While there were plenty of student games on show at PGF, seeing the work of local graduates is a rarity. Going into the festival, I had no idea that Blunder Down Under was the work of a few ex-Tafe students (Matt Halse and Kirsten Mathews), but there you go! To put it lightly, this game is a very Australian product, filled with boxing kangaroos that probably just finished up their latest vegemite-filled camping trip. We caught up with Matt after the festival to try and explain what led to such a ridiculous creation.
What made you want to make a game like this?
We decided to make a game like Blunder Down Under because we really enjoyed those style of games, like Subnautica and Stranded Deep, but the survival genre was a pretty broad area with most games aiming towards the more serious side. The idea to give the game a more humorous side felt right as we could work off typical Aussie humour and incorporate survival elements within that.
What has been your greatest challenge working on the game so far?
The biggest challenge so far has been finding a solid idea to stick to. We had our original idea written up during our Game Development course which we based everything off so far, but throughout development, different ideas have sprung to mind in what direction the game should head. While this does cause some setbacks in the project, it is a brilliant learning experience for us, and we can only move forward from here.
How did the idea for Blunder Down Under come about?
The idea for Blunder Down Under came about while studying Game Development at Central Tafe. We were tasked with the assaignment to create a game for the final months of the course. We had never worked on a survival game before, with our previous games being a range of genres from fighting games, space shooters and racing games. We knew going in that it would be a big task to handle. It’s actualy a funny story, our friend Andrew helped us come up with the original idea which resulted in nothing short of a lot of laughter and plenty of motivation to create the game.
What was the reception to the game like at the Perth Games Festival this year?
I felt like we had a good reception to our game at the Perth Games Festival this year. A lot of people came over to try it out which was a really positive thing to see. It was always a gamble to us whether we thought the game was ready enough to be shown off this year, but I think the result was worth it. It was great to see how different players reacted to different things, how long they stayed in different areas, what the first thing they did in the world was, etc. All of that really helps motivate us to keep working on the game and try and make it better as much as we can.
The game feels like you had a couple wombats serving VB on tap while coming up with it. How important do you think comedy is in games?
Haha that is a great way to put it! From the very beginning of development, one of the most important factors we felt was to make the game funny, to include the typical Aussie humour we all know and love. To us, comedy is a very important aspect to games. It doesn’t necessarily have to be flat out humour and slapstick jokes, since humour can come from simple gameplay aspects. For example, in an early prototype of Blunder Down Under, we had a outhouse in the middle of the map, and if you got close enough, it would pop out of the ground with mechanical legs and start walking around like a chicken.
Did you have a specific vision when making Blunder Down Under?
When making the game, we had the vision to make an Australian survival game with a comedic element mixed into it. The game was designed to appeal to the younger audience with bright colours and cartoon style textures. A narrative was created as well, but we havn’t fully followed that so far in development. I do believe that all this comes as a learning experience for us. Any mistakes we make now only help us more in the future, and I think that’s a great way for us to improve. Much like the quote from Henry Ford, “The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.”
Do you work full time as a games developer, or is this something you do on the side?
Game development has been an interest for me since 2011 when I first learned how to create 3D models. At the moment, game developent is just something we do on the side, with life getting in the way [Editor’s Note: Amen to that]. As well as working on our main projects, Blunder Down Under and Corporate Combat, we also like to participate in Game Jams whenever possible, with our most recent jam being the Mystic Western Game Jam. I always enjoy participating in game jams as it’s a great way to test our knowledge and just have a great time making games, which is what it’s all about.
What’s your experience been like developing as a Perth studio?
Our experience so far is very limited, but it’s been a very positive one so far. Since we only recently completed the game course at Tafe, we are quite new to the Perth dev scene, but different people have welcomed us. Little Bit Lost developer Grae has been a massive help in the last months offering his support for our projects and introducing us to other devs out there. This year, we started to try and push ourselves out there a little more, making contacts at the Global Game Jam this year. We’re also trying to attend more Playup Perth events and one day play test something at one. Hopefully, these connections will grow as the year goes on.
What were your biggest challenges while designing and developing Blunder Down Under?
One big challenge I mentioned before was finding a solid idea to stick to through development. Feature creep is always present in game development and can be hard to ignore. I hope that all of these problems we face is something we can learn from and improve upon in the future.
What makes Blunder Down Under stand out from other games like it?
What makes this game stand out from the others is the humour and that the game is set in Australia, something that is rarely seen these days in games. Those elements combined with typical survival elements such as enemies, food, hunger, health, etc help the game stand out a little more than another serious survival game would.