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Developer News Industry News

Tranzfuser teams announced

Tranzfuser™, the innovative new talent development programme from UK Games Talent and Finance CIC (UKGTF) and funded by the UK government, has announced the winning teams taking part in this year’s competition across the UK Regional Hub network.

This is the first time a UK-wide talent programme has been linked directly to a prototype fund allowing new teams to benefit from grants and interaction with a host of other early stage games development companies.

Successful applicants will develop their ideas into working prototypes over the summer in a competition that culminates in a nationally recognized showcase event.

Northern Ireland Screen is the Regional Hub for NI and its successful teams are Pandara’s Box and Red Spear.

Successful applicants have been awarded a £5,000 budget paid in stages to replicate the real world for them to allocate to allowable costs throughout the 10-week long competition. At the showcase event later this year, selected teams will be invited to pitch for follow-on funding of up to £25k from the UK Games Fund (also operated by UKGTF) to commercialise their game and launch a company.

Other teams chosen can be found on UK Games Funds website. Find out more about information about Tranzfuser at www.tranzfuser.com

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Developer News

DogBiscuit nomineed for the Develop Awards 2016

Northern Ireland created family game DogBiscuit has been nominated in the New Games IP (Mobile) category, at the Develop Awards in Brighton.

DogBiscuit was created by Northern Ireland based game developer Blackstaff Games who received funding from the Northern Ireland Screen Fund supported by Invest NI.

The game sees players follow DogBiscuit, with his variety of colouring pens packed, on his journey through many exciting worlds. But something is missing from all of them: colour! Whether it’s fruit trees, sandcastles or giant planets – how the environment ends up looking is completely in the player’s hands. There are over 20 options to design the worlds individually and to draw beautiful things for DogBiscuit and his crayon friends.

In total, there are 108 companies in the running for awards, encompassing not only developers, but also tools providers, services firms, outsourcers and specialists in VFX, audio, QA and recruitment. DogBiscuit is among 36 games nominated in the Creativity section of the awards. 

The winners will be announced at the Brighton Hilton Metropole on Wednesday, July 13th during Develop: Brighton 2016.

For a full list of nominees visit the Develop Awards 2016 Website. 

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Education News Industry News

Aim High Gaming trainees selected

 From left to right; Back row: Laura Robinson (Black Market), Colin McCusker (Inlifesize), Mark Skelton, Gareth Grey (Iglu Media), Benjamin Donoghue (Blackstaff Games), Timothy Cartright, Jonny Shields Front row: Chloe Gowdy, Stephen Downey (Outsider Games), William Barr (BillyGoat Entertainment), David Freebairn, Michael McDonald
From left to right; Back row: Laura Robinson (Black Market), Colin McCusker (Inlifesize), Mark Skelton, Gareth Grey (Iglu Media), Benjamin Donoghue (Blackstaff Games), Timothy Cartright, Jonny Shields Front row: Chloe Gowdy, Stephen Downey (Outsider Games), William Barr (BillyGoat Entertainment), David Freebairn, Michael McDonald

Yesterday marked the start of the first set of trainees to be selected by NI Screen and industry specialists for this 12 month pilot gaming traineeship. 

The Aim High Gaming scheme, created in partnership with BBC Northern Ireland, has been developed with the help of Northern Ireland game studios with the aim of developing the future leaders of the games industry in Northern Ireland. 

The six trainees, who were selected from the DEL Games Academy, will take part in a year paid industry traineeship completing various placements with different Northern Ireland game development companies, covering all aspects of the game development process.

This traineeship is the first of it’s kind in Northern Ireland for the gaming industry, and Games NI is delighted to welcome it’s first set of trainees to the scheme.

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Developer News

Five developers chosen for Greenshoots NI

Northern Ireland Screen and Microsoft Ireland were happy to announce this week that that five companies have been chosen to take part in the Greenshoots NI scheme.

Greenshoots NI is a programme jointly developed by Northern Ireland Screen and Microsoft to support early stage start up game studios. Game studios will receive financial support of £20,000 and technical help from Microsoft to develop new and exciting game titles for Microsoft and Xbox One, Windows PC and Mobile Platforms.

The five companies were chosen after pitching their ideas to panel of industry professionals. The five projects selected are:

Block ‘N Load – Billy Goat Entertainment 

Block ‘n Load is a shared screen, local multiplayer party game where players assume the role of robot gunslingers in a sci-fi take on the American Old West. The aim of the game is to eliminate opposing players, the last robot cowboy standing wins.

Beat Bugz – Boom Clap Games 

Beat Bugs is a music based game for mobile devices in which you have to protect your drums from pesky bugs that keep infecting your rhythms. 

Safari Slides – Blackstaff Games 

Safari Slides is a themed variation on the classic puzzle game ‘Pipes’ using a hexagon based system with the integration of new mechanics and level based progression. A modern re-imagining of a classic, Safari Slides is a fresh take on an old concept.

Slidecast – Coffeebox Games 

Slidecast follows a wizard escaping from a disaster that he himself caused. The player will manipulate the environment around the wizard across a series of levels and tile sets using simple rhythmic touch controls.

SoMe – AppAttic 

SoMe, is a mobile and desktop game that visualises a user’s social media most frequently used words. It highlights frequency with size and sentiment (positive, neutral and negative) through colours. The aim is to give the player insight into their current mental wellbeing whilst encouraging them to engage with it by using their words to play the SoMe game.

The player must get their character from one side of their most frequently used word to the other. The problem is that their character cannot jump/climb the letters. Therefore the player must use their other words to build bridges across to the other side. Negative words will make it difficult and positive words will help. The user can share their word cloud and resulting level with friends online.

Donal Phillips, Northern Ireland Screen’s Digital executive said “We are delighted that Northern Ireland Screen’s partnership with Microsoft Ireland means that five local game studios have the opportunity to develop their own games. The five companies pitched their games to a panel of industry professionals and displayed a high level of ability and creativity. This is positive step to creating a sustainable games industry in Northern Ireland and we look forward to seeing the studios’ completed games.”

Michael Meagher, Partner Business Evangelist, Microsoft Ireland, said “Microsoft is delighted to support this great initiative through mentorship and access to our BizSpark program tailor made for startups. We’re looking forward to seeing these games both in the Windows Store and on the Xbox in 2016.”

All games will be released Spring this year

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Developer News

Blackstaff Games release DogBiscuit on iOS

Follow DogBiscuit on his first adventure through the land of Crayons!

Following the adventures of the cute and friendly protagonist, DogBiscuit: a drawing adventure is a creative drawing exploration game aimed at a younger audience.

As the player you are the creator of the world in which DogBiscuit, RichTea and ChocolateNibble have their adventures. Throughout their outings to picnics at the beach, or meeting aliens in space, they make friends with a tribe of crayons, unlocking new colours and tools to change the environment and progress through in the game.

DogBiscuit is a great game for the entire family! The user interface is intuitive and objects can be drawn very simply or in greater detail, depending on the player’s age. Unobtrusive music and lovingly designed animations round off the experience and turn it into a pleasant trip into the world of drawing.

You can download DogBiscuit now from the App Store, and on the Google Play Store.

DogBiscuit has been developed by Blackstaff Games with funding from Northern Ireland Screen supported by Invest NI and published by Tivola Publishing.

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Developer News

Outsider Games launches its Steam Greenlight campaign for Wailing Heights

Outsider Games launches its Steam Greenlight campaign with a new coffin-rocking trailer for Wailing Heights; A body-hopping, musical adventure game, set in with a horrific hamlet of modern monsters.

After a booking mix-up, Frances Finklestein, former manager of The Deadbeats (the greatest 60s rock and roll band in the world), finds himself imprisoned in Wailing Heights; home to the likes of vegan werewolves, hipster vampires, Motown zombies, gossiping ghosts and all manner of well-adjusted supernatural taxpaying homeowners.

A mysterious cellmate teaches Finklestein to “body¬-hop”, leaving his corpse behind in the holding cell and jumping from ghost to vampire to werewolf to zombie. Each creature’s skills and abilities give him access to places no human should ever set foot, while bringing him one step closer to getting his own body out of lockup and getting the hell out of the Heights. But of course, it’s never that easy…

Wailing heights features a story by Kevin Beimers (Hector: Badge of Carnage, Schrödinger’s Cat and the Raiders of the Lost Quark), comicbook-style visuals and an original, eclectic soundtrack from Motown Zombies, Hipster Vampires, Barbershop Ghosts and Irish-folk playing Werewolves. 

Wailing Heights received funding from the Northern Ireland Screen Fund supported by Invest NI and is due for release on PC, Mac and Linux early 2016. For more information, screenshots and production blog, visit www.wailingheights.com

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Developer News

Billy Goat Entertainment nominated for two awards

Northern Ireland created adventure game Her Majesty’s SPIFFING (HM SPIFFING) has received two nominations, for Best Story and People’s Choice award, at the Games Connection Development Awards in Paris.

HM SPIFFING was created by Northern Ireland based game developer Billy Goat Entertainment who received funding from the Northern Ireland Screen Fund supported by Invest NI.

HM SPIFFING is a jovial, quintessentially British adventure that sees you assume the role of distinguished veteran and gentleman Captain Frank Lee English, as part of the Special Planetary Investigative Force For Inhabiting New Galaxies (SPIFFING), as you venture through the cosmos to claim a new, Galactic British Empire. Along the way you’ll stumble upon other individuals with their own intergalactic aspirations. Some hostile, some friendly, some despairingly indifferent.

The Best Story category is decided by a panel of industry professionals, however, the People’s Choice awards allows the public to decide who should win the award. People can vote for the game they like the most on the Games Connection Facebook page by liking the post linked to the game they want to win. YOU can vote for HM SPIFFING hereVoting deadline is October 28th 11.00am.

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Education News

Innovative Game Development Academy launched

Department for Employment and Learning Deputy Secretary, Catherine Bell, today launched the first Game Development Academy at Parliament Buildings.

The Academy aims to provide 16 talented individuals with the skills and experience required to take up exciting new opportunities in the game development industry, which is a growing sector in Northern Ireland.

Mrs Bell said: “The IT industry and specifically the game development sector has shown significant growth here in recent years. There is now a need for additional skilled people to enter the industry and the Game Development Academy will provide the skills required to allow people to gain opportunities in local companies.

“Delivered through my Department’s Assured Skills initiative, this Academy proves that Government, the private sector and our further education colleges can respond quickly to industry needs by designing a bespoke programme to meet the skills need of the sector. This in turn will help to grow our local economy.”ric

Targeting talented creative individuals, the Academy will offer an intensive 16-week training programme including a company placement. Successful participants will gain an industry recognised qualifications and NI Screen, through the Aim High: Gaming scheme, funded by Invest NI, will offer a 12 month game development industry placement for up to six participants on the Academy programme.

Alastair Hamilton, CEO of Invest Northern Ireland added: “I am delighted to be here today to launch Northern Ireland’s first ever Game Development Academy. 

“Gaming is an emerging industry here in Northern Ireland and is worth an estimated £6bn across the UK. Invest NI is supporting many local companies in this area through programmes such as Propel and through our support of Northern Ireland Screen.

“The Game Development Academy, supported by Invest Northern Ireland will build on this momentum, and help shape the growth of the games industry here. It will provide the opportunity for local talent to develop the creative skills to help them take advantage of the opportunities in one of the world’s fastest growing industries.”

The Academy has been designed by Northern Ireland’s game development companies with support from the Department for Employment and Learning, Invest NI, NI Screen and NRC, in conjunction with South West College and Southern Regional College.

Applications to the Game Development Academy will close on Friday 2 October 2015 at 4pm and the training programme for successful applicants will start on 2 November 2015 at Northern Regional College (NRC), Newtownabbey campus. Applications can now be submitted online at: https://gda.mindmill.co.uk/

More information is available at: http://www.nidirect.gov.uk/game-development-academy

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Developer News

Italic Pig receive funding from Creative Europe

Northern Ireland based game studio Italic Pig have been awarded a grant by Creative Europe. 

Italic pig specialise in character-driven adventures and have received a grant of €122,500 to develop their adventure game entitled Mona Lisa. 

Kevin Beimers from Italic Pig “We are so excited to be diving into our next wild adventure game so hot on the heels of our last one. As a company that believes that the story is the key element to a great game, it’s wonderful to know that Creative Europe is providing funding specifically for great stories and great ideas in games and other media. In a world where match-3s, endless-runners and open-world shmups are saturating the market, it’s so great to know that there’s an organisation out there that still believes in the importance of a good story.” 

“We were delighted to give Italic Pig advice and support with their application, and are very pleased that their application to Creative Europe was successful, making them the first video games company in Northern Ireland to receive funding from Creative Europe. Funding for the development of video games is a new addition to Creative Europe’s MEDIA sub-programme, which supports the European audio-visual sector,” from Agnieszka Moody, Director, Creative Europe Desk UK.

Northern Ireland Screen is also on board with Mona Lisa. With a long and illustrious reputation for helping Northern Irish entertainment studios get their big ideas off the ground, Northern Ireland Screen has approved match funding toward the Mona Lisa project.

Richard Williams, Chief Executive of Northern Ireland Screen, said; “We are delighted to be working with Italic Pig on such an exciting, engaging and unique concept. Italic Pig is a prominent member of an emerging group of interactive content creator developers based in Northern Ireland. Expectations for this project to succeed in the market place are extremely high and we are keen to support Kevin and his team at Italic Pig throughout the development process. We are also greatly appreciative of the funds that the Creative Europe MEDIA Award provides and extremely proud that key Northern Ireland talent can access this strand of funding.”

With the funds promised from Creative Europe and Northern Ireland Screen, Italic Pig aims to spend all of next year in development on Mona Lisa with a release in early 2017, using as much local talent as possible.

The competition for the Creative Europe grants, intended to support the early development stages of a game (up to the first playable version), was substantial. Altogether 182 applications were received from 24 countries. 

The full list of results can be viewed on the European Commission’s website 

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Developer News

Italic Pig nominated for a Develop Industry Excellence Award

Italic Pig’s Schrödinger’s Cat and the Raiders of the Lost Quark has been nominated for a Narrative Design award at the 2015 Develop Industry Excellence Awards. 

Cooked up by the team behind the gritty, grown-up point and click trilogy Hector: Badge of Carnage and featuring the voice talent of the brilliant A.J. LoCascio (known for his role as Marty McFly in Telltale Games’ Back to the Future),Schrödinger’s Cat and the Raiders of the Lost Quark is part combat-platformer, part logic-puzzler, part open-world explorer, part character-driven adventure. 

There are 137 companies nominated in this year’s Develop awards, encompassing tools providers, technology and services firms, outsourcers, and specialists in audio, VFX, QA and recruitment – not to mention 71 games studios. 

The finalists hail from all over the UK and Europe, with representatives of countries such as France, Germany, Spain, Germany, Sweden, Italy and more in the mix. The 2015 Develop Industry Excellence Awards will take place in Brighton at the Hilton Metropole Hotel on Wednesday, 15th July 2015.