Testers Wanted!

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Yoga Retreat Game is soon coming to iOS and we are now looking for game testers to help us with the finishing touches. So, want to be among the first ones to try out the new Yoga Retreat iPad version before its official release?!

If your answer is YES, and you are into casual games, own an iPad and have tried yoga even once, send us an email to info@gajatristudios.com and we’ll get back to you with further information. Make sure to mark the subject field on the e-mail as ‘game tester’ and tell a little bit about yourself as a player.

We’ll be ready to start testing in 1-2 weeks time. Exciting!!

Yoga Retreat coming to iOS!

Happy to share officially that Yoga Retreat iOS development has been started. Among other things this project has kept us pretty busy from e.g. updating this development blog!

Us by the way means again a bigger number of people than last year, ex-colleague and friend Tero Mäntylä joined Gajatri Studios from Rovio Entertainment. Both Sami and myself are truly happy to get such a senior developer to join our team. All of us have worked earlier together which makes the second time double the fun, so join us in welcoming Tero warmly to the team.

Yoga Retreat on iOS will be more need driven game than the earlier Facebook version of the IP. Customers will be wanting your constant attention. Also yoga on the sofa, i.e. trying out yourself yoga poses while playing the game, will be encouraged in the mechanics. We are super-excited about this new version already in its development phase, and obviously push to get this all out to your hands before the summer.

So a lot of good stuff ongoing. I’ll be posting now a bit more often with more details on the iOS product and our first round of equity funding!

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Slush and Stuff

Gajatri Studios is looking to raise some equity soon, and thus I’ll be presenting in two interesting (and cool) start-up events here in Helsinki during next few weeks.

This week there is an Angels Game event organized by Tekes and Finnvera Venture Capital for Finnish games companies and business angels interested in investing in games, check out for more in here: http://bit.ly/TynUyc.

Then next week there is Slush. The tech, design & start-up conference covering Northern Europe and Russia taking place here in Helsinki, check out: http://slush.fi/en/about/. Gajatri Studios has been chosen to be presenting in the Middleweight track.

So if you’re attending either or, come meet me, and hear the latest what’s up with us. Well, what can I say but it’s pretty exciting position to be the first company in the world to bring authentic well-being content into casual games format!

Courage to find out!

We have been patiently developing the game economy since the soft launch of Yoga Retreat in early August, and now it seems that in addition to a product, we also start to have a working business model. This obviously is quite a relief for a small company!

Gajatri Studios was founded a year ago to fill the white space in between casual games and well-being. When contemplating on what we’ve achieved during the first year, I realized some important things that have started to grow inside of company DNA.

First of all, we are a small team, which has made us incredibly efficient in prioritizing what we do and in which order. We’ve also conquered the fear of not launching (=fear of failure) by going to the market with partly finished product, and thus been able to start the process of endless improvement related to online games production very early on. Now, we learn and apply every week. We are a company with a product, business model and a culture of how to do things. Especially the last part makes me really happy.

But, if I’d choose one thing that will make the most difference when going forward…

I would say that the ability to tolerate the not knowing and related emptiness this inevitably brings, as well as being driven by the joy of search, is truly important within a small company. Not knowing is a profound discomfort. It makes you worried and restless. It makes people around you worried and restless. This stuff will tempt you to look for cover and fill in the pages of your business like you’ve always filled them instead of rewriting the parts that need to be rewritten. So, having the courage of not knowing and at the same time the honest discipline to find out, would be my choice!

Pioneer of the future

Many people ask me still why to make a yoga game? I’ve been trying to blog about it in here during the whole development process, but hey, one more post for the road (you can stop reading now if you already know)!

First of all, game has been made keeping in mind people who like to play casual games, and are new, or relatively new to yoga practise.

As an enthusiastic yoga practitioner myself, I often hear people tell me that they have a hurdle of going into yoga classes because they do not understand why asanas are practised, or the logic of the flow, or do not recognize the pose names etc.

If you are practising yogi or yogini with 90 min asana and 30 min pranayama practise every morning, I fully embrace the fact that this may not be THE GAME for you. Not all the people in the world are like that though..

Hundreds of millions of people are playing games online. Games tend to be mostly about war, fighting and competition. Yoga Retreat aims to be a daily gaming oasis where you can while playing, learn something new on yoga and if you so wish, make some simple exercises by the computer. Be nice to your friends, help them out, practise kindness etc.

There has been a lot of discussion lately on concept of yoga watering down, as most people perceive asana practise to equal yoga. Asana has been a very good introduction for me personally on some more subtle aspects of yoga. I also think that Krishnamacharya’s guru, who asked him to share the message in a way masses would understand, would be happy about us being excited about asana in the west. Anyway, if you do it for a long time, practise will lead you to understand that there is something more to yoga and seek for more understanding. If yogis of India decided to share yoga by introducing asana, I feel it is in the spirit of yoga to continue to innovate on how yoga practise is shared!

Don’t forget to play: http://apps.facebook.com/yogaretreat!

Play Now!

Yoga Retreat has been soft launched! http://apps.facebook.com/yogaretreat is the address to go. In addition to practising and teaching yoga to customers and curing their ailments, there is bunch of other stuff to do:

Steam Room

The Steam Room is your first building project and quest line starts at level 6. It is meant to relieve the Achy Muscles you get from practising all that yoga! It functions only once every six hours, but you can use your friends’ steam rooms as well (have you invited any?!).

Juice Bar

The Juice Bar is one of the major building projects in the game and quest line starts at level 8. Once it is ready, you can start making nourishing juices from the various ingredients collectable in your and your friends’ resorts. Juices earn you money and they are used in helping customer ailments.

Beach

The Beach is a new extension to your resort that unlocks a new set of restorative yoga poses.  Quest line starts at level 18. These restorative poses can only be performed at the Beach. The Beach will feature four mat spaces and a wall, plus a space for meditative walking.

Reputation

Reputation is a measure of how much your customers like your resort! Reputation is gained by being helpful and effective in teaching yoga at the retreat. A neat resort helps (remember all of those leaves?!), also your customers do not like the sight of worn yoga mats. Reputation increases the payoff from teaching customers. Completing juice bar enables reputation.

Virtues

Advancing in yogic practises is the ultimate goal for your game character. To advance in yogic path, you must collect six virtues: Generosity, Truth, Kindness, Happiness, Practice and Purity. Completion of Beach enables virtues. Practice is gained by practicing yoga. Meditative and restorative poses increase Happiness. Truth comes from helping people with ailments, while Purity comes form keeping yourself and your environment clean. Generosity is gained by refreshing your friends’ mats and resources and having your friends try out yoga poses at your resort. Kindness  is gained by picking leaves at your friends’ resorts and having your friends visit your steam room.

Have fun while playing!!

Yoga Retreat soft launch Thu July 18, 2012

So big day tomorrow. We’re soft launching and you can start playing Yoga Retreat! I’ll post the link tomorrow as well as more detail on the content.

Yoga Retreat is first in the world social game with authentic yoga content. Game features genuine yoga practices as taught in the hatha yoga tradition in addition to fun retreat management mechanic.

Some of virtual retreat customers in the game will have ailments that you need to cure. These ailments can help you discover meaning of different yoga techniques, for what purpose physical poses are actually meant for.

In addition, you can build perfect idyllic yoga retreat for your customers through quests, adding a Steam Room, Juice Bar, Beach as well as more features such as reputation and virtues!

And while playing (or working) it’s good to keep in mind:

Getting ready for soft launch

It’s been a long time since I’ve written to our development blog…

We’ve been testing and bug fixing the game, as well as had a little vacation before the launch. Today I was writing an About Us -section that we’ll feature under the game, and thought that now it is actually a good time to recap why I started the Yoga Retreat project in the first place.

Yoga has been important part of my life for quite some time. One of the meanings of word yoga is union, mostly interpreted as union of body and mind via following of one’s breath. As my professional background from last few years was from free to play games, I started to wonder if it would be possible to create a game that would unite authentic yoga practises and fun casual management game mechanics within a virtual world environment. Gradually Yoga Retreat concept was born.

I wanted the game to give players a yoga game break, and while playing, enable those interested to learn from yoga to do so in a fun way that would not feel like learning! As the game is not about war, and it features authentic well-being content, I also hoped everyone could play it without guilt (sometimes players feel guilty while playing as it is not “useful” spend of time) as game deals with a practise that can be good for you.

And when I say good for you, I do speak from my own personal experience.

There was a time that I was not living the life I wanted. I was afraid to make changes, and why? Well, because what happens next is unknown! Step-by-step my own yoga practise has enabled me not only to leave my computer related back and neck pains behind for good, but also to face life with a different attitude. Also, when I practise a challenge pose these days, I am actually training and focusing my mind on how will I face a real challenge in my life, not so much how I develop the particular pose technically on the mat. Do I try one more time, or do I give up, or do I do what is the correct work to do, or what just looks superficially to be correct alignment, and so on.

Bottom line. Yoga has been a powerful tool in helping me to move into a direction that feels true to me (such as establishing Gajatri Studios) and thus be happier in my life. Why should yoga be so serious that you could not play with the practise? Why should fun games be based on purely imaginative content with no benefit or authenticity? Isn’t authentic content more engaging than just imaginary stuff? These types of questions started to pour out of me when I took the time to listen to what’s going on.

And thus the game, to light up and lighten up an ordinary day with some fun while introducing and featuring yoga practises.

The upward facing dog pose picture attached to this blog post (featuring one of the Yoga Retreat game characters) is a back bend within sun salutation, and one of my favorites to hold for several breaths in the beginning of my own practise. I feel opening of the psoas (that is too tight from all that sitting in front of my mac) as well as opening of the chest and the heart. What might be your favorite pose..?!

GirlsInTech 1st of June

Had just an amazing day at GirlsInTech London launch yesterday. So many inspirational women and their views from different angles to the box: tech, new media, social, mobile etc. If you are a start up entrepreneur, do check out the excellent presentation from Collette Ballou http://slidesha.re/Kx6IXo.

Grateful for Roxanne, Ella and Mihiri for having had the opportunity to present myself and looking forward to the next events in near future! You can read more from GirlsInTech from Next Women, http://www.thenextwomen.com/2012/06/01/git-top-100-women-tech-europe-2012, TechCrunch: http://t.co/6x7wObwi, or The Next Web http://t.co/OUdJtiZG.

Soft launch of the yoga game is getting nearer. I’ve decided to put the game out without much marketing in June for all of you who follow us to try it out first. I’ve been talking about it for so long now that I feel it is fair that you guys get finally to try it out. Hope we will get a lot of feedback and then turn on a bigger gear.

Greetings from London, happy Queen’s Diamond Jubilee weekend for everyone (I absolutely need to get one of those Lanson bottles with Union Jack sock from Heathrow on my way home)!