How Hadi Soufi Beat the Odds to Create His Own Gaming Company During a Global Pandemic

Soaring High: The Journey of Hadi Soufi, CEO of Kimchi Corp., and the Creation of SOAR: Pillars of Tasneem

Mazze Whiteley
Mazze Whiteley • July 20th 2023

In a world where video games offer endless possibilities and immersive experiences, Hadi Soufi stands out as the CEO of Kimchi Corp. LLC, a gaming company that dares to dream big. Hadi is the creative mind behind SOAR: Pillars of Tasneem, an ambitious independent title that allows players to take flight on the wings of a dragon and explore a breathtaking world of floating islands. This blog post delves into the fascinating journey of Hadi Soufi, from his humble beginnings to the development of the mesmerizing game, all while navigating the challenges of a global pandemic.

A Risk Worth Taking

Hadi Soufi grew up in the suburbs of Princeton, New Jersey, harboring a passion for the gaming industry. Despite his determination to apply to prestigious gaming schools like Digipen, his parents expressed concerns about the uncertainties of pursuing a career in entertainment. Encouraged to opt for a more secure path, Hadi pursued a degree in computer science at UNC Greensboro.

However, the desire to create games never waned. Seeking a balance between academics and his passion, Hadi took matters into his own hands. To fill the gaps in his curriculum, he embarked on personal projects, teaching himself the core concepts of game development.

The Birth of SOAR

The inception of SOAR: Pillars of Tasneem can be traced back to a life-changing experience. After playing AER Memories of Old with a college roommate, Hadi was inspired by the game's unique concept. Conversations with his friend ignited a spark, and he decided to create his own game. Little did he know that this undertaking would turn into a multi-year endeavor.

Hadi envisioned a game that went beyond the typical flight simulator. Instead, players would soar on the back of a dragon, a living creature with its own needs and interactions with the environment. He imagined it would take a few months, but the project proved a more ambitious undertaking than he realized. The core flight mechanic alone took a year and a half to develop, reflecting Hadi's dedication to perfecting the player experience.

Facing Unforeseen Challenges

Following graduation, Hadi's adventurous spirit led him to apply for a position on a cruise ship, hoping to combine work and travel. After experiencing the pleasure of navigating the floating islands of SOAR, it’s easy to appreciate why this sounded more attractive to Hadi than finding more pragmatic work at a software company. However, fate had other plans, as the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the globe, halting his dreams of exploration.

With no money and no job, Hadi did what a lot of recent college graduates had to do and moved back in with his mom. Job recruiters told him that there was no chance of him getting a job during the pandemic, and with no other doors opening for him, he pursued further developing SOAR. Working on the game became a natural part of his day, alongside filling out job applications, cooking dinner, and long walks with his dog.

Having more time on his hands than expected, he poured his energy into the development of SOAR. As the project grew, he faced creative roadblocks and the daunting task of managing assets. Seeking guidance from his software developer father, Hadi turned to the online community, assembling a team of like-minded collaborators.

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The Birth of Kimchi Corp. LLC

With a talented team in place, Hadi founded Kimchi Corp. LLC, realizing his dream of establishing a gaming company. Together, they tirelessly worked to enhance the game's flight mechanic, refining it through numerous iterations to create a seamless and captivating experience. The goal was to make flying as a dragon feel natural and enjoyable, inspiring players to explore the vast and vibrant world of SOAR.

Expanding Horizons

As players got their hands on SOAR: Pillars of Tasneem, the response was overwhelmingly positive. The game's immersive flying experience left them yearning for more, spurring Hadi and his team to expand the game's content. With new worlds to explore and characters rich in lore, the team has been hard at work, seeking the perfect balance between ambition and manageability.

Hadi acknowledges the importance of recognizing when to step back and appreciate the completed project, ensuring it doesn't become an unending pursuit of perfection.

I’ve worked on a lot of very ambitious projects with a lot of very ambitious people over my life. For me, the key is just getting off the horse when I’m done

The Future of SOAR

With the game garnering praise and interest, Hadi and his team presented SOAR: Pillars of Tasneem at GDC, receiving validation for their ambitious creation. The journey has not been without its challenges, but Hadi remains focused on the game's vision.

SOAR: Pillars of Tasneem is slated for release in spring 2024 on Steam and the Epic Games Store, promising players an unforgettable adventure through a captivating world of floating islands and the exhilarating experience of flying on a dragon's back.

You can listen to the full story of Hadi Soufi on the Clear as Mud podcast here.

Hadi Soufi's journey from a computer science student to the CEO of Kimchi Corp. and the mastermind behind SOAR: Pillars of Tasneem is a testament to the power of passion, determination, and the pursuit of dreams. Despite the uncertainties that life threw his way, Hadi persevered, creating a game that allows players to explore the skies like never before. As we await the release of SOAR, we can't help but feel the excitement and anticipation for the extraordinary adventure that awaits us in this rich and vibrant world of floating islands. So, let's spread our wings and soar high with Hadi Soufi's magnificent creation!

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