SAE student project picked up by video games publisher

Getting your video game published is the stuff of dreams for any developer or video games fan. And that’s exactly what happened to SAE Creative Media Institute graduate, Robert D’Antoni. His final student project, Mantle, which explores depression and loss, was picked up by GameSage Productions and is launching this October on Steam.

After graduating with a Bachelor of Game Development from SAE Brisbane, Robert said that he spent some time working on the game with fellow SAE games graduate, Troy Finnegan, and was contacted by a representative at GameSage - which is run by a number of former SAE lecturers.

“They said they really liked Mantle and wanted to work with us to produce it - it was such an awesome feeling,” Robert said. The 2D game, which is inspired by critically acclaimed title, Celeste, has a unique element to it, Robert added.

“All character based games are founded on that character's abilities. Super Mario for example is centered around Mario’s ability to jump. “I wanted to flip that concept and ask the question, what would happen if the character was pretty useless, and relied entirely on an object. “In Mantle, that object is a teleporter. And in order to manoeuvre your way through all the levels, you have to throw the teleporter.”

The name of the game went through a few iterations, finally deciding on Mantle, Robert added. “It was Groove Off for a bit, but as the story changed we went with the name Mantle. The story touches on loss and depression, and when you take on a mantle you feel that pressure; that was the idea behind it. “The character also wears a mantle, and during the story you lower into the earth, which is made of mantle, so there are many connotations there.”

Robert’s partner on the project and fellow SAE graduate, Troy Finnegan, helped with the game’s core mechanics, including the audio and visuals. “It was a lot of fun working with Robert again. It was very stressful at times, of course, because we’d graduated SAE, and the training wheels were off. If we had a problem, we could no longer send a quick email to a lecturer to help us fix the issue,” Troy said.

“What we learnt at SAE gave us the fundamental skills to keep moving on with the project and know where to look for answers when we were challenged.” Mantle is due to be released next month, but it may never have seen the light of day if Robert hadn’t broken his leg in a snowboarding accident, he said.

“After leaving school, I wanted to have a gap year because I wanted to spend time with my friends, and I’d actually thought about joining the army,” Robert explained. “After I broke my leg in Japan, I couldn’t enrol in the army so I had six months to decide what I wanted to do. A YouTube video on SAE is what got me thinking about game development - the rest as they say is history!”

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