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Italic Pig Nominated for 5 Games Connection Development Awards

Northern Ireland game development studio Italic Pig have been nominated for five awards at Game Connection’s 2016 Development Awards for its latest project Mona Lisa. The award ceremony will take place during this year’s conference in in Paris from October 26th – 28th.

Mona Lisa, created by Italic Pig’s Kevin Beimers, is a stealth & forgery adventure that sees Leonardo Da Vinci’s famous creation brought to life as Renaissance Italy’s greatest art thief. The project received funding from Northern Ireland Screen via Invest NI.

Having picked up a number of awards and nominations for his last production Schrödinger’s Cat And The Raiders Of The Lost Quark, including Best Game Script nominations from both Writers’ Guilds of Great Britain and Ireland, Kevin continues to push the company’s impressive storytelling record by securing Mona Lisa nominations for Best Casual Game, Best Story/Storytelling, Most Creative/Original Game, Best Quality of Art and Best Indie Game. Italic Pig is the only member of the UK games industry to receive nominations at the event.

“The Game Connection Development Awards program is designed to shed light on the most innovative and creative projects that we can find and offers additional exposure to those developers who are constantly pushing the industry forward,” said Pierre Carde, CEO of Game Connection. “We are very excited for the Game Connection Development Awards to spotlight and award more projects than ever and we look forward to seeing what the newest crop of nominees will bring.”

Mona Lisa’s game concept pitch was a recipient of a prestigious development award from Creative Europe’s MEDIA sub-programme, which, along with support from Northern Ireland Screen, has been used to fund the development process over the last year, utilising local homegrown talent to create a game with huge international appeal, whilst also helping to bolster the burgeoning games industry in the country.

The ambitious game sees you playing as Mona Lisa, a Renaissance robot of Da Vinci’s own design and a graceful and gadget-filled marvel of engineering perfection. When Mona is not busy breaking into 15th century strongholds and forging some of the greatest works of art that mankind has ever created, she is exploring the streets of Italy trying to solve a mystery that even Robert Langdon would struggle to make sense of.

“It’s an over the top mash-up of Dan Brown, Terry Pratchett and ‘springpunk’” describes Kevin Beimers, Mona Lisa creator, “Mona herself is a charming mix of Lara Croft and Inspector Gadget, clad in a modest floor-length dress. Leonardo, on the other hand, falls somewhere between Doc Brown and Peter Capaldi – amazed not so much by his own genius as by other’s stupidity. They make a great team to write for.”

The writer, director, programmer, artist and animator will attend the awards and the conference at the end of October hoping to not only secure more kudos for his company but also with a view to attracting further interest in Mona Lisa and exploring potential opportunities with publishers and distributors. Whilst the game will not be officially launched until 2017, Kevin will be showcasing exclusive first-look content from the game at the conference. For those familiar with the high-quality, narrative-driven games that he has been involved with in the past, Mona Lisa is sure to thrill.

For a full list of nominations visit the Game Connection website.

View the trailer for Mona Lisa below. 

Categories
Education News

Games R&D Tax Relief event; in review

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Putting compelling storylines, picturesque artwork and a captivating soundtrack to one side, a modern game is a masterpiece of software development. It is just as likely to contain as much serious research and development as that undertaken in a laboratory.

The video games and interactive entertainment industry has a clear strong link to high-tech research and development (R&D). Playing an integral part in the development of original intellectual property, R&D has helped the UK become recognised globally as a leading source of original computer games concepts and design.  

With access to finance being a priority for the industry, HMRC’s R&D Tax Relief scheme actively encourages developers to engage in technological innovation that can bring huge benefits to the sector.

In order to qualify for relief, HMRC wants to see R&D being used to create an improvement in a field of science or technology. Even if the R&D in which a company has invested does not have the outcome hoped for, it may even still be able to qualify for R&D tax relief.

 From Left to right; David Baxter from Boom Clap Games, Carley Morrow from App Attic and Mark Westwood from Jumpstart
From Left to right; David Baxter from Boom Clap Games, Carley Morrow from App Attic and Mark Westwood from Jumpstart

With this in mind, Games NI held a discussion with R&D tax experts Jumpstart at the Northern Ireland Screen offices to chat about what the R&D Tax Relief scheme actually means for gaming companies here. R&D tax expert Jumpstart was on hand to explain that game development and interactive entertainment companies should take full advantage of the potential financial gains.

“From designers to producers, it was great to chat to a real mixture of gaming companies. You see, I’m not an accountant; I’m a software developer,” says Mark Westwood, a Technical Analyst at Jumpstart, who has over 30 years’ experience in software development.

“The fact that everyone knows about the Video Games Tax Relief (VGTR) is great to hear – I was very impressed by the knowledge the NI gaming sector has of it,” he continued. Mark also revealed that opportunities exist to claim both VGTR and R&D tax relief, but advised that care is required as HMRC are very particular about what is eligible.

Continuing, Mark says: “However, I found that knowledge on the R&D Tax Relief scheme was a bit sketchier. We have found that some people have looked into the scheme, but it really is under-utilised across Northern Ireland. Which is a shame really, as it’s not often HMRC actually offers you ‘money on the table’!”

 Mark Westwood from Jumpstart
Mark Westwood from Jumpstart

Kitty Crawford, Deputy Chair of Games NI, thought the event was highly informative for both herself and other companies in attendance: “It was superb to get a good overall grounding on the R&D Tax Relief scheme, as well as the opportunity to ask specific, technical questions which was very useful. Even though some companies may not be in a position to claim relief now, it is of huge benefit to know about it for the future.”

If there was one thing that the gaming sector in NI should know about the R&D Tax Relief scheme, Ian Wolfendale, Jumpstart’s Client Engagement Manager, said: “Take a look into it. Don’t ignore it and think it’s not for you, as you could be pleasantly surprised.

“After all, analysis of HMRC’s latest figures shows that NI companies – across all sectors – account for just 2.7% of total claims and a mere 1.6% of the total tax benefits claimed from across the UK. This tells me that the R&D tax relief scheme is massively underutilised here.”

If you would like to chat about what opportunities there may be for your organisation, drop Ian a line at ian.wolfendale@jumpstartuk.com, or find out more at their website.

 

 Guest post by Gavin Williamson, lead organiser of the event, from Lanyon Communications
Guest post by Gavin Williamson, lead organiser of the event, from Lanyon Communications