Years ago, before joining the games industry I took a university degree in Computer Games Technology from Abertay University. As part of that I had the chance to take part in a little competition called Dare To Be Digital.
With a group of friends, we spent a summer creating a single player puzzle adventure about a little girl and a fairy lost in a dark forest. Little did I know at the time that it would be the key reason I would then land a job in the games industry as a Graduate Software Engineer. Fast forward 18 years and I'm a Senior Software Engineer having worked on some of the biggest games in the industry. Therefor when heard that Dare was still running and I was given the opportunity to go to EGX and meet the teams I jumped at the chance!
Dare is a wonderful way to help young talented students showcase their skills whilst being mentored by industry veterans. Cross discipline teams spend the summer developing a game idea from concept through prototyping to end with a playable demo that could be taken to publishers. The team compositions and sizes vary but the commitment and quality is undeniable.
This year there were 6 games created as part of the competition:
Book Of Abominations
The concept is Pokemon meets HP Lovecraft / Cthulhu which works amazingly and just makes sense. I can’t believe no-one has already done this concept as it is a no brainer. This was the smallest team made up of just 2 people who did everything from software engineering to audio design to pixel art.
A Super Smash Bros style fighting game where you need to stab people in the back to deal enemies damage. The team managed to create a tight control system that was responsive and rewarding which is key to a game like this.
Rag$ ‘n’ Richie
Imagine you’re in a post apocalyptic wasteland trying to start up a shop business but all your stock is random odds and ends and the customers won’t tell you what they want to buy. It’s a bit of a puzzle game trying to figure out what to sell and bartering over price.
A split screen game where Deliveroo / JustEat type drivers can steal the delivery from other drivers. It’s fun and frantic with some wonderful level design to keep people battling together.
DMG Control was a 2 player co-op puzzle game where characters would use magical powers to help out villagers in distress. The different characters had different abilities and so you had to work as a team to fix the village.
Such a contrast to the other games, this concept was: be a bunny rabbit exploring a big scary world. The art style for this was beautiful and totally unique with a relaxing game feel more akin to playing something like Flower: Petals on the Wind.
After playing all of them I was honestly blown away by the quality of what they all produced. All the teams had big plans for where they would like to continue and talked passionately about their products. They should all be very proud of what they’ve achieved!
So Who Won?
In the end the winner wasn’t a surprise to anyone. All the teams and judges agreed that Book Of Abominations absolutely smashed it. Every aspect of their demo was on point and the concept could easily be taken in many different directions. Whenever the two of them release this, I will be first in line to buy a copy! This is definitely one to keep an eye out for...