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Calgary game developer recreates cult classic

By Jason Herring, August 6 2015 —

Though the Silent Hill video game franchise is finished, the game lives on thanks to the work of aspiring Calgary game developer Farhan Qureshi, who released his project PuniTy on July 30.

PuniTy is a remake of the cult horror video game Playable Trailer, which was originally released on the Playstation Network by Konami in August 2014 as a demo for the game Silent Hills. However, development for Silent Hills was cancelled in April 2015 and Playable Trailer was removed from the Playstation Network.

Qureshi’s remake, which he developed by cross-referencing screencaps from the original Playable Trailer, has received widespread coverage, with popular gaming websites like Kotaku and Polygon writing about the project. Qureshi says he’s excited the game is garnering attention, since the original purpose of the project was for use in a workshop on 3D modelling he’s teaching in September.

PuniTy was started as a project for teaching a 3D modelling workshop going on in September. For the 3D scene I’d like to teach, I wanted to make an apartment because it’s a fairly simple environment. I ended up choosing the Playable Trailer apartment [to teach with] because it has the familiarity of apartments I’ve seen,” Qureshi says. “And it’s also no longer available for download, so I thought this would be a cool way to preserve that game.”

At the workshop, Qureshi plans to teach the basics of 3D modelling, texturing and developing. The class will culminate with students recreating the setting from Playable Trailer themselves. Qureshi hopes the familiar environment will motivate students.

“We’ll be learning from the ground up how to work with 3D models. Then those skills will be applied to create the hallway from Playable Trailer. It gives people extra drive to learn all of the course content,” he says.

The course is being taught by local non-profit Calgary Game Developers. He says the community is diverse, with a mix of established and aspiring developers.

Qureshi, who graduated from the U of C with a BSc in Computer Science in 2012, is one of these aspiring developers. He’s been working on his own game, The Outline, since February 2012.

The game is a story-focused free-world exploration about a mother and son trapped in a barren land. Qureshi says he plans to have the game finished in two to three years. It’s an impressive timeline, as Qureshi is developing the game independently while doing other work on the side, though he plans on hiring a few extra members to work on The Outline as it approaches its release.

Qureshi says one of the biggest challenges of independent game development in Calgary is finding funding. While countries like the USA and the UK have grants in place to help fund independent games, similar programs aren’t easily available in Canada.

“The game development scene seems to be getting better. It’s still not ideal, especially since we don’t really have any provincial funding programs,” Qureshi says. “The closest things we have are the Alberta Media Fund and Alberta Foundation for the Arts, but neither of those support video games.”

Qureshi offers some advice to aspiring game developers hoping to break onto the scene.

“Just focus on your passion. That’s one thing I’ve learned. Money is not really that important because if you focus on what you love, the money will eventually come,” Qureshi says. “I grew up playing games and they’ve been a passion for me my whole life. I started making them when I was in grade 7, when I was 13 or so. It’s been a passion my whole life, so it makes sense I follow it.”

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