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Afzane founder Afzainizam Zahari, with students during his Japan teaching stint in 2010
Afzane started as a business proper last year with a simple idea: to educate and put a smile on the faces of as many people as founder Afzainizam Zahari could possibly reach.
The company had its roots as a personal Web site, which Zahari started in 2002 after graduating. The site was used mainly for putting his personal digital artwork and mini Flash games he created.
"Back then the most popular mobile device was the PocketPC, and I had a lot of fun creating games for that. It was only in August 2010 when I seriously considered to take this business off the ground," said Zahari, who currently runs the one-man setup.
One of his more successful games has been Kopi Tiam, a time-management game where the player runs a coffeeshop in Singapore.
Zahari shares with ZDNet Asia the details on how it all started for him.
What motivated you to start the company?
Zahari: Prior to this I spent a good number of years in the education industry in Singapore and Japan. After winning some awards in Web design and Flash Lite game design competitions many years ago, I decided it was time to pursue my interests in digital arts and game development in earnest.
My business started in January 2011 with a simple idea: to educate and put a smile on the faces of as many people as I can possibly reach. I know this vision is on track after receiving many happy e-mail messages from people who enjoyed using my apps with their children or grandchildren. The most recent ones come from the many people who have played Kopi Tiam. You can read some of their comments that they posted on Kopi Tiam game's official Facebook page.
Some of my games have also been featured by Apple on the iTunes US app store. Another of my favorite app, called Cataline HD, has been featured as a "staff favorite" in appstores in many different countries for quite a number of times.
What was the inspiration behind the Kopi Tiam game?
The inspiration came from my fascination with time-management games. I have played a lot of games from this genre but I found none in the market that specifically feature things that are unique to this part of the world. I thought it would be wonderful to feature popular local cuisine in a game and then showcase that to the world.
It has been a tremendous success for me personally. The game is very popular in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei. It stayed at the number one spot for games in the iTunes app store in Singapore and Malaysia for about two weeks.
The most interest coming from outside the region is China and Hong Kong. I did not do any marketing for this app. It was simply through word of mouth when I first gave a copy of the game to a friend of mine. She then told her colleagues as well as friends from the console game industry to test it out. The game got a major traction after I released a free version of it called Kopi Tiam Mini.
What's brewing in the pipeline?
My next project is another time-management game but this time it will not be dealing with food. I am also warming up to adventure games. I am currently studying this particular genre and I do have a rough story line planned out. It is just waiting to be executed.
With all these projects planned, I am thinking of expanding this business and I am currently looking for good game developers who share the same vision to come on board.
Screenshot of Kopi Tiam app Screenshot of gameplay in Kopi Tiam