Ballarat’s Dark Shadow Studio has taken a further step towards national and international recognition following the nomination of Drone Legion, its major project, for an Australian Games Award.
The awards recognise excellence and innovation across a number of fields, including ‘games, accessories, journalism, esports, content creation and cosplay’.
Drone Legion has been nominated in two categories: Esports Title of the Year and Sports, Racing or Fighting Title of the Year.
The game is an interactive virtual reality (VR) drone racing simulator, based on the increasingly popular sport of drone racing, which involves tiny quadcopters with cameras racing around courses and obstacles at speeds up to 150km/h. Spectacular crashes are common
Dark Shadow CEO Casey Thomas says the game, which has been featured by the AFL at an esport mini tournaments over the past year, as well as the Melbourne Open tournament this year.
So what does the Australian Football League have to do with esports and drone racing in general?
“The AFL are branching into the esports industries, but they are not just purchasing their own players, they are looking at the video games behind it as well,’ says Casey Thomas.
“Without the games they won’t have any players to compete in their competitions. So we showcased an F1 simulation to approach the AFL and offer a collaboration together, and they said ‘why not?’.And we’ve been in touch ever since.
“They reached out to me about doing some stuff with Drone Legion, and I said sure!”
Dark Shadow Studios have also been in discussions with The Australian Army about possible military applications for the game.
The premise of Drone Legion is being able to capture the excitement of drone racing in a game, as the actual sport is too fast to enjoy for spectators, says Ms Thomas, with speeds approaching 180kmh. At that velocity, a drone crash is catastrophic, she says.
The beauty of a simulation such as Drone Legion is it allows ‘respawning’ after a disastrous accident, as well as the opportunity to fly in remote or hard-to-access simulated situations, including the Grand Canyon, Marvel Stadium and Rod Laver Arena.
“Hopefully we’ll be doing some stuff with the NBL and HiSense arena; that would be really exciting,” Ms Casey says.
She says being nominated for the Australian Games Awards among commercially-successful ventures has left her speechless and her development team ‘blown away’.
“The penny is still dropping,” she says.
And for a company which launched just two years ago, Casey Thomas says the future is looking particularly exciting, with invitations to esports events and exhibitions already coming in.
Drone Legion has been developed with the support of the Ballarat Tech School, hosted within the campus of Federation University.
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