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.
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.
We are very pleased to announce that this year there are several games from Newport Graduates that have been short-listed for the TIGA Games Industry Awards.
Mush by Angry Mango has been short-listed in the ‘Debut Game’, ‘Visual Design’ & ‘Originality’ categories.
Good luck everyone!
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!
Discover the emotions in this award-winning exclusive to Windows Live, a quirky puzzle adventure that lets you change how your character feels! Touch, tilt, rotate and shake up Mush to alter his mood. Gain new abilities, evade beasties and solve puzzles as you tumble through unique and beautiful worlds!
Henry has been talking to the Guardian Games Blog about the experience of developing Mush over the last three years, take a look at the article ‘Five key lessons for every young game developer‘.
Kate has been also chatting with the BBC Radio Wales Breakfast Show about the experience, skip to 22:57
There is a great article about Mush on Hookshot Inc.
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.”