Train2Game & Epic Game Jam interview: Train2Game Course Director Tony Bickley

 Train2Game & Epic Games gave Train2Game student teams the opportunity to win one of four places at The Gadget Show Live 2012 and compete for the chance to walk away with a fully licence Unreal Development Kit.  

Train2Game course leader Tony Bickley organised the Train2Game & Epic Game Jam, and we spoke to him just after the event closed. He tells us how he feels it all went, the meaning of the prize for Train2Game students, and what it meant to have Epic on board.

Read the interview here, on the Train2Game Scribd page, or listen on the Train2Game Audioboo site.

We’re here at the end of the Train2Game & Epic Game Jam, how has it all gone?

Fantastic, a little tiring, but absolutely fantastic. We’ have about 160 people turn up for the Game Jam, the team sizes were 10 teams of 10 and it’s been a pretty good event, I’m very proud of what the students have managed to achieve and even more proud of their dedication and passion driving through.

Tell us what the winners here have won in going onto The Gadget Show Live

We’re putting forward four teams of finalists moving through to The Gadget Show Live. The final prize at The Gadget Show Live is going to be the iOS version of Unreal Engine, as well as personal development plans and tutoring going forward. We believe this’ll put them in very good stead to increase their employability, as well as setting them off to producing their own titles in future.

So it’s a massive opportunity for these Train2Game students?

Absolutely. The most important thing for people trying to get into the industry at the moment is not just proof of understanding but rather proof of ability. With this level of support they’ll be able to work as a solid team on a product, working on one of the best engines in the world. With the tutoring as they go forward, this will really, really enhance their skillsets.

As you say, UDK is one of the best engines in the world, what does it mean for Train2Game to have Epic on board with this?

Fantastic. With the support that Epic have given us in terms of tutorage and support staff, as well as co-sponsoring The Gadget Show with us, it’s absolutely brilliant and has been really, really, appreciated by the students.

How difficult was it to pick out winners from the fantastic games on offer by Train2Game students?

Very tough actually, very, very tough. I’ve been very proud of the students as they’ve come into this, we’re only just moving into using UDK within the teaching materials of Train2Game, so the students, up until a couple of months ago, were not very experienced on it. They’ve had to bring their skill sets up very, very quickly and then on Friday night we assigned the teams for them so there weren’t even pre-formed teams, they’ve had to understand the team dynamics and then work with the UDK engine and they’ve created some fantastic products. The standards were very, very high, we looked for creative input, we looked for graphics, we looked for variations, we looked for innovation, creativity, and it was of a very high standard. 48 hours is not a lot of time and it’s even less time if you want to try and work with an engine of that magnitude. The work that they produced was great.

What next now for the winning teams with the four different genres of games they have to produce?

Apart from going home and sleeping, I will be contacting them with the start of a six month productivity plan for them where they can be milestoned with what they should be looking to learn, and improved the skillsets that they’ve learned here [At the Train2Game & Epic Game Jam] in the last 48 hours, and then starting to prepare them for what they’ll need to do at The Gadget Show Live. It’s going to be 4 days of live development at The Gadget Show, where they finalise a new product using the UDK engine and help present that to the world.

Anything else you’d like to add about this Train2Game & Epic Game Jam?

It’s been a fantastic experience, it’s been very tiring, we’ve all made new friends here, certainly learned a lot and it actually makes me very proud to help train the next generation of computer game developers.

And has it been so successful there will be more Train2Game Game Jams in future?

Absolutely! One of the things one of the students asked me on the way out, even though his eyes were closing, was ‘When is the next game jam?’ Well, give me week to sleep and recover and then we’ll start planning it. We certainly intend to do another one, we certainly intend to make it bigger and better than this one.

Great, thanks for your time

Thanks very much.

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