EGX 2016 Video

During our time exhibiting at EGX back in September, Adam Comrie, a first year student on the Games course, came up to Birmingham to capture some footage. In between playthroughs he also had a word or two with the second year students showcasing their games.

Here’s the video!

 

‘Into the Black’ nominated for Unity award.

Naomi Kotler’s graduation game ‘Into the Black’ has been nominated for a Unity award in the ‘Best Student Project’ category. That’s pretty sweet, huh? Below is a reproduction of the press release that Andrew Oldbury (producer on ‘Into the Black’) and the School put together.

I should state that you still have time to vote! ‘Into the Black’, by the way, is the only UK based game in that category. It’s also worth pointing out that Naomi has, in comparison, has a very small team and has therefore done most of the design and development herself. That said, she will be the first to point out that the help of her team has been invaluable!

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FILM SCHOOL STUDENTS HOPING FOR HOLLYWOOD GLORY

VR Game Receives Two Nominations at the Unity Awards

London, UK – 12th October 2016: Students at the UK’s National Film and Television School (NFTS) have been nominated for two awards, ‘Best Student Project’ and the ‘Golden Cube’ at the prestigious Unity Awards for their ambitious virtual reality game Into the Black.Into the Black is the only British game to be nominated in the ‘Best Student Project’ category.

The Unity Awards takes place in Los Angeles on the 1st November 2016 and is organised by Unity, the award-winning development platform for games and interactive 3D on the web, iOS, Android, consoles and beyond. The award winners will be chosen jointly by a panel of judges and the public who are able to vote for their favourite game in each category.

Into the Black was spotted after the students launched the first playable demo at the UK’s biggest games conference, EGX in September 2016. Whilst at the conference the game received overwhelmingly positive reviews from several media publications, which drew Unity’s attention to the game.

Commenting on the students’ success, NFTS Director, Nik Powell said: “All of us at the NFTS are knocked out by our students being nominated for not one but two Unity awards. This is an incredible achievement and we are very proud of all the hard work the students and tutors have put in to make our Games Design and Development MA one of the best.”

Designer-Developer, Naomi Kotler, who created Into the Black said: “It’s an honour to be nominated for such a prestigious award, especially at this stage of our careers and amongst so many other fantastic games.”

Into the Black is an immersive, third person, virtual reality adventure about teamwork, instinct and survival. Set during the infamous wildfires at Yellowstone National Park. 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 need the player’s guidance to help them escape the perils of the inferno and reach safety.

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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.

Into the Black is one of several graduation projects to be created as part of the ground-breaking MA in Games Design and Development run by the NFTS. Previous games include A MAZE winner Pixel Ripped and The Sandman Project.

For more information and to apply for the NFTS Games Design and Development MA, please visit https://www.nfts.co.uk/our-courses/masters/games-design-development and for more information about Into the Black: www.facebook.com/IntotheBlackVR andwww.twitter.com/IntotheBlackVR

The Student’s take on EGX 2016

You heard my thoughts in the last post (here) but who better to hear from than the students themselves, huh?

I asked them to focus on three questions. 1) What went well, 2) what could you have done better? and 3) What did you learn / biggest take away? Here’s what they said…

NOTE: hopefully I’ll add Naomi and Claudio’s thoughts soon!

John Lau – Uncanny Valerie

img_20160925_182359It was great to be put in the Rezzed section, not just because more people see the game but because when they do see it they engage with it in a different way when it’s presented as a prototype of an indie game rather than a student project. This was really important, as it meant people’s feedback was different; they didn’t pull their punches. It also meant I got asked when the game was going to be released, and it was great to hear that people genuinely wanted to play the full version.

Being able to talk to people on the stand also gave me a chance to explain the thinking behind the game and the themes I’m trying to explore, and having a positive reaction to that was great too.

I think I could have looked after myself a bit more; in a very basic sense, EGX is quite physically exhausting and by the end of day four I was a wreck! Lots of Berocca, making sure you sleep well and wrapping up warm outside would really help me get through another.

There are always going to be ways of playing your game, or aspects of interaction design, that you just haven’t considered. You’ve got to embrace that and take it on board when you watch people play.  When people get stuck on a game you’ve made it’s usually going to be in the same places, regardless of who they are or how good at games they are.  Having the chance to watch as broad and diverse an audience as possible come up against those sticking points is the most valuable thing you can get in game development. Oh, and watch children play your game.  They won’t hesitate to drop it and walk away if they get bored.

 

Laura Dodds – Night Bizarre

img_20160925_170909I was really pleased with how the stand looked. I had some trinkets at home and my production designer, Adriana Isabel Hervas, had some wonderful props too including a plant and a book she made of the tarot cards. This seemed to catch people’s eye as well as set the mood once they started playing.

I think if I had brought the Unity project with me, I would’ve liked to have fixed some of the minor bugs that cropped up over the four days. Although we were busy in the evenings, I think this would’ve made for a slightly less tense experience whilst I was watching people play as I was often dreading those same bugs rearing their ugly heads at me!

I think I could’ve been more prepared to answer certain questions about my game. Things such as when will it be released? On what platform? How much funding are you looking for? Basically a lot of questions about the future of the project which I should’ve considered more thoroughly before EGX.

I learnt that many in the gaming community are incredibly generous with their time and willing to try something different. They were also very forgiving of any bugs or rough patches in my demo.

I also learnt that talking to people and watching them play your game can actually be an enjoyable experience rather than simply nerve racking. I’d never seen people in groups play my game before and it was amazing to see players make up stories for the characters and have fun discussing what each tarot card might mean.

My biggest takeaway is having gained experience talking about my game and engaging with a huge variety of players, from people who don’t like card games or tarot to journalists to other game developers.

 

Jameela Khan – Aaliyah

img_20160925_165505People getting through what I made! People laughing where I hoped they’d laugh. Aesthetics getting a thumbs up. 

My display game could have been better. Laura put us all to shame!

Putting a note up on Thursday evening that the game was a 2D point-and-click helped with expectations from those who may have been expecting something else.

It’s alright having people play your game! 

People are cool about a game you’re trying to be different with – I got a comment about my game being refreshing to play as many 2D point and clicks are pretty much the same (no offence other point and clicks!).

I also enjoyed repping the others, cos they’re my pals and I love their games.  

 

Blaise Imiolczyk – Polyphonia

img_20160925_170023Out of over 350 people that played the project we got 100% positive feedback which is really surprising and motivating. Talking to people helped me to get confidence in my project’s minimalist structure. There were also no technical issues which is always a worry before an event!

I think I could have focused more on promoting Polyphonia through social media to get some online feedback and perhaps generate some traffic there.

My biggest question was what people think about playing an ‘experience’ rather than a game. As it turned out everyone was really positive about the project.

The project that wouldn’t be as captivating previously works really well with VR.

 

Manos Agianniotakis – The Circle

img_20160925_181002EGX was overall incredible. The stand was packed and the game was fully booked all four days. Both the general public and industry enjoyed the game and those who played very often came back with their friends, spouses and, sometimes, children to show them the game and get them to play.

Apart from a couple of minor technical hurdles and a pair of misplaced headphones, I don’t think there was anything that could have gone much better!

Just seeing a wide variety of gamers playing the game has been an immense learning experience. Also, being able to talk to people, sometimes for a good half-hour after they finished, has provided me with excellent feedback and ideas on where to go next, what they liked and why.  

 

Naomi Kotler – Into the Black

img_20160925_165122Being within the Rezzed area really helped to boost the volume of people coming to check out the game and made us definitely more noticeable. It felt as if I was there showing off an indie game rather than a student project, and the reaction from people that had played when they discovered that it was only 9 months worth of work and done without the help of a huge development team made it so worthwhile. I also had members of the public who were trying VR for the first time which felt pretty special too. I also was more confident talking to media and interviewers (is that a word?). I am normally quite anxious and worry about saying the wrong thing but found the more I did it, the less nerve wracking it became!

Apart from a minor technical hitch on the 2nd day, I cant think of anything I would have changed apart from bringing my Unity project with me to work on as I discovered some pretty bad bugs over the course of the 4 days. 

Having someone to help you over the whole exhibition was incredibly invaluable. I don’t know what I would’ve done without Mark (Bailey – Sound Designer) or Andrew (Oldbury – Producer) there to help out when I needed to go talk to people or just have a small break. Also social media prep before the show is really important. Lots of people were coming over because they had seen us on Twitter or elsewhere and had made a note to come by and take a look. A lot of the interviews were scheduled through Twitter a couple of weeks before. 

I should also have brought more snacks!

The experience of being out there and showing people all of the hard work from the last year was one that I wont forget. Loads of good conversations with really interesting people.