We sat down with Niall McGeehan, a recent graduate developing his own game set to hit Kickstarter in the new year. We asked him a bit about what it's been like to set up in Northern Ireland, as well as a bit about his recent project Proceed.
Hi, why don't you start by telling us a bit about who you are and what you do?
Hey, I'm Niall, currently a solo game developer working on a new title. I graduated from Ulster University earlier this year. For my final year project, I began work on a procedural 2D game called Proceed. This helped me achieve a first class honors in Computer Science, along with more than a few sleepless nights. Pretty much as soon as I finished University, I began the hunt for a job, preferably in the Games industry. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the opportunities in Northern Ireland were few and far between. This brings be on to the next question!
How did you get into making games?
Making video games was not my original plan. Throughout university I geared towards more traditional software development however in the past year I've been bitten by the game-dev bug. I've been programming and digital painting for years now and the 2 really go hand in hand with games development. In early 2015, I downloaded Unity3D and got to work putting together a simple 2D game.
This quickly spiralled out of control and I found myself spending more and more time working on game development. Honestly, this helped my programming abilities a great deal, and I began to move towards more complex concepts.
How do you find making games in Northern Ireland?
The support for businesses in NI has become much stronger in recent years. I previously launched a T-Shirt business with mixed success, and found it quite hard to get the support I needed. This time around, I've managed to secure free office space in Belfast along with a network of mentors in a range of fields.
For games in particular, NI is still lagging behind the rest of the UK. However there is a growing Indie community, who are creating some fantastic stuff! I've been lucky enough to meet a few fellow creators, though I hope to talk to many more in the coming years.
Can you tell us about the rest of your team?
So far, I'm going it alone. It's a tricky journey. I've worked on programming, digital art, animation, 3D modelling, video creation and sound design by myself. As of yet, I just haven't been able to find local talent who are interested in partnering up (if your a developer reading this, do get in touch!). This has helped to expand my skill set, and my latest game is coming along at a good pace. Though all good developers know, you can't do everything by yourself.
Can you tell us anything about your upcoming game?
Yep! The game I'm working on is called Proceed. Proceed is a very unique take on the 2D platformer genre. It's a sci-fi game with lots of twists, fast paced combat and unforgiving flight controls! A wide range of procedural systems generate endless and beautiful worlds to explore. Trippy and wondrous level design is at the heart of what I'm building, and Proceed will guarantee to take you on a hell of a ride.
And finally, what's you favourite games?
For me, it's always been RPG's, particularly fantasy. I love taking in the lore, and exploring open worlds. The Witcher 3 is a particular favorite of mine, it's hard to find a better combination of story, world design and gameplay. A game from my childhood also deserves a mention: MediEvil, I really hope this one is remade some day, I'll be first in line!