Shanil Wijesinghe is the COO & Co-founder at Motion Miracles, an interactive media company that creates powerful gaming & animated story experiences.
What were your favorite games growing up?
My favourite games growing up were historic strategy games. One of the first games I fell in love with were Civilization IV, Medieval 2 Total War, and Age of Empires. These games coupled with my grandfather's library at home sparked my fascination with history and the big-picture and small-picture narratives that shape humanity.
Could you share with us the genesis story of Motion Miracles?
The genesis of Motion Miracles was a two-pronged initiative made by my brother, Anish, and me. He had a hit animation and rigging Youtube channel called Motion Miracles that garnered millions of views. Meanwhile, I was a third-year university student at McGill University, Montreal, studying economics and dreading my career prospects as an economist. I could not picture myself in an analytical job running regressions of economic trends. So, I turned to my childhood to uncover what fascinated me in my youth. I determined that my love of art and the propensity for my imagination to wander off should lead me down a creative career path. Shortly after this resolution, I stumbled upon the game Journey by That Game Company which showed me that video games can be an artistic masterpiece and an ideal outlet for my creativity. Across the ocean, in Sri Lanka, my brother also wanted to venture into video game design because he felt that it was a logical next step after exploring animation. With these aligned interests, we founded Motion Miracles as a video game company in the summer of 2017.
What type of games does Motion Miracles aim to produce?
In order to allow the company to freely produce creative games and other digital media content, we resolved to establish ourselves financially to afford ourselves creative liberty. Therefore, we're pursuing mobile game production in partnership with global publishers such as Voodoo and Supersonic Games because the games' production is small in scale but has high financial yields.
What’s your personal favorite game that Motion Miracles has developed, and what makes it special in your mind?
I think this prize goes to Wacky Winter. It was the first ever game we launched to the App Store and it brought out the creative talents of the team. It has poppy and cute visuals, smooth animations, and we had a lot of fun making the array of characters. Fun fact: the world champion beat boxer at the time, Alem, worked with us to put himself as a character in the game. He even supplied us with a track of him beatboxing, which plays when you unlock and play as his character. The game is a simple endless runner where you swipe to shift lanes; however, there's an added twist in which you can tap to slam your hammer to catch runaway Christmas elves.
This was our game's trailer which my brother animated with help from our lead animator Pasindu de Silva:
And here's the trailer we released after Alem partnered with us:
The game didn't perform well since we were naive and didn't know the importance of mobile game performance metrics such as day 1 retention and Cost Per Install. However, we managed to turn a loss into a win by showcasing the game's production quality as a portfolio piece to publishers such as Voodoo and Lion who then took an interest in partnering with our studio.
One of the games that Motion Miracle has released called Tie n Dye which hit the top 10 on the US App Store. Could you tell us more about this game?
Tie n Dye, which is now renamed to perfect dipping, was one of the games we made in partnership with a mobile game publisher. Our lead game developer, and now head of the games division, Binura de Zoysa, came up with the idea and built the game around the premise of a simple puzzle game with a Tie-Dye theme. He created a snackable game in which you try to master the art of dipping things in dyes to perfectly match the target image. It's a bite-sized snackable game that's easy to pick up but hard to master.
You’ve been investigating how to safely use cryptocurrency to build a community around a game, what are some of the concepts that you have considered?
This endeavour is not being actively undertaken by us at the moment. But, it is something that would interest us in the medium to long-term. We've seen that cryptocurrency can be a great tool to help build communities around a shared interest. I've also studied a little about “Transition Towns” such as Totnes, UK, which bring together a community around an ecological and community enhancement mission. A small component of this community enhancement is introducing its own currency which helps Totnes preserve its core values without interference from the Great British Pound. We wanted to see what can be done with rallying a community around a game and then using a cryptocurrency to assist the maintenance of this community. As you can see, it's still very theoretical and very much in a pre-concept phase. So, there isn't much to talk about at the moment with this.
Motion Miracles is located in Sri Lanka, how active is the gaming community there?
The gamer/gaming community is active here in the cities of Colombo and Kandy. Beyond the two big cities, I believe mobile gaming is the most accessible form of gaming. However, you'd be hard-pressed to find gamers who have played games beyond the big titles such as Call of Duty, CSGO, Assassins' Creed, God of War. It's quite special to find someone who has played indie titles such as Journey, Undertale, or Stardew Valley. I also believe that we're yet to see a large-scale prevalence of gaming among women in the country since games are still perceived as a source of entertainment for boys.
In terms of finding talent for the studio, our main challenge is grappling with some of the residue effects of colonization. The British colonial state has left behind a legacy in which education is meant to encourage obedience rather than creativity or out-of-the-box thinking.
Is there anything else that you would like to share about Motion Miracles?
We have a lot of ambitions beyond our start in hypercasual mobile games. We have learnt so far about adding depth to simple and intuitive game mechanics since the hypercasual mobile games market rejects games that are slightly convoluted or too two-dimensional in gameplay. We're eager to take these learnings forward when we branch into PC/console games, or even games that can be used as ecological tools.
Thank you for the great interview, readers who wish to learn more should visit Motion Miracles.