Guest editorial from Dapper Hat Games’ Ronan Quigley:
Dapper Hat Games are a group of Abertay students who initially formed as a five person team consisting of Charlie McFadden, Stuart Martin, Nikita Bewley, Eilis Armstrong and Ronan Quigley for the purposes of applying to last year’s Dare to Be Digital competition, encompassing a mix of programming, art and sound disciplines.
After successfully getting through the interviews and into the competition we were able to develop over a nine week period a working prototype for our game Mr Montgomery’s Debonair Facial Hair for the iPad. Our concept involved combing the moustaches of a variety of eccentric customers whilst combating a wacky mixture of enemies.
It can’t be understated just how terrific the Dare experience has been. Developing the game in such a compressed timescale made the entire competition an incredible learning experience for all of us. Combined with the mentor support you get really provides a terrific work environment for all involved that just isn’t replicated anywhere else at that kind of level. And of course you get to compete for the BAFTA Ones to Watch Award which is a great bonus too!
What’s more, you get to meet other like-minded people and build yourself up a pool of industry contacts, so there are some great networking opportunities to be had.
After some long and gruelling hours of work (and a few sleepless nights too!) we were able to showcase our completed game at Dare ProtoPlay to over 10,000 people last year to some terrific feedback.
This definitely has to be the best thing about the competition, getting to see your game displayed to the public is such a rewarding experience that makes all the hard work worthwhile. Be prepared for a lot of standing though, which is ironically more painful than the crunch that comes before it!
Really the only negative thing we could say about the competition is that you can’t do it all again, so make sure you put the work in as you’ve only got one shot to win it!
For anyone that’s in the process of applying to the competition just now (good luck) there are a few pieces of advice we can give:
– Make sure that for both the written application and video you take your time in polishing it to as good as can be. Particularly with the video, try and get the production standards to be as high as you can manage, as that is your real chance to wow the judges initially with your idea.
– If you make it through to the interview stage, well done! You’re halfway there. Really what needs to be done here is just address the feedback you’re given during the first round of applications and make sure to also consider the marketing aspect of your game too. Doing your research for this is a great way to demonstrate to the judges you’re not just thinking about the short term, but also the future after the competition.
And if you get past both of those hurdles, congratulations! All we can say is that for the nine weeks of development you have is plan now and plan for the worst. This can’t be stressed enough as if you don’t ensure your whole team are on the same page and are aware of what needs to be done on a daily basis you’ll quickly run into problems.
Team leaders, make sure you set up a schedule that everyone is happy to work with. Also make sure that you all have short team meetings at the start of each day so everyone knows what needs to be done, along with weekly goals.
Another area to consider is taking on board the feedback you’ll get from mentors. This is a hard balance to strike as if you do keep trying to modify your game based on what different mentors say, you run the risk of finishing the competition with something that falls short of your expectations. You can’t keep making changes they ask for all the way up to week nine, so make sure you know what your bottom line is. Ultimately, just stay true to your game.
Also, consider what features to keep and cut. You may find that some mentors say week four is the right time to begin polish to avoid feature creep, but really this depends on the game idea. I’d recommend trying to aim for everything done by week seven and polish thereafter, though you may find like a lot of teams did last year this becomes a hard target to reach.
This is why knowing what features are core and what can be left out for ProtoPlay is an important discussion to have – so be sure to take that into account. Win or lose, each person that enters the competition this year will have some great experiences and memories to take away!
As for where we are now, four of the original members have stuck together and we have brought on board an additional two programmers to help us in finishing our game. Based in Dundee, we are currently applying to Abertay University’s Prototype Fund in the hope of developing our game full time once again upon graduating.
Thanks to the recognition of entering Dare and receiving an award from BAFTA in Scotland a few weeks ago, hopefully this will become a reality!
We are looking to have our game out in November this year for iOS and Android Platforms so be sure to check it out when it arrives.
You can follow our team’s progress on Twitter @Dare2012_DHG
Apply by 5pm on Tuesday 9th April – http://www.daretobedigital.com/