Mike Bithell is on the Game Industry Biz Top 100 list

A huge well done to Mike Bithell (BA Computer Games Design Graduate) for making the Games Industry Biz Top 100 Most Influential People in the British Games Industry List.

Taking up coding at a young age, Mike Bithell was destined for games. Although he worked at studios such as Blitz, it was his indie project Thomas Was Alone that made his name.

Taking inspiration from filmmakers such as Kevin Smith, Bithell focused on making impressive titles with a tight budget. Now he is an aspirational figure for many a hopeful one-man indie, but when asked for advice on how to make it in games, he reminds fellow developers that “they are not on the same journey.”

“The business changes weekly, so I try not to give too much advice,” he says.

Following huge commercial success came the chance to meet his heroes, such as Hideo Kojima, which Bithell describes as a “massive privilege.” But according to the Volume creator, it’s the audience that drives him.

“It sounds corny, but the best part of this job is meeting the people who play our stuff,” he says. “Fan art, cosplay, videos – everything that folks do with the games we make.”

Extract from http://www.gamesindustry.biz/top100/indie-leaders

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Win for Comet’s Tale at Ffresh Student Media Awards

Great news for Games Design graduates Seb Filby, Faye Allen & Sam Beale for winning a Ffresh Student Media Festival Award for their game Comet’s Tale in the Games & Interactive category.

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Two Newport Computer Games Design graduates make the Develop 30 Under 30 list

Congratulations to Dan Da Rocha and Luke Williams who have both made it onto Develop’s 2013 30 Under 30 list.

Here are Dan and Luke’s listing from the full list…

Daniel Da Rocha Managing Director, Mudvark (24)
Starting Toxic Games straight out of university in 2010 with investment from the US-based Indie Fund, Daniel Da Rocha project led the student game QUBE. Released in 2012 on Steam, he was able to pay back the initial funding in just four days. Following this, Da Rocha, 24, set up Mudvark that year to focus on HTML5 games for mobile and the web. Mudvark released its debut game, Mortar Melon, at the end of 2012 and has racked up over 800,000 downloads on the Windows Store alone.”

Luke Williams Game Designer, Bossa Studios (26)
Twenty-six-year-old Luke Williams started off as a QA tester at Bossa in July 2012. In less than a year, he has worked tirelessly to become the studio’s in-house game designer. Partly mentored by Mike Bithell, Williams has gone to create Surgeon Simulator 2013, which has sold almost half a million copies. Credited as being instrumental in the game’s creation, his colleagues say he displays great design ability. Williams is now working on the studio’s latest upcoming game, Time to Live.”

Henry Hoffman also got an honourable mention!

In 2010 another of our graduates Mike Bithell made it onto the list too!


Mudvark: The Importance of Christmas Updates

The Mudvark guys Dan Da Rocha and Henry Hoffman, have been chatting away with the Microsoft UK Developers Blog about why it’s important to release Christmas updates, for their game Mortar Melon which has over 800,000 downloads and hit the number one game in the US!

The original article can be found here … http://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/developers/articles/mudvark-the-importance-of-christmas-updates/week03dec13?fb_action_ids=10151727652721266&fb_action_types=og.likes&fb_source=other_multiline&action_object_map=%5B605949239442796%5D&action_type_map=%5B%22og.likes%22%5D&action_ref_map=%5B%5D

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Christmas is coming, and in the build up to the festivities we’re bringing you marketing tips and tales from developers to help you prepare your apps for some brand new users. Taking advantage of the larger audience around this time is incredibly important for your own success, so we caught up with Mudvark to see what their plans are for updating Mortar Melon in time for the holidays.

How has Mortar Melon performed on Windows 8?

Mortar Melon has far exceeded our wildest expectations, amassing over 800,000 downloads and hitting the number one game in the US. At the beginning of development we’d hoped to hit around 3,000 downloads, giving us time to refine and fix issues, but the rate of adoption took us massively by surprise. Our success then attracted publisher interest, which has in turn provided us with the financial support necessary to continue development well into the New Year.

Has Windows 8.1 brought anything new to the table that particularly excites you?

As HTML5 game developers, we’re always super excited about the capabilities of new Internet Explorer releases. Windows 8.1 has Internet Explorer 11, bringing WebGL support to Internet Explorer for the first time. This is massive for us, as it allows us to use GLSL ES shaders – which means a host of fancy effects for things like realistic fluid simulation, Photoshop-style blending modes and dynamic lighting effects. We’ve managed to fake a lot of effects with Mortar Melon, but we’re really looking forward to the options it presents for future games on Windows.

Mudvark: The Importance of Christmas Updates

What do you plan to add around Christmas?

We’ve got a whole new world with 24 additional levels and an icy theme. A new portal mechanic also makes an appearance which makes for some great puzzle designs. Hopefully we’ll also get a chance to add some more festive treats too!

Why is updating at Christmas so important?

Christmas Day is one of the most competitive times, and with other developers striving to cash in on new users, it’s important to be able to hold your ground in the charts. Being able to adapt to seasonal themes makes the app retain relevance and helps convey active support from the developers. One of our biggest spikes in downloads was Christmas morning last year, so ensuring you have an update for Christmas isn’t just about seasonal themes – it’s also about ensuring that you make the best possible impression to a potentially game-defining audience.

Where do you see Mudvark this time next year?

A year ago we hadn’t released a game, so it’s crazy to imagine where we could be a year from now. We’ve been working with melons for quite a while now, so it would be great to see us releasing a new, even more ambitious project!

Still need some convincing to make a Christmas update? Check out “Seasonal apps: are they worth the effort” by Gary Pretty.

The original article can be found here … http://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/developers/articles/mudvark-the-importance-of-christmas-updates/week03dec13?fb_action_ids=10151727652721266&fb_action_types=og.likes&fb_source=other_multiline&action_object_map=%5B605949239442796%5D&action_type_map=%5B%22og.likes%22%5D&action_ref_map=%5B%5D


University of South Wales goes Off the Map with CryENGINE®3

Original Article: http://crytek.com/blog/university-of-south-wales-goes-off-the-map-with-cryengine-3

 

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.

USW has two different teams working on Off the Map: Asset Monkeys and Faery Fire. Each team has four or five members enrolled in the BA Computer Games Design or BSc Games and AI.

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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.”

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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.


Newport Alumnus Mike Bithell Develop awards nomination

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.

 

http://www.develop-online.net/news/44031/Develop-Awards-2013-The-finalists-are


Q.U.B.E.: Against the Qlock hits Steam