A rimac Digital is making news again. This time with ‘Nero’, a multi-platform, third-person shooter game that is purely Sri Lankan. Get ready to dive through a 3D journey amidst cinematic swamps and thick forests, set in Sri Lanka, through the eyes of ‘Nero’ as he moves towards his targets. The launch of the game [...]


Marking a milestone in game development with ‘Nero’


Thilina Premasiri

A rimac Digital is making news again. This time with ‘Nero’, a multi-platform, third-person shooter game that is purely Sri Lankan. Get ready to dive through a 3D journey amidst cinematic swamps and thick forests, set in Sri Lanka, through the eyes of ‘Nero’ as he moves towards his targets.

The launch of the game takes place this August, and marks a milestone in the history of game development in Sri Lanka. In fact, Opposition Leader  Mahinda Rajapaksa also took to Twitter to congratulate Arimac for their work.

The game itself is part of a connected storyline split into three segments, we are told. The initial part will be related through a comic book which could be experienced through augmented reality, aimed to be released this month. The second part is the PC game, and the third part is a mobile game that will be launched in August.

Arimac Digital is a digital product development company that has its headquarters in Sri Lanka and several sub offices in Australia, UAE and Trinidad & Tobago. It was co-founded by present CEO Chamira Jayasinghe back in 2011.

Things kicked off for them with simple web and mobile applications. But with the growth and progress of the industry, Arimac subsequently upgraded and started focusing on games, augmented reality, virtual reality and artificial intelligence, etc.

Chamira Jayasinghe

The company is also renowned for its hit game ‘Kanchayudha’ launched in 2016. Since then, they’ve also managed to bring down some of the key players from Ubisoft Germany to Sri Lanka, who are currently working with them.  “Now we are going through the journey of making Triple-A (AAA) games where we can conquer the world with our local talent,” Chamira tells us.

Project ‘Nero’ began in early 2018, with around 30 individuals in the studio working on it. The game is inspired by the famed Sri Lankan sniper Ranjith Madalana, who is currently named as one of the ten greatest snipers in the world.

The team however does emphasize that ‘Nero’ was not created to promote the war. It’s simply a tribute to the late war hero via a fictional storyline that is centered on one character, ‘Nero’ and his personal and emotional journey.

Thilina Premasiri, the Director and Head of Gaming who is also the “brains behind Nero” is quick to credit his team, calling it a collaborative effort.  As he recalls, the team was looking to do a tribute and honouring the Sri Lankan army seemed fitting.

“Just like the World War II heroes, we have these iconic heroes in our Sri Lankan Army,” Thilina says.

He walks us through the mechanics at this point. Nero was created using Arimac’s Interactive Development Framework (AIDF), which is technology founded by the company itself. Through this, the game will feature high-quality graphic environments that mimic various landscapes in Sri Lanka.

Upcoming Nero Merchandise. Pix courtesy Arimac Digital

In terms of the character, while ‘Nero’ is entirely fictional, his weaponry is modelled on real counterparts. These include pistols, submachine guns and long range sniper rifles.

Close attention was also paid to the sniper mode in the game, which is based on realistic behaviors and environmental factors like wind, etc. The player has to consider these things as well when taking a shot. “So it’s a realistic simulation but also fun.”

Overall, Nero includes a set storyline with ten levels. It has been designed in such a manner that the player’s decision sets the pace of the story.

The non-playable characters in the game were also created to display realistic behaviour patterns. In essence, these are not cardboard enemies; they will be reacting specifically to player input. All of them will have their own routines, but if they notice something suspicious they will deviate from it and work as teams, “because that’s the kind of realistic behaviour we want to simulate,” Thilina adds.

Interestingly, we find the game will initially be released in Sinhala. This is because the team found that a Sri Lankan playing a Sinhalese game would find it more personalized, and will accept it. “We need to let our people play a game in our own native language. That’s paramount.” We are told the future global release will include an English version.

Although Sri Lanka is still at the infant stage in the gaming industry, Arimac has invested a lot on Nero.  After the success the company had with ‘Kanchayudha’, they aim to further “disrupt and revolutionize” the game development industry in Sri Lanka through ‘Nero’.

They also hope ‘this will set the tone for the community to enter the international gaming arena. Globally, gaming is a 100 billion dollar market, but as Chamira puts it, no company in Sri Lanka has tested the market yet. “We’ve been paying dollars to the global market, but here people can see our own local hero going global.”

Artificial intelligence & human ergonomics
After the release of ‘Nero’ Arimac Digital will slow down their processes for the next year to understand how the game performed in the global market.By 2021, the company hopes to focus more on artificial intelligence and human ergonomics. Its aim is to invent a new way of playing games. With this hope, they are also conducting extensive research on brain computer interface. This is essentially how a human can interact with computers though the electrical activity of the brain, i.e. executing actions on the PC by thinking.
Nero comic book & merchandise
The hard copy of the comic will be available in local bookstores and the digital copy could be purchased on the company’s website. The PC game will be available on DVD, USB and later on Steam.
Arimac Digital will also be donating over 10% of the project revenue to the Sri Lankan Army and also the family of Ranjith Madalana.The website will also feature a full range of Nero-based merchandise from T-shirts and backpacks, to water bottles and USB drives. For more information, stay tuned to their social media pages.

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