Northern Ireland news

Co Down student hoping 'Newcastle 1899' can be next big thing in video gaming

The Slieve Donard Hotel in Newcastle will be featured in the video game

A Co Down student is hoping to create the next big thing in video gaming - with the help of the seaside town of Newcastle.

Inspired by local attractions such as Tollymore Forest Park, the Slieve Donard Hotel and even the arcade venue Joyland, the game is currently being produced by Conor Rooney from Castlewellan.

And the 24-year-old, who has been working on the project since February, said instead of being based in a futuristic world, it is set back in 1899.

A second year animation student at Ulster University, he said it would have "an industrial but fantasy element".

The idea for 'Newcastle 1899' came about after he had been "redesigning Newcastle through Minecraft", a game that allows players to build with a variety of different blocks in a 3D-generated world.

"I'm using the idea of re-imagining the past," he said.

"It's based on Newcastle in 1899 with a steampunk - a subgenre of science fiction or science fantasy - and re-imagined old-fashioned spin on it.

"There's Main Street in Newcastle in it, the Slieve Donard and parts of Tollymore, lots of tourist attractions likes bars and places that people will be familiar with."

Mr Rooney said he had "always been into 3D and animation", which drove his idea to fruition.

"I remember as a kid how much I loved Toy Story and Pixar. Something really fascinated me about the work and time that goes into making 3D," he said.

"So I've wanted to get involved in animation for a long time, which is why I'm doing this university course - it doesn't feel like work at all.

"I decided to push my limits and create something I never thought was possible.

"The story and script is almost complete, I'm in the process of finding voice actors, but it's not going to be child-friendly, it will be an 18+ rated game.

"I don't have a final date for completion yet, but I will probably be at least Fall 2020.

"I want to put in as much effort as I can and make it great quality."

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Conor Rooney from Castlewellan


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