Raji: An Ancient Epic

In the afternoon of November 11th, 2017, Nodding Heads Games founder and I had an informal and easy-going conversation about the game. I figured out about Avichal Singh only after finishing the initial demo that left a fascinating impression behind. “Great, did you back us already?”, he asked. “Not yet. I’m poor. Btw 1 crore?”, I counter questioned. “Oh..even 1 pound helps us! Yep, 1 crore, which is actually a harsh cut on the real budget”, Avichal replied. “Oh. Isn’t it too much for an indie game?”, my curiosity increased.

“No, it’s actually very less. Video game development is a high-cost business after all. Sustaining the team for a year with peanuts for salaries or having 2nd hand infrastructure is something we don’t want, [e]specially after this one year of struggle.”

With “did you back us already?”, Avichal was referring to Raji: An Ancient Epic’s Kickstarter campaign they launched on November 7th, 2017. The end-goal was £120,000 (₹1,03,16,400 as on November 10th, 2017). In its 35-day duration, the campaign managed to secure £66,018 (₹56,75,567 as on November 10th, 2017) from 2,121 interested backers. However, the campaign was cancelled on December 12th as it failed to meet the expected end-goal.

Raji: An Ancient Epic - Kickstarter

“Despite the fact that Kickstarter campaign was cancelled, you should know that we continue to develop Raji no matter what,” wrote Nodding Heads Games to Spiel Times in an email conversation on January 28th, 2019.

Raji: An Ancient Epic is the tale of Raji, a young girl from the diverse state of Rajasthan who’s out on a journey to find her detained brother Golu. Her ultimate confrontation will be with the demon lord Mahabalasura, who wants to cause immutable chaos in the human realm.

Heartwarmingly voted by the users, Raji: An Ancient Epic was voted third in IndieDB’s Indie of the Year 2017 – Players Choice Best Upcoming Indie 2017 category. At one point in December 2017, Avichal expressed that the team was unsure if they’ll relaunch their campaign. “It’s only gonna get better from here.” he messaged me in December.

IndieDB Best Upcoming Indies 2017

Since then, Nodding Heads Games showcased their jewel at EGX Rezzed 2018, one of London’s biggest video games event. “We were very well received at Rezzed”, Avichal told me during another chat session. “We’re still looking for publishers and investors is what’s latest.” The game also made it to last year’s Xbox’s E3 Press Conference as a part of  Xbox Game Pass, the console’s game rental service. Although Avichal told me they’ll be revealing Raji’s release date in the coming months, there weren’t any future updates regarding the same.

Raji: An Ancient Epic

During the same time period, Nodding Heads Games received Epic Games’ Unreal Dev Grants. As elaborated on Unreal Engine’s official blog, the grant provided 37 teams and creators with a total of $1 million in “no-strings-attached funding for games, tools, broadcast and beyond”.

Apart from the Dev Grants fund, Nodding Heads Games have found its way with other investors, the details of which weren’t shared with us. “We have found investments by ourselves so the project is still going on. We will share more details in near future.” they wrote.

Nodding Heads Games have since increased their team. However, by what degree wasn’t disclosed. “Our team increased but we are still looking for well-experienced VFX artist on UE4”, they wrote in an email. If you’re interested in the position, click here to visit their official Jobs page.

From what I remember, the demo was a pleasant experience. The character models and environmental objects were intriguingly crafted that added context to the ancient Indian setting. However, since it was a very early version of the game, I wondered if Nodding Heads were reworking those.

“Yes, we have. Many monsters were created and exact demo you’ve seen on Steam was seriously reworked. We share many details about [the] ongoing process in our social networks step by step”, the team clarified.

Since the demo was for PC, I inquired about Raji’s console versions, to which, the team wrote, “We have required materials for porting the game on to PS, XBOX and checking the way for Nintendo Switch.”

Will Golu be a playable character? “At present, we can’t reveal our intentions”, Nodding Heads nodded.

Raji: An Ancient Epic

Despite everything, the mailperson confirmed that Nodding Heads is planning to release a new demo version of the game this year. “Regarding demo in 2019 – yes, we are planning to release [a] new demo version of the game”, the email said. “Most likely, the demo version will be available closer to the end of this year, but who knows, maybe it will be released earlier.”

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