A Malaysian indie game developer behind The Company Man

At a time when many of us are WFH and lack office culture (or not, no judgment here), a game with a suitable theme has recently launched.

It’s The Company Man from indie game developer Forust Studio, and while its launch seems timely, it’s actually a game with three years of work behind it.

At first, the 2D action-adventure seems like a humorous take on the less tasty realities of being an office worker in a 9-5.

Not your standard IRL desktop experience

Speaking to founder Andrew Teo, he described the game as a game “where you can hit your crazy coworkers with a keyboard and shoot your bad bosses with emails.”

You play as Jim, who has a lifelong quest to become CEO. On his journey, he must navigate the air-conditioned icy lands of the accounting department and the (literal) mountains of paperwork in human resources, to name a few scenes.

But as wacky and crazy as these adventures can be, they still draw inspiration from the typical office departments found in most businesses. One of the most relevant (and realistic, if you will) aspects of the game? Drink coffee to heal.

A big inspiration behind the game is also the US version of sitcom The Office, Andrew said. “Our art director and lead game designer watched the entire show a total of 8 times collectively.”

“We thought the stereotypes of coworkers on the show were just fiction, but we were shocked to walk into the world of work and find out they were real! “

Some characters that you may meet in The Company Man include someone who constantly says they can help you earn passive income through an MLM program, and maybe a coworker or two whoopee (who the team has personally from experience).

And speaking of colleagues …

Progress is better than perfection

When I watched the trailer for the game, what immediately caught my eye was the amount of detail each scene had. To add, the animation looked smooth.

These made me curious about the experience of the Forust Studio team, especially since The Company Man was their sole focus since the studio launched in 2018.

They have an art director who worked for Blizzard (who made Overwatch among other games), and an experienced sound director and a team from Soundtrec (who played music for Final Fantasy XV and the Malaysian games No Straight Roads and Postknight, to name a few).

The rest of the team worked at local video game studios, but this was their first commercial video game project. “We had to learn almost everything from scratch,” Andrew recalls. “We have a saying that sums up our process and our values. It is that “experimentation is progress”.

So, instead of trying for perfection, they focused all of their efforts on constantly running small-scale tests through every element of the project.

For example, their game design was developed through player feedback and testing done online through the G.Round platform, and informal presentations to friends and family.

Forust Studio also participated in a mentoring program with MDEC and received 3 separate grants and awards in the Commercial Ready Game, Prototype Game and Digital Content categories.

“Each grant required us to go through a series of pitches and testing of the game at its various stages in front of industry seniors, namely Wan Hazmir, DC Gan and P’ng Yi Wei,” Andrew explained, adding that the connections and feedback they got from the experience were incredibly helpful in the production of The Company Man.

Defend the local gaming industry

Since then, they have enjoyed good international coverage of the game, including gaining fan bases in Manila, Spain and the Middle East.

Now that The Company Man is out on Steam, Andrew has said that they are working to bring the game to Nintendo Switch to reach a new kind of gamer.

As for the future of the studio, he said, “We are not rushing to grow in number sense, but we want to continue to develop the talent of young Malaysians.”

“The local video game industry is small, and the number of studios creating their own intellectual property is even smaller. Thus, many talented locals end up working abroad.

Malaysia has talent, we just need to support them better / Image credit: Forust Studio

Thus, Forust Studio wants to play a role in providing employment opportunities for talented young Malaysians as such. “Our goal has always been and always will be to create a sustainable future for creatives. We measure ourselves against that benchmark, ”concluded Andrew.

On top of that, he wants Forust Studio to achieve greater international recognition with its video game and once again prove that Malaysia has the local talent to reach international standards.

  • You can read more about Forust Studio here and check out The Company Man here.
  • You can read more articles related to the game here.

Image Credit Featured: Andrew Teo, Founder of Forust Studio

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