I’ll always put my hand up for the chance to interview developers for GameCloud and to try out any epic games on display. Except this time: my two biggest fears are drowning and diminishing spaces – which basically makes up the premise for Savage Cabbage’s Drowning Dungeons. Instead of trying the enticing VR title, I sweated nervously and watched others enjoy the game while I chatted with its creator, Nigel Budden at this year’s Perth Games Festival.


Can you tell us about Savage Cabbage as a company?

We’ve been lurking in the dark around the Perth Gamedev scene since about 2009. Mostly, it is me, Nigel playing with concepts and prototypes. We are currently focusing on developing a VR-based application; however, we won’t be Pidgeon holed into one area. Over the last six years we’ve built up a decent amount of code to achieve certain game mechanics, and now it’s time to finish what we started. Expect to see Savage Cabbage pushing out a few releases in the next two years


What were the biggest challenges of developing The Drowning Dungeons?

The biggest challenge would have to be motivation. Coming home at the end of a day from coding for someone else and then trying to get straight back into it can be hard. A lot of people have to do it, and it can be tough at times. Another challenge would be working, for the most part, solo. I often second guess myself on ideas or methods, or if a level is too easy or too hard. The Perth Game Dev Community with Let’s Make Games, SK Games and Kate from FTI are helping to make it easier to get feedback and connect with each other.


How did The Drowning Dungeons come about?

The Drowning Dungeons was originally a game idea I pushed out for the VRJam run by Oculus in 2013. Aaron from Oculus contacted me earlier this year and asked if we would be interested in porting it across to the GearVR. They were nice enough to provide some hardware, and so work began on it for real. After the Perth Games Festival, and talking with people who had a chance to play it, I’ve had a few more ideas on where to take it; which is awesome, as while I had a general idea, it was really just a picture of a forest, and I needed some detail in the trees to be able to make a game that people will hopefully not only enjoy, but they will share with their friends.


Do you have future intentions to continue with VR games?

Of course, VR is coming on strong, and, for some games, the feelings and immersion that VR provides extends the overall gameplay experience. The next time we playtest The Drowning Dungeons, I want to try and get people to play sitting in front of a screen, and then play with a headset and get feedback on the difference.


Did you specifically want to make a terrifying game, or did that just happen over the course of development?

I don’t know if it’s terrifying yet. However, I did set out to play on people’s fears within a virtual environment, so I want to try and capture the fear of drowning, the fear of enclosed spaces, monsters that are chasing you. So, the short answer is yes. Is it there yet? No. But I want it to be for release.


Do you think the current hype surrounding VR games creates more challenge or opportunity for a developer?

Right now, I think it creates opportunity and challenges. I know that answer is a bit vague, however, it goes like this: it’s a new market, and new markets open new doors and room for more experimental gameplay ideas. There are challenges too; Sim sickness can be quite bad for some people, so developers are trying different ways to improve the experience and coming up with guidelines for a better gaming session. And then you will find someone will come along and smash those guidelines and the game will be fun regardless. It hasn’t happened yet, in my mind, but it will happen.


Do you work full time as a games developer, or is this something you do on the side?

My goal is to be able to become a full-time game dev by the end of 2017. I’ve spent a lot of time playing at being a gamedev; however, it was when Jess Watson asked me on Twitter if I was going to show anything at PGF. Originally, I responded no, as I didn’t feel like I had anything worth showing. However, I took an evening to think things through, and I spend most of my evenings programming something. Why not focus properly and take that step towards being a game dev? So I put my big boy pants on, looked at The Drowning Dungeons, and got to work. Not just on a demo for the Festival, but a plan to take it through to a proper release.


What was the reception to these games like at the Perth Games Festival this year?

From what we can tell, we had maybe 170-200 people play over the course of the day. The majority of the responses were positive, we had a few people who didn’t like the game style, and we had a few people who felt the start of sim sickness. I was blown away by the support that was shown and the willingness of people to stay in a line to play our game. But every time someone put the headset on and started turning around their mouths almost certainly mouthed or spoke aloud: Wow. I really didn’t expect such a great reception, and I really wasn’t prepared for the amount of people that came and saw our Demo.


How can the Perth gaming community support their local devs?

The Perth Gaming Community is already supporting their local devs – it showed with the sheer number of people through the doors for the Perth Game Festival. However, I think Perth traditional media could do a better job of helping support our local devs. We are game developers because we enjoy doing what we do. Gaming is a multi-billion dollar a year industry, and I think that Perth deserves to get a piece of that pie. To the local Perth gaming Community, I say keep getting involved, come along to Playups or anything game related, see what is going on, and provide feedback. These are developers that are in your city, and you have a chance to provide face to face feedback to a developer. How often does that happen?


Is there a time frame for a full public release yet?

We are planning for an early April 2016 release for The Drowning Dungeons. What is your ultimate goal for Drowning Dungeons, and as a Perth developer?
My ultimate goal for The Drowning dungeons is to get it in front of as many people as possible, I think they will enjoy it, or fear it. As a Perth developer? Well, I would like to become more active in the community. I can come across quite confident; however, we have an amazing community, and I’m often just in awe of the talent that Perth has, and I often pull away from uncomfortable situations.


Perth Games Festival Demo Reel

Here’s hoping we do see more of Savage Cabbage and Drowning dungeons in the near future! I’ll be there for support, in a distant corner but cheering you on none-the-less! You can also follow via the following channels:


Bernadette Russell
Bernadette is living her childhood dream as a freelance writer in Geraldton, WA. With a life-long console habit and a self-imposed MMO ban, she fantasizes about the day when all she'll have to do is game and write. Oh, and also about meeting Link. HYAH!