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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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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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Industry News

DogBiscuit nominated for a children’s BAFTA

Northern Ireland game developer Blackstaff Games has been nominated in the Interactive – Original category for its game DogBiscuit

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.

For a full list of nominations visit the BAFTA website.

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Developer News

Successful Assembler participants announced

Northern Ireland Screen has announced the decision for their Assembler Programme.

The Assembler Programme is aimed at the early stage development of 6 games with the aim of one of the selected projects going into production in 2017-18. Projects will go through 3 stages of development. Publishers and distribution partners will be invited to each stage of the process to select projects that they see potential in and to feedback to developers

The 6 projects selected for the Assembler Programme have been awarded Lottery funding from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland through Northern Ireland Screen.

Dog Gunnit – Toll Inc

Dog Gunnit is a ‘90s style arcade driver and shooter where 2 players take control of a man and his dog in a buddy-cop tale where they must overcome an initial dislike of each other to take out the bad guys.

Terranaughts – Outsider Games

A side-scrolling, turn-based action role playing game set on the planets of Farset 13, the furthest human-colonised solar system, humans walk among an often-dangerous civilisation of dinosaur like alien species. With no plant life to replenish the Oxygen humans consume, it becomes a limited natural resource, and the few human inhabitants of Farset 13 are taxed heavily on the air they breathe, with the threat of armed bounty-hunting tax collectors looming, should they fall into debt. Play as one of these bounty hunters, with an initial goal to combat and capture anyone with tax debt. 

Journey Sauvage – Boom Clap Games & Blackstaff Games

Journey Sauvage is set in a fictional and fantastic galaxy with central characters loosely based on Phileas Fogg and Passepartout’s “Around the World in 80 days.” As the player, it is your task to guide the protagonist and your trusty assistant through a series of planets featuring exotic landscapes, alien civilisations, robots and bandits via an array of intergalactic vehicles.

Juiced – Match Head Games

Juiced is a 3rd person action platformer where players chase and capture fruit and veg creatures, known as “Crops”, in order to make the smoothies. Each crop has their own unique way of moving, and some have special abilities that make them unpredictable when first encountered. Players must learn their behaviour or risk being caught in sticky strawberry jam, burned by citric acid or crushed by a swarm of angry grapes.

Children of Geometry – Enter Yes

Children of Geometry is a story-driven third-person hack-and-slash game set amidst the streets of Carrickmass; an urban wasteland run amok with delinquent hoodies who lurk amongst the digitally augmented nightmares. Micky and his closest friends must make their way through Carrickmass on their journey to Blackspoint – a costal viewpoint – where Micky’s older brother took his own life; but not before leaving a geo-tagged suicide note. The journey to Blackspoint isn’t safe.

How to Kill Monsters – Coffee Box Games

A 2D Strategy role playing game (RPG) where the player fights off monsters with giant mechs. The player commands an isolated society in a post-apocalyptic world of colossal monsters, where they have to balance combat with resource management and faction politics.

 

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Industry News

Production begins on Jennifer Wilde: The Ghost of Oscar Wilde

Outsider Games is partnering with comic book publisher Atomic Diner to adapt the best-selling and award-winning comic book Jennifer Wilde as a point & click adventure game; Jennifer Wilde: The Ghost of Oscar Wilde. 

Jennifer Wilde: The Ghost of Oscar Wilde received funding from Northern Ireland Screen supported by Invest NI. 

At the start of the Jazz Age in Paris in 1921, young French artist Jennifer Chevalier becomes embroiled in death, espionage and revolution which takes her across the three nations of France, England and Ireland – ably assisted by the ghost of Oscar Wilde. 

Jennifer believes the recent death of her father was no ‘accident’. Finding a chained locket in her father’s hotel, Jennifer attempts to use her childhood gift for talking to ghosts to call his spirit back. Unwittingly, the ghost recalled is that of Oscar Wilde, famous Irish playwright, whose affair with Jennifer’s father has bound his ghost to the locket. 

Jennifer and Oscar find themselves involved in schemes of murder, ghosts and intrigue as they attempt to solve Jennifer’s father’s murder, and develop a deep friendship along the way.

Developed by Outsider Games and the team behind Wailing Heights, Jennifer Wilde: The Ghost of Oscar Wildefeatures black and white, ink washed 2D graphics that perfectly capture the aesthetic of the original comic book. 

Jennifer Wilde’s script comes courtesy of original series author, Maura McHugh, whose writing credits include Mike Mignola’s Witchfinder comics, and Barron’s Twisted Myths and Twisted Fairy Tales. 

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Industry News

Of Kings And Men launches

Green Man Gaming Publishing, Northern Ireland Screen and indie developers Donkey Crew are pleased to announce the launch of Of Kings And Men in Early Access on Steam today. The third-person multiplayer game, created in a bespoke engine, will start its early access with a focus on the combat system and key multiplayer modes including the ability to fight in battles with over 200 players.

Of Kings And Men is being created by indie developers Donkey Crew, previously known for their popular “cRPG” modification for Mount & Blade: Warband. The team are developing the medieval themed game in their own bespoke engine allowing them to create huge, stable multiplayer battles, as well as the customisation of characters from a choice of millions of combinations. The intuitive combat systems based on historical European Martial Arts (HEMA) fighters and medieval manuscripts captures the real spirit of melee fighting in a game.

“After 5 years of development, with all its ups and downs, today is both the most scary and amazing day for us – we can’t wait for everyone to experience it! We believe that Of Kings And Men will write its own history. If the community joins us now in this journey, they will forever be part of our very first era,” said Florian “chadz” Hofreither, Project Lead on Of Kings And Men, Donkey Crew.

“We are delighted to be working with Donkey Crew and Green Man Gaming on such an exciting and engaging project. The growth of the games industry is an important priority for us and Of Kings and Men is the type of ambitious game we want to attract to Northern Ireland. We are glad the Donkey Crew team have been able to make Northern Ireland their home during the development process and integrated themselves with an emerging group of local interactive content creators. Through Early Access we hope the public can see the potential in Of Kings and Men that we have believed in,” said Richard Williams, Chief Executive of Northern Ireland Screen.

“We always knew from the first time we saw the early development of the game, that once built, it would be a unique and epic addition to the games industry. Of Kings and Men is being developed by a passionate team who are fully dedicated to working with their community to deliver a medieval game that is as close to real-life melee combat as possible. We hope that everyone follows them on this exciting journey whilst enjoying the game on the way!,” said Paul Sulyok, CEO and Founder of Green Man Gaming Publishing.

Of Kings And Men allows you to experience huge, player-driven battles like no other. Engage in massive combat with more than 200 players, capture territories, or practice your fighting skills in competitive matches with intuitive melee combat.

Throughout Early Access, Of Kings And Men will introduce strategic elements, allowing players to conquer and control the land by political, economic or military means. Send armies to protect your cities and invade enemy territories. Lead your troops into decisive orchestrated sieges against player-built fortifications that are fought with hundreds of friends and foes simultaneously. Every victory or defeat shapes history forever.