Simon Ridley, drummer for DZ Deathrays, on the development of the group’s mobile game
The game pitch of the Brisbane-based dance-punk trio DZ Deathrays is pretty straightforward. Have you ever wanted to find out what it’s like to start a band with your friends? Go from shows in your garage to pyrotechnics on a large stage, all in the comfort of your own home?
DZ Deathrays answers these prayers with their new game, Dive bar superstars, which was developed by drummer Simon Ridley during COVID lockdowns. Although initially slated for an October 29 release, the game was released on iOS and Android devices on November 19 with the intention of releasing it on Steam later this year. The game is an ode to side-scrollers and SNES arcade games, with the aim of performing new and old songs for the masses, as well as collecting money and hearts to improve members and outfitting the group, while unlocking new songs along the way. Angry spectators throwing shit at you? Just hit them with the calming power of rock to make them like you. It’s a game where Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles meets Rock band, with DZ Deathrays discography to accompany your adventure along the way.
I had the chance to have a conversation with Simon to choose his brain on the development process Dive bar superstars, and the group’s personal and musical relationship with the world of video games.
Personally, when I first heard about the game, I was like, “Oh, cool! What ? Because you don’t really see a lot of bands entering the game development world. What inspired you to take this leap?
I think we’ve always been great players. Growing up in that kind of time as well, like in the 90s and early 2000s, we were just playing a lot of great SNES games, which the game is similar to. I felt like it was a natural progression – a way to get out of the music or to familiarize the fans with the old tracks and give them new life.
This is not the first time that you have had your music in the world of video games, with songs in Tony Hawk’s professional skater and NHL, but he is the first time you had a live play on the band and your music. How do you think the move from the side dish to the main dish changed your perspective on your music’s relationship to games?
I don’t really know yet! Because it’s just the first one, it’s like a really giant experience on our part. It’s cool to be able to find a new platform and a new way to release music, like we have new songs that haven’t been released yet coming out through this game, so that’s a new way. nice to understand how we can better interact with our fans and hopefully get new ones that we might not have been able to meet.
And you developed it, right?
Yes! This is my first, so take it easy. It was a learning curve.
Sure! When did you start to get into game development?
A few years ago I just wanted to learn some new skills and you have a lot of downtime in a van when you’re on tour so it was cool trying to keep learning stuff. I had started it a few months before COVID, but I had only had the idea and maybe had put a few hours into it, and when COVID hit, I was like, ‘Ah, I probably should m ‘get more involved and finish, ”since we couldn’t play gigs anymore.
What was your thinking during development? Did you have any influences to leave?
Yeah, I guess there’s a bit of history out there with the SNES side scrollers like that, but mostly it was just, like, the folks at YouTube giving tutorials and that sort of thing – that helped immensely in learning how all the mechanics work and how the code fits together.
And how did you integrate the real evolution of DZ into the game?
I wanted to share our perspective on things, because sometimes it feels like you’re in a game when you’re in a band. You’re still trying to get up to that slightly bigger room, trying to put out those new songs, and unfortunately it costs money, so that’s another thing in the game. Also, being able to buy pyro and stuff like that is really funny when you’re in a band and you get your first paycheck like, “Holy shit we can afford pyro, literally burn all our money.” Just a few little things like that that I wanted to include in it so that people can get a behind-the-scenes perspective on what it’s like to be in a band, but in a way that is really too simplified and pixelated.
Did you encounter any challenges during the development of the game?
I figured out how to ruin a game pretty much every step of the way – it wasn’t an easy part. I ran into everything. It was bad! But, you know, it’s learning.
Do you think that based on your experience, you would be interested in doing more of the same things in the future?
Yes! I would love to keep programming and developing and that sort of thing. It gets easier once you learn what all of these issues are. Whenever you run into a problem, you spend hours browsing forums or trying to read some documentation, like “What am I not doing here?” So when you go through those steps it gets a little easier. So hopefully it will continue to get a little easier and we can release other titles or maybe even just use it as a way to collaborate with other developers or things like that – things that we normally wouldn’t have done just by releasing albums.
Speaking of collaborations, do we see other figures from the music scene in the game?
Not at this point, but I would love to take that kind of route later.
And finally, it’s now available on iOS and Android, but we also know that there will eventually be a Steam version. Do we already have a date for this one?
Hopefully in a week or two, probably two more weeks. I just want to make sure it’s not, you know, shit.
DZ Deathrays first game, Dive bar superstars, is a fun little game for fans and newcomers alike, and is an awesome feat for a novice developer. While I personally think the game will definitely benefit from a Steam version, as the controls feel more natural on a keyboard or controller, mobile gaming is a nice way to save time and listen to great tunes. The game is available through the iOS App Store.