Pamali Postmortem: From Dynamic Horror Gameplay Concept to Episodic Game

By Febrianto Nur Anwari

In this article, the Technical Lead of StoryTale Studios, Andreas Andika talks about how was Pamali started and also how they partnered with publishers to release the game.

Another indie game from Indonesian developer was released at the end of 2018. Titled Pamali: Indonesian Folklore Horror, this game aims to follow the success of DreadOut, the most popular horror game from Indonesia that now has expanded to some media such as webcomic and movie.

Pamali is a horror game shaped by the taboos and culture that live among Indonesian society itself. In this game, you will explore an abandoned Indonesian house to solve the mystery of a family.

Pamali will come in four episodes. On December 28, 2018, Bandung-based StoryTale Studios already released the base game and its first episode. Then, the other three episodes will be released continuously starting from Q1 of 2019.

Earlier this January, Game Prime had a chance to talk with Andreas Andika, the Technical Lead from StoryTale Studios, the studio behind the game. Andreas talked a lot about Pamali‘s development process that started as a dynamic gameplay concept and about the decision to make Pamali as an Episodic game.

Game Prime (GP): Could you please tell us, how was Pamali started? What is your inspiration for the game?

Andreas Andika (A): In the beginning, we have ever created another horror game called Uji Nyali. We wanted to create a dynamic horror game where every player can experience different horror sensations based on how they played which also told the story about local horror stories at once. To get that kind of experience, we tried to create four ghost entities with smart AI which enabled them to give a response to the player’s play style.

But when in the development phase, we faced so many technical difficulties. We thought this gameplay idea was too ambitious for our first game, and we decided to delay it. After finishing several other projects, finally, we decided to continue Uji Nyali with new gameplay. But, we still maintained the same concept: dynamic gameplay based on how players play it and introduced the local ghosts with its stories. The successor of Uji Nyali is what we know today as Pamali: Indonesian Folklore Horror.

Our inspiration comes from some games, such as Gone Home, DreadOut, and Outlast.

GP: How long did you develop Pamali, and how many team members were involved in?

A: From the initial concept of Uji Nyali until it’s released as Pamali, the development time was nearly two years. We have started developing the last iteration of Pamali since mid-2018.

Our core team consists of six people, with several part-timers and internships.

GP: What was your biggest challenge, either technical or non-technical, when developing this game?

A: When in the development phase, there were so many features that we didn’t define since the beginning of the phase. One of the new biggest features was localization. Since the beginning, the system that we developed couldn’t accommodate the features.

Actually, developing the localization feature was not as difficult as imagined. But, since this feature was defined in the middle of the development, we should change many codes and assets in order to accommodate that new feature.

And because we had limited resources, we had difficulties when doing the testing and quality assurance. Maybe we can only verify the game. But if we should validate whether the game was enough creepy for players, that was difficult. It was not possible to ask the same person to do the testing over and over, because the horror value would disappear if the tester already knew the content.

Other than that, in our team, we don’t have any people who have a strong experience in marketing. So, all of the marketing process we did is full of trial and error as part of the learning process.

pamali postmortem

GP: Can you tell us a little bit, how can you get a partnership deal with the publisher?

A: In the beginning, they contacted us about the publishing opportunities. Then, we send the details about Pamali‘s development and the full build that they can play. After they learned more about the game and tried the build, they thought that the game was enough good and suitable with their market. So, they offered the partnership deal.

GP: So, in your opinion, what should a developer do when they approach a publisher?

A: In our opinion, the most important thing is the quality of the product. When we approach a publisher, we can roughly evaluate whether our game is interesting enough for the publisher or not based on the publisher’s previous game track record. Besides the product, we should create a good relationship with them and maintain our studio and product credibility.

pamali postmortem

GP: If you don’t mind, could you please tell us about the partnership system between you and the publishers?

A: Both AGM and Maple Whispering, they have a responsibility to publish our game in a specific region or country. They help us to do the marketing in their region and help us to do the localization. So, Pamali can be accessed by a wider audience.

GP: What is your main consideration when deciding the Pamali’s format as a series?

A: When in the development process, we did the Kickstarter campaign twice. In the first campaign, we said that we would finish all of the folklores and released them at the same time if we reached our goal.

Unfortunately, we couldn’t reach our goal, so we changed our strategy to release the game in four different folklores. Thus, we did campaigns with a smaller goal, only until finishing the second folklore. Other than that, we can use the revenue we get from first folklore sales to cover the development cost of the next folklores.

pamali postmortem

GP: After several weeks in the market, how is the Pamali’s performance (both in sales or player’s response)? Did it meet your expectations?

A: We think that the performance is good enough for us. We’re also happy to see the player’s response, especially from Indonesian gamers. They’re very enthusiastic to play the game and really support the local content.

GP: Any tips for developers on how to find, approach, and partner with a publisher?

A: We strongly recommend maintaining good communication with them. When you communicate with a publisher, it is very important for us to realize, learn and appreciate the different culture, whether it is about how the company work or their country’s culture.

Because we’ve partnered with two publishers, we feel the difference. For example, how to decide the better communication, how to handle the contract, what is the applicable law in each country, work hour, holiday, etc. These are important things to minimize the miscommunication and align the marketing plan in order to get the maximum result.

Pamali Released on Steam, Another Horror Game Based on Indonesian Folklore

StoryTale Studios already released a new horror game based on Indonesian folklore called Pamali: Indonesian Folklore Horror. What is this game about?

GP: In your opinion, what are the criteria of a good publisher?

A: The most important thing in our opinion is whether the publisher has goodwill or not. A good publisher is also the one who can provide more value to a product, especially in some parts that we don’t have experience on it as a developer.

In the marketing side, we should check whether the publisher can achieve our target market or even open a new market opportunity that we can’t reach before. And last but not least, we should also check whether the publisher can help us to do other things, such as Quality Assurance (QA), localization, porting, etc that we can’t do it alone as a developer. 

You can download Pamali through its Steam Page here.

Edited by Devi




About Writer

Febrianto is the Senior Editor of Duniaku.net and the Lead Editor of Gameprime.org. He started his career in game industry as a game journalist since 2008, and was one of the initial members of Duniaku.net since 2011. His biggest interest is local game developer scene. Currently, his mission is to spread the news about Indonesia’s game industry to both local and international game and creative industry’s enthusiast.