Edited by : Farida Serag
Three students who are passionate about gaming dreamed big and worked hard for it;the Insider GUC was honoured to meet one of them: El-Hassan Makled, a 13-MET graduate who is currently working as a TA in our university.
In 2010, Null Digital Illusion and Entertainment Studio (Null DIES), was created by three GUC graduates; Makled and Hassan Aly, MET graduates, and Amr Kandil, an Applied Arts and Sciences graduate and quickly began to rise in the Egyptian gaming community with its talented team.
“We hunt people,” said Makled, explaining how they recruit the minds behind Null DIES. The three co-founders don’t recruit members with formal interviews and professional CVs; they would see students around them who are passionate about video games and the creation of something new in the Egyptian society and would simply go right ahead and ask them to join their team. To them, passion is what matters the most. Anyone is welcome to join the team as long as they love what they want to do, even if they aren’t that skilled at programming or designing.
There are 15 members of the Null family, and all of them are GUC graduates or undergraduates except for one. All majors are welcome, too, but the most common majors among the 15 members are MET, Applied Arts and Sciences, and Business. Your part of the creation doesn’t even have to be related to your major, as the one who creates music for the games is an MET student and a GUC Music Ensemble musician.The meeting hub of the team is an apartment in a building in Sheraton next to other apartments owned by other companies. It is the place where the magic happens: they gather, think, create, and develop their games in this place.
According to Makled, before the startup of Null DIES, the co-founders were part of a larger bunch of students/ gamers who just really wanted to make a difference. Time, however, narrowed it down to just the three of them. “We found out that three founders were the perfect number,” he said. “One is the head of game programming and coding; one designs the motion controls character movements, which in turn are based on the concept art that the third co-founder, who is responsible for making the game come to life, draws. We all work on the concept and the story-line of the game together. Null is based on3 core values: imagination, interactivity and immersiveness.”
Their biggest hit thus far is the first-person shooter game Drop It, created by Null in April 2015. The game was welcomed by a positive feedback from the audience, with a rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars on the Play Store. In the game, the main character is riding a hoverboard and holding an unconventional weapon, the Dubstep gun. The player shoots the villain, and the goal is to shoot the villain as fast as you can while the Dubstep music starts to build up. Judging by the game reviews, people found the bass-drop in the game’s soundtrack to be very satisfying.
Last summer, after making a pleasing success with Drop It, the Null team decided to take their journey to the next level by remastering the same game, along with many other games, in the virtual reality world, thus creating VRcade.
“Everyone grew up playing with their friends or siblings simple games like hide and seek, but with the evolution of computer and video games, everyone started to abandon their childhood games. Games were getting only intellectual [and no longer physical].” The development of computer and video games makes most teenagers and even adults think more and move a lot less. “Our dream is to create a community for everyone, all ages and both genders, to become as social and physical as they were in their childhood while still keeping the mental challenges of video games.”
Some of their games have intricate story-lines, like The Downfall, a game they developed for the Global Game Jam in 2016. The game revolves around a king who kills creatures like Jinnys and Mareds and was inspired by Arab culture. Instead of making the main character hunt zombies or other western mythology creatures, the Null team wanted to integrate our culture into the game to make it more interesting to us Egyptians. For the record, the Downfall has a Windows version available on their official website.
Makled also announced the release of 2 upcoming games inspired by the PlayStation game “The Last Of Us”, of which every aspect of the highly detailed story was developed to the core, and the characters were so complex and developed you can’t help but get attached to them. This inspired the Null team to make the characters in their upcoming games more multidimensional, with real and complex emotions rather than flat, all-knowing, too-perfect heroes.
Meanwhile, the VRcade Virtual Reality Tour is spanning several destinations in Cairo every weekend from 9th of November to 3rd of December. Their next step would be on the 2nd and 3rd of December at Chameleon Co-Working Space. Where they would offer their hit game “Drop It”, a Person Dubstep shooter game.