Dare to be Digital 2010 team Team Tickle talks exclusively to Develop about working on their entry title Sculpty.

Dare Blogs – Team Tickle

Who are Team Tickle?

We are 5 students from the University of Abertay Dundee. Flying the flag for Scotland, England, France and India we are perhaps the most multicultural team in the competition. A nice mix of masters students and undergrads we have 2 artists, 3 programmers, and 4 iPads.

What is your game all about?

Sculpty is a unique physics based platform game for the (yep, you guessed it) iPad. The player uses their fingers to change the shape of our hero Sculpty to get through the levels.

Different shapes have different properties and you’ll need them all to make it through the jungle whilst avoiding the mischievous Ooja-Ooja! Family friendly, with a sense of humour, we designed Sculpty to be playable by all, with hidden collectibles and time-based scores to satisfy the more hardcore amongst you.

What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced so far?

The game design and controls that have been the biggest challenge rather than the technical problems we anticipated. After starting the competition, it quickly became clear that our original designs and controls were not good enough and the game has changed significantly during its development.

We received so much advice from mentors that choosing which advice to act on and which to ignore was very difficult.

On the technical side we had major issues with the art pipeline owing to the game engine which could only import from Blender. Because of this we were late getting art assets into the game and even later with alpha textures which, given our game is set in a jungle environment, were rather crucial!

Programming our own collision engine and adapting soft-body physics code meant that we had almost nothing playable for the first 3 weeks.

How has Dare helped you?

Dare is great because it so closely mirrors industry processes. We’ve had to design and pitch our idea successfully, work in a team environment to develop and iterate the product, all to a completely fixed deadline and against (very) eager competitors.

Dare is special because it’s very international with teams from India, China, Europe and North America making it a great opportunity to meet like-minded people and experience new cultures.

What advice can you give to people who want to get into Dare?

Just getting in to Dare is difficult and we did a huge amount of preparatory work for the application and interview. Planning, game design, concept art and even a tech demo of some sort will all be useful. Target your game for the competition; Dare games should be simple, innovative and are typically family friendly.

Simplicity is key as you’ll only get selected if the judges are sure you’ll finish the game in the 10 weeks. Having a gameplay video for the interview is a huge bonus. Small touches make the difference – we wore branded t-shirts and had game cases with instruction manuals for the judges to keep.

Finally, make sure you get on well with your team mates, leave your egos at the door and don’t get too precious about the game.

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