NFTS Games Grads (and staff) at GDC!

The week of February 27th saw the global Games industry head once again to San Francisco for the annual GDC conference.

This year five people associated with the course attended and met up for lunch in an ‘American Graffiti’ themed place called Mel’s Diner…

From left to right.

Richard Fine was one of the original tutors on the course focusing on programming and coding support. He now works for Unity fixing all kinds of problems.

Tony Evans is the current NFTS Games Course Coordinator but attended GDC on behalf of ‘Cupboard Games’, an indie set up by two grads Jonathan Hatton and Paul Dillon, with the hope of finding funding for their exciting new project. Watch this space…

Laura Dodds is a recent graduate (just days before this was taken in fact) and is currently working for the newly formed Dream Reality Interactive where she works with…

… Albert Bentall. He’s one of the original grads (based on the alphabet he is technically our very first!) and joined DRI after a very successful stint as a designer at Sony.

Finally, that’s Ana Ribeiro. Currently based in California, Ana continues working on her project ‘Pixel Ripped 1989’ which will be released later this year.

Saying Goodbye and Good Luck to the Graduating class of ’17

On the 22nd February we said “so long”, “stay in touch” and “best of luck” to the graduating class of 2017.

It’s been a good two years and between them, these guys have arguably made the best group of projects to date (gauntlet thrown down to this year!).

Personally speaking, they have been a joy to work with. Professional, friendly and fun to be around. In many ways I / we are saying goodbye to seven friends rather than students.  We are incredibly proud of them all and have no doubt we’ll be hearing big things from them in the years to come.

Left to right (Grad game in parentheses)…

Manos Agianniotakis (The Circle), John Lau (Uncanny Valerie), Blaise Imiolczyk (Polyphonia), Naomi Kotler (Into the Black), Jameela Khan (Aaliyah) and Claudio Pollina (Melancholia). Not in shot: Laura Dodds (Night Bizarre).

You will have one final chance to see these grad games as a collection at Rezzed from March 30 to April 1.

NFTS Grads Secure Roles at BAFTA-Winning Supermassive Games

*This has been (slightly) adapted from the official NFTS website and was written by Vicky Hewlett*


NFTS GRADS SECURE ROLES AT BAFTA-WINNING SUPERMASSIVE GAMES

“You just need an imagination, a creative side and the will to make great games!”

Two National Film and Television School (NFTS) Games Design and Development MA graduates, Naomi Kotler and Manos Agianniotakis, have been snapped up by BAFTA-winning, independent game developer, Supermassive Games. Best known for the award-winning Until Dawn on PlayStation4, Supermassive Games have gained a reputation for innovation in both storytelling and VR.

Both Naomi and Manos are working as Games Designers, which involves everything from conceptualising ideas and mechanics to prototyping.

Naomi: “Working at Supermassive is a great experience so far! At the moment, I am devising what a game consists of and how it plays. This involves both planning and defining elements of a game. These elements include setting, structure, rules, story flow, characters, the objects and props.”

Manos: “Currently I am working on the narrative design side of things and on how the core ideas of the game can be represented through player choice and mechanics.”

I asked Naomi and Manos how studying Games Design & Development at the NFTS helped them develop their skills and made them more attractive to employers:

Naomi: “You learn all the ins and outs of games design and development throughout the first year of the course. You then hone those skills during the second year by applying them to making your own game. A game that you have designed from scratch is an excellent portfolio piece for potential employers. Its proof that you have a broad skillset and can go with an idea from start to (almost) finish. In my case developing a virtual reality game opened a few more doors for me as a lot of studios are working on VR projects now. Not many people can say they have made their own game, so it helps you stand out from the crowd.”

Manos:  “The course forces the students to work through the whole pipeline of game development, from early concept stages to completion. It also allowed me to develop a broad portfolio of different experiences – from a small mobile adventure game to a fully-fledged prototype for a VR game – that showcased my abilities. Additionally, it helped me develop confidence in my own skills. During the last two years I exhibited in various national and international gaming expos (as part of the school and individually) which gave my work great exposure.”

On reasons for applying for the MA, Naomi and Manos had the following to say:

Naomi: “Before the course I had no knowledge of games design, how you made a game or the work that went into development. I was just a happy player of the final product. I applied for the course after working at GameCity in Nottingham. While there I was told that there are a few ways into the industry but the best way was to make your own game. So I took that advice – albeit 4 years later -and came across the Games Design and Development MA. You don’t need any previous games design experience, software knowledge or particular skills. You just need an imagination, a creative side and the will to want to make great games. The rest comes easy!”

Manos: “The course offers you the chance to develop a wide array of essential design and development skills. You’ll work with other people at the school, create interesting and deeply personal projects and showcase them to the world”.

For more information about Supermassive Games, please visit http://www.supermassivegames.com/ or follow their social media at @SuperMGames (Twitter) and @SupermassiveGames (Facebook). To find out more about the NFTS Games Design and Development MA, please visit https://nfts.co.uk/our-courses/masters/games-design-development

More about Supermassive Games

Supermassive Games is a BAFTA-winning independent game developer with a reputation for innovation in both storytelling and VR. The studio has released a number of successful titles and is best known for the critically acclaimed PS4 hit Until Dawn and the exclusive PlayStation VR launch titles – Until Dawn: Rush of Blood and Tumble VR.

Founded in 2008, the studio is now home to over 100 talented individuals working across a range of storytelling and VR titles.  Supermassive Games remains fully independent and has broad ambitions to grow audiences across a range of platforms.

The studio has received numerous awards including a BAFTA for Until Dawn, and was included on the prestigious Deloitte UK Technology Fast 50 and Deloitte EMEA Technology Fast 500 lists in 2013. In the 2012 they were listed by TechTrack as one of the 40 fastest growing technology companies in the UK.

Building upon their reputation as cinematic storytellers and leading VR experts, Supermassive Games have several exciting plans in the pipeline.

 


Original Source: https://nfts.co.uk/news/nfts-grads-secure-roles-bafta-winning-supermassive-games

NFTS Games Graduation Showcase 20 / 21 Feb – Picturehouse Central

Next weeks see’s our annual NFTS Grad showcase where we join the other departments in the school in showing the results of the second year projects. Alongside fiction, animation, documentary, television screening will be our Games showcase.

MONDAY 20th FEBRUARY   10am – 8pm*
TUESDAY 21st FEBRUARY   10am – 4pm

PICTUREHOUSE CENTRAL, PICCADILLY, LONDON.

The * means that we have drinks after 5pm. Just sayin…

We are very proud of the games that the students have made this year but more proud of how they developed as people and, well… Developers! All have face challenges and all have overcome them. It’s a testament to their progression to see that so many of them are already onto the next step of their careers.

What’s more, hot of the press news, for the first time EVER we will be part of Rezzed this year too. A final hurrah to these current grad projects.

It would honestly be great to see you there!

Here is a description of each project.


‘The Circle’ by Manos Agianniotakis

manos

An interactive VR experience about a woman dealing with PTSD. The story blurs the line between reality and fiction, dreaming and living, forcing the player into the shoes of a flawed but relatable main character. It explores themes of gender, identity, obsession and trauma.

Taking inspirations from the real world phenomenon of the Toynbee Tiles, the story of the game focuses on a woman who cut herself off from the world after a traumatic event. Alone in her flat, she investigates the appearance of the tiles and tries to solve their mystery. Her only communication with the outside world is through her computer, her phone and letters that other investigators send her.

During the course of the game, the players learn more about the tiles and the tragic story of the main character and the reason she lives in isolation.

The game combines first and third person perspective and has a text adventure segment that is navigated within a 3D environment. The gameplay is a combination of decision making (Papers Please) contemporary (Wolf Among Us, Oxenfree) and classic adventure games (The Fourth Protocol, Bureaucracy) with a twist.

‘Night Bizarre’ by Laura Dodds


posterdesign05_smallPlay as Srey, a novice fortune teller learning her trade in a strange, bustling, Cambodian night market. Strive to thrive as you wield your tarot cards and predict the future of locals and tourists who visit your stall. 

As 20-year-old Srey you must prove to your down-to-earth mother, Tola, and mystically-minded grandmother, Arunny, that you can make a success of your stall, or else you’ll be sent back home to care for your three wild brothers. This is your chance for freedom in the fascinating city. Over five days, face family disputes, dangerous criminals and torrential tropical storms.

Discover the stories of the night bazaar and influence the colourful characters who populate it. Will you use the tools of the trade to learn the art of deception and swindle as much money as you can? Or will you use Srey’s ‘gift’ to establish a reputation for yourself as a talented fortune teller and see your premonitions come true?

‘Polyphonia’ by Blaise Imiolczykposter_mini

Polyphonia is a psychedelic hands on virtual reality experience utilising motion controllers.

It is a meditative exploration into the manipulation of environment and sound that gives the player the chance to experience the evolutionary story of a universe through several stages in which they can grab the surrounding objects and manipulate them which changes the sound within.

Drawing its inspiration from science and modern art, the experience follows the evolution of a universe from its birth with the big bang right through to its death.

It is intended for release on HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, PS VR and Xbox VR.

‘Aaliyah’ by Jameela Khan

postergrab
‘Aaliyah’ by Jameela Khan is a modern day British “Western” about a young woman who arrives in a small town to avenge the death of her friend.

Through point-and-click gameplay, the player assumes the role of protagonist, Aaliyah, who is haunted by the memories of her last conversation with her friend, Eliza.

Retracing Eliza’s steps in the supermarket she used to worked in, Aaliyah takes up work as a lowly paid stock controller.

The player joins Aaliyah on her first day at work as she tries to discover what happened to Eliza and learns more about the motives for her death.

‘Aaliyah’ explores female friendship, gender and identity and is the first British game to feature a lead character of South Asian origin.

‘Into the Black’ by Naomi Kotler

poster

An immersive, third person, virtual reality adventure about teamwork, instinct and survival set in the Yellowstone National Park wildfires of 1988.

Divided into four acts, the player assumes the role of a spirit guide sent to help a red fox and grizzly bear, who have been thrown together during the chaos of the wildfire and will need your guidance to help them escape the inferno and find a safe new home.

Only by working together will they survive the long road ahead and stand any chance of being re united with their families. Along the way they will be tested to their limits as their world is consumed by flames, the fire has put Yellowstone out of balance and forced a mass migration into the hunting grounds of the Druid Wolf pack. As these fearsome predators descend upon their fleeing prey, another lurks in the darkness. Man has come, full of cruelty and bad intention, seeking to turn this disaster into opportunity.

If you and your companions are to survive you will need to rely on each other and leave everything behind as you journey into the black.

‘Uncanny Valerie’ by John Lau

poster

A 15 / 20 minute interactive play on iPad.  It is set in the near future, in the vein of Black Mirror, Ex Machina and Her.

The player takes control of Karis, a wry and acerbic drinker who has lost her job as a robotics scientist, and who has just been left by her long-term girlfriend Valerie.

She has a few days to pack up her belongings in the house that she has shared with Valerie for the past five years, and copes with the emotional and practical task of moving on in the only way she knows how – by programming Valerie’s consciousness into an android that she has lying around the house.

As she tries to recreate her erstwhile lover, Karis realises that the power she holds over the robot can be used to iron out the things that irritated her about Valerie, and finds herself confronted with the question of whether it is better to love the one you’re with, or to hold out hope for an ideal that may never come.

Told through a combination of spatial puzzles, cut scenes and point and click tasks, ‘Uncanny Valerie’ is a story about a woman trying to both let go of, and hold onto a failed relationship, through the macabre, the poignant and the absurd.

‘Melancholia’ by Claudio Pollina

melancholia-poster-1‘Melancholia’ is an isometric puzzle game for iOS.

The puzzles are created to trick your visual and audio perceptions with optical and audio illusions.

As Frances, the player must manipulate the ambiance and sounds of two worlds – the house he shared with the love of his life and his own fractured memories – to piece together the mystery of why he lost Funny and his will to play violin.


All Change in 2017 for the NFTS Games department!

 

It’s a new year and a brand new start for the NFTS Games course. Big changes have taken place. Let’s take you through some of them.

We have a new building and two new Games Labs!

I’ve mentioned this from time to time on the social media channels and posted photos of how the building work has progressed from time to time. It’s taken a little while, it’s been noisy at times but the result is very much worth it!

It’s still not a 100% complete though. An unforeseen circumstance has meant that the first year lab isn’t going to ready for a few more weeks. We’ve set them up in temporary base next door in the soon to be ‘incubation’ space.

Here are some pics of the building work and finished labs…

Exterior

Exterior

Exterior - Roof

Exterior - Rear

First Year Games Lab

First Year Games Lab

View from First Year Games Lab

Second Year Games Lab

Second Year Games Lab with carpet!

Look, we have a kitchen!

Games floor corridor

Exterior of the finished building! We are on the top floor!

Finished Corridor

Temporary First Year Games Lab

Second Year Games Lab - Front

Second Year Games Lab - Rear

View from Second Year Gamres Lab


The rooms are still very much a work in progress as far as the decor goes. We are going to get as much colour in there as possible. There are white boards and pin boards to go up but we are also hoping for a few special things too. We’ve asked all our previous and current students to draw us a picture. The hope is that it’s something that influenced them on or to join the course, perhaps a memory or inside joke from their time here. We will then frame these and put them up gallery style.

As well as giving us things to put on the wall the real purpose is to bring the old into the new. The graduates are the ones that made the course what it is today. They are are the foundation. We want them featured in the building to inspire the next generations.

Talking about making the course what it is today…

We have a new Head of Games.

It was with much sadness that Jon Weinbren left his post as head of Games in December to pursue a new venture. I think it’s fair to say that Jon can be credited with making the course what it is today. He created it and put in the groundwork to make it the success that is is now. We wish Jon all the very best of luck in his new position at the University of Surrey.

But like a phoenix rising from the flames we have brought in a FANTASTIC replacement in Alan Thorn.

Alan has been with us at the school for a number of years as a tutor focusing on programming and coding support. It’s been a few weeks now and Alan has found his feet already. We’ve incorporated (or soon will) some new ideas onto the course and it feels invigorated.

Alan has already spread his vision of the Games course with the new intake of students. Not just the Games students, ALL the students. His key message? Collaboration!

Collaboration with the other departments here has always been our USP. Think about who you are working with here, we are the National Film and Television School, many of the future leading figures in the film and television industry start their journey with us. We have already had a Bafta winner and Oscar nominee working on a game project.

We work with screenwriters, sound designers, composers, producers, production managers, production designers, DFX, cinematography…

Cinematography royalty Roger Deakins was here last week, fresh from working on Blade Runner 2047. His credits are remarkable. Look them up. He is a NFTS graduate. You could be working on your project with the next Roger Deakins! You never know!

Last but certainly not least.

We have our new batch of students (well, still waiting on two to arrive) and what a fine bunch they are. We’ll introduce you to them properly in a few weeks once they’ve settled in (and all arrived!). We are already putting them though their paces. Yesterday they spent time getting to grips with 3D art with tutor Ted Chaplin and, as I type, they are engaged in a session with Sion Lenton on Game Design core skills. We have just given them ‘Gone Home’ to play too. We’ll discuss it in depth next week.

Alan welcome the 2017 crop to the NFTS Games family.

The students are the lifeblood of the course and the school. These guys have already showed ambition and a desire to knuckle down and learn. We look forward to seeing what they come up with!

Any other business?

This time of year is always exciting for the second years. They have just pitched their Grad Game idea to the tutors. This is the project that they will spend the rest of 2017 working with it’s public debut occurring at EGX in September.

By now we have a history of ambitious, diverse and intriguing projects. This year is no different. We look forward to seeing how they iterate on these in the coming weeks before presenting their final ideas to their fellow students in other disciplines. Teams will them form and work can really start! Exciting!

We are talking among ourselves about starting a podcast too. Still in the organisation stage but I think it will happen. We know the format, we have the interest from the students. Should be interesting to see how it comes off. What kind of thing would you like to hear by the way? Let us know in the comments.

We have some events coming up too…

PC Gamer Weekender – We are taking a few projects to the event. Very quirky, five – ten minute experiences.
NFTS Grad Show – We have our annual Graduation Showcase at the Picturehouse Cinema on February 20th and 21st. Feel free to swing by.
EGX Rezzed – For the first time we are taking the graduation games to Rezzed. In a way, we see this as a different type of grad show. It’s a big deal.

Oh, and we are taking the first years to the local model village in a couple of weeks. Sweet.