Off The Map is a year-long project that encouraged students to create interactive environments using the CRYENGINE games engine. The competition supported by Crytek the British Library and GameCity, challenged students from selected universities to draw inspiration from British Library maps and then turn that inspiration into games. Teams could choose from three different maps: The Pyramids of Giza, Wiltshire’s Stonehenge, or London around the time of the Great Fire in 1666.
The competition short-list comprised of three teams, two of which were teams from the University of South Wales’ Computer Games Design Course. As finalists they had the opportunity to visit Crytek’s studios in Nottingham for feedback about their games and to gain an insight into the companies production processes. The teams were then asked to showcase their games at the Nottingham GameCity festival to an invited audience of professional games developers.
Ian McMichael presented his team’s work entitled ‘Mystical Wings’, a fantasy world based upon Stonehenge where the player controls Liliana a 6″ tall faery.
James Macleod and Max Cutler then presented ‘Catacombs’ a game which takes the player on a journey through a fantasy landscape of underground dungeons and caves hidden beneath Stonehenge.
Computer Games Design Lecturer Adam Martin says: “The student’s professionalism during the event was excellent, they did a fantastic job of conveying a sense of the games they had created and described the technical details of their production, they impressed the seasoned games developers at Crytek. We are very proud of what they have done.”
We are now preparing for next year’s competition and see this as a great way to enable students to engage with industry in a meaningful and valuable way. The ethos of the course is to make great games, so when competitions like this arise we can integrate them as assessable coursework. We actively encourage our students to work on projects that combine academic rigour and technical expertise, both of which are highly valued by the industry partners involved with the Off The Map project.
Earlier this year, Crytek launched a creative competition for students in association with the British Library and GameCity. The Off the Map challenge invites students from participating universities and colleges to draw inspiration from a selection of British Library maps and then turn that inspiration into interactive environments using our free CryENGINE 3 SDK.
Among the participants is the University of South Wales. One of their faculties is the City Campus in Newport, where students can get their degree in Computer Games Design, one of the oldest and most established Games Design courses in the UK. It has an international reputation for its teaching, research, and quality student experience. The program’s study areas range from key concepts to game mechanics and conceptual skills, focuses on both creative and technical processes, and teaches the students how to be a practitioner within a team.
Catacombs by team Asset Monkeys.
Senior Lecturer Adam Martin says that the competition ties in perfectly with their program. “One of the strengths of our course is to recognize the importance of creative practice within games design, as we really focus on the creative and artistic aspects of contemporary games production. We want our students to develop their ability to think, research, and experiment, combined with traditional design principles. This competition asks students to challenge and surprise, and provides a unique starting point for understanding and creating their game world. We are especially mindful that it is a game we are making, not just a historical reconstruction of a certain environment.”
Participants in Off the Map must choose between one of three maps as their source of inspiration; the Pyramids of Giza, Wiltshire’s Stonehenge, or London around the time of the Great Fire in 1666. “We considered various maps and scenarios, but eventually settled on Stonehenge,” says Ian McMichael from Team Faery Fire, who are working on a game called Mystical Wings. “It will be a third person action game, where you play as Liliana as she explores the setting of Stonehenge, a vast landscape in comparison to the fairy character who is a mere 6” tall. This concept was inspired by fairytales and the folklore behind Stonehenge.”
Concept of Wiltshire’s Stonehenge by team Faery Fire.
“The design was built upon further within the group,” Ian continues. “We refined and finalized the use of scale and perspective, turning it into the game we currently have. The most important part of the design is of course the map. It will be used to create parts of the level, as well as other visual aspects of the game, like the HUD. The concept art we produced has given us further inspiration for the visual aesthetic we are aiming towards.”
Even though most students haven’t worked with Crytek’s CryENGINE before, the learning process has been relatively easy according to Adam. “Our students are effectively learning as they go! With the CryENGINE being such a powerful and visually rich environment to work within, it allows the designers to construct visually, in real-time, and then instantly test the game without lengthy compiling times. This provides a very fluid workflow throughout the entire creation process. The real-time lighting system and extensive visual effects are very intuitive for our arts-based students to use.”
Now that the CryENGINE has been incorporated into Newport’s Games Design course, Adam hopes that students will use it to create even more successful and beautiful games. “We firmly believe in the significance of the independent games sector, with alumni successfully creating their own companies and winning significant awards. It would be great to see the seeds of a publishable game at the end of this project.”
Production footage from team Asset Monkeys and their game called Catacombs.
To find out more about our CryENGINE 3 SDK and download it for free, please visit www.mycryengine.com.
Dates & times: Monday 17 – Friday 21 June
Private view: Wednesday 19 June, from 6pm
Tickets: Free private view tickets go to www.southwales.ac.uk/gradfest2013
Venue: Newport City CampusA29/20 and screening in exhibition space
From superheroes, temporal manipulation, difficult decisions and cute dragons, come and play exciting and innovative games, talk to the developers and see sophisticated and enthralling artwork from the award winning Computer Games Design programme at the University.
BA (Hons) Computer Games Design has produced BAFTA award winning and nominated alumni with significant commercial and independent success. Presented alongside the BA and MA animation programmes, it promises to be an impressive showcase.
Come and play.
Mike and Thomas was Alone is nominated in several categories including, New IP, Use of Narrative and Micro Studio.
The July 10th Develop Awards will toast another diverse array of the finest European game development talent.
Almost 100 different companies have been listed as finalists for the July 10th event.
The shortlists for the 19 main prizes represents 36 different games and their creative talent, 49 different games studios and ten different European countries.
Pete Harries a Newport grad from 2010 has been working on a new game called The Seeker. Back in October Pete showcased the game at GameCity 7 in Nottingham and has written a message about his experience…
10 things to remember when exhibiting your game
In October we exhibited “The seeker” at GameCity7 in Nottingham, it was a great success and we learnt a lot. So I thought “Hey I’ll blog about this!!” unfortunately the few weeks have been incredibly busy and I’ve not had a chance to write at all. But finally, I’ve found the time to break out the pen and paper (keyboard) and get something down, and here it is! enjoy!
The Seeker gets some attention at GameCity7
1. Bring your notepad (and a pen!)
This may seem obvious but this is the number one must have item when exhibiting your game. Write down feedback, get important peoples details, notes on how to make your next trip more productive. Basically write everything down in here, if your anything like me you won’t remember half the stuff that gets said / done whilst your there so being able to reference back to your notepad is invaluable. Great for design ideas that get sparked off during the trip as well.
2. travel in groups
Exhibiting on your own is an option, but having a couple of friends that are familiar with your game or some of the development team along for the ride really, really helps! This way you can take turns to go to the toilet or go and get food. At GameCity this year I was asked to jump up on stage to talk briefly about “The Seeker” this wouldn’t have been possible if I was on my own! (cheers guys!)
3. network, network, network
This is of paramount importance. Talk to everyone! Go to the post exhibition events, Give out your business cards and introduce people to each other. When it comes to getting the word out about your game later on having a network of contacts on tap that can share with their friends any news you want to publish is extremely important.
4. support material
Business cards are obviously at the top of this list, easy to give out and less likely to go missing than a scrap of paper. But other material can be handy as well. This year we used flyers with a QR code printed on them that linked directly to our Steam Greenlight page, people could play the game and if they liked it scan the QR code and vote for us on the spot!
Again something that seems obvious but make sure it’s close to the venue, you’re going to be on your feet for 7+ hours a day so you don’t want a 5 mile hike back to where your staying, especially if you carrying equipment with you! Oh and make sure you do stay overnight, you’ll want to attend those after parties!
6. Check your tech!
Prior to the event make sure you find out exactly what the situation is with tech, what will the organisers be providing? Will you need to bring specific items along with you? what time you need to be there to setup? After you have this information be sure your game is setup to work on what you have. And have a backup plan just in case that doesn’t work. Maybe even a backup, backup plan…
7. play other peoples games
These events are a great opportunity to meet people in a similar position as you, so go meet them! Play peoples games, see what they’re doing and how their doing it! Networking opportunity, inspiration and you get to play some awesome games, win-win!
8. ask people what they think of your game
Hopefully you’ll have a load of people coming by your stand, so talk to them! explain what your trying to do and see if they think your achieving it. Ask them what they think of the game even if they have any ideas about things they think would improve it! Then write it ALL down in your notebook.
9. follow up
If everything goes well at the event you’ll meet loads of great people and you’ll arrive home with hundreds of business cards. Follow them up! Email every one of them just to say hi and that it was great to meet them! (assuming it was!). If you get a chance to add them of facebook or Linkedin this is always handy as well. So next time you want to contact these people you won’t be going in cold.
10. have fun
These events are usually really enjoyable, so make the most of it!
We are very pleased to announce that this year there are several nominations for Newport games in the TIGA Games Industry Awards.
Voting closes at midnight on Friday 12th October, so get voting!
Kate Killick and Henry Hoffman, will be showcasing With the Dust and Mush, and Toxic Games (Dan Da Rocha, Jon Savery and Dave Hall) will be showcasing Q.U.B.E. at the fist Wales Games Development Show.
“Wales Games Development Show will showcase talented companies and projects across the digital media industry in Wales. This will be a good opportunity to network, promote digital interactive products, find talent and gain experience. SMEs and potential new start-ups can also take advantage of the wide variety of support available to them through various agencies and potential funding pools.”
The Computer Games Design Graduate Showcase 2012.
Dates & Times: 13 – 14 June
Venue: University of Wales, Newport, City Campus, A29/30
Computer Games Design and Animation will exhibit together with a Private Showcase Evening: 13 June – Students, staff and guests join in celebrating the success of graduating Computer Games Design and Animation students
See the finest work of graduating students from the award winning Computer Games Design programme at Newport on display at the University’s City Campus.
BA (Hons) Computer Games Design at Newport is one of the oldest and most established games design courses in Britain. It has an international reputation for teaching, research, award winning alumni and quality student experience. Our graduating students will be showcasing their games and exhibiting their concept art. They will be illustrating their innovative and exciting game mechanics, novel concepts and progressive aesthetics.
This degree concentrates on design and creative skills with continual prototyping. Students follow a rigorous interrogation of the key concepts of games design; from character design, illustration, and 3D modelling, to understanding game mechanics, pitching and project management, utilising an iterative design process throughout. Theoretical and cultural knowledge of games is built up throughout the course to underpin the design process.
Our award winning students have continued into employment at Lionhead, Creative Assembly and garnered substantial funding and support from international bodies such as Indie Fund and Microsoft.
For more information and for the full details please take a look at the Newport Graduate Festival 2012 Guide [PDF]
We are very pleased to announce that three Newport games have been shortlisted in the Games & Interactive Media category and the Ffresh Awards 2012.
The winner will be announced on Friday 10th February.