Once again this year we made our annual pilgrimage to GameCity in Nottingham, to completely immerse ourselves in games!
With talks and workshops from State of Play the creators of Lumino City, Christos Reid from Failnaut, James Parker’s fantastic Wise Old Games’ Owl, Ian Livingstone and Richard Bartle, Ed Stern, Chris Avellone, Zoe Quinn and Eline Muijres to mention a few! As we’ll as getting to play loads of fantastic games in the ‘Open’ galleries.
It was also great to hear that GameCity will now become a permanent feature in Nottingham with the National Videogame Arcade opening in March 2015.
We spent the whole day on Wednesday showing off some of the games created but current and recently graduated students of the USW Games Design course.
These included, Nix (Jackson Rolls-Gray, Sebastian Filby and Faye Allen), Beneath the Crimson Moon (Zack Finley, Sam Beale, Gary Kings, Rob Pearce, Ashley Lake and Mitchell Letherdale), SimRaiders (Matt Stockham) and Fragments (Adam Curtis). Nix went on to win this year’s Off The Map competition, but there will be more on that on another post. Ollie Elliot (a 2011 graduate) also brought along his new game Congo War Child.
All of last year’s graduating games can be seen on our 2014 Showreel…
We are very pleased to announce that a team of students from the USW Computer Games Design course has won Off the Map 2014, a competition run by The British Library, Crytek and GameCity.
Off The Map 2014 Winners
Nix by Jackson Rolls-Gray, Sebastian Filby and Faye Allen. The team created an underwater journey through Fonthill Abbey, the once-stunning Gothic revival country house in Wiltshire, which was demolished in 1846 after the collapse of its spectacular 300-foot tower twenty years earlier. Nix challenges gamers to reconstruct theAbbey via a series of puzzles in a spooky underwater world. It uses Oculus Rift, to enable the user to virtually explore the Abbey in its original splendour. The team used original drawings, maps of the estate and sounds held in the British Library’s collections.
Once again this year we had two teams short listed in the final, the other was Beneath the Crimson Moon by Zack Finley, Sam Beale, Gary Kings, Rob Pearce, Ashley Lake and Mitchell Letherdale.
The Off The Map competition is a collaboration between the British Library, Crytek and GameCity. It challenges higher education students based in the UK to create games inspired by the British Library’s collections, using Crytek’s cutting edge real-time technology Ceyengine.
The 2014 Off The Map competition accompanies the British Library’s current exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination. Curators handpicked a number of items, ranging from maps, sounds, text, images, illustrations and architectural plans, to provide three Gothic themes for entrants to base their videogames on. These were author William Beckford’s home Fonthill Abbey, Edgar Allen Poe’s short story The Masque of the Red Death and the seaside town of Whitby, which features in Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
Dare to be Digital describes itself as a video games development competition for extremely talented students at Universities and Colleges of Art. For the competition, teams of five students – usually a mix of artists, programmers and audio – develop a prototype video game, receiving mentoring from industry.
Team Unorthobox created AIIY, a playable fast-paced, 2D platform video game that is entirely focused on cooperation and teamwork, where every personal goal achieved unifies the team.
Lead Designer and Computer Games Design student Joey Richards says: “We couldn’t be more excited to take part. The team has been working hard for months, so it’s so rewarding to see that work pay off. It actually feels unreal, seeing it all coming together.”
At the end of the competition, the prototypes are displayed at talent showcase event Dare ProtoPlay, where the general public and industry experts will get to play the games and vote for the winner.
To find out more and keep up with progress check out the Team Unorthobox Blog.
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.
BAFTA has announced the first Prince William Scholarships and one of them has been awarded to our recent graduate Same Coleman.
The Prince William Scholarship recipients will have their fees for further study funded by Warner Bros. and will additionally receive a short funded work placement within the Warner Bros. group of companies and access to additional Warner Bros. mentors.
Sam will be studying on the MA Games Design and Development course at the National Film and Television School.
Sam will be sharing his experiences on http://guru.bafta.org/
You can see more of Sam’s work on his blog… http://ambercloud.blogspot.co.uk/
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.
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.