A couple of weeks ago I had the chance to meet Team Doom, the Irish winners of the local Dare to be Digital competition. The five lads - four from Ballyfermot College of Further Education, and one from Dundalk Institute of Technology - are now competing on behalf of Ireland at the international Dare to be Digital competition at the University of Abertay in Dundee, Scotland.
Their challenge this summer is to realize their vision of a computer game that, as they put it, defies genre classification by crossing a racing game with a futuristic eXtreme sport.
The team – Damien McNamara (Team Lead), Peter Flood (Lead Modeller), Anthony O’Dwyer (Lead Artist), Eoid Ward (Lead Animator) and Mark Cummins (Lead Programmer) – have been sending me updates of their progress, and although they’re planning to save a few surprises, they will let me give you a little update on how they’re faring. They’ll also let me show you this very cool rendering of one of their drivers in the X-Frame, the apparatus on which athlete drivers of the future will propel themselves around improbably beautiful racetracks.
Down at Track-Level with Team Doom
Just like a professional game studio, Team Doom's work on the 3D models, texturing, music and level design is all occurring concurrently. "We're importing all the models into [our 3D rendering software] by the end of the week, so the programmers can move further on and [the artists] will continue working on the texturing all of the models." Music will be recorded on the weekend, and the level is "in its final stages of modeling."
The software development is moving along "slowly, but that is expected." It can be a significant challenge to get deformable animation working in a game engine. The artists plan to have some character animations ready for Friday, so that the programmers can strive to get it operational for the weekend.
Fight to the Finish
Team Doom is one of eight teams competing in Aberdeen. The teams have until the 16th of August to build a game that they’ll present to a panel of judges from industry and academia. Games will be judged on their originality, their marketability, and their show of innovation.
In addition, the teams will have a chance to showcase their games at the Edinburgh Interactive Entertainment Festival in early August!
As for when the preliminary pieces will come together? "We hope to have a test demo up and running by the end of the week."
And possibly the most important question: after their first few weeks of crunch-time on this project, would the team still consider returning to help build the Irish games industry? "We would ALL LOVE TO set up our own Irish games company!!"
Fair play to you lads - you're offering even more proof (as if any more was needed!) that if you want to teach, learn, or get passionate about programming, you should try game development! We'll be looking forward to hearing of your progress over the next few weeks.