“We should make a game together” – that’s what myself and Ant would say to each other on an almost weekly basis when we met in 2011, but we never did. In 2015 we finally bit the bullet, entering a game jam with no real coding skills between us, armed with a silly idea and a lot of passion. This is how Must Dash Amigos – a loco-multiplayer battle racer packed with puns and piñatas – was born! This article is a small insight into our game development journey.
Ant: Hey! I’m Ant, co-founder of miniBeast Games and the Artist for Must Dash Amigos.
Ben: And as you could have probably guessed from the intro I’m Ben, the other half of miniBeast Games, and programmer for the title.
Ant: We met each other in 2011 whilst working in the RuneScape Quality Assurance team at Jagex. As Ben said, we would spend a lot of time talking about ideas and pitching games to each other, but we would never actually take the initiative to start building anything.
Ben: I think that was mostly down to the fact that neither of us could code, and we were quite intimidated by the thought of it. I left Jagex in 2014 to work briefly on Forza Horizon 2 at Microsoft, but returned in March 2015. It was in October that year that Jagex decided to hold their first game jam for staff, which would run for two days – Thursday and Friday – but you could use the weekend as well if you wanted to. This was when me and Ant decided to actually give this whole “let’s make a game” idea a go, and we entered as a two-man team.
Ant: Being 80s kids we both grew up with console gaming and the era of local multiplayer. I would spend countless hours battling against my brother and cousins all in the same room hurling abuse at each other. We wanted to keep that local multiplayer flame alight because that’s the type of game we were craving ourselves on current gen consoles. We wanted it to be as simple and intuitive as possible with no complex control systems, a true pick up and play experience.
Ben: For sure. Our main pillars for the game were definitely; keep the controls simple, get people playing and having fun as quickly as possible, and ensure it felt vibrant and colourful.
Ant: The feel of the game was going to have a lot to do with the art style, so I was naturally excited to get started on that. I wanted to reflect the fun vibrant party feel we envisioned for the gameplay and was almost immediately drawn towards a Mexican fiesta. Explosions of colour from popping piñatas, interesting & vibrant surroundings, and the upbeat feel-good music of a Mariachi band just felt perfect for the title.
Ben: We threw ourselves fully into the game jam for four days straight, I think we even slept in the office a couple of times! By Monday we had a prototype, and were really surprised at how well it went down with people. It was generally described as a feel-good party game with a lot of charm, exactly what we had aimed to achieve. We were extremely inspired by this and we knew we wanted to finish the game to the vision we originally had. We asked Jagex if we could do just that and they kindly agreed to release the IP to us.
Ant: Fast forward four years and many, many hours of development and we have released the game we created on Xbox One! I really can’t explain just how excited I am to be saying that!
Ben: I know, it’s incredible! I never imagined I would be able to do something like this, so I’m extremely proud. It’s amazing to me that something I’ve created can bring some laughter and joy to other people’s lives, I feel honoured to be able to do that. With regards to learning how to code, I wish I had broken through that intimidation barrier a lot sooner. My advice to anyone in a similar position; don’t be afraid to not “get it” straight away. Follow tutorials, copy and paste other people’s code, modify bits of it and see the effect of your tinkering. Things not working and things breaking are all part of the journey, you will learn from your mistakes!
Ant: And for those of you that give Must Dash Amigos a try, my insider top tip; don’t go spamming the “X” button to use items as soon as you get them! We threw in a booby trap called the “Bogey Bomb” to discourage exactly that. If you don’t discard it before the fuse runs down or you accidentally use it, it explodes causing you to slow down and lose momentum!