Train2Game News BAFTA Young Game Designers competition

BAFTAThe British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) has today announced the call for entries for the 2015 BAFTA Young Game Designers (YGD) competition in association with Nominet Trust, which aims to inspire the UK’s game-makers of the future by giving young people the chance to design and make their own game. The winners will be named at a special awards ceremony in July. Entries are now open at www.bafta.org/ygd until Monday 1 June.

Originally launched in 2010 for 11-16 year-olds, this year the age range for the competition has been expanded to include 10-18 year-olds, divided into age-specific sub-groups. Entrants – who can be individuals or a team of up to three people – can choose to enter two creative categories: The YGD Game Concept Award, to create a concept for a new game; and the YGD Game Making Award, to make a game using freely available software. The winners will receive a host of prizes, including further development of their game with industry professionals.

Two new categories have also been added this year: The YGD Mentor Award, for an inspirational individual involved in the education of young game designers; and the YGD Hero Award, for a games industry professional who supports young game designers. The public can nominate their YGD Mentor, while the YGD Hero will be selected by BAFTA’s Games Committee.

The BAFTA YGD competition is part of a year-round programme of activity which gives young people and educators unique insights into the games industry and access to the creative minds behind some of their favourite games. Support includes: a website (www.bafta.org/ygd) where BAFTA members, award winners and nominees share their insights and advice through interviews and exclusive video content; a web series, that takes a light-hearted look behind the scenes of the games industry; a range of teaching resources that link the BAFTYA YGD competition to the national curriculum; an online ‘feedback hub’ where young people can submit ideas or questions about their entry, with the chance of gaining a personalised response from a games expert; and live workshops around the country.

Nominet Trust – the UK’s only dedicated tech for good funder – is headline partner of the initiative, working with BAFTA to develop additional schools-focussed activity addressing the under-representation of women in the games workforce. Other supporting partners of BAFTA Young Game Designers include: Bethesda Softworks, Criterion Games (an EA Studio), Google, Jagex, King, Pinewood Studios Group, SEGA, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, Unity, and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. Abertay University supports the development of the games of the winners of the BAFTA YGD competition.

Tim Hunter, Director of Learning and Events at BAFTA, said: “The BAFTA YGD competition is a great opportunity for young people to try their hand at game design and get feedback from the creative people behind their favourite games. The games industry is one of the biggest and most dynamic entertainment industries in the world; we hope this competition inspires entrants to consider a career in games, as well as helping them better appreciate the artistry involved in making games. We can’t wait to share the winners with the industry and public at the YGD Awards ceremony in July.”

Annika Small, CEO of Nominet Trust, said: “If the UK is to retain its world-leading position in the creative industries, we need to develop a highly skilled workforce. The BAFTA Young Game Designers competition equips young people with the creative digital skills, understanding and connections that they need to become the games designers of the future. It’s exciting to see young people move from simply playing games to designing and making their own ones. Nominet Trust is proud to be supporting this vital initiative – I can’t wait to see what ideas and games entrants come up with!”

The winning games from 2014 – Tomatos Role from 16 year-old Rhianna Hawkins, from Taunton, and AlienX from 15 year-old Adam Oliver – will be on show at BAFTA’s Inside Games Arcade in advance of the British Academy Games Awards in March.

For the Terms & Conditions, and to enter the BAFTA YGD competition, go to www.bafta.org/ygd.

Train2Game News Google Play Games adds multiplayer

Google Play GamesGoogle has rolled out an update to its Google Play Games development toolkit that allows for local multiplayer matchmaking. Prior to that, the service supported only online multiplayer.

The toolkit, which offers a raft of services to devs, and to players functions as a game network similar to Xbox Live or Apple’s Game Center, can be implemented in iOS, PC, and Android titles. More info is available at Google’s developer portal, here.

Google Play Games’ Greg Hartrell said earlier this year about the company’s aspirations for the service and tools.

“Our game services are there, and our game network is there, to bring together this concentrated network of people who love playing games — to make it easier for someone who is a game creator to reach that highly valuable audience,”

The Google Play Games service is designed to help developers create mobile games for both Android and iOS devices, as well as browser games.

You can find out more information at Google’s developer page.

Train2Game News 1000+ devs sign anti abuse letter

Peace GamingSeveral developers have signed a letter in an attempt to put an end to anti social behaviour on social media in gaming communities.

EA, Ubisoft, Microsoft, Guerrilla, Epic, Crystal Dynamics, Deep Silver, Double Fine, Lionhead, Bohemia, Blizzard, Infinity Ward, TellTale, Disney, PopCap, Harmonix, Traveller’s Tales, Sony, 2K, DICE, Google, Riot and Apple – as well as dozens of independent developers – are already signed up in an attempt to make the internet a place where your views can be heard without your personal character being attacked.

“We believe that everyone, no matter what gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or religion has the right to play games, criticize games and make games without getting harassed or threatened. It is the diversity of our community that allows games to flourish,” the letter reads.

“If you see threats of violence or harm in comments on Steam, YouTube, Twitch, Twitter, Facebook or Reddit, please take a minute to report them on the respective sites. If you see hateful, harassing speech, take a public stand against it and make the gaming community a more enjoyable space to be in.”

You can read the full letter and all who have signed it here.

Train2Game News: Mad Catz releasing Android MicroConsole

MoJoConsole peripheral manufacturer Mad Catz is creating an Android MicroConsole to be released by the end of this year.

The system, currently called Mojo, comes bundled with Mad Catz’ own game controller as well as a miniature console with USB and HDMI connections.

Rival Android microconsole Ouya primarily sells games through a bespoke on-console marketplace, Mojo runs stock Android and gives players access to the Google Play, Amazon and Nvidia TegraZone stores.

How well those Google Play games are optimised for televisions and game controllers could be crucial in how well the system is received. Most Android games are not mapped to controllers and are built for smartphone touch-screens.

The official name for the Mojo handset is the ‘CTRL R’, and it’s another gamepad that uses a layout similar to the Xbox 360. Featuring both Bluetooth Classic and Bluetooth Smart 4.0 technologies, the controller is also compatible with Android phones. The latter Smart mode improves latency considerably, Verrey claimed.

Alex Verrey, the global PR director for Mad Catz, said that “not all touchscreen games will work”, though assured the company was working on a solution.

Mojo is registered as a standard Android device, meaning that gamers who have already purchased numerous apps on these stores can simply log on with their existing details and re-download those apps without the need for a second purchase.

“Because Mojo runs stock Android, you have day-one access to literally hundreds of thousands of games and applications,” Verrey added.

“We’re going down a very different road to the competition and believe in being open, honest and fair with the consumer. We’re not offering a walled garden with a small selection of a hundred or so games. We’re not forcing gamers to use our controllers if they don’t wish to, we’re not trying to sell services or software, nor are we forcing the gamers into a walled garden. Our commitment to the gamer is simple: We’re going to deliver the most powerful Android based Micro Console on the market when we launch later this year.

“We are totally open. No walled garden, no small selection of games, no subscription fees. We bring the hardware, gamers bring the games. Buy games from where you want, when you want and how you want”.

Mojo will launch “this holiday” but a price hasn’t yet been confirmed.

Train2Game News: Explore the world with your Wii U

Wii-Street-U

Coming to the Nintendo eShop on Wii U as a free download* today is a new application that brings Nintendo and Google together to allow users to travel the world using their Wii U GamePad controller. Wii Street U powered by Google offers the map data and 360° panoramic Street View images gathered by Google for a unique form of virtual exploration only possible on Wii U.

The Wii U GamePad is integrated with Street View in innovative and accessible ways: use the touch screen to type in exact addresses to fly to your favourite places, and thanks to the motion sensors inside the controller you can move it 360° to enjoy the entire view of sights around the world. The whole family can join in, as your 360° window on the world is displayed on the TV screen in the living room. Wander around wherever you fancy going or ask Nintendo to be your guide, with recommended places to visit built into the application for easy access.

The Wii U console from Nintendo has a Wii U GamePad controller which offers more choice and variety of gameplay than ever before. The Wii U GamePad offers an integrated second screen and can also be used independently of the TV set with certain software; it also features motion controls, an inbuilt camera, microphone and stylus for more detailed touch screen controls.

Street View is a popular feature of Google Maps that allows users to virtually explore and navigate a neighbourhood through panoramic street-level images. In order to provide such 360° panoramic imagery, Google developed their own camera systems and now have a number of platforms for capturing imagery. The most common of course is the Street View car but they also have Snowmobiles and Tricycles, and most recently, they introduced the Trekker, a wearable backpack with a camera system on top. Since being launched in 2007, Street View imagery is now available for more than 3,000 cities across 47 countries and even includes a slice of Antarctica.

Wii Street U powered by Google launches across Europe for Wii U today and is free to download for a limited time* via the Nintendo eShop, so grab your Wii U GamePad and enjoy exploring the world and many other Wii U games from the comfort of your home.

You can view the application in action in the video below

* The application is free to download for a limited time and will be available only as a paid download afterwards. The application is currently planned to be available for download and use until 31st March 2016.

For further details:

Wii U website http://wiiu.co.uk

Nintendo eShop website http://www.nintendo.co.uk/eshop

Wii U (UK) on Facebook http://facebook.com/WiiU.co.uk

Nintendo UK on Twitter https://twitter.com/nintendouk

Nintendo UK on YouTube http://www.youtube.com/NintendoUK

Train2Game News: Mid-week round up – 30.01.13

It’s time for another Train2Game mid-week round up!

As the Kickstarter draws to a close for the Gamestick console, images of the android gaming machine have been released. You can visit the Kickstarter site to view the console and add to the cause if it takes your interest. http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/872297630/gamestick-the-most-portable-tv-games-console-ever

In previous Bioshock games, the moral decisions have been to choose whether the Little Sisters lived or died. In Bioshock Infinite, the decisions you have to make are more powerful and less commonplace. BioShock Infinite will still present plenty of moral quandaries, but these are not tied to a specific system that in turn determines what ending you’ll get.

Google is to provide UK schools with 15,000 free Raspberry Pi Model B computers. Qualifications awarding body OCR will also create free teaching and learning packs to go with each Raspberry Pi. Responding to the news, games industry veteran Ian Livingstone said: “Putting Raspberry Pis into the hands of children on this scale is potentially the most positive initiative to spur digital creativity since the advent of the BBC Micro in the 1980s.”

Lifetime Xbox 360 sales look certain to overtake those of current-gen leader Nintendo Wii in the UK. Microsoft’s console was less than 200,000 sales behind Wii at the end of December, having sold over four times more units than Wii in 2012. Nintendo UK confirmed before Christmas that around 8 million Wii consoles had been sold in the UK. Despite a reported 33% decline in video game console sales last year, Xbox 360 is said to have outsold its current-gen rivals by a “significant margin” in Britain during 2012. Nintendo DS and PlayStation 2 remain the UK’s first and second best selling games consoles respectively, with Wii and Xbox 360 currently in third and fourth spots.

Temple Run 2 has been released for iOS and now Android. The sequel to the hit game has hit 20,000 downloads on iOS alone. Developed by Imangi Studios, the app rushed to the top of the free App charts on iOS in just eight hours, and also hit number three in the Top Grossing chart. In its first week on sale, Temple Run 2 racked up 210 million sessions and 1,775 years of gameplay.

Train2Game News: Microsoft launching more apps for 360

Xbox 360Train2Game has discovered that a number of new apps are coming to the Xbox 360 over the winter period.

More than 40 new applications are set to launch worldwide between now and spring 2013, Microsoft’s Larry “Major Nelson” Hryb announced.

Some of the apps the UK are getting are a Sainsbury’s shopping app, a Napster app and a Karaoke app.

While free to download the Karaoke, you then pay per amount of singing time you “rent”. It’s 240 Microsoft Points for two hours, 400 Points for six hours or 800 Points for 24 hours. The service is expected to launch next week and I imagine would be quite a hit at social gatherings.

Microsoft have also launched a SkyDrive cloud-saving service on Xbox 360, allowing you to share your holiday snaps and videos and display them on your TV from your Google SkyDrive.

Some other applications that are being launched from now until the end of January are to the UK are gaming sites Machinima and GameTrailers, anime service CrunchyRoll, arty movie service IndieFlix and sports broadcaster Livesport.tv.

This announcement shows Microsoft’s further push into an all round entertainment platform allowing you to do most things from the comfort of your games console.

Train2Game News: Mid-week round up – 24.10.12

Steams Workshop, which is used to create content for games such as Team Fortress 2 and Skyrim, has turned one. The user created content has subsequently earned “millions of dollars” for their creators and Steam themselves.

The Greatest Video Game Music 2, the follow-up to the best-selling video game album of all time, will be released worldwide on Nov 6 and has been performed by The London Philharmonic Orchestra. The digital soundtrack album will include 17 new orchestral renditions of video game theme songs like Halo, Batman: Arkham City, Assassin’s Creed: Revelations and the ever-so classic Final Fantasy VII.

Following the success of Borderlands 2, an iOS spin-off has been confirmed with a release date of October 31. The game sees you play as the original 4 vault hunters from the first Borderlands in a wave-based survival game. Additionally, in true Borderlands style you can earn experience and level up your characters, unlocking new skills and abilities with each character having their own set of unique skills and abilities.

The first reviews of Hitman: Absolution have surface in Official Playstation Magazine UK and Official Xbox Magazine. Both magazines gave the game 9 out of 10. OPM said “This is the peak of the series so far” and OXM said “it a triumph of stealth and sandbox design that retains everything that fans have ever loved about the series”.

Wish Studios, a newly formed studio in Brighton, is working with Sony to develop a new IP. While other details about the partnership remain shrouded in secrecy, the status of Wish’s new client will likely serve as a significant help to the recently founded start-up’s presence in the industry.

A report by Google has said that over 50% of people use their tablet for gaming. The only activity performed more than gaming on a tablet is checking emails. The study, which was commissioned and published by Google, found that 51.5 per cent of its participants used their tablet for gaming in a two-week period.

The new dashboard for the Xbox was launched yesterday. It includes an internet explorer app giving the console a browser and the newly launched Xbox music which is similar to that of Spotify. The update also saw the removal of the Twitter and Facebook apps.

In an interesting collaboration, a new mod was made for the MMO World of Warcraft which sees the newly introduced pet battles become Pokemon battles. The aptly name WOWkemon sees a short tutorial by Professor Birch describing the Pokémon-ified battle screens and ability menus with the familiar sounds, screen effects, and even the font closely resembling the style of the handheld game legend.

Train2Game News: Steam, Amazon, Google, BBC and more added to Develop line-up

Steam, Amazon, Google and the BBC have been added to at next week’s Develop Conference line-up.

Lionhead Studios and SCEE are also among the final speakers confirmed for the packed schedule of events which take place in Brighton from Tuesday 10th to Thursday 12th July.

“We’re very excited to announce speakers from Amazon, Google and BBC Worldwide, which further display both the increasing convergence between games and TV and the rise of digital distribution,” said managing director, Tandem Events managing director Andy Lane.

“The fact that the Develop Conference draws names from global entertainment giants such as these is also testament to the investment we have made over the last seven years to continually evolve this conference to ensure it always meets the knowledge, networking and business requirements of today’s games developers in Europe.” he added.

Other keynote sessions at Develop include talks from games industry veterans David Perry, Ian Livingstone, Philip Oliver and David Braben who’ll all speak as part of the conference’s Visionaries track.

The Train2Game Blog will be at Develop in Brighton bringing you as much news as possible! There’s more about Develop Conference here on The Train2Game Blog.

As usual, leave your comments here on The Train2Game Blog, or on the Train2Game forum.