Three teams of indie developers are getting ready for a glamorous night.
On the 5th March 2013 they will rub shoulders with makers of big hits of the past year like Far Cry 3 and Fez on the red carpet to find out which one will be named BAFTAs ‘Ones to Watch’.
Techzwn has been finding out about how each team achieved the prestigious nomination to give you an insight into the next big names of game development.
All three groups took part in the Dare to be Digital program which has been running for more than a decade for students in Scottish Universities and arts colleges but has since expanded since its debut in 2000 and now accepts applications from students from England, Ireland and universities abroad.
The initiative aims to nurture up and coming game developing talent with an eye to aid them towards a career in the industry, with all participants receiving close mentoring from recognised professionals.
Teams take up residence at Abertay University for nine weeks June to August to make their game from a budget of £200.
Their work is showcased at Dare ProtoPlay, a specific event open for players to come and play the games with teams being marked on innovation, creativity, market potential and use of technology.
Dare to be Digital searches for the next generation of game makers so let’s take a look at this year’s nominees:
- Hugh Laird- Tom Laird – Alex Shapland – Andy Coles - – Tom Kemp
University friends and acquaintances from Global Game Jam joined forces to create a team with a balance of skills (without too many artists spoiling the drawing) to form Raptor Games.
Possibly the most noticeably ambitious group they pitched an idea of a horror game ‘attached to the players face’ using Sensics zSight headset.
The zSight is a light weight, high resolution professional plug-and-play HMD from Inition boasting high quality display giving Raptor’s design an immersive quality.
Project Thanatos is a first-person psychological horror, about bio-weapons researcher Dr Samantha Richards who has been infected by a biological weapon, causing terrifying hallucinations and memory loss. She must explore the research lab for a cure but is there something else lurking in the shadows?
Since Dare Alex has reached the top 4 of the MSUL competition and Tom Laird has spoken of his excitement of landing a job with major studio Rockstar:
“I felt very lucky; it’s a fantastic place and such a talented team to work with!”
He also shared some advice for those who may wish to follow the same kind of path.
“I think it breaks down into 3 parts; how good you are at what you do, does your personality fit with the team you’re looking at working with, and of course a small case of “right place, right time”.
“I was looking for work for about two years before I found anything; and was even struggling after completing Dare for a few months. So definitely stick with it, get your name out there, work for as many mod teams as you can and don’t be disheartened if you don’t get a position straight away, there’s a lot of competition – good luck!”
Loan Wolf Games
Martin Cosens – Thomas McParland – Ashley Hayes – Benjamin Rushton – Luke Harrison
These Salford University students had worked together on projects for years throughout their study and were cautious of when their skillset was ready for the tasks set by Dare. Their only real issue was choosing an appropriate name!
Having a clear idea of wanting to design a product that would reflect how gaming has changed over the years with it all concentrating into a puzzle platformer called Pixel Story.
Using the programme as a bridge between their university work and what would be expected from them in the ‘real world’ Loan Wolf were able to take experience like the pressure of deadlines and the difficulty of predicting the market.
Such an intense experience left them feeling that they learned more in the nine weeks than any course at a university would allow them to!
Martin has stated that Pixel Story is still in development thanks to a commission by Channel 4 and the team are hoping to release it later on in the year.
While he may still not be settled with their name it certainly seems the future is not in much doubt.
“Video games are our passion, we do have some concepts brewing for titles after this one, however we don’t want them to get in the way of our development as it stands.”
He also added how much they were all looking forward to the awards ceremony which will once again be presented by Irish comedian Dara O’Briain.
“We’re ridiculously excited for the event, that with not small amount of trepidation. Without getting into a lot of personal game politics, I’m really hoping to see XCOM come out top for design.
“It’s also really good to see games like Fez, Journey & Dark souls get as much recognition as they can, and be put up alongside titles from very well established studios.”
Kind of a Big Deal
Kimi Sulopuisto – Vili Viitaniemi – Minttu Meriläinen – Petri Liuska – Andrew MacLean
BAFTA doesn’t have a big a spotlight in Finland but Kind of A Big Deal games were inspired by Dare’s presentation they couldn’t wait to take part.
They saw what a great opportunity it was, describing it as “a fantastic chance for would-be developers to prove their mettle as well as established companies to look for new employees.”
The team worked to demonstrate their skill in the form of a charming 2D platformer where players guide a crash-landed astronaut back home, using a rocket launcher to send him flying through space between asteroids.
Gravity and temperature are a key gameplay element with dangers of the space man burning up by the heat of the sun of freezing in the coldness of outer space.
Kimi iterated just how beneficial initiatives like this are to continue the gaming business.
“Every industry needs new talent to keep things going and Dare to be Digital is certainly a mutual exchange at that.
Their project was developed specifically for the Windows Phone and can be downloaded from the marketplace here: http://www.windowsphone.com/s?appid=3de88f3f-5005-4019-be78-c39f8172d39e and a free Android version is on the way very soon.
There is no doubt each team will walk away triumphant on awards night whomever is holding the trophy with all being ones to watch in the future and Techzwn would like to wish each one of them the very best of luck.