Hotels, Coffee and Kickstarter: The Story of De Mambo’s development

We continue Pause Resume Q3 with a developer who talks us through how they made their game a reality. This is the story of De Mambo’s development …

For those of us who don’t spend our time tinkering around with developing video games, when we think about the type of environments that our favourite games are created in, we usually come to one of two conclusions.

They’re either developed by big corporations who can afford to give their developers a lavish office space, a desk with a view that contains at least one tree in the foreground and an endless stream of coffee on tap. The other is a one or two-person indie team striving in their own private space with not much room and an endless supply of low to medium-range instant coffee on tap.

Both scenarios are undoubtedly way off the mark in most instances, but The Dangerous Kitchen, quite creatively, sits somewhere in the middle.

Their first game, De Mambo, was conceived in a Costa Coffee, within a Premier Inn, just outside Heathrow airport. It’s a story that other outlets have covered, and we thought it was intriguing enough to find out more about a game that we ended up loving.

The story of De Mambo

“Well De Mambo is our first game, it was mostly developed in a hotel lobby and is a minimal Smash Bros style game for Nintendo Switch.” Says Shaun Roopra, the team’s artist, writer and designer of De Mambo.

“It was designed to use one button for attacks—you charge and release at different times—and a d-pad/analogue stick for movement. People should be hyped because De Mambo works really well on the Switch. The simple controls make playing with one Joy-Con a breeze and since it’s a single-screen game, multiplayer is great in tabletop mode. It’s also just a fun game designed for no other reason.”

There’s more to De Mambo than just a story about where it’s developed though. When a game starts out life as nothing more than a few thoughts and scribbles on a notepad, there’s always an inspiration behind it, and what triggered the creation of De Mambo was a game of the highest calibre.

“Smash. That was the inspiration when developing the prototype. But after we’d made it, De Mambo kinda developed into its own thing. Our creative process is so incredibly disjointed and odd that what we ended up with is very different to what we wanted, but that’s in no way a bad thing!”

“There was a lot of things we really wanted like online and some crazier things but ultimately you have to limit your scope to what is possible with your current ability and time constraints. Ultimately though, we’re happy as making something you never planned is a lot more exciting.”

The Story of De Mambo

Naturally, funding is one of the biggest issues facing developers and Kickstarter is one of the obvious routes to achieve the finances required to turn a plan into reality. However, the crowdfunding method can often be do-or-die for games just days after launching one. For The Dangerous Kitchen, this method was not always the plan. “It wasn’t our intention to do one initially,” Shaun tells us, “but we were advised by multiple people, researched it and then just went for it.

It’s easy to look at a Kickstarter from the outside, but Shaun explained how the team felt during De Mambo’s Kickstarter that achieved its goal just a day before the end of the funding effort “Well, it was really, really stressful, but fun too. There was so much work to do before you even start and then it just keeps on going. ”

“Although the bulk of the work happens in the planning stage, it’s during the actual campaign that you feel an influx of delirium rise up within you. Looking back though, we’re really happy with the video we made, as it’s a great reminder of where we were back then.”

The team’s rollercoaster ride from Costa Coffee, to Kickstarter and then working towards finishing their Smash-inspired game didn’t finish there though. Despite the title’s initial flirtation with PlayStation, it was a chance event that saw Nintendo become involved in the project.

“We exhibited De Mambo at BitSummit 2016 which was the first year Nintendo was there. They saw De Mambo and got in contact with our Japanese publisher Chorus Worldwide. After some discussions, we ended up receiving a devkit and then yeah, De Mambo Switch! Working with them has been great so far since Nintendo is a lot smaller and so it’s a more intimate process.”

While it’s fitting to see that a Nintendo-inspired team has created a title that appropriately compliments the Switch’s local multiplayer-centric ideals, it’s perhaps Shaun and the team themselves that are the true inspiration here. What goes on behind the scenes of the games we play are stories that usually go untold, but with The Dangerous Kitchen and De Mambo, working in a less than ideal location hasn’t stopped them achieving their goals.

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