Train2Game News Women In Games Conference

Women in GamesThe fourth annual European Women in Games Conference is to take place on Wednesday September 10 at London South Bank University.

The programme will feature a range of current topics including setting up your own games company, games industry career advice to how to encourage more school children to consider a career in the games industry.

As in previous years the day’s conference will comprise a mix of keynote speeches, panel discussions and the European Women in Games Hall of Fame Awards. The line-up of speakers and panellists will reflect the diverse talent that exists in the games industry. Key note speakers will include Emma Mulqueeny, the founder of Rewired State and Young Rewired State and a Commissioner for the Speaker’s Commission on Digital Democracy and Andrew Webber, Marketing Director – Audience Acquisition at Microsoft. More speakers and panellists will be announced over the coming weeks.

The conference has steadily grown in popularity since its inaugural event in 2011. This year’s event is expected to have the greatest attendance yet helped by the early bird ticket price of £20 per person.

This makes the conference much more accessible to students and entry level games industry professionals. In addition the organisers are keen to stress that this is an inclusive event and male delegates are equally very welcome.

Announcing the details of the conference organiser David Smith said, “The European Women in Games Conference has steadily grown over the past four years. The 2014 event will help all industry professionals’ progress their careers and we are making it accessible to everyone. I’d like to thank London South Bank University for hosting the conference and making it possible for us to offer attractive ticket prices for a first rate and pertinent programme both for existing industry professionals as well as those hoping to join our industry.”

For further details about the conference and to buy tickets please visit http://ewigconference2014.eventbrite.co.uk

Train2Game News Roundish Squarish looking for staff

Rounded SquarishA Train2Game student studio is looking for a Developer to join their team to take the studio to a new level.

Rounded Squarish have been together for 3 years and have taken the plunge and decided to make a go of turning the student studio into a professional one. The company are now fully registered through companies house and are now currently looking for a talented and enthusiastic programmer to join the team.

The studio are currently working digitally and this, for now at least, is going to be where all of the work is done. They do intend on meeting in person and after a few Skype meetings intend on organising this.

The first project that would be worked on with the new team member would be a small title called ‘Slinger: Monsters of the West’. This is an RTS Turret Defence type game with a splash of Rounded Squarish thrown in!

The player is placed into a world where the mythical land of monsters and the legendary era of the spaghetti western collide, fighting to defend their town and take back the west.

Development of the game is already under-way and several screenshots can be shown to give the potential staff an idea of what the studio is aiming to create.

They are initially looking to take it through to an early alpha stage within a short period of time and, following feedback, will look to persue it further, or continue onto other projects in the pipeline.

Ben Cooper of Roundish Sqaurish said “We are looking to this game as a way of getting to know the coder and see if they like working with us, and vice versa, and to find out if they share the same passion and enthusiasm as we do. That’s definitely the most important thing for us. We need to get on well with them and also to be able to rely on them. We also need to assess their abilities to ensure that they are at the right stage for where we want to take the games. We don’t want them feeling over (or under) whelmed by what we are trying to do.

We very much appreciate the early stage that we are at right now and that we may not get everything right and would love for any prospective team mates to appreciate this also. Unfortunately it does mean that, for now, the position is unpaid but we are really pushing to change this in the months to come!”

If anyone does want to get in touch, they can email Ben at:

ben@roundedsquarish.co.uk

You can follow the studio on Facebook at

https://www.facebook.com/RoundedSquarish

Train2Game News Boss Key Productions

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Gears of War designer Cliff Bleszinski has opened a new studio named Boss Key Productions.

Bleszinski recently teased he was coming out of retirement, with the official announcement of the new company and its debut project due to be announced shortly.

As spotted by Polygon, documents filed to the North Carolina Department of the Secretary of State also list Guerrilla Games co-founder Arjan Brussee as the studio’s chief operating officer.

Another document filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office also suggests the developer will focus on online titles, referencing “downloadable multiplayer interactive computer game programs”.

Bleszinski left his former studio Epic Games in October 2012 after 20 years at the company.

Train2Game News Develop 100 Tech List

Develop 100Develop have recently put together a list of the top one hundred bits of tech in the games industry today.

It is full of everything from Game Engines to Consoles to peripherals.

This list is definitely a required read for anyone even remotely interested in the games industry to know what is used to make all the games you adore and enjoy.

You can view the full magazine of the Top 100 Tech from develop below:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/232466314/Develop-100-Tech-List

 

Train2Game News Zero Hour Contracts

Vince CableEmployees on zero hours contracts will have the freedom to find work with more than one employer after Business Secretary Vince Cable announced plans to ban exclusivity clauses.

Exclusivity clauses prevent an individual from working for another employer, even when no work is guaranteed. The use of exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts undermines choice and flexibility for the individuals concerned.

The ban, set to benefit the 125,000 zero hours contract workers estimated to be tied to an exclusivity clause, is part of a bid to clamp down on abuses in the workplace by less scrupulous employers. It will allow workers to look for additional work to boost their income.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said:

“ Zero hours contracts have a place in today’s labour market. They offer valuable flexible working opportunities for students, older people and other people looking to top up their income and find work that suits their personal circumstances.

But it has become clear that some unscrupulous employers abuse the flexibility that these contracts offer to the detriment of their workers. Today (25 June 2014), we are legislating to clamp down on abuses to ensure people get a fair deal.

Last December (2013), I launched a consultation into this issue. Following overwhelming evidence we are now banning the use of exclusivity in zero hours contracts and committing to increase the availability of information for employees on these contracts. We will also work with unions and business to develop a best practice code of conduct aimed at employers who wish to use zero hours contracts as part of their workforce.”

This action follows a government consultation into zero hours contracts which received over 36,000 responses. 83% were in favour of banning exclusivity clauses in zero hours contacts.

The Business Secretary also announced that the government will:

  • consult further on how to prevent rogue employers evading the exclusivity ban, for example through offering 1 hour fixed contracts
  • work with business representatives and unions to develop a code of practice on the fair use of zero hours contracts by the end of the year (2014)
  • work with stakeholders to review existing guidance and improve information available to employees and employers on using these contracts

The ban will be part of the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill, which is being introduced to Parliament today (25 June 2014).

Train2Game News Psychology in Games at Develop

DevelopTandem Events – organisers of Develop in Brighton – today announced the inclusion of three psychology sessions as part of the Evolve day.

Taking place on the first of the three days of Develop in Brighton, Evolve is dedicated to sharing new ideas about the latest and hottest trends in video games development.

One of those trends, using psychology within video games development, has become of increasing importance to the flow and style of modern day gaming. Evolve will have three sessions dedicated to the latest research curated by Berni Good, founder of Cyberpsychologist Limited.

Dr Linda Kaye from Edge Hill University will begin proceedings with her session entitled Social Psychology and Digital Gaming Experiences – What Can Developers Learn From This Discipline? Dr Kaye will outline some key insights from her research on concepts such as group flow and social identity theory. Linda will help delegates understand how gaming with others provides largely positive psychological experiences and outcomes for players, as well as outlining the implications for game development.

Following on from Dr Kaye is Alex Meredith from Nottingham Trent University with his session Psychological Research in Video Gaming 101 which will delve into the methods available to developers to doing psychological research in video games. He’ll explain under which circumstances certain research methods and types of analysis should be used.

Finally, Berni Good of Cyberpsychologist Limited will discuss the future of gaming psychology in her session Using Psychology in an Applied Way in Game Development – and a Glimpse into the Future of Psychology in Gaming. Berni will talk about how psychology is used and applied in video game development and research, with examples of real life success stories.

At the end of the sessions, there will be a Q&A with all three speakers, chaired by Berni Good.

Evolve takes place on Tuesday 8 July, with the Develop in Brighton Conference continuing on Wednesday 9 and Thursday 10 July at Brighton’s Hilton Metropole.

To find out more about these sessions and to register visit www.developconference.com

Train2Game News TIGA Games Tax Relief will create jobs

TIGA logoAfter strong 2013 incentives are now expected to generate and safeguard £450m worth of investment expenditure by UK studios

Games tax relief will create and protect 10,300 direct and indirect jobs, more than double than previously expected, according to TIGA.

A report from the industry trade body claims that over the next five years the recently approved incentives will also generate and safeguard £450m worth of investment expenditure by UK studios.

The figures are well up from the previously anticipated creation and protection of 4,661 jobs and £188 additional investment expected following the subsidies coming into force.

TIGA also believes that, based on industry growth in 2013, tax relief will also generate £490m in new and protected tax receipts to HM treasury. This will however increase costs to £129m to HMRC.

The news comes as other countries and regions have cut down their levels of game investment. Australia lost its Interactive Games Fund, the Nordic Game Program ended and Quebec had its own tax relief scheme slashed from 37.5 per cent to 24 per cent.

Speaking to Develop, TIGA CEO Richard Wilson said it was unlikely the UK would lose its own incentives for at least four years.

“The UK’s Games Tax Relief has been harmonised with those of other UK creative sector tax reliefs, including film, TV and animation, at 25 per cent,” he said.

“This rate of Relief is designed to stimulate the production of culturally British video games and is highly unlikely to change for at least four years. The UK is therefore a highly attractive place to do games business: we have skilled developers, creative studios and a stable investment environment. This is a great time for the UK games industry.”

Train2Game News Unity for PS4

unity-logoUnity for PlayStation 4 has been fully released for all registered Sony developers.

The new version brings full support to Shader Model 5 and compute shaders, as well as for all DualShock 4 features including the touchpad, vibration, light colour and speaker control.

Developers will also be able to access camera features such as depth detection, hand and face positioning and PS Move detection.

Sony will be making a number of licences available free of charge for approved titles.

Unity also said it was working on full support for integration with Sony’s virtual reality headset Project Morpheus.

Train2Game News GameCarver dev tool

GameCarverIrish software startup Zoodazzle unveiled GameCarver, a new 2D and 3D cross-platform, visually driven game development software.

Created for individual game developers, as well as collaborative game making teams, GameCarver is touted to help make game creation easier, faster and more fun. This is made possible by drawing a clear line between the roles of visual creatives and game programmers, empowering each to focus on their specialist areas, and collaborate without having to learn the others skills.

“Games creators, particularly artists, know that ‘easy to use’ games engines are seldom that easy to use (unless you’re an experienced programmer), “said Ciaran Davies, CEO, Zoodazzle, and experienced game developer. “ If you’re a games artist and you find yourself studying ‘C++ for Dummies’, you know what I’m talking about.

The fact is that many talented games artists simply don’t have time to become good programmers, and the creative side of their work suffers as they struggle with code, and have to constantly switch between creative and technical roles. Even those working with engineers, often need to explore complex code in order to get game play mechanics ‘just right’. It’s not fun, and at Zoodazzle, we believe making games should be as much fun as playing them.

This set-up is not ideal for engineers either, who know how frustrating it is to spend countless hours writing tools to support artists. Or worse, having to wear the ‘artist hat’, and try to create the visual impact artist want. The blending of both roles drains energy from the development process, and often the game suffers for it.

When I started to play around with the idea of GameCarver, almost 5 years ago, it was because I wanted to build a game tool that let both artist and engineers do what they do best, without having to learn the others discipline; allowing game developers to get to the fun fast.”

GameCarver ships with a toolset called Gadgets. Gadgets are like game building blocks, each with its own properties, and set of parameters that are available through a graphical user interface. Artists can ‘tweak’ the object’s properties in the interface by simply changing values. C++ knowledge not required.

Gadgets can be combined to create more complex functionality in the form of Inventions. Coders can create generic Inventions, and the artist can ‘skin’ them by importing resources such as sprites sheets, meshes and materials, audio and sequences of animation.

So that’s good news for engineers too. They won’t have to write tools to support artists, instead they can dedicate their time to creating Inventions with exposed parameters and leave the fine-tuning of game mechanics to the artist/designer.
GameCarver installs with several 2D and 3D game templates, so both artists and coders can quickly familiarise themselves with the software, and start making games immediately. A number of game demos and tutorials are also available from their website, as well as forums to further support game developers.

“We’d encourage people to get in touch via the forums on Zoodazzle.com. We’ve received really useful feedback via email during the beta-release in 2013, and that feedback helped shape this release and previous versions of GameCarver. We’d like to make that an open conversation in the forums now. We want suggestions, feedback, questions, anything that will help us provide support and a platform for developers to share advice and encourage each other.”

With the growing trend in mobile gaming, the timing couldn’t be better for GameCarver. It’s cross-platform publishing capabilities makes it easy for developers to build for popular smartphone and tablet devices; and it’s growing library of Inventions and pre-coded game templates promise to make that process increasingly simple.

Train2Game News NaturalMotion hiring spree

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CEO Torsten Reil says the tool maker and games studio wants to recruit a ‘sizeable’ number of staff as it aims to create ‘something truly amazing’ on mobile platforms

NaturalMotion has begun a “sizeable” recruitment drive intended to help the studio expand its offering of console-quality mobile games.

The games and tool maker is hiring for numerous positions at varying levels, ranging from game design to producers and product leads for its Oxford, London and Brighton studios, CEO Torsten Reil told Develop.

“We are attempting to create console-quality games on mobile that go way beyond what people have seen before. For that we need to have the best people in the industry,” Reil said.

“We’re looking to grow our teams with designers, programmers and project managers in order to achieve those goals. But we’re also looking to fill some of the gaps we have in our teams, some of which are already fully functional, but some of them aren’t yet.”

NaturalMotion is best known for its animation middleware Euphoria and Morpheme, which have been in used in the likes of GTA IV and BioShock Infinite respectively. Its in-house development teams have created successful mobile hits such as My Horse, Clumsy Ninja and CSR Racing.

While its middleware is built to handle the demands of console game development, Reil says its team sizes are unusually slim by comparison.

“Our team sizes are quite small compared to a console studio, usually 20 to 25 people. But the output is quality high-end, so we need to have the best people to achieve that.”

Reil said the reason devs should choose to work at NaturalMotion is because “we have ambition”.

He explained: “We try to do something truly amazing. And hopefully people can see than in our games – it’s not lip service.

“We really try to push the boundaries all the time. And that means that, working here, there’s a sense of purpose. This not a job just to earn money or to make a few nice games. This is a job to move millions and millions of people. And that is what drives us. And if we find people or talent who are hungry and who want to do that, I think it’s a great combination.”

In addition to display and online advertising, the UK developer also visits game events and hosts some of its own, such as one recently held for data scientists, where attendees gave talks and shared knowledge.

The studio, which currently employs more than 200 staff, is headquartered in Oxford and has studios in London, Brighton and San Francisco. It was acquired earlier this year by social game maker Zynga for £317m ($527m).