Recently, we had a chance to talk with Nevermind Games, a indie dev team who took part in the yearly Dare to be Digital contest with their game Wiikick. Unfortunately the lads didn’t win the competition but regardless we decided to talk with them about their game, their team and what the future holds for them.
TGL- First off, tell us about yourselves.
Alan- I’m Alan, I’ve just recently graduated from I.T. Carlow with an Hons Degree in Computer Game Development.
Mark- I’m Mark, I did what Alan did, but with more colour.
KevKev- I’m Kevin Ryan (KevKev), I’m currently half way through a BA in Animation in Ballyfermot College of Further Education and prior to this I did 3 years of game design, also in Ballyfermot.
James- I’m James, from Limerick and I just finished up the same course as Mark and Alan.
Kevin- I’m Kevin McGarry and I basically did a year with the lads in Carlow before moving to do CGHND in Ballyfermot with KevKev for 2 years.
TGL- How did you assemble your team for Dare to be Digital?
Alan- Myself, Mark and James have all been in the same class for the last four years and just in passing I mentioned it to Mark about putting a team together for entering the competition and we quickly decided to put something together. James came on board pretty quickly after that the only thing left then was to get the artists on board which was pretty easy as we had been in first year with Kevin(Veen) who agreed to come on board.
KevKev- I was in the same course with Kevin in Ballyfermot for 2 years and he was one of the few that I really kept in touch with after. I was working away on a team making a short animation for my course in April when he asked me if I wanted to join a team and go for a Dare interview. I figured I had nothing to lose by trying, but it still was a bit odd as I hadn’t met the rest of the team at all before the day of the interview. I only talked to them on Skype maybe once or twice to go over our pitch.
Kevin- I got the call one day on Facebook from James I think it was. After it was decided we needed another artist I gave KevKev a call.
TGL- Tell us about the creation of the name Nevermind Games. Does it have any particular meaning?
Alan- The name came around pretty accidentally actually as we had such a short space of time to fill out the application form that we concentrated more on the actual details of the team and the game that we never came up with a name. I happened to be listening to Nirvana’s Nevermind album so filled out the team name as Team Nevermind. Shortly after we dropped the team part of the name and added games and it just seemed to work so well for us that we actually decided to keep the name.
KevKev- Yeah I didn’t find this out until about 5 weeks into the competition, I hadn’t even heard the album aside from a few songs.
TGL- The game you’ve created is WiiKick for the Nintendo Wii. Tell us about it and the thought process
that led you to choose this particular idea.
Alan- This is an idea that I’ve had for the last four years, originally when the Wii came out I thought well if you can play tennis, golf and bowling why can’t you develop a game where you can attach the Wii remote to your foot and play football. So it’s something that has been with me for four years and I just thought that the Dare to be Digital competition would be the perfect opportunity to develop this idea.
Mark- When he told me about it I instantly loved the idea. It’s something I can see in every sitting room.
TGL- Tell us about the software you used to create the game. (all members should answer this with a brackets beside each one on what they did. Be sure to mention they mention what program they used.)
(Alan) We used a library called WiiYourself which allowed us to use the Wii mote with the PC which was essential to the game working. As it was a library that I had used for other projects it was something that I knew would integrate easily into the rendering engine that we would be using namely the Ogre 3D rendering Engine. For the flash movie that KevKev created we used a plugin called Hikari which allowed us to play the movie in Ogre.
Mark- I used most of the same stuff as Alan throughout development, mostly just a combination of Ogre, Wiiyourself and PhysX using NxOgre, a wrapper for PhysX with Ogre.
KevKev- I used 3D studio max for modelling, rigging, skinning and animating our Goalkeeper character, who we have nicknamed Tayto. Photoshop was used for texturing and illustrator was also used to create the graphics for our menu buttons. I also used Flash to animate our company logo, the game logo and player tutorial films. Our audio was recorded in the college through their incredible, and expensive, pro-tools set-up. However the Audio was processed and edited using Audacity.
James- We used NxOgre, a wrapper for Nvidia’s PhysX which allows easier integration with Ogre 3D.
TGL- Was if difficult to implement the physics into the game?
James- We used Nvidia’s PhysX for the physics so it was pretty straight forward. Especially due to the PhysX Visual Debugger, which shows all of the forces acting on an object, collisions and velocitys off all the objects. The most difficult part was tweaking the properties to get the physics to a point where it looked right.
TGL- Has it been a worthwhile experience working on WiiKick for Dare? What have you learned? (each person should answer this)
Alan- It was an amazing experience being part of the Dare to be Digital competition. The experience of working on your own game and bringing it from an idea to an actual playable game is second to none. The fact that we also had access to mentors from industry who would come in play our game give us feedback on what was good and what was not so good just can’t be got anywhere else other than industry. I would thoroughly recommend the Dare experience to everyone who is still in college and involved in games in any way at all.
Mark- I learned more at Dare than I did in the previous year at college. The experience and mentoring is invaluable.
KevKev- It was a fantastic experience, it was recommended by many that I do some sort of internship during the holidays before the 2nd year of my course, and Dare just provided so much more. Aside from the obvious fact that it’s a huge opportunity with a potentially huge pay-off at the end, the experience itself is second to none. Being able to mix with teams, who themselves are the best of the countries they are representing, while exchanging ideas and giving feedback on each others games over 10 weeks is something you really can’t get anywhere else. While we’ve all had to learn new software and adapt to new development systems and pipe-lines, what I got out of Dare specifically was losing certain inhibitions I had about animation in games. I had always heard about certain limitations with game animation, the extent of which was unknown to me. However being forced to work under these limitations is a fantastic way to test ones ability to work around issues, and after 10 weeks you can be sure that you’ll be able to solve many issues easily and not be hindered by such restraints in future.
James- It was an amazing experience, nine and a half weeks of working on a game in close to industry conditions. Aside from the skills we learned that directly relate to our individual disciplines (Programming or Animation ect), the time management skills we picked up are invaluable. After four years of working on three or four projects all using different technologies it was great to be able to focus on one project using one technology. It was also fantastic having the industry mentors giving us advice.
TGL- Are you happy with the finished product?
Alan- I’m more than happy with the finished product to see something that I’ve had as an idea for four years and now see it as playable demo is amazing. It was a lot of hard work but as I said to see the finished product was totally worth all the ups and down of development.
Mark- We were asked to produce a working prototype after the four weeks and that’s exactly what we have, it’s also one I’m really happy with, ecause the feedback we got really showed it’s a fun game that people love.
KevKev- I think it’s fantastic, I’m still getting to grips with the idea that we’ve actually made a game. It’s great to see the collaborative efforts of the 5 of us as a finished product and it’s really cool being able to play something you’ve worked on for 10 weeks. Which incidently, have flown by. The only issue I can see with it is that you will always think of what you could add to it given another week or two, although I see that as a good thing.
James- As with any project, I’d love another week! But I am very happy with WiiKick. In nine and a half weeks, with 5 of us, we went from “a cool idea” for a game to actually playing it.
TGL- How do each of you feel on your chances of winning Dare?
Alan- I think we have a good as chance as any other team but of course I would like to think that our game stands out a little bit more than what some of the other teams have done. I would like to think that we have been innovative in what we have done and would hope that this innovation helps us stand out more and possibly even help with us grabbing one of the three winning places.
KevKev- I reckon we have a good a shot as any of the teams. What we do have going for us is that we have done something unique with the Wii remote and I’m fairly confident that that’s going to work in our favour. Plus Tayto is awesome! The head on him alone will give us a serious advantage.
TGL- What’s next for Nevermind Games? Will you be sticking together after this is all done?
Alan- The next thing for Nevermind Games is to get back to Ireland and hopefully turn Nevermind Games from a competition team into a fully fledged game development company and hopefully continue development of WiiKick.
Mark- Go there, be awesome.
KevKev- I’ve the final year of college to finish now when I get back. It’s a chance to write a thesis and make another short film. Which again is another opportunity that one can’t pass up, especially with so many people telling me how hard it is to do your own personal animation projects when you’re animating professionally. Although the hope would be that Nevermind Games would be started up in future with the 5 of us working together on more projects.