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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
Industry News

Immersive Tech NI Hackathon

Earlier this month saw the launch of Immersive Tech NI as well as a VR hackathon. The event marks the beginning of the group which is designed to bring together the most creative minds in Northern Ireland as a community to explore and expand the possibilities created by immersive technologies, including virtual and augmented reality. Attendees got the chance to try out projects run by local companies, as well as go through workshops leading up to the Hackathon, which had prices for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place. We caught up with some of the winners to find out their experience of the Hackathon. 

1st Place – Team Rocket

The Immersive Tech NI Hackathon started on a Saturday morning with breakfast and a brief introduction from the event organisers. After this, everyone with a prearranged group set off to find the best tables, leaving just seven of us: a game developer, a software engineer, a museum worker and three students. Only two of the group had ever actually met before, but it wasn’t long before we started sharing ideas and making decisions. The pitches ranged from a first aid instructor to a virtual riot for police trainees, but in the end the idea that really stuck out was a sign language learning tool. A picture of hands signing the letters of the alphabet would be displayed in front of the user, allowing them to practice without a teacher. We decided to go with the augmented reality of the Microsoft HoloLens over any of the virtual reality headsets, as the user would be able to see their hands as they matched the pictures on the screen.

After the idea had been decided it was just a matter of implementing it in six or seven hours, with little to no experience of working with immersive technology. Emma and Paddy worked on the product branding and the pictures of the hands signing. Clea and Rachel created a presentation to give to the judges, making sure to draw attention to why this sort of tool would be useful for so many people learning sign language. James, Michael and I handled the technical side of things. Apart from a few problems with Unity and GitHub, and a bit of a dash to get through all the letters of the alphabet (I think we only made it to N or M), a working prototype was created and the presentation went off without a hitch.

The projects made by the other teams were all of such a high quality so we were all very shocked and delighted to win first prize. I would like to thank my team mates for working so hard and everyone who helped run the hackathon for organising such a great event.

 John McDonnell
John McDonnell

2nd Place – 5 in a Vive

At 5pm on 5th of November in The Hive in Belfast, 12 teams were watching the last hour of their immersive tech hackathon tick away while they tried to finish their demos and presentations. By 6pm the work was done, the beers were opened, and the pitches soon to start.

Our team consisted of Mal Duffin, Dee Harvey, Kris Ignasiak, Steven Kennedy, and Brendan McCourt and we worked on a fire safety app. Brendan and I took on research, idea development, branding, and strategy. As we worked, we identified the most serious fire safety hazards, the most likely audiences, how to make the game increasingly difficult so it can be played repeatedly, what the likely business models were. Steven and Kris got straight to work in Unity building a model of the interior of a house with various fire hazards needing to be neutralised. Mal was building the Reward stage of our game – the bit where you get to be fireman and put out the fire.

As the afternoon wore on, Brendan and I moved onto developing and practising our presentation, while Kris, Steven, and Mal put the finishing touches onto our demo. Powered by sandwiches, haribos, and chocolate buttons, we kept working as the deadline approached.

Delivering the pitch and demo was fun when our turn finally came around. After work stopped on the projects at 6, the judges did the rounds of the room to hear pitches and experience demos where they had been created. Following them around to hear the other pitches was too much for my delicate constitution. I love to watch a pitch, but not before I pitch myself.

We were delighted to come second. We all felt our idea was strong and worth pursuing beyond the hackathon. We make a good, productive team, so we plan to keep working on Safe as Houses. Watch this space.

  Dee Harvey  is Founder and Creative Director at Controvert Ltd
Dee Harvey is Founder and Creative Director at Controvert Ltd

3rd Place – A(rachnaphobia)

For the Hackathon we hooked up with Rachael and Zach, who brought with them her great idea of simulating vehicle safety checks for Trucks, Cars, etc. It was a great experience being able to walk around a really big virtual truck with a horn and engine sounds, take a tyre off, check indicators and open doors and load cargo. Being me, I was keen to gamify the experience and add achievements – it makes for much more effective learning. We didn’t quite get to build that into the demo, but it was in the concept.

We wrangled with the HMD camera, with teleport code, collision detection with the weird SteamVR constraints, and other code issues. We downloaded assets, made a presentation, looked up industry-specific statistics and use-cases, ate sweets and drank tea. Most of all we wrangled with the fact that four people developing on one machine is more than a little ludicrous. Nine hours of constantly being ‘on’ and thinking hard over brand new problems is tough going. 

We yawned, we disagreed, we covered the white board with stuff, we tested and tested and tested, we fell out, we made up, and finally it was time for judging. Rachael gave a really cohesive presentation of the various concepts and ideas we had drummed up through the day. The judges were thankfully game for trying our (still a little clunky) demo in person, and Glenn made a good demonstration of the parts they didn’t quite manage. An hour later, after a much deserved beer and a rest and a good nosy at other people’s projects, we were delighted to win 3rd prize!

In all, it was a super experience. We have a conceptual project that could in theory be taken forward into a fully-fledged real life application. The development issues and code quirks we are now aware of, the differing experiences between the hardware, the user experience of the camera and teleport, that’s all invaluable knowledge. More than anything, though, we now have the motivation to give VR dev a go – it’s amazing fun.

  Angie McKeown  is the founder of  Miss McKeown's tea , #NIGameDevNetwork and #PlayMyDemo. 
Angie McKeown  is the founder of Miss McKeown’s tea , #NIGameDevNetwork and #PlayMyDemo. 

You can follow and keep up to date with Immersive Tech NI and any future Hackathons on their twitter page or via their Meetup page.

Categories
Industry News

Q&A with Enter Yes™

In a new series of interviews with local Northern Irish developers, we met with Ross from Enter Yes™.

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

I’m Producer at Enter Yes™, a BAFTA and Emmy award-winning studio based out of Belfast. My background is writing, mostly short stories and poetry. I was Short Story Editor of a publication called GetBack in Liverpool before moving back home to Belfast to concentrate on my own writing. I did some Script Editing for Kris and the gang here when they just started out and was delighted when he offered me a Production Coordinator role in late 2014. Since then things have just gone from strength to strength.

How was Enter Yes started and how did you get into games?

Enter Yes™ was started by Kris Kelly, a BAFTA nominated director. He was the founder of the hugely popular Blacknorth Studio and with this new venture he wanted something more mature and positive in contrast to the derisive Blacknorth. Enter Yes™ offers an open and confident studio who can cater for both regional and international clients alike.

We’re greenhorns in the Gaming community and Beyond Hirieth is our first IP. We completed a project for BBC called Ghosts of Thiepval, a VR experience which took the user through the first moments of the Battle of the Somme. We went out and scanned the trenches at Thiepval so we could create an authentic 3D version before we used the voices of some of the men who fought and survived that battle. As you walk through and hear them speak about how calm yet petrified they were, it gives you real goosebumps every time you put it on and go over the top. This just whetted our appetites to create our own stories within VR and it’s kind of just snowballed from there.

Who’s on the team?

Kris is the Managing Director whilst also coming up with a lot of the IP conceptions. Tom Getty is our Creative Director. He’s a talented young animator out of Co. Down who has a real bright future in this industry.  Vicki Rock is Line Producer on a number of international projects, not least Kings of Sumava, the HBO animated documentary Kris is directing. She has a background in marketing and has worked with huge clients of the ilk of Guinness and Vodafone. We also have a vast pool of freelancers we use when big projects come in. I’d also like to mention the UofU placement students who come in to us every year. They just seem to get better and better year on year and that’s a huge credit to Conann, Greg, Alec et al. Most recently, we had Hannah Turkington and Scott Gill. They made such a huge impression on us with their hard-working and passionate attitudes towards the studio not to mention their extreme talent. We’ll be excited to see them again after they graduate. 

Some companies work in an office, some work remotely – what works best for your team and why?

Definitely within the same studio. I understand that it’s impossible for some companies to have studio space but, in my personal opinion, the money those companies are saving is probably being spent on the length of time the project takes to complete. Having everyone in the same room is vitally important for ensuring the pipeline flows as it should and also is where our best ideas come from, the creativity just bounces off one and other.

Can you tell us anything about your up coming game Beyond Hirieth?

Okay, it’s billed as Starfox (gameplay) meets R-Type (aesthetic) meets the Jonathan Glazer film Under The Skin (narrative and aesthetic). It’s a VR railshooter being developed on Oculus but will be platform agnostic and isn’t necessarily VR only. It’s unusual for a rail-shooter to have a dense narrative and that is where we excel. It follows Marta, a loner after her family disappear in a Solar Flare who is approached by The Teacher. He promises to reunite her with her family in her most treasured memory – but she must sacrifice herself for his cause. It asks the question of why anyone would give up their own lives for a cult or belief system. Kind of challenging the faith (with a lower-case ‘f’) people put into things. We had some great meetings in Gamescom this year – and even came away with a Vive Dev Kit… score! 

And finally – what are your top 5 games?

Me personally? You might be disappointed:

  • 1. The FIFA series (sorry).
  • 2. Sonic the Hedgehog
  • 3. R-Type
  • 4. Tenchu
  • 5. Strest of Rage

You can keep up to date with Enter Yes™ on:

Twitter
Facebook
Official Website

Categories
Industry News

Q&A with Enter Yes™

In a new series of interviews with local Northern Irish developers, we met with Ross from Enter Yes™.

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

I’m Producer at Enter Yes™, a BAFTA and Emmy award-winning studio based out of Belfast. My background is writing, mostly short stories and poetry. I was Short Story Editor of a publication called GetBack in Liverpool before moving back home to Belfast to concentrate on my own writing. I did some Script Editing for Kris and the gang here when they just started out and was delighted when he offered me a Production Coordinator role in late 2014. Since then things have just gone from strength to strength.

How was Enter Yes started and how did you get into games?

Enter Yes™ was started by Kris Kelly, a BAFTA nominated director. He was the founder of the hugely popular Blacknorth Studio and with this new venture he wanted something more mature and positive in contrast to the derisive Blacknorth. Enter Yes™ offers an open and confident studio who can cater for both regional and international clients alike.

We’re greenhorns in the Gaming community and Beyond Hirieth is our first IP. We completed a project for BBC called Ghosts of Thiepval, a VR experience which took the user through the first moments of the Battle of the Somme. We went out and scanned the trenches at Thiepval so we could create an authentic 3D version before we used the voices of some of the men who fought and survived that battle. As you walk through and hear them speak about how calm yet petrified they were, it gives you real goosebumps every time you put it on and go over the top. This just whetted our appetites to create our own stories within VR and it’s kind of just snowballed from there.

Who’s on the team?

Kris is the Managing Director whilst also coming up with a lot of the IP conceptions. Tom Getty is our Creative Director. He’s a talented young animator out of Co. Down who has a real bright future in this industry.  Vicki Rock is Line Producer on a number of international projects, not least Kings of Sumava, the HBO animated documentary Kris is directing. She has a background in marketing and has worked with huge clients of the ilk of Guinness and Vodafone. We also have a vast pool of freelancers we use when big projects come in. I’d also like to mention the UofU placement students who come in to us every year. They just seem to get better and better year on year and that’s a huge credit to Conann, Greg, Alec et al. Most recently, we had Hannah Turkington and Scott Gill. They made such a huge impression on us with their hard-working and passionate attitudes towards the studio not to mention their extreme talent. We’ll be excited to see them again after they graduate. 

Some companies work in an office, some work remotely – what works best for your team and why?

Definitely within the same studio. I understand that it’s impossible for some companies to have studio space but, in my personal opinion, the money those companies are saving is probably being spent on the length of time the project takes to complete. Having everyone in the same room is vitally important for ensuring the pipeline flows as it should and also is where our best ideas come from, the creativity just bounces off one and other.

Can you tell us anything about your up coming game Beyond Hirieth?

Okay, it’s billed as Starfox (gameplay) meets R-Type (aesthetic) meets the Jonathan Glazer film Under The Skin (narrative and aesthetic). It’s a VR railshooter being developed on Oculus but will be platform agnostic and isn’t necessarily VR only. It’s unusual for a rail-shooter to have a dense narrative and that is where we excel. It follows Marta, a loner after her family disappear in a Solar Flare who is approached by The Teacher. He promises to reunite her with her family in her most treasured memory – but she must sacrifice herself for his cause. It asks the question of why anyone would give up their own lives for a cult or belief system. Kind of challenging the faith (with a lower-case ‘f’) people put into things. We had some great meetings in Gamescom this year – and even came away with a Vive Dev Kit… score! 

And finally – what are your top 5 games?

Me personally? You might be disappointed:

  • 1. The FIFA series (sorry).
  • 2. Sonic the Hedgehog
  • 3. R-Type
  • 4. Tenchu
  • 5. Strest of Rage

You can keep up to date with Enter Yes™ on:

Twitter
Facebook
Official Website

Categories
Industry News

Q&A with Enter Yes™

In a new series of interviews with local Northern Irish developers, we met with Ross from Enter Yes™.

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

I’m Producer at Enter Yes™, a BAFTA and Emmy award-winning studio based out of Belfast. My background is writing, mostly short stories and poetry. I was Short Story Editor of a publication called GetBack in Liverpool before moving back home to Belfast to concentrate on my own writing. I did some Script Editing for Kris and the gang here when they just started out and was delighted when he offered me a Production Coordinator role in late 2014. Since then things have just gone from strength to strength.

How was Enter Yes started and how did you get into games?

Enter Yes™ was started by Kris Kelly, a BAFTA nominated director. He was the founder of the hugely popular Blacknorth Studio and with this new venture he wanted something more mature and positive in contrast to the derisive Blacknorth. Enter Yes™ offers an open and confident studio who can cater for both regional and international clients alike.

We’re greenhorns in the Gaming community and Beyond Hirieth is our first IP. We completed a project for BBC called Ghosts of Thiepval, a VR experience which took the user through the first moments of the Battle of the Somme. We went out and scanned the trenches at Thiepval so we could create an authentic 3D version before we used the voices of some of the men who fought and survived that battle. As you walk through and hear them speak about how calm yet petrified they were, it gives you real goosebumps every time you put it on and go over the top. This just whetted our appetites to create our own stories within VR and it’s kind of just snowballed from there.

Who’s on the team?

Kris is the Managing Director whilst also coming up with a lot of the IP conceptions. Tom Getty is our Creative Director. He’s a talented young animator out of Co. Down who has a real bright future in this industry.  Vicki Rock is Line Producer on a number of international projects, not least Kings of Sumava, the HBO animated documentary Kris is directing. She has a background in marketing and has worked with huge clients of the ilk of Guinness and Vodafone. We also have a vast pool of freelancers we use when big projects come in. I’d also like to mention the UofU placement students who come in to us every year. They just seem to get better and better year on year and that’s a huge credit to Conann, Greg, Alec et al. Most recently, we had Hannah Turkington and Scott Gill. They made such a huge impression on us with their hard-working and passionate attitudes towards the studio not to mention their extreme talent. We’ll be excited to see them again after they graduate. 

Some companies work in an office, some work remotely – what works best for your team and why?

Definitely within the same studio. I understand that it’s impossible for some companies to have studio space but, in my personal opinion, the money those companies are saving is probably being spent on the length of time the project takes to complete. Having everyone in the same room is vitally important for ensuring the pipeline flows as it should and also is where our best ideas come from, the creativity just bounces off one and other.

Can you tell us anything about your up coming game Beyond Hirieth?

Okay, it’s billed as Starfox (gameplay) meets R-Type (aesthetic) meets the Jonathan Glazer film Under The Skin (narrative and aesthetic). It’s a VR railshooter being developed on Oculus but will be platform agnostic and isn’t necessarily VR only. It’s unusual for a rail-shooter to have a dense narrative and that is where we excel. It follows Marta, a loner after her family disappear in a Solar Flare who is approached by The Teacher. He promises to reunite her with her family in her most treasured memory – but she must sacrifice herself for his cause. It asks the question of why anyone would give up their own lives for a cult or belief system. Kind of challenging the faith (with a lower-case ‘f’) people put into things. We had some great meetings in Gamescom this year – and even came away with a Vive Dev Kit… score! 

And finally – what are your top 5 games?

Me personally? You might be disappointed:

  • 1. The FIFA series (sorry).
  • 2. Sonic the Hedgehog
  • 3. R-Type
  • 4. Tenchu
  • 5. Strest of Rage

You can keep up to date with Enter Yes™ on:

Twitter
Facebook
Official Website

Categories
Industry News

Q&A with Enter Yes™

In a new series of interviews with local Northern Irish developers, we met with Ross from Enter Yes™.

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

I’m Producer at Enter Yes™, a BAFTA and Emmy award-winning studio based out of Belfast. My background is writing, mostly short stories and poetry. I was Short Story Editor of a publication called GetBack in Liverpool before moving back home to Belfast to concentrate on my own writing. I did some Script Editing for Kris and the gang here when they just started out and was delighted when he offered me a Production Coordinator role in late 2014. Since then things have just gone from strength to strength.

How was Enter Yes started and how did you get into games?

Enter Yes™ was started by Kris Kelly, a BAFTA nominated director. He was the founder of the hugely popular Blacknorth Studio and with this new venture he wanted something more mature and positive in contrast to the derisive Blacknorth. Enter Yes™ offers an open and confident studio who can cater for both regional and international clients alike.

We’re greenhorns in the Gaming community and Beyond Hirieth is our first IP. We completed a project for BBC called Ghosts of Thiepval, a VR experience which took the user through the first moments of the Battle of the Somme. We went out and scanned the trenches at Thiepval so we could create an authentic 3D version before we used the voices of some of the men who fought and survived that battle. As you walk through and hear them speak about how calm yet petrified they were, it gives you real goosebumps every time you put it on and go over the top. This just whetted our appetites to create our own stories within VR and it’s kind of just snowballed from there.

Who’s on the team?

Kris is the Managing Director whilst also coming up with a lot of the IP conceptions. Tom Getty is our Creative Director. He’s a talented young animator out of Co. Down who has a real bright future in this industry.  Vicki Rock is Line Producer on a number of international projects, not least Kings of Sumava, the HBO animated documentary Kris is directing. She has a background in marketing and has worked with huge clients of the ilk of Guinness and Vodafone. We also have a vast pool of freelancers we use when big projects come in. I’d also like to mention the UofU placement students who come in to us every year. They just seem to get better and better year on year and that’s a huge credit to Conann, Greg, Alec et al. Most recently, we had Hannah Turkington and Scott Gill. They made such a huge impression on us with their hard-working and passionate attitudes towards the studio not to mention their extreme talent. We’ll be excited to see them again after they graduate. 

Some companies work in an office, some work remotely – what works best for your team and why?

Definitely within the same studio. I understand that it’s impossible for some companies to have studio space but, in my personal opinion, the money those companies are saving is probably being spent on the length of time the project takes to complete. Having everyone in the same room is vitally important for ensuring the pipeline flows as it should and also is where our best ideas come from, the creativity just bounces off one and other.

Can you tell us anything about your up coming game Beyond Hirieth?

Okay, it’s billed as Starfox (gameplay) meets R-Type (aesthetic) meets the Jonathan Glazer film Under The Skin (narrative and aesthetic). It’s a VR railshooter being developed on Oculus but will be platform agnostic and isn’t necessarily VR only. It’s unusual for a rail-shooter to have a dense narrative and that is where we excel. It follows Marta, a loner after her family disappear in a Solar Flare who is approached by The Teacher. He promises to reunite her with her family in her most treasured memory – but she must sacrifice herself for his cause. It asks the question of why anyone would give up their own lives for a cult or belief system. Kind of challenging the faith (with a lower-case ‘f’) people put into things. We had some great meetings in Gamescom this year – and even came away with a Vive Dev Kit… score! 

And finally – what are your top 5 games?

Me personally? You might be disappointed:

  • 1. The FIFA series (sorry).
  • 2. Sonic the Hedgehog
  • 3. R-Type
  • 4. Tenchu
  • 5. Strest of Rage

You can keep up to date with Enter Yes™ on:

Twitter
Facebook
Official Website