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Interview with Niel Dagondon

We talk a lot about pinoys playing games. But we don’t talk enough about pinoys who actually make games. Recollecting, I remembered a company a few years back that launched an international game called Anito which has quite a following in Eastern Europe. So I rummaged around (I love you Google!) and finally found the company, Anino Games. Finding out that the company is pure 100% balut eating, barong wearing, patintero playing Pinoy, I was elated! So I wrote them and finally scheduled this interview.

So mga kapatid I present to you my interview with a B.S. Computer Science graduate of DLSU who just happens to be the founder, President and CEO (hanep na, bigtime pa) of the oldest and biggest game development studio in the Philippines, (parang beauty pageant) Mr. Niel Dagondon.

Quote:

Hi Niel!First of all, let me congratulate you on the nomination in IMGA (International Mobile Games Award). The greeting might be quite late by now but it must be quite an honor. Thank you for your time and of course this opportunity. So with that, here we go!

SirDavid: We’ve heard a lot about Anino Games. Please tell us what your company is all about.

Niel: From an Independent Studio of 7 developers back in 2001, we’ve grown to a team of 50 developers handling multiple projects at the same time. Currently, we are doing 2 casual game projects for the PC and a mobile title for worlwide release. We’ve also done Art Production work for consoles and we are currently developing technologies for Nintendo DS. Oh, and we’re always looking for talented Game Programmers, Artists, Designers and Testers to join our team.

SirDavid: How long have you guys been in business?

Niel: Since November of 2001 when we started development of Anito. That makes us 6 years old.

SirDavid: What are your most prominent games? Please tell us about them.

Niel: The most prominent game we have is the first (and only game) that we released in the Philippines, which is Anito, back in 2003. Our other games were not released locally due to commercial reasons.

SirDavid: How’s the worldwide reception of Anito? Will you guys be making a series of it?

Niel: The game sold well in the Philippines and some European countries such as Russia. However, we do not foresee making any locally themed games in the future, as the Philippine game market is not yet large enough to support the development of these types of games (for retail games, piracy is still king here). Unfortunately, in most other countries, the demand for games with cultures that are not yet that familiar to them is not as large as we would want.

SirDavid:I understand you also make cellphone games, are these games available locally?

Niel: A few games such as Black Ops and the mobile version of Anito are available through Globe. The majority of our games, however, are distributed in other countries.

SirDavid: Recently we have seen a rise in console gaming, do you plan to make games for current and next generation consoles?

Niel: We’ve done some cinematic work for 2 console games released recently, Activision’s Hot Wheels: Beat That, and Cabella’s Big Game Hunter. In the future, we hope to do full end to end development for console games. In the next year however, expect a few Nintendo DS titles to come from Anino.

SirDavid: What are you guys currently working on?

Niel: Unfortunately, these are confidential. We are working with Cultural Center of the Philippines, to bring a casual game to local schools.

SirDavid: Do you have plans for a new game or series?

Niel: Most of the games we’re working on are currently not our own IP, but 3rd party development for other companies. Expect a new Anino branded game this 2008.

David: Time for something personal. Are you a gamer? If yes, ano kinaka-adeekan mo?

Niel: Definitely. Everyone in our company (aside from our CFO) is a gamer. I’m still an old school gamer who is currently playing turn-based Galactic Civilizations 2 in my laptop, and Puzzle Quest in my Nintendo DS. I also play a competitive game of DOTA, and Call of Duty 4 in our office every now and then. As soon as I have the time though (which i rarely have now-a-days), I’d like to take home an Xbox 360 and play Assasin’s Creed and Mass Effect.

SirDavid: Wow! You have excellent taste in games! I particularly commend you for choosing Call of Duty 4. yokyokyok. What can you say regarding the pinoy gaming community? Do we have the potential to be the next Korea in terms of gaming?

Niel: Korea is big in gaming because the local market supports the gaming industry. They also have a high PC and internet penetration rate. Lastly, their government really puts in a lot of support for the industry in terms of grants, loans and education. Yes we do have the potential to be a Korea someday as we have a love for gaming, however we are still some years off, before we get there.

SirDavid: Would you like to say anything to the pinoy gaming community aka the ADEEKS?

Niel: Buy only original games 🙂

SirDavid: Thanks Niel! God bless to you and your company and more power! We here at pinoygaming.net hope you’ll be the makers of the next Crysis. A game so good, no PC can play it at Max. Yokyokyok

Oh and before I forget, I play Call of Duty 4 too! I hope to LAN or online play with you sometime. As we say in First Person Multiplayer, it’s always nice to meet and frag a new friend.

There we have it mga kapatid. Doesn’t it make you proud that we Pinoys don’t only play games, WE MAKE THEM TOO! Check out their Nintendo DS games coming out next year if you have the handheld. I bet you won’t be disappointed. Let’s keep tabs on Niel and Anino Games, I trust they have a bright future ahead of them.

About Sir David

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