When Christopher Myburgh and Matthew Naudé created a simple computer game in their spare time, they had no idea that it would go on to make it into the semi-finals in Gage Marketing and Microsoft’s annual gaming competition, Dream.Build.Play.
This year’s competition had 249 entries from all over the world, and Christopher and Matthew’s game, Ninja Crash, was chosen as one of the Top 21 semi-finalists.
Ninja Crash, which is designed to be played on an Xbox 360 gaming console, was inspired by the popular platform game Balloon Fight, and can be played by two to four players. It consists of ninja-esque characters that carry lanterns on their backs and are able to run, jump and fly. The object of the game is to destroy your opponents’ lanterns whilst protecting your own.
“For our first game we wanted something that isn’t too complicated; something small and simple that wouldn’t take us years to complete,” says Christopher.
The game has an all-ages rating, and is aimed at everyone, from pre-teens to adults.
These childhood friends from Fish Hoek have combined their skills to create the game, which took just over six months to complete. Christopher, a computer programmer, did the programming for the game, whilst Matthew, a graphic designer, did the artwork.
Although they each had individual projects within the development, “the ideas and the concept have been very collaborative,” says Christopher, who had been toying with the idea of creating a video game since 2007. Neither of them have undergone any training in computer game development, and had to teach themselves how to use the technology that was required for the game.
They originally entered the competition because it gave them a much needed deadline. Although they had been working on the game in their spare time, it took longer than expected and they needed something to push them to finish it.
They did all the work themselves, and asked friends to play-test it. When they saw how much everyone enjoyed playing it, they realised that it had a lot of potential.
It was the first time that they entered the competition, and according to Christopher, “it exceeded all our expectations and the feedback was phenomenal.” Besides making it into the Top 21, Ninja Crash was also given an honourable mention for its “fun factor” on the competition’s website.
The competition has been running since 2007, and accepts entries from all over the world. It targets independent game developers and aims to promote, and give exposure to, amateur games. Even though professional game development is very rare in South Africa, this year’s Dream.Build.Play competition had two South African teams in the semi-finals.
Christopher and Matthew plan on expanding the game and are hoping to sell it on the Xbox Live Indie Games marketplace website sometime next year. There are also plans of developing more games, and each one, says Christopher, will be more ambitious than the previous ones. In the future they may also consider contracting more people for the creation of more advanced games. For now, however, they are focusing on completing the extra levels of their game and getting it ready to go into production.
After testing the game myself, it became apparent to me that these young men came up with a great concept and I could see why their friends are so impressed with the game. Their achievement in the competition was clearly well-deserved!
Anien matriculated from Fish Hoek High School in 2006 and is currently doing her honours degree in English Studies at the University of Cape Town. She hopes to pursue a career in journalism after she graduates.