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Misc. News

Jennifer Wilde Kickstarter Successful

Jennifer Wilde, from Outsider Games, has just passed its £11,000 funding goal on Kickstarter!

The goal was reached with 262 individual backers, with the most popular donation tier being in the £10 or more category at 102 backers.  

Last year the team at Outsider Games launched their first PC game, Wailing Heights, on Steam to positive reviews and several award nominations. Since then they’ve been working hard on developing Jennifer Wilde as their next big project. 

There’s 3 days left to go in the campaign. The team at Outsider have revealed stretch goals to aim for in that reminding time, including text localisation and console versions of the game. 

Jennifer Wilde is a Point & Click 2D adventure game with a unique comic book inventory design. As Jennifer discovers clues to her father’s death, she sketches illustrated notes in her book; which the player can study, rearrange and combine into a comic book-style story. Use this illustrated knowledge to confront characters, prompt their memories and link clues together as you discover more about Jennifer’s father’s hidden past, and the truth behind his death.
 

 

 

 

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Developer News Industry News

Local developer Italic Pig successfully gain CE funding for 2nd time

Italic Pig have proudly announced that they have received a grant from Creative Europe for the second time to develop a brand new adventure. Not much is yet known about the new project other than it will be based in Virtual Reality.

This is a massive success for the company, that successfully secured Creative Europe funding in 2015 for their soon to be released title ‘Mona Lisa’. 

Production is set to start on their next title come 2018. Read more on the Creative Europe website.

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Industry News

Claire Wilgar on Global Game Jam Committee 2018

Locally renowned web dev and community manager at Hackerspace Farset Labs, Claire Wilgar is known by most of the Northern Irish community as one of the lead organisers of the Global Game Jam in Belfast. On the up and coming jam however, Claire has taken it a step further, and will be involved with the organising of the global event as one of the committee members spear heading the jams world wide. 

We’d like to both thank Claire for all her hard work organising the Global Game Jam every year, and wish her luck/congratulate her on becoming part of the steering committee. We all look forward to what the next jam brings.

You can find more information at their announcement page.

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Industry News

GamesAid – Please Vote NOW for NI Child Brain Injury Trust

You may have heard of GamesAid, a collective for charitable activity on behalf of the games industry, taking advice from all sectors. Local Northern Irish charity Child Brain injury Trust have been nominated and are seeking local industry support to help them secure their nomination as one of this years sponsored GamesAid charities.

By voting for the Child Brain Injury Trust in this year’s GamesAid charity nomination, you will transform the lives of hundreds of children and their families, many of which are based right here in Northern Ireland.  They are a small UK charity with an office in Carryduff and your vote could make all the difference to them and the hundreds of children they support. 

In order to secure their nomination, they need as many people associated within the UK gaming industry as possible to vote for them.

HOW TO VOTE

If you are an Existing Member of GamesAid

– Check your Email Inbox for the GamesAid Poll Card.
– Select the link and vote for The Child Brain Injury Trust.

If you are not an existing Member of GamesAid

– Register FREE at http://www.gamesaid.org/join-us/registration/
– Check your Email Inbox for the GamesAid Poll Card
– Select the link and vote for The Child Brain Injury Trust

A word from Child Brain Injury Trust – Why Vote For Us:

‘When brain injury strikes, we provide long term emotional and practical support for children and their families. We are the only charity to look after the needs of the whole family, helping them to come to terms with the lifelong impact of a child’s brain injury.

“Melissa suffered severe brain injury and lost the ability to walk and talk. She took her first steps and spoke her first words again at the age of 8”.’

Voting will run from the 16th of August to the 6th of September.

This is the first time a Northern Irish charity has been entered into GamesAid and it would be fantastic to get as much support as possible. Thanks to everyone who votes!

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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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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

Global Game Jam 2017

January saw return of the Global Game Jam at Farset Labs in Belfast. This year was the biggest yet, seeing 15 teams enter under the theme of ‘Waves’. Three teams also won tickets to the NI Game Awards show the following weekend. Here is what two of them had to say about the event: 

Thomas Hislap; Coffeebox Games & Titanic – Never Let Go

 Silly game Titanic - Never Let Go, where Rose and Jack fight to stay on the piece of wood
Silly game Titanic – Never Let Go, where Rose and Jack fight to stay on the piece of wood

‘This year was our first game jam and despite being down a team-member and a severe chest infection, we had an absolute blast making something without the pressure of commercial release. We found the atmosphere of the event to be extremely inviting, and we certainly picked up some new skills watching how other teams worked together.

We went in with the intention of making something silly, this turned out to be the perfect environment for just that! The best part of the Jam for us was getting to see so many devs play our game in person and have fun with such a silly concept. Looking forward to next years Jam already. Big thanks for farset labs and NI screen for orchestrating the event.’

Daniel McDowell – Barbara & Gordon

 Barbara and Gordon - a game where you must use bat sonar to find your way out of a maze
Barbara and Gordon – a game where you must use bat sonar to find your way out of a maze

I was quite anxious about signing up for the Game Jam because I hadn’t done anything in the games development space for about 4 years. I was incredibly rusty and I didn’t want to hold the team back. Our team was made up of people who had never met before and didn’t have a team. Nevertheless, we sat down, discussed ideas and by the end of the first night, I had been introduced to a few new technologies, primarily Git.

The next morning, I discovered our team of 5 was down to 3. Thankfully, this didn’t disband the whole team; rather, it made our responsibilities on the project clearer and made us determined to create something. As always, there were frustrating times when we couldn’t get something working and had to make compromises due to the time constraints, but we prioritised features and managed to make something we could demo.

Despite our struggles, we won a spot prize for our game. I couldn’t believe it! I learned many new things and made some new contacts. I got to witness and play some truly innovative games that use the latest technology and work in the same room as those creators. Initially, I wasn’t sure if giving up my relaxing weekend to spend more time staring at a computer screen was the right thing to do, but now, I believe it was. My fire for developing video games is back!

You can view all of the Global Game Jam entries over at Global Game Jams website.

 

Categories
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

Q&A with Proceed developer

We sat down with Niall McGeehan, a recent graduate developing his own game set to hit Kickstarter in the new year. We asked him a bit about what it’s been like to set up in Northern Ireland, as well as a bit about his recent project Proceed.

Hi, why don’t you start by telling us a bit about who you are and what you do?

Hey, I’m Niall, currently a solo game developer working on a new title. I graduated from Ulster University earlier this year. For my final year project, I began work on a procedural 2D game called Proceed. This helped me achieve a first class honors in Computer Science, along with more than a few sleepless nights. Pretty much as soon as I finished University, I began the hunt for a job, preferably in the Games industry. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the opportunities in Northern Ireland were few and far between. This brings be on to the next question!

How did you get into making games?

Making video games was not my original plan. Throughout university I geared towards more traditional software development however in the past year I’ve been bitten by the game-dev bug. I’ve been programming and digital painting for years now and the 2 really go hand in hand with games development. In early 2015, I downloaded Unity3D and got to work putting together a simple 2D game. 

This quickly spiralled out of control and I found myself spending more and more time working on game development. Honestly, this helped my programming abilities a great deal, and I began to move towards more complex concepts.

How do you find making games in Northern Ireland?

The support for businesses in NI has become much stronger in recent years. I previously launched a T-Shirt business with mixed success, and found it quite hard to get the support I needed. This time around, I’ve managed to secure free office space in Belfast along with a network of mentors in a range of fields. 

For games in particular, NI is still lagging behind the rest of the UK. However there is a growing Indie community, who are creating some fantastic stuff! I’ve been lucky enough to meet a few fellow creators, though I hope to talk to many more in the coming years.

Can you tell us about the rest of your team?

So far, I’m going it alone. It’s a tricky journey. I’ve worked on programming, digital art, animation, 3D modelling, video creation and sound design by myself. As of yet, I just haven’t been able to find local talent who are interested in partnering up (if your a developer reading this, do get in touch!). This has helped to expand my skill set, and my latest game is coming along at a good pace. Though all good developers know, you can’t do everything by yourself.

Can you tell us anything about your upcoming game?

Yep! The game I’m working on is called Proceed. Proceed is a very unique take on the 2D platformer genre. It’s a sci-fi game with lots of twists, fast paced combat and unforgiving flight controls! A wide range of procedural systems generate endless and beautiful worlds to explore. Trippy and wondrous level design is at the heart of what I’m building, and Proceed will guarantee to take you on a hell of a ride.

And finally, what’s you favourite games?

For me, it’s always been RPG’s, particularly fantasy. I love taking in the lore, and exploring open worlds. The Witcher 3 is a particular favorite of mine, it’s hard to find a better combination of story, world design and gameplay. A game from my childhood also deserves a mention:  MediEvil, I really hope this one is remade some day, I’ll be first in line!

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