Dangerous Golf

June 2016

Three Fields Entertainment

Three Fields Entertainment

Front End & In-Game HUD Art, Design and Scripting (Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC)
Pack & Marketing Art (Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC)

I joined Three Fields Entertainment (an independent studio set up by Criterion co-founders, Alex Ward and Fiona Sperry) in mid-2014.  I spent my first months there exploring new game concepts for Android tablets (writing C++ in the Unity engine – my return to proper coding after nearly 20 years and my first work in a high-level language since 1987) and then joined the rest of the team on their first game: Dangerous Golf.

Dangerous Golf is a golf game like no other.  The ultimate aim is to get the ball into the hole, but instead of a green you play in an area that’s packed with fragile, breakable, explosive and expensive things and the way to win is to score the most insane trick shot that creates the most expensive mess.  And the ball also catches fire, and the game can be dropped into super-slow-motion ‘Danger Time’ allowing it to be guided in flight to cause maximum devastation.  This means that the game is an irreverent showcase of physics, destruction and liquid simulation with fragile objects being shattered in real time,  liquids being hurled and splattered everywhere, fruit being flung, toilets erupting like geysers, champagne corks being popped and every priceless antique you can imagine being smashed to bits.  Backing this up is a deep scoring system that counts every bit of damage, friends leaderboards and both on and offline game modes so everyone can challenge their friends in the way that they want.

Three Fields founding philosophy is that everyone pitches in, there are no meetings, no Powerpoints.  Everything is focussed on making the game with everyone contributing their skills, enthusiasm and expertise wherever they can.  For me, that meant providing all of the art and animation for the Front End and In-Game HUD, as well as supporting our code guys with lots of logic scripting to drive it.

Having worked on massive teams where every minor design or art change requires a meeting or presentation to request it, this was a breath of fresh air.  Changes and design decisions that would have taken days and multiple coders, artists and producers to get into the software could be turned around in hours and mostly just by myself.  And, thanks to Alex & Fiona’s philosophy of building a sustainable games company (and the Internet now being fast enough), I was able to work from my home in the Midlands full time, with occasional trips down to Three Fields’ office ‘The Field House’ in the Southeast.

Destroying a group of key objects in the game triggers a ‘SmashDown’ and one of the many individually animated and coded central messages I created for the game.

The style of the Dangerous Golf front end and presentation style was to be, like the game, big, bold and expressive.  But we also wanted to create something different too, so about three-quarters of the way through the development, over a 72 hour period I blasted into the software and gave everything that appeared too slick and polished a punk makeover – Anarchy with a golf ball from a small team in the UK.

Halftone dots applied to 2D and 3D elements allowed me to pull them together into a cohesive punk look.

The game’s rewards are packed with satirical references so I part of the job involved creating ‘Dangerous’ takes on famous sporting trophies and parody magazine covers.

The spoof magazine covers in the game also feature the names/handles of many fans who Tweeted us during development.

Among the other fun jobs, on Golf was to lend a hand designing all manner of labels for the various bottles and food items that get smashed in the game. We began by making very simplistic labels but realised that the only way to get the look right was to effectively do the work of real packaging designers.  I spent a lot of time designing our own fake food brands based on our names and those of our family members.  This was a cool challenge in itself and so was making the copy on the packaging funny.  Because each food item could fall right up to the camera full screen, the text on the side of the boxes had to be readable – so there are countless jokes on the side of every box, can and bottle in the game.

Finally, I got to do something that I hadn’t really ever done before – make the logo and cover art for the game.  I’ve helped out with logos and provided the odd render that got used on box art over the years, but this felt like the first proper chance to do this.  When it comes to designing a logo I’ve found that the best way is to explore as many options as possible.  In that way, you end with something that’s right for the product that isn’t necessarily the first thing you’ve thought of.  Of course, if you have a strong first idea, testing it against a variety of alternatives is a good way to confirm that your instincts were right all along.

So, for me, on Dangerous Golf, I created as many varied ideas as possible, and then, with feedback, we whittle it down to the finished piece.

For the final artwork, I created a digital painting that used a lot of Photoshop trickery along with photographic elements of broken plates, glass and bathroom tiles that I took a hammer to and then shot in my back garden.  (Boy, was that a fun afternoon!)

Dangerous Golf is available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC from Three Fields Entertainment.