Computer Games Design graduate Alice Rendell makes Develop’s 2014 30 under 30 list

Congratulations to Alice Rendell who has made it onto Develop’s 2014 30 Under 30 list.

Here is Alice’s listing from the full list…

Alice Rendell Game designer, Kobojo (27)
Commended for her passion and hard work, Alice Rendell is a promising games designer currently working at Kobojo.

Having spent over three years at the firm’s Paris HQ, she returned to Dundee earlier this year to work on Zodiac, a JRPG co-developed with former Final Fantasy staff.  Prior to Kobojo, she worked at Facebook games specialist Ooblada and offered consulting advice on game design at studio We Move Beyond. To this day, she continues to write articles and give lectures offering game design tips to new developers.

Mudvark up for Develop Award

Mudvark aka Dan Da Rocha & Henry Hoffman have been nominated for the “Best Micro Studio” at the Develop Awards 2014… Good luck guys!

Check out the Mudvark 2014 show reel to see what the guys have been up to so far this year.




Thomas Was Alone is released on iPad

So Mike Bithell has been pretty busy, not only has be been busily working away on his new game Volume, he’s also released Thomas Was Alone on iPad.

Mike has also been talking about the release of the iPad version in Polygon.

Cool prototype from Henry Hoffman

Henry’s been busy working a a cool little prototype called Hue, built using Construct 2. We can’t wait to see the game!

Henry Hoffman talks about developing for emerging platforms at Casual Connect

Henry Hoffman from Mudvark Games recently gave a talk about developing for emerging platforms at Casual Connect Europe.

He talks about approaching emerging platforms as ‘open betas’, from which to refine design, expand scope and capitalise on platform owners eagerness for content.

Mike Bithell talking about his new game at GameCity8

Last year at Game City 8  Mike Bithell had an on stage discussion about his new game Volume.

Here is an edited version for you to take a look at…

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 …

Article Image

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 …

Jenny Peers writes about her work on Fable Anniversary

Jenny Peers recently wrote a blog post detailing the work she has been doing on Fable Anniversary edition. Really interesting to get some insight into what she has been up to.

The original post can be found here:

Hello!  My name is Jenny Peers and I am the User Interface (UI) Artist on Fable Anniversary. I have been at Lionhead for nearly 2 years and 3 months now, and love my job here!  Before I started here, I was studying Computer Games Design BA (Hons) at the University of Wales in Newport while working as a freelance artist and web designer in my spare time.  My passion for games started when I was around 8, having seen and played on a friend’s games console. This spurred me to want a career in the games industry.

UI Blog - Jenny Peers

I first came across Fable while in my late teens, and I absolutely adored every minute of it.  From that point onwards it was my dream to work on a Fable game. I am over the moon to have been given the opportunity to work on Fable Anniversary!  Enough about me, now back to work!

So what is a UI artist?  UI stands for User Interface. This can include in-game menus, heads up display (HUD), icon design and even creating Xbox 360 Dashboard themes.  I have to find functional and attractive ways of displaying key information to the player while they are playing the game.

Press Start:

UI Blog - Pressstartorig

UI Blog - Pressstartnew
One of the first screens players are greeted with in Fable Anniversary is the Press Start screen.  I have made 4 versions of this screen which are randomly displayed each time you load the game.  The key thing I wanted to do with these screens was to make them interesting and showcase a range of different environments you can explore in the world of Albion.

Frontend and Pause Menu:

UI Blog - Paused ORIGUI Blog - Frontend
Once you have pressed start, you are taken to the frontend menu which takes the shape of a book.  While designing what the frontend should look like with lead designer Ted Timmins, we went through a number of different layouts and ideas.  When we sat down to review all the concepts we noticed there were a few things that were still not quite working. Ted randomly commented “Can it be a book?” and the more we thought about it, the more it made sense.  Each player is starting their own story as a new hero, as they progress through the game every action is being documented and their own story book is made.

UI Blog - Paused NEW

I created a new set of concept images and worked on the visual design of this Fable book. This has also inspired the design of our strategy guide.  The book theme is used for both the frontend and the pause menu, and strengthens the paper theme which runs through the Inventory as well as other HUD features.  It makes use of simple navigation to enable the player to quickly start or continue a game, manage their saves (all 18 of them!), and make a new hero as well as featuring a special achievements page!  (There will be more information on the achievements soon!)



Being the UI element that’s viewed most, the first task I gave myself was to tackle the HUD.  I wanted to design something that remained familiar to players who have played the original game while still creating a fresh and refined UI.  The visual treatment I decided on uses golden framed elements to help celebrate Fable Anniversary and give a bit of elegance.  The HUD uses over 400 unique icons for displaying objects including items, characters and spells.  I recreated all icons as vector shapes which has allowed them to be resized quickly and easily for multiple uses.  The Mini Maps have been restyled to have a more hand drawn look and the map container can be easily resized or completely hidden for the more advanced player.  As you play the game, elements of the HUD fade in and out as and when they are needed, minimising the amount of information on screen at any one time.  Players also have complete control over the HUD opacity. If you want to raise the difficulty of your game, try setting it to 0%!!!

UI Blog - HUD Minimal NEW


UI Blog - Clothingsuitsorig
The inventory screen was one of the biggest changes to the UI.  The original game had many levels of options which you had to go back and forth through to find what you were after. I have tried to simplify it by creating a new layout which allows for quicker navigation.  The Xbox 360 Controllers trigger and bumper buttons control which section you are viewing and their sub-sections.

UI Blog - Clothingsuitsnew

The two thumb sticks and D-pad are put in control of filtering the content and reading item descriptions.  Using this new layout players can quickly flick from choosing their equipment to reading about their current quest with minimal button presses.

Quest Complete:

UI Blog - Questcomplete ORIGUI Blog - Questcomplete NEW
The Quest Start and Quest Completed screen follows the paper visual style by presenting you with an actual quest card.  The card presents a summary for the active quest on its front side, it can then be flipped to show a more in-depth breakdown on its reverse side.  When you have completed a quest successfully, all rewards gained are listed and the card is given a Guild stamp of approval!

Region and World Map:

UI Blog - Worldmap1origUI Blog - Worldmap1new

The Region Map screen now has more space to show the map and text for each location, making it easier to see region information at a glance such as which shops a town has or if any houses are for sale.  Players can also filter the location list so only regions that have active quests are displayed.  The world map itself has had a big visual style update (secret password “52 chickens”) so it looks more hand drawn and compliments the updated mini maps.  I referred to the original Albion map heavily and was keen to try and keep a familiarity between the old and new. By keeping the colours similar I hope that, at a glance, players still recognise it as the iconic Albion map.  A new full screen world map view has been added, allowing players to zoom in and pan around to explore every fine detail as well as utilising it for loading screens.  It was important to me that the map should become more of a feature, animations and a few hidden surprises have been added for the keen eyed adventurer…

Discuss this on our forums!

The original post can be found here:

Mortar Melon Becomes the Top Free Game on Windows 8

Mortar Melon Classic a game made by two of our graduates Henry Hoffman and Dan Da Rocha, has topped the Windows 8 store! Now with more that 500,000 downloads it has established it’s self as one of the favourites.

You can download and play Mortar Melon for free!