Train2Game News: Make Something Unreal Live winners game comes to app store

Warlock of Firetop MountainTrain2Game Student studio and Make Something Unreal Live 2012 winners, Commando Kiwi, have released their first game on to the app store.

The game, Warlock of Firetop Mountain: Lost Chapters, was created by the students in their spare time for last years Make Something Unreal Live contest, held by Epic. The game was created using the UDK software and is based on the very first Fighting Fantasy novel, Warlock of Firetop Mountain which was written by Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson.

The studio, which consists of Cat Forsyth, Martyn Whittel, Tom Chipchase, Jonny Robinson, Ashley Taylor, Adam Sherratt, Aaron Reeve, Andrew Smallwood, Tom Constable and Ezekiel Morris, have been working on the game since the beginning of 2012.

The students won the competition after demonstrating their game to a number of industry professionals, including Peter Molyneux, Cliff Bleszinski and Jon Hare. The final descision was that of Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson who decided Commando Kiwi’s game best captured the essence of Fighting Fantasy.

The game is a third person action game which puts you in the shoes of the adventurer who is travelling through the deadly Firetop Mountain in search of the fabled treasure of the all-powerful Warlock. The game features enemies and locations from the classic book with a battle system based on the system from the book its self. The unique combat system based uses skill and luck combinations made famous by the series of novels in an intuitive Active Time Battle System.

The game is available for free to download now from the app store.

You can re-live the Commando Kiwi story in the video below:

Train2Game News: Train2Game in 2012 – April to June

Train2Game at Gadget Show Live gets a surprise visit from a Dr Who Dalek

Train2Game at Gadget Show Live gets a surprise visit from a Dr Who Dalek

The second quarter of 2012 was especially good for me as it was in April that The Gadget Show live was held.

The Make Something Unreal Live was possibly the biggest thing Train2Game had done up to that point. It brought much media coverage and gave the students involved a highly valuable experience.

The 4 teams at the event got to meet such industry professionals as CliffyB, then from Epic Studios, Peter Molyneux who had just launched 22Cans and Jon Hare the man behind Sensible Software,

The event started in November of 2011 following a Train2Game Game Jam which was sponsored by Epic. The top 4 teams from there then had 6 months to create a game which was to be released on the iOS store.

The games that were created were based on the Fighting Fantasy books. This gave the teams more time as it took story creation out of the equation and it already had an existing fan base to work from.

You can check out the video from the 2012 Make Something Unreal Live contest below:

Train2Game News: Train2Game in 2012 – January to March

Train2Game2012 has been a good year for Train2Game and the students and I am going to take you through some of the best bits.

At the end of January some Train2Game students entered a game jam in Scotland.

The Scottish Game Jam is part of Global Game Jam 2012 and at the event Train2Game Art & Animation students Fiona Stewart and Corinna Bruce were winners of the Best Art Award at the Scottish Game Jam.

It was at this jam where the game Shplem was created and nominated for a BAFTA award.

The first quarter of the year was also the run up to the Make Something Unreal Live competition.

Four student studios: Commando Kiwi, Derp Studios, Digital Mage and Indigo Jam were working hard trying to get together their games which were based on the Fighting Fantasy books which would be displayed at The Gadget Show live in April.

It is a time I remember well as I was a proud member of Digital Mage and it was one of the greatest times of my life.

Possibly the most important part of early 2012 was the government announcing that they would implement the Games Tax Relief. Just the mere announcement of this has seen the games industry grow to new heights.

Train2Game News: Dire Consequences for App Store

After eleven months in development, Derp Studios game has hit the App Store. The game was made for the Make Something Unreal Live contest in April this year.

Following on from the 2011 Game Jam four teams went on to compete in the Make Something Unreal live which took place at The Gadget show in April. The four teams were the winners of the contest, Commando Kiwi, A team I was a part of, Digital Mage, Indigo Jam and Derp Studios.

From January to April the teams worked relentlessly on their games which were based on the Fighting Fantasy IP of Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson. The books from the series in particular that were chosen was: The Warlock Of Firetop Mountain, Armies Of Death, Deathtrap Dungeon and Citadel of Chaos. The last of these is the book Derp Studios worked on.

The game, Dire Consequences, is a first-person action game by Derp Studios, and sees players take on waves of enemies to collect souls and progress their character for new spells. The game is currently only available for iOS devices.

The Gadget Show Live was a life defining moment for many of the Train2Game students involved, including myself and having to do some research in to the whole event to fill in some gaps in my memory was a lovely journey. I am so pleased one of the teams got their game uploaded as they were all amazing games and the whole event really kick-started our careers.

A massive congratulations to Derp Studios and I urge all those with access to an iOS device to go and download the free game immediately!

Train2Game interview: Ian Livingstone OBE on Make Something Unreal Live, Fighting Fantasy and game design

Ian Livingstone OBE is Life President of Eidos, co-founder of Games Workshop, co-author of the popular Fighting Fantasy novels and one of the most respected figures in the UK games industry.

He also judged the Train2Game and Epic Games Make Something Unreal Live contest, which saw Commando Kiwi and their Warlock of Firetop Mountain game named winners.

We sat down with Livingstone at Develop Conference, where the games industry legend discussed Make Something Unreal Live, the changing games industry and what it takes to be successful in it, his upcoming brand new Fighting Fantasy novel and more.

You were involved with Train2Game and Epic Games Make Something Unreal Live contest at The Gadget Show earlier this year, can you explain what your role was for those who weren’t there?

My involvement was to be supplier of the intellectual property, Steve Jackson and I allowing the whole initiative to use our intellectual property in terms of Fighting Fantasy. The development teams were able to use whichever titles they wanted – they used Warlock of Firetop Mountain, Deathtrap Dungeon, The Citadel of Chaos and Armies of Death – and imagine them in any way they wished to create a brand new game using Unreal Technology.

The winners of Make Something Unreal Live were Commando Kiwi with Warlock of Firetop Mountain, how is the game coming along ahead of its upcoming release?

The other part of our function was to help judge the final which was held at Gadget Show Live in Birmingham. That was really good because it was so close with deciding what game would be the winner, but in the end we decided on Warlock of Firetop Mountain because we felt that they’d achieved the most in an original way, a fun way, a very creative way and mostly importantly, something that’s a really fun game to play.

The team since then have been working hard, it’s incredible what they’ve been able to achieve effectively as a virtual team, only having met for one week to work together. Student teams with a lot of ambition, a lot of drive, a lot of creativity. I’m really looking forward to seeing the final game, and I’m sure it’ll be a very proud moment for them when they finally see Warlock of Firetop Mountain on the iStore.

The games are running using the Unreal Engine on an iPad which is a feat in itself, looking very good for what are mobile games.

Yes, it just shows their ability to develop fantastic content using a great piece of technology which is the Unreal Development Kit.

The future of iOS and mobile looks very bright, with analysts claiming it’ll overtake console gaming, or even make it obsolete. What are your thoughts on the issue?

Undoubtedly the smartphone is going to be the largest – or shall we say the biggest number in terms of being the most available platform – but that doesn’t mean for one second that Triple A console gaming is going to disappear, they’re going to live together.

And whilst the platforms of the consoles might change with their technology ended up embedded in a smart TV, or their business model might move from a premium to a freemium model, people will always want a very rich, cinematic, very visual gaming experience. Whilst at other times they’ll be happy to play games on their smartphones or social networks like Facebook, I think most core gamers will want that very rich, visual experience.

So, one is not going to be at the expense of the other; sometimes you want a big gaming experience, sometimes you just want a snack and some light entertainment like watching an indie film or watching a Hollywood movie.

You mentioned blockbuster games; many nowadays seem to focus on style over substance. But what do you think game designers can learn or adapt from old-school RPGs and board games?

You’ve got to create a strong storyline, a great narrative, have a great a great emotional engagement. But above all, with a game, the gameplay has to be fantastic because people will always buy a game which has great gameplay and poor graphics over something which has great graphics and poor gameplay. So when people ask what are the three most important things in a game? I will say gameplay, gameplay, gameplay.

You have a new Fighting Fantasy book on the way; firstly, can you tell us a bit about it, please? And secondly, why is now the right time for a new entry in the series?

Well, August 2012 is the 30th anniversary of Warlock of Firetop Mountain, and it just seems like yesterday when Steve Jackson and I saw it first appear on shelves at book shops around the country. Fighting Fantasy really touched a nerve at the time; pre-digital, the very first interactive entertainment albeit in book form, it resonated with a very wide population resulting in nearly 17 million copies of the series sold, translated to 28 languages.

I always wanted to celebrate the 30th anniversary, especially when nowadays so many people who grew up with those books, who are now in their late 30s or early 40s, and as soon as you mention Fighting Fantasy they sort of revert to childhood and have such fond memories. For me that’s very gratifying and almost humbling that people liked what Steve and I did way back when, and it’s still as relevant today as it was back then.

So I decided to write a new one and the title is Blood of the Zombies. It’s also going to be available on iOS and Android, so hopefully it’ll appeal to ten year olds of today and ten year olds of the 1980s.

How do you go about the process of writing a Fighting Fantasy book?

It’s a very complicated process! It’s a nightmare in parts; it’s like writing several books at once, because you have to keep track of several different parts of the branching narrative. So, it’s effectively writing a computer programme, a flowchart where you allocate numbers as the path branches, and keep track of all the items you can find and the inventory and make sure everything balances in combat, making sure the monsters, there aren’t too many of them or they aren’t too hard to overcome.

So there’s a lot of balancing required, but at the same time it has to be story driven. So, it’s part book, part game, part puzzle, but hopefully Blood of the Zombies will resonate with today’s audiences and will be a worth inclusion in the series

Back to game development if there’s one piece of advice you could give those aspiring to break into the industry, what would it be?

Be true to yourself, do something that you want to do, make something original, be creative, express yourself in your own way and hopefully you’ll find an audience that appreciates what you do. If you spend your life copying other people, I suspect that will never lead to monetary success and nor will it satisfy your soul. So, be true to yourself, that’s the most important thing you can do.

Thanks for your time.

Leave your comments here on The Train2Game Blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

Train2Game News: The three most important things in a game are “gameplay, gameplay, gameplay” – Ian Livingstone

Gameplay, gameplay and gameplay are the three most important things for a video game to have.

That’s the view of games industry legend and co-author of the Fighting Fantasy series Ian Livingstone OBE who was speaking to The Train2Game Blog at Develop Conference 2012.

“You’ve got to create a strong storyline, a great narrative, have a great a great emotional engagement.” said Livingstone.

“But above all, with a game, the gameplay has to be fantastic because people will always buy a game which has great gameplay and poor graphics over something which has great graphics and poor gameplay.” he continued, emphasising the important of gameplay over graphics.

“So when people ask what are the three most important things in a game? I will say gameplay, gameplay, gameplay.”

Livingstone also suggested that being original and creative are key factors in becoming a successful game developer.

“Be true to yourself, do something that you want to do, make something original, be creative, express yourself in your own way and hopefully you’ll find an audience that appreciates what you’do.” he said.

“If you spend your life copying other people, I suspect that will never lead to monetary success and nor will it satisfy your soul. So, be true to yourself, that’s the most important thing you can do.” the Fighting Fantasy author added.

Ian Livingstone was one of a number of industry figures who aided in mentoring Train2Game students taking part in Make Something Unreal Live last April. The Games Workshop co-founder said he was “delighted” to be part of the initiative, which saw teams creating games based on Fighting Fantasy novels.

The full interview with Ian Livingstone, covering everything from Fighting Fantasy, to game design and Make Something Unreal Live will be published later today.

In the meantime, there’s more Ian Livingstone news here on The Train2Game Blog, while you can also catch up with last week’s Develop Conference coverage.

Do you agree with Livingstone that gameplay is by far the most important thing in making a good game?

Leave your comments here on The Train2Game Blog, or here on the Train2Game forum.

Train2Game News: “If you want to be successful, do something different” – Ian Livingstone

To thrive in the games industry, you need to be a little different and preferably own your own IP. That’s according to Eidos Life President Ian Livingstone who was delivering his keynote at Develop Conference 2012.

“If you want to be successful, do something different, follow your heart” he said during his visionary session ‘From Dungeons to Downing Street – A Life in Games.’

The industry veteran discussed everything from founding Games Workshop, to Fighting Fantasy, to Tomb Raider. He also emphasised the importance for developers to control their own intellectual property.

“If you want real value, you need to create and own your own IP.” said Livingstone, later adding “If you can create your own IP, then do so.”

The games industry legend also told the audience how the three most important things in a game for him are gameplay, gameplay and gameplay. And as previously reported by The Train2Game Blog, Ian Livingstone believes “There’s never been a better time to run your own gig.”

Ian Livingstone was one of a number of industry figures who aided in mentoring Train2Game students taking part in Make Something Unreal Live earlier this year. The Games Workshop co-founder said he was “delighted” to be part of the initiative.

The Train2Game Blog will publish an interview with Ian Livingstone in the near future, but in the meantime, there’s more from the Eidos Life President here.

What are your thoughts on Livingstone’s comments? Do you agree that doing something different and owning your own IP are key to success?

Leave your comments here on The Train2Game Blog, or on the Train2Game forum

Train2Game News: “We’re in gaming in a fairly big way” and will only get bigger say Apple

Apple is a big player in the games industry and will only get bigger, but isn’t interested in producing a console. That’s according to Apple CEO Tim Cook.

“I view that we are in gaming now in a fairly big way.” Steve Jobs successor told AllThingsD.

“One of the reasons people buy an iPod touch is gaming. Some buy it for music. I realize that is not the big screen you are talking about. Gaming has kind of evolved a bit. More people play on portable devices. Where we might go in the future, we’ll see. Customers love games.” Cook continued.

“I’m not interested in being in the console business in what is thought of as traditional gaming, but Apple is a big player today, and things in the future will only make that bigger.” he added.

Mobile gaming has provided a huge platform for game developers to work on, with many independent studios focusing on iPhone or Android games.  Indeed, four Train2Game student teams will soon see their own games based on the Fighting Fantasy series published on the iTunes App Store.

Valve CEO Gabe Newell has previously stated that he believes Apple will launch a living room product that’ll make consoles “disappear”

Keep reading The Train2Game Blog for the latest iPhone and Apple gaming news.

What are your thoughts on Apple’s position in gaming? Do you believe they’ll stick to mobile? Or will they make move for consoles after all?

Leave your comments here on The Train2Game Blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

Train2Game News: Ian Livingstone, David Perry, Philip Oliver and David Braben to speak at Develop Conference

Train2Game students who are able to attend Develop Conference will be able to see games industry veterans David Perry, Ian Livingstone, Philip Oliver and David Braben speak as part of the conference’s Visionaries track.

The Visionaries Track is being introduced to give Develop in Brighton delegates a unique opportunity to hear and learn from some of the industry’s most influential, inventive and inspirational entrepreneurs, who’ll no doubt be able provide some excellent insights into the industry.

“The games industry has come a long way in a short time. Its social, cultural and economic impact on society is finally being recognised in government and mainstream media.” Said Eidos life President and Fighting Fantasy co-author Ian Livingstone, who hopes to help future developers.

“But celebration of the art form is not enough. The new digital landscape requires new skills and access to finance for the next generation of creative talent to succeed, building on the great legacy of the UK’s trailblazing developers.

“From my experiences with Games Workshop, Fighting Fantasy, Eidos, working with government and investing in Indies, I hope to help point the way.” he added.

Some Train2Game students received advice from Ian Livingstone as they produced Fighting Fantasy games at Make Something Unreal Live last month. Livingstone said he was “delighted” to be a part of the initiative, and you can watch an interview with him here on The Train2Game Blog.

Train2Game News will be at Develop Conference, so even if you can’t make it, we’ll be bringing you news straight from Brighton. There’s more on Develop Conference here.

What are your thoughts on the Visionaries track at Develop Conference?

Leave your comments here on The Train2Game Blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

Train2Game at Gadget Show Live 2012 – The Digital Mage Story (Video)

Train2Game student team Digital Mage were one of four to take part in last month’s Make Something Unreal Contest at Gadget Show Live, with the task of building an iOS game based on the prestigious Fighting Fantasy series.

Now, you can see the progress they made through Make Something Unreal Live in a new video from Train2Game! It features industry figures including Cliff Bleszinski, Jon Hare, Peter Molyneux and Ian Livingstone providing advice to Digital Mage as they developed their game.

Watch it on the Train2Game YouTube channel, or here on The Train2Game Blog.

Leave your comments here on The Train2Game Blog, or on the Train2Game forum.