Interview

How Portal, Little Nightmares and Limbo inspired Nakul Verma

The Playbae founder won The Big Indie Pitch with In My Shadow

How Portal, Little Nightmares and Limbo inspired Nakul Verma

The Big Indie Pitch is a regular event run by the makers of PocketGamer.biz.

It sees indie developers engage in a speed-dating-style pitching competition for fame and those sweet, sweet promotional packages.

The event gives indies four minutes to pitch their games to a panel of press, publishers and industry pundits. The judges then pick three winners and everybody gets valuable feedback.

The indie view

The Big Indie Pitch is getting bigger and bigger as we bring it to events all across the world.

To give you an idea of what the event is like, who attends the events and the games on show, we've sat down with a number of past BIP contestants to offer their views.

The Big Indie Pitch goes digital.

This week, we spoke to Playbae founder and developer Nakul Verma who recently pitched In My Shadow as a part of The Digital Big Indie Pitch #7 (Mobile Edition) and walked away with the winner.

PocketGamer.biz: Tell us a little about yourself and your indie studio - who is on the team, and what are their inspirations?

Nakul Verma: I am a solo indie developer from India and I have been making games for the past 8 years. I've always enjoyed playing games and have always absolutely loved making them. With that, I've wanted to be able to make games that show new paths of game design and are able to make an impact on the player.

So when I had a prototype of my shadow game win the Best Upcoming Game Award at the India GDC, I started my own company called Playbae Games. Now I focus on making one memorable game at a time The team is just me but do I hope to work with more enthusiastic people in the future.

Through the narrative, I’ve tried to portray a subtle emotion that I am sure anybody can relate to...
Nakul Verma

Can you tell us about In My Shadow that you pitched at the competition?

In My Shadow is an imaginative experience where you play with shadows in boundless ways to solve brain-twisting platforming puzzles. It is a casual single-player puzzle game in which you use the shadows to create platforms all while you unfold the memories of a girl who is struggling to confront herself in the past.

In My Shadow is available on Steam and will be soon coming to mobile and Nintendo Switch.

What do you think are the most unique and interesting aspects of In My Shadow that gamers may never have seen before? 

Without a doubt, it is the ability to play with shadows in your own unique way. The game is a combination of playing with shadows and platforming on them, which naturally leads to multiple unique solutions that provide a fresh, relaxing and challenging experience to the player.

In My Shadow is a game that blends platforming with puzzles, all whilst offering a deeply immersive story. What made you choose to create this type of game, especially blending the story into the gameplay, and what do you think you bring that may not have been seen before?

I’ve always been inspired by games like Limbo, Little Nightmares, SuperHot, Portal etcetera. that have strong gameplay accompanied by an immersive and emotional narrative to bind everything together.

The narrative of In My Shadow is not its main highlight - the gameplay is. But through the narrative, I’ve tried to portray a subtle emotion that I am sure anybody can relate to, and that leads to a much more memorable experience.

How did you come to choose the platforms that you would develop In My Shadow for?

The game was initially designed for mobile. The shadow play is very intuitive and natural for the touchscreen experience. It then became obvious that this would be perfect for Nintendo Switch. 

Looking at the studio a little more now, how hard is it to survive as an indie developer?

It's very hard indeed. There are a lot of aspects of being an indie developer than just making a game and these aspects play a crucial role in your success or failure.

Get active on social media as soon as possible...
Shuntaro Furukawa

It's a constantly involving industry and we need to keep learning and adapting to new trends to make sure we keep up with the changing market. This is my first commercial project so I don’t think I can talk much about survival - perhaps next year?

Are there any tips and advice you would give to an independent developer out there who are just starting out?

There are definitely a lot of them but some of the major ones that I learnt in my journey include:

  • Always keep the market/player demand in mind in most of your design decisions. Don’t make the game just for yourself.
  • Get active on social media as soon as possible to validate what you think will be liked by the audience
  • Get your game playtested very often, preferably with every major developer update and make sure to assess your progress accordingly.
  • Do a lot of planning in advance, don’t just go by the feels. Plan scopes wisely and always multiply your initial estimates by 1.5 to two times because there will always be a delay.
  • Attend events like Big Indie Pitch to connect with people, get their feedback, seek guidance from more experienced people and just learn from everything.

Image credit: Playbae.

How did you find your experience pitching as a part of the Big Indie Pitch?

This was my second time and it was wonderful. I learned a lot the first time, went away to implement from the feedback and luckily, won the second time. It's a very comforting and smooth setup prepared for us indies and meeting each other is very fun indeed. I am really happy I took part in this and will be doing so with my future games too.

What do you feel you have gained from the experience, and what do you still hope to gain?

I learned about how to present my game in a way that I could get the best parts of it in under five minutes. I'd love to connect with more people at physical events in future.

What are your hopes for this game in the future, and do you have any plans for any future projects?

As I said, mobile has been our primary target and we really have high hopes for the platform, as well as Switch. I have a lot of cool ideas for future projects (who doesn’t), though I haven’t decided which one I will be working on next. I will 100 per cent be using all of my learnings from this experience in making whatever that project is come to life.


Want to show off your exciting new game? We host Big Indie Pitch events throughout the year, so be sure to keep an eye out on our events page for an event near you, or even our new Digital pitches.

All our upcoming pitches including how to enter can be found over on our upcoming events page on BigIndiePitch.com.

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Developer Evangelist & Big Indie Pitch Manager / Special Features Writer

Queen of all things Indie. Sophia is Steel Media’s Big Indie Pitch Manager and Developer Evangelist. She’s also a global speaker and lifelong gamer with a fanatical love of all things Nintendo and Japan. So much so that she’s written a thesis on one and lived in the other.

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