A little over a year ago I conducted a series of interviews with a diverse, influential and talented group of developers both from and based in South Africa, which resulted in an article for industry trade site Gamasutra entitled ‘The South African Game Development Scene: Past Present and Future,’ which attempted to look at the history of game development in the country and surmise how an industry may rise and move forward here.
A lot of the interview material was unfortunately left out of the article for reasons of conciseness, and I say unfortunately because almost every response I was given was a gold mine of information and history that could potentially not only benefit aspiring South African game developers, and game developers in other developing nations looking to make a living in this industry, but also inform gaming enthusiasts around the world as to the complexity, and joy, of making videogames under difficult circumstances.
So after lying dormant on my hard drive for a year, I’ve decided to spruce up the interviews, which are just as relevant now as they were then, and start posting them here on El33tonline in a six-part series, continuing today with part three, and an interview with Danny Day (read part one and part two at your leisure).
Danny Day (known as ‘dislekcia’ in the online development community) is the founder and leader of South African game development community Game.Dev and owner of indie game developer QCF Design (which stands for Quarter Circle Forward), and has been creating and developing games in different forms for most of his life, finding his first great success with the innovative and stylised multiplayer shooter, Monochrome.
Ater working at a variety of contract jobs and studying during his teens to early twenties, Day founded Game.Dev and had a brief stint as a network programmer at South African developer, I-Imagine, working on Final Armada.
While doing much to encourage the local game development community and advocate its growth, Day founded QCF Design with the intention to focus on the development of original, smaller-in-scope independent games on a variety of platforms, as well as work on contract advergames, and continues to grow the Game.Dev community with regular development competitions (such as the recent Competition 24 dealing with the theme of ‘Coherence’) and meet-ups (a good example being the community’s gathering at rAge 2009).
Day has been extremely busy since I corresponded with him regarding the interview, so where I can, I’ve included more recent information (that he was kind enough to send my way) after each relevant question to bring you up-to-date.
Let’s begin the interview:
Q: Could you please state your name, current position and official title
Danny Day. I’m Chief Pants Wrangler at/owner of QCF Design. I’m also the Community Leader of Game.Dev.
Q: What first got you interested and excited about games and game development?
Danny Day: My parents had a tendency to look for the enjoyment in practically anything, effectively turning an arduous task into a game by adding a reward or keeping track of improvement.
I naturally kept doing that as I grew up and discovered that I liked making similar experiences for my friends: Drawing mazes, new playground games, etc. The first time I was exposed to programming, a game was the only thing I wanted to make.
Q: What initial steps did you take in order to be working in the field of games and game development?
DD: During school I read as much as I could about game techniques and tried to reproduce what I saw in the games I played. C++ was alien to me then, we only had access to Turbo Pascal formally. Pretty much everything I’ve learned is self taught or discovered with the aid of friends interested in the same things.
Q: Was your education path influenced by the availability of specialised courses in South Africa at the time?
DD: No. There was nothing game-related available while I was at school. I didn’t even consider game development an option for “What I wanted to do when I grew up”, I just enjoyed games and spent a lot of time on them. Games were something that “hindered” your progress at becoming a productive human being…
Later at university I had more of an idea that I wanted to make games for a living, so I diversified my Computer Science degree and took courses in Visual Arts, English Literature, Human/Computer Interface Design, Physics, Psychology, anything that I could imagine would be useful for a designer.
Q: Did you think or know that there was a demand for game development skills at the time in South Africa, or was it simply something you were interested in?
DD: There was no demand for game development skills while I was growing up. The only company we’d ever heard of at the internet caf