Kevin Barnett is a South African hobbyist games developer with a vision: he wants to build and launch a dedicated games portal specifically for South Africa, and populate it with the games he’s making as well as those of any other developers who show interest.
Of course, this is a very forward-looking vision as he still needs to flesh out the whens, hows and how muches, but the vision is there. It’s an itch he feels he must scratch for the sake of local gamers who, he says, are “largely ignored by the international gaming community” and challenged by spiralling game costs thanks to the R/$.
He has a point. Whereas two years ago gamers could pick up AAA PC games for R450 ($59.99 @ R7.50/$) and console games were between R499 and R699 brand new, these days they’re looking at R660 for those same AAA PC games and PS4 games that can cost as much as R900 each.
Barnett’s plan is relatively simple at this point: create an online portal aimed at South Africans that gives gamers locally-developed games for a fixed monthly subscription fee, which he says “…will be about the price of a good magazine, so anywhere from R10 to R30”. More games will be added over time, making it a worthwhile investment for cash-strapped gamers looking for a fix on a budget.
But because Barnett has no games to offer quite yet, his focus is on getting at least one done before he considers working on the portal. His first game is a helicopter simulator – tentatively titled “Kev’s Helicopter Sim” – that challenges players to complete levels with an over-arching goal of qualifying for their virtual pilot’s license. The game will challenge players to navigate their ‘copters to a designated landing spot in the shortest time possible, and then upload their times to a leaderboard to compare their performance with others.
At the time of writing, the helicopter sim seems pretty far along as Barnett has used several pre-existing Unity assets to flesh his idea out. He says the game will reach alpha state (a point where it’s feature-complete) by around January 2015, and likely ready for release around May 2015. Along the way he will add in VTOLs (Vertical Take Off and Landing) and ground hovercraft.
Take a look at some of his early footage:
He is currently working on replacing the default helicopter model with his own design by creating it in Blender, a 3D modelling program. It’s a work in progress, which he has kindly shared with us:
Beyond his helicopter game, Barnett aims to create another three games – a first person shooter, a space sim and a multiplayer racer – before the portal he has in mind launches. When asked for a possible date, he said considering the work required to make four games before launch – as well as the fact that he has a day job – he figures the portal won’t come online before 2018, so there are still a few years to wait.
Kevin will need a bit of help getting it all done, of course, so if you’re in any way interested in helping out on a volunteer basis, get hold of us on our forum or drop me a mail and we’ll put you in touch with him.
While Kevin’s vision is a long way from completion, we like what we’ve seen so far and wish him all the best with it. He’s promised to keep us updated, and we’ll post more as he makes further progress.