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Italic Pig Paints Mona Lisa all over Global Game Conference

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Mona Lisa, the mischievous art heist and forgery game in development by Northern Irish game developer Italic Pig, has been selected as the 2017 Branding Sponsor of Casual Connect USA.   

Casual Connect USA is a world class event with a focus on matching the creativity of the games industry with new media innovation and investment to find the next big thing. At each of Casual Connect’s four yearly events, an independent games company with a unique product and art style is chosen to fully brand the event. This year, they’ve chosen Mona Lisa.

The opportunity means that attendees to Casual Connect will be getting a taste of Mona Lisa’s unique art style on the event programme, badges, signage, social media and more.  Italic Pig’s quirky characters, peculiar scenery and slapdash forgery artwork will emblazon the event, and introduce tens of thousands of people to both the game and the indie studio for the first time.  

In addition to this prestigious honour, Mona Lisa has also been selected as an Indie Prize nominee, representing all of the UK as the only game to be nominated. 

“It’s amazing to see how much Mona Lisa’s ‘Arcade Art’ has drawn acclaim during its development,” says Kevin Beimers, Italic Pig’s Director and creator of the Mona Lisa property. “I imagine it’s similar to what the creators of Guitar Hero or Dance Dance Revolution must have felt in their early days.”

Mona Lisa is an artistic new heist and forgery adventure for mobiles and tablets. The player takes on the role of the mysterious Mona Lisa, Renaissance Italy’s greatest art thief. Mona sneaks into the studios of the other great masters of the 16th century using Leonardo’s arsenal of gadgetry, locating precious works of art, and swapping them out with slapdash forgeries created by the player during the robbery in under two minutes.

Mona Lisa’s hook is its speed-painting engine, which, in Kevin’s words: “offers the player the satisfaction of creating something beautiful in minutes, without silly things like lack of talent getting in the way.”

This isn’t the first time that Mona Lisa has punched above her weight and taken home the title.  Recently, Italic Pig Director Kevin Beimers “made history” at PocketGamer Connects London by unanimously winning the Very Big Indie Pitch; never in the seven years the VBIP has been running have all 15 judges agreed on a single clear winner.

In 2015, Mona Lisa was one of only four UK companies to be awarded a sizeable grant from the Creative Europe Media Subprogramme for the development of narrative-led video games. The award was soon after matched by an equally sizeable investment from Northern Ireland Screen.

Italic Pig specialises in character-driven adventures of the irreverently epic variety. Their debut game – Schrödinger’s Cat and the Raiders of the Lost Quark – is a quantum physics action-adventure game for Xbox One, PS4 and Steam that has been nominated for several writing and industry awards, including Best Game Script from the Writers’ Guilds of both Great Britain and Ireland. Mona Lisa recently won Best Casual Game at Game Connection Europe, and has since been marked as “one to look out for”.

For more information:

Kevin Beimers

kevin@italicpig.com

www.italicpig.com

@italicpig

Categories
Developer News

Proceed to hit Kickstarter 28th July

Proceed will be launching it’s Kickstarter on July 28th. There will be a small Demo with a restricted number of planets to test early mechanics for the kickstarter.

This will feature:
New water enemies (procedural fish)
Updates to overhanging procedural terrain.
New deeper caves
New shaders and atmosphere types
More cinematic intro to new planets.
Crashed freighters to explore.
Beginning work on boss type enemies for a the mission generator.

Keep an eye on the Proceed Facebook page for updates.

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Developer News Industry News

App Attic named in Disrupt 100

Northern Ireland app and tech development company App Attic has been named in the Disrupt 100 list for 2017.

Disrupt 100 celebrates the businesses with the most potential to influence, change or create new global markets. The list is compiled and curated by the world’s leading entrepreneurs, investors and business people.

AppAttic uses innovative tech solutions to help improve people’s health. Through apps and games, it collects and validates clinical data derived from mobile devices, and aims to evoke prolonged behavioural change in people with health conditions in order to reduce their costs and improve the quality of their life.

One of its products is a medicines-tracking game for mobile and tablet devices. The app engages users with their medicines schedule – recording their mood and heart rate and any non-adherence and reasoning. It gently nudges users to adhere to their prescribed medicines schedule through game experiences, rewards and competing with their peer-group.

Engaging people in their own medicine routines and getting them to understand what leads them to skip their medicines is becoming a massive part of health education.  AppAttic is providing health engagement and insight in a fun, tactile and innovative way. Its “games” approach means it is especially suitable for children who rely on medicines for their health, but need daily encouragement to take them.

To read the full Disrupt 100 list click here.

Categories
Industry News

Testify featured on Radio Ulster

Ahead of StartPlanetNI 2017 Demo Day – Testify founder Adrian Campbell speaks with Sara Neill from BBC Radio Ulster about his gaming industry startup and the Accelerator programme which has helped. Click here to listen to the programme.

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Industry News

Games NI Meetup Experience

This is a guest post by Stuart Neill of Lapsed Gamer Radio, talking about what it was like attending the latest Games NI Meetup.

It was with a excitement and a little trepidation that I made my way to StartPlanet NI in Donegall Street, Belfast on the 15th February to attend my first Games NI Meetup.

The event was only the 2nd meetup organised by GamesNI and they plan to host one every 2 months. They are a chance for developers to get together to talk about game development in Northern Ireland, and everyone is welcome, whether you’re with a company, a freelancer, a student, or just interested about game development (or in my case as an amateur podcaster).

While waiting for the night’s presentation to begin I got talking to Stuart McAllister, the Director of NSG eSports (@NSGeSports), an Irish based gaming organisation that has a League of Legends team and a Counter-Strike team, both of which are aiming to compete at the highest level possible with the esports leagues for these 2 games.

The main event of the evening was a presentation by Kevin Beimers from Italic Pig (@italicpig). It was catchily titled “Pitching, Pick Up Lines and Polyamorous Marriages”, and was a shortened version of his talk from the Unity 2016 conference on Publisher Relationships, but due to the pizza not arriving on time I think we got pretty much the whole thing.

The presentation itself was about courting and developing a relationship with a publisher and focusing on long term, not just a one night stand. Italic Pig have experience with this as Team17 publishedSchrödinger’s Cat and the Raiders of the Lost Quark. The presentation was a masterclass in doing an engaging presentation over 100+ slides, and was jam packed with film stills that illustrated the points being made.

After the presentation we were treated to pizza, nibbles and drinks, and while mingling I had the chance to talk to a number of people including Adam & Vicky of Whitepot Studios (@Whitepot), Michael from the YouTube channel Bellular Gaming (@BellularGaming), Johan from Sweden, and Donal Phillips from NI Screen ( @NIScreen). Everyone that I spoke to had some great ideas and their own particular insights into the gaming industry, and it was fantastic to see that Northern Ireland has such burgeoning talent, and support to help them.

I now can’t wait until the next Games NI meetup!

Special thanks go to StartPlanetNI for sponsoring the venue, in partnership with Northern Ireland Screen.

Categories
Industry News

NI Game Awards

Last month saw the first ever Northern Ireland Game Dev Awards. The event saw the largest ever Play My Demo, as well as the largest Vive multiplayer event Northern Ireland has ever seen, with 8 Vives played at once. This was also to celebrate the 4th year anniversary of the NI Game Dev Network on Facebook, now at over 400 members.

The event featured developers exhibiting their projects, as well as development mentors playing and critiquing work for project teams to improve on, which is what Play My Demo has always been about.

The Awards featured 4 categories – Rising Star, Community Award, Best Game and Best Studio. Without further ado, the winners are:

Rising Star

 Stephen Ferguson -  Prism Studios
Stephen Ferguson – Prism Studios

Community Award

 Kitty Crawford -  Blackstaff Games
Kitty Crawford – Blackstaff Games

Best Game & Studio

  Her Majesty's Spiffing  -  Billygoat Entertainment
Her Majesty’s Spiffing  – Billygoat Entertainment

All Nominees

 All winners and nominees from left to right - Will Barr, Kevin Beimers, Jim Murray, Paul, Donal Phillips, Kitty Crawford, Stephen Downey, Stephen Ferguson and Glenn Davidson
All winners and nominees from left to right – Will Barr, Kevin Beimers, Jim Murray, Paul, Donal Phillips, Kitty Crawford, Stephen Downey, Stephen Ferguson and Glenn Davidson

Organiser and brains behind the event and the NI Game Dev Group, Angela McKeown was also honored with a signed MVP award from attendees of the event, for her dedication and hard work to the community.

‘This has been a fantastic event – I think it’s really important for the local community here to acknowledge the great work happening in Northern Ireland, and I can’t think of a better way to do it; Angie has done an amazing job bringing this together. And what’s more is that I’ve seen a lot of new faces here tonight, which is great! I’m looking forward to more events like this in the future’ – Kitty Crawford, Chair at Games NI

Play My Demo events and Game NI Meet Ups will continue around the year, with a new Game Dev Hangout (link to opportunity page) having just been announced, were local developers can bring their laptops and work on projects with other devs. With the success of this years Award event, we’ll be looking forward to the next one.

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Industry News

Pitch-Perfect Painting Game Scores Big in London

Mona Lisa, the mischievous art heist and forgery game in development by Northern Irish game developers Italic Pig, delivered a grand slam to win the Very Big Indie Pitch in London last week.

Thirty-seven indie game companies participated in this year’s Very Big Indie Pitch (VBIP), arguably the highlight of the PocketGamer Connects conference last week in London. Each participant has no more than three minutes to showcase his or her game to a staggered panel of 15 judges, composed of industry veterans, journalists, enthusiasts and evangelists.

Italic Pig served up a game and pitch so grand, that it “made history”, said Dean Noakes, Indie Evangelist and one of the judges. It was the first time in the seven years the VBIP has been running that all judges agreed unanimously that a single game, Mona Lisa, was the clear winner.

“I couldn’t believe it when they announced Mona as the winner,” says Kevin Beimers, Founder of Italic Pig and Creator/Director of Mona Lisa. “Actually, yeah, I could totally believe it; it’s a fantastic game if I may say so myself. I’ve been working on it for a year and I’m still not tired of it.”

Mona Lisa is an artistic new adventure in development that combines stealth-platforming with speed-painting. Mona Lisa steals masterpieces from 16th century strongholds using the gadgets of Da Vinci to get in and out. When Mona locates her target painting, she quickly speed-paints a slapdash forgery of the masterpiece mid-heist to leave behind in the frame to fool the guards. The better the forgery, the easier the escape.

“In reality it’s much more complex and creative than the words ‘speed painting’ gives credit for,“ reported Emily Sowden from Steel Media (PocketGamer) after the event. One of the other Steel Media judges, Sam Simmons, thought that Mona Lisa delivered “an ingenious combination of platforming and speed painting with a solid narrative to drive us forward”.

Upon winning the event, Italic Pig was awarded an Amazon Kindle Fire HD10 for game development, a certificate worth $4000 of Steel Media’s promotional services, and an engraved VBIP Baseball Bat (which proved very inconvenient at airport security).

Next up for Italic Pig is the opportunity to hone their pitching skills further as they participate in Games London’s Pitch Bootcamp and Games Finance where they will be seeking additional finance to bring Mona Lisa to release.

In 2015, Mona Lisa was awarded a sizeable grant from the Creative Europe Media Subprogramme for the development of narrative-led video games, which was matched by an equally sizeable investment from Northern Ireland Screen.

Italic Pig specialises in character-driven adventures of the irreverently epic variety. Their debut game – Schrödinger’s Cat and the Raiders of the Lost Quark – is a quantum physics action-adventure game for Xbox One, PS4 and Steam that has been nominated for several writing and industry awards, including Best Game Script from the Writers’ Guilds of both Great Britain and Ireland. Mona Lisa recently won Best Casual Game at Game Connection Europe, and has since been marked as “one to look out for”.

For more information:
Kevin Beimers
kevin@italicpig.com
07979726519
www.italicpig.com
@italicpig

Categories
Industry News

Big Motive Launches stunning childrens Virtual Reality story for iOS and Android

Tara’s Locket is a short story adventure for 5-7 year olds set in a beautifully illustrated world. This unique virtual reality experience allows kids to step into the story and meet Tara and her friends. Users can follow the interactive story and help guide Tara through the magical landscape of Urah with goal of reuniting our heroine with her parents.

A new project from product design and innovation studio Big Motive, Tara’s Locket was inspired by the landscapes, stories and folklore of Ireland’s dramatic Atlantic coast. The story explores the value of self-belief and the often overlooked contribution that children make to family ties.

Tara’s Locket began as a conversation about children’s books and how virtual reality might enhance how stories are told and enjoyed by early learners – enabling children to be transported into the world of the story. Big Motive’s Managing Director, Damian Cranney says: “We set out on this journey wondering about the opportunities to adapt existing IP for a virtual reality experience. Picture books felt like a super place to explore as we could potentially produce something additive in terms of how readers enjoy stories – while preserving the integrity of the story and the artist’s work.”

To expand the storybook into virtual reality, the team drew on their experience working on mobile experiences for the children’s category as well as working with existing IP for the likes of the BBC and Channel 4. Tara’s Locket features a hand-illustrated world – a magical counterpoint to 3D modelling and advanced CGI being used in to bring the latest slate of VR game to market.

The app is launching as a Google Cardboard experience. What excites Big Motive about Google’s about mobile VR technology in general is its affordability and accessibility. “It makes virtual reality completely portable, fun and easy to experience with family…” says Cranney. Tara’s Locket has been designed with this in mind allowing kids to dip in and out of Tara’s world.

Big Motive worked with Priya Mistry who illustrated Tara and her world, and with BAFTA-nominated (Lily’s Driftwood Bay) Scoredraw Music who composed an original score and sound design for Tara’s Locket.  

Stephen Shaw, Big Motive’s UX Director comments, “What sets VR apart from any other medium is its ability to transport you to a different place. Our goal with Tara’s Locket was to create an experience for children that lets them feel like they have stepped into the story.”

Damian Cranney adds. “We’re really excited about our venture in VR. There is so much junk out there using every modern technique to hook and bait kids into gorging on rubbish content, we wanted to create something that inspires little learners.”

Tara’s Locket is available for $2.99/£2.29 from the App Store on iPhone and Google Play Store for Android or at; www.AppStore.com/TarasLocket . (iPhone 5 minimum requirement). Compatible with all headsets including: Google Cardboard, Google Daydream, Homido, FreeFly, VR One, GearVR, Durovis Dive. Tara’s Locket features a kid-friendly interface with no in-app purchases or third-party advertising.

Tara’s Locket Website

Tara’s Locket Twitter

Big Motive Website

Big Motive Twitter

Categories
Developer News

Her Majesty Spiffing launched on Steam and XBOX One

Wednesday 7th December, Belfast, UK: In a year when the United Kingdom has decided to “take back control” from those pesky bureaucrats in Brussels (preferring it be led by some equally pesky bureaucrats in Westminster, instead), what better time to gaze into the not-so-distant future and see just what the world has in store for Brexit Britain?

If Her Majesty’s SPIFFING is anything to go by, Britain’s future involves embarking on a journey to the stars (in whatever tin-pot craft we cans get our hands on). Yes, in the years ahead, SPIFFING predicts the UK will set out to conquer planet after planet in a bid to establish a new galactic empire, all the while subtly undermining the French at every turn.

Well, assuming there’s plenty of time to sup on cups of tea along the way, that is.

Coming to Xbox One and Steam on December 7th (and PlayStation 4 on December 13th), Her Majesty’s SPIFFING (that’s the Special Planetary Investigative Force For Inhabiting New Galaxies, if you wondering) sees you slip into the space boots of Captain Frank Lee English, a quintessential Englishman sporting impeccable manners, a taste for Earl Grey and an unwavering love for Britannia.

Accompanied by Sub-Lieutenant Aled Jones you’ll take to the galaxy on board the HMSS Imperialise in this modern interpretation of a classic point-and-click adventure where puzzle solving is intermingled with some hilarious wit and sharp one liners. Well, they made us laugh in the office, though that could be down to a complete lack of sleep over the last few years.

Taking direct control of English with a gamepad in place of directing with a mouse, SPIFFING features a mixture of physical and mental puzzles and often somewhat self-deprecating humour (blatantly plagiarised from/paying homage to everything from Monty Python to Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy). In short, it’s about as British as a game can be, in that it deftly undermines everything we hold dear about coming from this damp collection of islands in the darkest corner of Europe from start to finish.

 “We’ve been working on Her Majesty’s SPIFFING for the past three years with the intent of bringing the spirit of a classic point-and-click adventure to the modern era,” says Will Barr, Director at the Belfast-based studio behind the game, Billy Goat Entertainment.

“We wanted to make the genre a bit more current, taking a type of game typically tied to keyboard and mouse and bring it to the masses, turn it into a real mainstream hit. That’s what we told our bank manager at least and he bought it. That and, during these times of uncertainty, I believe SPIFFING goes some way to quell people’s fears in a post-Brexit Britain. I mean, the pollsters didn’t think we’d ever leave the EU, so who’s to say the Queen won’t return the UK to an autocratic government and commission an intergalactic space organisation tasked with establishing a Galactic British Empire? Stranger things have happened.”

Billy Goat Entertainment began life as a commercial animations studio, working on adverts for Irish television.

Work on Her Majesty’s SPIFFING has dominated the studio’s time in recent years, however, with the game already attracting praise ahead of release, with Digital Spy describing it as an adventure that “oozes British tongue-in-cheek charm, sarcasm and a whole lot of tea” –http://www.digitalspy.com/gaming/feature/a787132/5-xbox-one-indie-games-that-are-better-than-the-big-boys/

 Her Majesty’s SPIFFING will be available as a digital download on Xbox One and Steam worldwide on Wednesday December 7th, PlayStation 4 on Tuesday December 13th. 

Xbox One Download

Steam Download

Twitter
Official Site

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Industry News

AppAttic CEO Wins Innovate UK Women Infocus Innovation Award

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Health engagement and insight company AppAttic got a boost today when their CEO and Founder Dr Rachel Gawely was announced as an Innovate UK Women Infocus Award Winner. The announcement was made this afternoon ahead of the National Business Awards in London where the winners will be introduced by Cisco and Innovate UK chairman Phil Smith.

Finalist, Rachel Gawley impressed the Innovate UK interview panel with her ability to commercialise research and with her company’s latest innovation which is set to disrupt the clinical trial of low risk medical apps through crowdsourcing. She is one of 15 winners who will receive a tailored package of business support and a £50,000 cash prize to assist in developing the project.

“I’m absolutely delighted. At AppAttic we want to improve health globally and we want to do it in the most fun and efficient way possible. The support will assist us as we grow from a small, regional company to putting us on the global map. It will enable us to run large scale trials that are not restricted by geography, at a much lower cost and faster than traditional randomised control trials (RCT). The vision is that saved resources – which are estimated to be 70% – will allow us to focus on what we are good at; research, development and innovation. Furthermore, the technology is being developed to become a stand-alone product which will enable any health app to avail of the benefits.”

The 2016 infocus campaign launched following an analysis of 8,566 historic Innovate UK funding applications. The findings highlighted that there was little difference in the quality of applications submitted by women and men, yet just 1 in 7 applications (14%) for funding were from women. With women in the UK half as likely to start a new business as their male counterparts, or indeed seek out external sources of funding, Innovate UK’s 2016 infocus awards sought to redress this imbalance by encouraging them to apply. The winners will be formally congratulated at tonight’s National Business Awards in London.

For further information on AppAttic please visit www.appattic.co.uk