This mobile game marries snakes and ladders' simplicity with strategising of chess

Nairath Roy and Aarti Gaur’s award-winning idea marries the classic board game with player strategy

Gamers and game developers Nairath Roy and Aarti Gaur wanted to create a unique experience with their mobile game, Monarchy. They wanted it to be as simple and addictive as, say, Snakes and Ladders or Ludo, but one that challenges the player’s brain in the way chess does. “Most board or online games are hard to understand. Monarchy combines the best of everything. It’s your introduction to the world of gaming, and once you are hooked, you will move on to the really tough ones,” says Roy, 30.

Gamers and game developers Nairath Roy and Aarti Gaur
Gamers and game developers Nairath Roy and Aarti Gaur

It’s this idea that impressed the judges at the Pocket Gamer Connects 2016, by Game Hack, Reliance Games’ initiative to identify and create scaleable propositions for the best gaming start-ups in India. Twenty gaming start-ups were given the opportunity to pitch their ideas at The Very Big Indie Pitch held at Bengaluru last month, and Roy and Gaur’s Big Boot Games emerged winner. While Roy, who has pursued a game designing course, looks into design and development, Gaur, a literature graduate, is responsible for art and design.

Monarchy is about four knights who are in a battle for the throne
Monarchy is about four knights who are in a battle for the throne

Monarchy comes with two-player and four-player options. There are four corners where four knights are stationed. The game is about who gets to the centre — where the throne is stationed — first. There are a set of tools to make your advent easier. For instance, you can build bridges. You also have tools to make your opponent’s advent harder by blocking his way with blockades, so that he has to go back to the beginning and find another solution — much like Snakes and Ladders where a bite at no. 99 brings you back to no. 30. In the end, it’s about doing whatever it takes to reach the throne first. That’s what makes you a monarch.

Monarchy is about four knights who are in a battle for the throne

“There is no straight way to get to the centre. You can go all around the board and take a longer route. There are cards as well and a lucky draw can change the whole game,” says Roy. What’s surprising is that the first step towards making the game was not writing the plot; it was designing the board. “Once you decide how many blocks you want, and what will be placed where, the story starts flowing,” says Gaur. They took six months to come up with the first version of the game, and have modified it couple of times since.

Roy’s first inspiration were the Mario games. “They were my daily fix while growing up. Now, I really think big games have become a little bit of a cliché, and smaller indie games are the way to go,” he says.

Gaur, 30, got introduced to games only in 2007 when she started collaborating with Roy. “These days I am hooked on a game called Alice,” she says about the psychological horror game that’s a macabre rendition of Wonderland from Alice’s eyes. Alice’s objective is to save Wonderland and herself.

The two see Monarchy as an attempt to take gaming back to its social roots. “Earlier, games were a way of bringing people together. These days, when we play games, we usually play them singularly. We wanted to go back to the days where people sat around a board, but this time you would be doing that on a phone,” says Gaur. Though the first mobile version for Monarchy comes out by the end of the year, they may have another ace up their sleeve. “Everyone who plays Monarchy ends up asking if we have a physical version. So yes, that will happen.”

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