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Derrick Mapagu: The mind behind Make Pana Blue Eagle

There are few rivalries as passionate as the age-old feud between Ateneo and La Salle. Whether it’s Jeron Teng and Kiefer Ravena trading buckets in the basketball court, or the Lady Spikers and Lady Eagles vying for championship gold, the excitement and electricity is always palpable in the air whenever the blue team from Katipunan faces off against the green team from Taft.

 

Just recently, the most famous rivalry in collegiate sports has broken into a new medium—video games. Alumnus Derrick Mapagu (CS-ST, ‘08) created an app entitled Make Pana Blue Eagle where players control an archer clad in green who shoots down pesky blue eagles to score points. While it may not be as intense or as physical as a UAAP matchup, it’s still a fun and easy way for Lasallians to show off their school pride, and participate in another platform for this iconic rivalry.

 

Derrick Mapagu 1 - Athena Montes []

 

The mind behind the app

“Ever since grade school, I wanted to make games, so alam ko talaga kung ano gusto kong pasukan na course,” Derrick shares, talking about his background as a student in the College of Computer Studies. Although he graduated from DLSU almost eight years ago, he still remains grateful for the training and education he received in his alma mater. “Computer science kasi, the technical part is very important in game development… It’s the technical competency that really helped me grow.”

Derrick talks about his life in DLSU—how he was an active member of the La Salle Computer Society (LSCS), and how he worked with thesis advisor Solomon See, who he considers his mentor in gaming. After graduating, the young gamer made use of everything he learned, immediately jumping into the video game industry. He’s since experienced all kinds of work, as a game programmer, producer, designer, and most recently, as a creative director.

With his time in the business, it’s only natural that Derrick has achieved varying levels of success. The most successful game he’s been a part of is Motor Hero, which has around two million downloads. What’s been turning heads recently, however, is Make Pana Blue Eagle, which has around twenty thousand downloads—and counting.

 

Make Pana Blue Eagle

Nag-pop up [lang] in my head. Just something I thought of at that moment,” he explains. Make Pana was a spur-of-the-moment idea that Derrick envisioned during one lazy afternoon–a flash of inspiration that turned into a hit.

“Actually, [the response is] overwhelmingly positive, ‘cause it’s [Lasallians’] first time to see a game like that,” Derrick comments. “They have green blood, and yung rivalry, nabuhay against Ateneo.” But how did the students from Loyola Heights react? “Shineshare din nila sa Atenean crowd,” Derrick responds with a laugh, adding that he has yet to receive negative comments from Ateneans regarding the game’s concept.

Once the idea of a game pops into Derrick’s head, he starts making sketches. After drawing and visualizing the mechanic, he translates it into Photoshop, choosing the art style, colors, and character design. “After the art, I do the coding,” he explains, flipping through a notebook filled with sketches. “I design the mechanics, I put the art in, [then I] tune the game. After yun yung release. Actually, mas mahaba pa yun, but yun yung gist.”

He shares that games usually take around two weeks to make, although Make Pana was the result of one afternoon’s work, around four hours. “That’s pretty fast, kasi medyo loko loko lang talaga yan, [I] just had fun with it so wala nang masyadong mga decision making… Nagulat lang ako nung naghit siya.”

Another interesting thing to note is the game’s unique name. When asked about it, Derrick laughs. “I just usually have fun with it. Yung ‘Make Pana’ is conyo. Actually, from the title pa lang, daming nag-share,” he explains. “Ayoko ng masyadong serious. Before nga, yung first title niya is ‘Archer Hit Eagle’. Tapos parang ang boring naman ng title na yon, so pinalitan ko.”

 

Derrick Mapagu 2 - Athena Montes []

 

His future in gaming

You can expect more games from Derrick in the near future—he’s just finished working on two new ones. One is the sequel to Make Pana where the eagles takes their revenge, entitled Make Tuka Green Archer. The second game is made for international audiences and is based on currently popular television series Game of Thrones. “Medyo similar [siya] to Make Pana. [It took me] mga three hours,” he says when he introduces the game. He also plans to make more school games and international games in the future.

“I’m having fun right now and I want to continue it,” the avid gamer says when asked on his plans of branching out. Making games, he says, is something that he sees doing for the rest of his life. “Even for free, even when I’m a grandfather,” he jokes.

 

The name of the game

From its spontaneous origin, Make Pana Blue Eagle has re-ignited the spirit of rivalry between Lasallians and Ateneans alike. It’s increasing popularity between the two crowds is a testament that there are no hard feelings. The app continues to be updated and given new features, driving players to lose track of time on the game.

At the end of the day, passion is the name of the game for Derrick. His love for creating games, beginning from his childhood and nurtured by the University, has fueled him to continuously improve his craft. Passion is also what he advises for those planning to break into the game industry. “Just follow your passion. That’s what I’ve been doing,” he shares. “[I’m] just doing what I love and striving to work on my craft. I know this is something I’m willing to do for free. Pay is just something extra.”

By Brittany Aguilar

By Wilhelm Tan

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