Direxplay – Developing Games with a Cambodian Twist

Started by brother and sister team Rothana and Visal in 2013, Direxplay has continued to live out its passion in developing interactive games.

One of their most successful releases has been Sok and Sao’s adventure, where players embark on a quest to save the world from dengue fever by getting rid of the Aedes mosquito.

The game has been downloaded over 100,000 times all around the world.

When starting on the Direxplay project, the idea was to develop games that could bring Cambodian realities and culture into the gaming world. In Sok and Sao’s adventure, elements of Khmer culture are used to create the world that users play in. For example, the game situates players at famous Cambodian landmarks such as the Angkor Wat, or pits players against enemies inspired by Khmer mythology.

The opening screen of Sok and Sao's Adventure
The opening screen of Sok and Sao’s Adventure

To find out more about Direxplay, what it has in store for 2017 and its  achievements thus far, we sat down with Piseth Chhourm (PC), their current director.

The following interview has been edited for clarity, flow and language

What are some milestones that Direxplay has achieved in 2016?

PC: In the last year, I think one of our major milestones came in the last quarter where we released a game that only had multiplayer mode and no campaign mode – Wrath of Fighters. This was our way to test the Cambodian market’s reaction to a game with only multiplayer capabilities.

We saw a lot of potential in that there were many players intrigued by the very fact they were always playing with other real players instead of just the computer. We received a lot of good feedback for the game in terms of the rating on the app store as well and that is something encouraging moving forward.

One hiccup we did have was the server that we ran the game on, had a limited amount of credit we could store inside. This posed some difficulties because the game had such a positive response that in a month, the server would run out of credit within 20 days and then we would receive really bad reviews in the last 10 days. Haha! But it was a good learning experience for us which we are definitely working on for our next release.

Wrath of Fighters, a multiplayer game released by Direxplay
Wrath of Fighters, a multiplayer game released by Direxplay

Could you give us some insight into Direxplay’s releases for 2017?

PC: 2017 is going to be a really exciting year for us because we’re partnering with the Cambodian movie Jailbreak to produce the first ever official mobile game for a Cambodian movie! We’ve put a lot of work into the project and we’re silently excited for it to be released to the market.

The game will feature both multiplayer and campaign modes and, learning from our experience with Wrath of Fighters, we’ll be running the game on an entirely new server from a different data centre that has 2 or 3 times the capacity the previous server had.

Previously, all our releases have only been available on Android devices but for Jailbreak, it’ll be the first time that we will be releasing the game on iOS as well.

Direxplay is releasing the first official game for Cambodian movie Jailbreak
Direxplay is releasing the first official game for Cambodian movie Jailbreak

In the long run, we hope to release this game on Mac and Windows and we’re working on a system that allows users to seamlessly move from device to device and play across devices, as  long as they use the same account and it’s logged into the cloud.

Already, the trailer for the game has received 36,000 views so we’re really excited for it’s release on 31st January!

That’s really interesting! So what is the process that goes behind developing each game?

PC: Well, there are four of us in the development team. For me, I oversee the production timeline. Our animation guy, Rothana Chhourm, oversees everything from character animation to level design, including the sounds that players hear, so as to create an immersive experience for the users. Then we have a programmer, Visal Chhourm, who takes care of all the coding requirements on both the client and server ends.

Then, there’s another member of the team, Malis Roeun, who looks into world and environment building, and the game props to build a visual experience.

All our games are developed on the Unity 3D engine, along with the set of software we call the king of design – Adobe Suite.

How do you see the app/virtual game scene growing in Cambodia?

PC: I think how the scene grows is really dependent on the internet. The faster the internet, the more willing people will be to play the games because there are less connectivity issues. For us, the reason that we came into the game market was because we thought that many games on the market were using the same template source code to create a clone of the game with certain variations and we thought we could do something different by including an aspect of Khmer culture or the regional culture.

So that’s how I think the gaming scene can grow in the Kingdom, if more companies make use of what I see as our competitive advantage – knowing our culture and understanding the people we are selling it to more than the big corporations that are looking to expand into the Asian market.

What would be your advice for those looking to enter the entrepreneurial scene?

PC: I think it’ll be really important for them to focus not just on the programming, nor the design, but to focus on the services that could be brought about to solve the users’ problem. In other words, look into the problem that needs to be solved and develop an idea around that.

Don’t delve too much into the technical side and get excited over the actual development until your idea is really solid!

Great advice from Piseth indeed and we cannot wait to see how Jailbreak breaks into the market as the first ever official game for a Cambodian movie.

Keep checking out Geeks in Cambodia for the latest Direxplay developments and to find out all things Geeky in the kingdom!