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Dare to be Digital: DarkMatter Designs

The first of this year's 3 winning teams is profiled here, with details on the game - and the people that created it

Each year the Dare to be Digital competition invites teams from around the UK - and beyond - to apply for a place in the ten-week race to build a videogame. The experience gained during Dare includes vital insights into working under tight deadlines and working in teams across disciplines, and has become a favourite for development companies when looking at CVs.

Over the next couple of weeks GamesIndustry.biz will profile the winners of this year's competition as they look ahead to the BAFTA Awards, and wonder which of them will be crowned One to Watch.

Game Summary

  • Team Name: DarkMatter Designs
  • Game Name: Boro-Toro
  • Tagline: Control your world, Control your fate.
Monkey Island and Phun influenced the visual style.

Boro-Toro is a side-scrolling platform/puzzle game in which the player must control and manipulate various objects on screen to successfully navigate the environment. The games control system is designed for use with the Wii Remote and Nunchuk. The character movements are all controlled through the use of the Nunchuk while the player can manipulate the environment by pointing and grabbing items using the Wii Remote this also allows the possibility of co-operative play.

 

The team completed the game in just ten weeks.

The player must navigate through a variety of puzzles using physics based principles to allow progression. The game was designed to allow the player the freedom to experiment within the environment and find multiple solutions to problems. Each level is set on a theatrical stage, with each stage representing a different environment for the player to explore. Each stage presents a unique set of challenges in form of themed puzzles as well as visual style.

 

Players navigate the levels using the Wii controllers.

Our original ideas were influenced by point-and-click adventure games and physics sandbox applications and our aim was to successfully combine these two different game types to form an interesting twist upon the traditional platforming genre. The visual style is consistent with that of an old theatre, and throughout the game it parodies the traditional aspects of a 2D side-scroller.

 

 

Team Members

  • Name: Adam Westwood
  • University: Wolverhampton
  • Favourite videogame: Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
  • Would most like to work for: There are loads of great companies out there working on interesting projects that I'd love to get involved in.
  • Job you'd like to get in the industry: Games Designer.
  • Best part of Dare: Proto-play, seeing people enjoying playing the game we created.
  • Most challenging aspect of Dare: Time constraints and cutting content to suit those constraints.

 

  • Name: Matthew Booton
  • University: Birmingham
  • Favourite Videogame: Half-Life series
  • Would most like to work for: No particular preference, I would like to work at any company with exciting projects.
  • Job you would like to get in the industry: I am particularly interested in game design.
  • Best part of Dare: Getting to show off our game to the public in Edinburgh, and meet a huge number of talented people from both the industry and other competing teams.
  • Most challenging aspect: It was difficult to implement all of our initial ideas in a way that was both as fun as possible and feasible under the constraints of the competition and our engine. There was a lot of cutting and re-design involved, but I am personally pleased with the result.

 

  • Name: Graham Ranson
  • University: Wolverhampton
  • Favourite videogame: Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge
  • Would most like to work for: I would most like to work for a small development studio where I could be involved with as many aspects of development as possible.
  • Job you'd like to get in the industry: Games Designer.
  • Best part of Dare: For myself the best part of the competition was seeing the public enjoy playing our game at the ProtoPlay event aswell as meeting all the other contestants and industry professionals.
  • Most challenging aspect of Dare: I think the most challenging part of Dare was deciding what parts of the game we could cut out in order to get it completed within the given time constraints.

 

  • Name: Owen Richard Schwehr
  • University: Wolverhampton
  • Favourite videogame: The Hitman series and others
  • Would most like to work for: Rockstar.
  • Job you'd like to get in the industry: 3D environment modelling.
  • Best part of Dare: The experience of working on a game within a group as well as seeing how everyones input altered the game to make it what it is now.
  • Most challenging aspect of Dare: Trying to please everyone whilst keeping deadlines under pressure.

 

  • Name: Yves Samuel Wheeler
  • University: Wolverhampton
  • Favourite videogame: Quake 2
  • Would most like to work for: Undecided.
  • Job you'd like to get in the industry: Games Developer.
  • Best part of Dare: Showing off the end product to the public.
  • Most challenging aspect of Dare: Having to choose parts to be cut out, especially if they contained a lot of hours of work.

 

General Questions

GamesIndustry.biz Why did your team decide to enter the Dare competition?
DarkMatter Designs

We entered to gain experience within the games industry and to showcase our skills in the form of our final prototype. We saw Dare as an excellent step forward towards getting a career within the games industry.

GamesIndustry.biz What did you hope to achieve before the competition began?
DarkMatter Designs

We just hoped to create the best game we possibly could in the time available, as well as make contacts within the industry and make a good impression with our work.

GamesIndustry.biz What do you feel you learned from the process?
DarkMatter Designs

As project lead and game designer I learned a massive amount about organisation and prioritisation of tasks. As a group we learnt a great deal about the process of creating a video game and sharpened our skills in our specific areas.

GamesIndustry.biz How did your team make decisions?
DarkMatter Designs

Decisions were made through group discussions; as a team we were working towards the same goal and shared the same vision of what the final product would be.

GamesIndustry.biz Where did the idea from your game come from?
DarkMatter Designs

Our original ideas were influenced by point and click adventure games (eg Monkey Island, Samorost) and physics sandbox applications (eg Phun, Crayon Physics).

GamesIndustry.biz What would you change about your game now in hindsight?
DarkMatter Designs

We developed our project using the Blender open source game engine. Although it was great for getting our ideas up and running in the early stages, later on we became constrained by some of its limitations and bugs. With hindsight, we would have liked to have used an engine more suited to our requirements.

GamesIndustry.biz What do you feel the experience will add to your CV?
DarkMatter Designs

Industry professionals respect Dare as a competition, and we feel that taking part has opened up a lot of opportunities for all of us. We would recommend this competition to any student who wants to get into the games industry.

More information on Boro-Toro can be found on the official Dare to be Digital website.

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