true meaning and message through the things they do, see and feel while playing the game, rather than giving an explicit narrative through text or dialogue.
Tengami‘s art style is inspired by traditional Japanese arts & crafts. It is intentionally minimalistic, yet striking and beautiful. All of the textures we use in the game are based on scanned images of real Japanese paper, which lends an authentic feel to the world.
Many people mistakenly think that the game is aimed at children. This is because of the pop-up book aspect of the game. But the game is primarily made for a more mature audience and is intended to recreate the sense of wonder that we felt when first encountering a pop-up book as children.
Tengami is still in development, but we hope to release it first on iOS this summer and a little later in the year on PC & Mac. Tengami has been previously honoured with a nomination for IndieCade 2012, as well as being selected for the Sense of Wonder Night at Tokyo Game Show and IndieCade East 2013 in New York last February.
Who are Nyamyam?
In late 2010 Phil and I founded Nyamyam to fulfill a long held dream that making games can be creative, collaborative, but even more so that making games can be fun and meaningful. With love and attention we strive to create beautifully crafted games. We want our games to express something of who we are as individuals, but most importantly we want to bring a little magic into other people’s lives. We are completely self-funded and self-published.
At Nyamyam we have no traditional roles such as programmer, artist or designer. Everyone who works full-time on Tengami is simply called a Game Creator. We choose this path to emphasize that making a game is at its core collaborative and reflects all of its creators equally.
Shortly after founding Nyamyam Phil and I began working on the initial ideas for Tengami, with Ryo joining us soon after. All three of us previously worked together at Rare.
Before founding Nyamyam Phil worked at Rare for over 13 years. He started as a tools programmer on Diddy Kong Racing and went on to be the Lead Programmer on Star Fox Adventures and Kameo. Later on he became Director of Gameplay and worked on Kinect Sports.
Born and raised in Germany, I went to Tokyo for my first job in games as a programmer for a Japanese developer called Acquire. During my time at Acquire I worked on Shinbodo: Tales of the Ninja and Way of the Samurai 3. In 2009 I joined Rare to be a designer on Kinect Sports.
Born in Japan, Ryo came to the UK as a university student and following graduation went on to take a job as an artist at Rare. During his time at Rare he worked on Perfect Dark Zero as well as providing art direction for the XBOX Live avatars.
In addition to the three of us that work full-time there are also three people who help us part-time. These are renowned game musician David Wise, Christiaan Moleman who works on animation and Riko Agarie who helps with visual effects.
What is next?
This is it for the introduction. Next month we will look a little closer at how we went about realizing the simple sounding idea of setting a game entirely inside a pop-up book.
Got questions or suggestions?
Please feel free to ask questions in the comment sections, as well as offer suggestions for future installments of our diary. We will either reply to questions directly in the comments or in our next diary.
You can also get in touch with us on Twitter or Facebook!