Taking the Plunge
This is my first article so I have decided to give a little background, who we are, where we came from and what Dangerous Diver is all about. I won't delve into to much detail on the development front as I will do so in later articles, so without further ado/adieu,(take your pick not sure which is right) let's dive right in! (<- See what I did there?)
Where do I start with this... let me think... Ahhhh yes, we have to go back a bit, back to April 2015 where it all began in Skerries, a little seaside village outside of Dublin City in Ireland. A young...ish manchild by the name of Alan Donnelly (pronounced "Alan Donnelly") decided one day to take the plunge into the world of video games. (This sounds like some random light bulb moment, "I know what I'll do... I'll make a game, that's got to be easy right? Decision made!” (but it wasn't... we swears!)
To prove that, we have to go further back, back to September 2012 where I completed a course in game design, yes I completed it! It only took me until my 30s to complete something academic but I did! (Insert fanfare) No really, school has never been my strong point, I love to learn but beating you over the head with repetitive drivel never cut it for me, I need to be more hands on, something has to spark my interest.
Anyways, got a little side-tacked! Basically yes, I have done some work in game design in college. Actually, going even further back again a couple of my friends had started game projects that I was called on for art and music, but take note of one word in this sentence "started." Yup, these projects just never got finished.
Why not go right back into my childhood where a buddy and me used to come up with game ideas, draw sketches and write crude scripts. See, it's always been there, this game design lark, it's always been there.
Let me introduce myself first and foremost, oooh, how formal! O.k, my name is Alan Donnelly, owner of Shaggy Mane Studios.
Shaggy Mane Studios really came about when I became over encumbered with creative bits and bobs that I was working on for years. I had been gathering a collection of drawings, music, animations and so on but in 2011 I began doing music composition commercially and I soon realized I needed a place to house all of this work. For this reason Shaggy Mane Studios was born.
The idea for Shaggy Mane Studios was always to be a hub for all things creative. While I had mainly been doing commercial work in music I always wanted to branch out into video games and hey, I was young and free of responsibility, if ever there was a time for risk, that time was now I thought, so risk I did!
In 2012 I took the aforementioned course in Game Design and Development and completed it in 2013. This would be the very slow beginning of my very slow progression into video games.
A toe in the water
While you would think you wouldn’t really be able to learn much about game design and development in a low-level simple yearlong course that couldn't be furthur from the truth. The deadlines were so harsh that you were really forced to come up with an idea and make it work. There was so much to learn, art, code, animation, sound, music, business it was madness. I suppose if you just did the bare minimum you could float by but as wannabe game designers, the whole class found themselves really pushing for the best the could manage in such a short period of time.
I thought myself frame-by-frame animation as I wanted to do something a little more traditional, the drawings were rough but hey, I was learning! Our first project was called Super Sneaky Mouse Project, a basic 2d side scrolling platformer made with Stencyl. Here's a few GIFs of the mouse.
We even worked with Maya and Unity, I created a crude 3D stealth game that kind of worked but was basically impossibly difficult. Here's the 3D model I created for it. Kind of weak but I wanted a cartoony style and again, we are talking no time at all to make these assets.
So college really did force me to develop skills that I always wanted to but really never managed to push myself enough to do, nothing like a deadline to motivate! "Now off into the wider world with you, you're a game designer now" I thought to myself.
That niggling fear...
So you might think my next course of actions should look something like this.
1. Make Sandwich (I think better on a full belly)
2. Design and develop a game with newly acquired skills
3. Buy an island and have ear to ear grin at all times
Well that wasn't the case really. You see, anxiety can be a real S.O.B and can take a lot to work around. I would say I have a plethora (see The Three Amigos for that reference!) of fears that have pretty much stopped me at progressing time and time again with anything I want to pursue. For this reason it took me another 2 years to even consider game development.
Climbing the ladder
I had an idea of a diving game that I was calling "Dangerous Diver" knocking around my brain taking up precious space, I even had an idea for how the character would look so I finally I decided to put a game design document together.
It was pretty rough but it gave the basic premise of the game and this was all I needed to convince my coder buddies and my social media guru to climb the first few rungs and get Dangerous Diver moving! Or so I thought... (below original cover for Design Document, damn he's pasty!)
Actually it kind of fell apart, very quickly. It began to feel like one of those projects we started and never finished. One of my coders pulled the plug with other work commitments and my social media guru took off to Taiwan so in a very short space of time things had ground to a halt. Luckily Colm Kelly (pronounced Col-om for anyone not Irish out there) stayed with me and in 2015 we began development of Dangerous Diver.
Peering over the edge
So that's it, standing on the edge looking into oblivion knowing that I would be doing this full time with no real safety net, dear God it made me queasy, it still does! In fact I feel sicker now than I did when I started!
To make things even more sketchy, at the time Colm had been offered a fulltime job he understandably couldn't turn down but would work on Dangerous Diver any time he could outside of his job. That was a huge commitment that he undertook and stuck to, we are mere months away from release and he still squashes those hours in between work and life.
Stepping onto the board
So after all that, what is Dangerous Diver?
Dangerous Diver is a physics based diving game with addictive gameplay, fully animated and voiced cut-scenes, memorable characters and an appealing cartoony style. Meet Danton Dangereux, a diver following reluctantly in the footsteps of his father, Darcel Dangereux. Darcel died attempting to beat five dives that were banned from the annual Dangerous Diving tournament for being too dangerous, because of this his spirit has become trapped on earth. Now Danton must put his life on the line, train hard and use all of his skills as a diver to beat the tournament and conquer these five dives to free his father’s spirit. (taken from our presskit)
Dangerous Diver is a mobile game and we are fully aware of what that means, the waters are murky and it's going to take a lot to make Dangerous Diver float so the risks are huge.
I feel that we have a real character in "Danton Dangereux" and feel that the short, silly cartoon cutscenes is where Dangerous Diver steps out on its own. Story, as ridiculous as it is, is a huge part of Dangerous Diver. It ties everything together and gives the player a reason to travel the globe taking on each dive. The game is also full of lil' things to discover and unlock so there is plenty of replay value for the perfectionists but also for the curious.
Simple physics games are a dime a dozen but we have enough elements surrounding a solid core gameplay mechanic to help Dangerous Diver capture the interests of the ever expanding mobile market.
Now leap, LEAP!!!
So here we are, rolling up on release and Dangerous Diver has come so far. I have an amazing partner, Lorna, who has stuck with me through this madness, through the bad days and the even worst days of development. We even managed to have a baby (she’s amazing) during all this and never got side-tracked or cold feet with Dangerous Diver, now I just have an extra tiny helper! Colm Kelly has stuck with me from the start giving me his time wherever possible to help Shaggy Mane Studios get its first release out there. We have faced so many obstacles already but pushing through the fears for the experience alone has made it all worth it.
Dangerous Diver is just around the corner folks, stay tuned...
I will be pushing out more content whenever and wherever I can and I will add some articles about development etc here so stay tuned! We just released our first teaser, check it out below and see what you think! Hope it gives you a giggle!