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: Jason Bradbury praises Surface

Jason Bradbury spoke to The Sun to compare the Microsoft Surface to Apples iPad.

Mr Bradbury said: “It’s a lot less expensive than the iPad, if you compare like for like, and you get a touchscreen version of Windows 8, as well as a traditional Windows operating system.

“It also comes with a very innovative cover-slash-keyboard, which is one of the thinnest I’ve ever used. It’s only 3mm thick, and it really is exceptionally good.

“So what you’re getting is something that’s about the same size as the iPad, which is less expensive, has Office software, a relatively normal desktop operating system, and a keyboard.”

“Whether you’re a road warrior or a student, you don’t want to be touch-typing your 2,500 word essay, or your pitch.”

Jason also claims Microsoft’s tablet has the edge when it comes to design which was the traditional strong point of Apple’s tablets.

He explained: “The iPad used to be elegant and beautiful, but now it’s a little bit dated as a design, it hasn’t really evolved a great deal.”

Jason Bradbury will be in London this week for The Gadget Show live in London which will give people a chance to try out a Nintendo Wii U before its launch on Friday. As well as an array of new technology, The Gadget Show Live is set to feature a theatrical spectacular.

Running from November 30 and December 2, gadget fans can watch the TV star operating flying robots, driving a remote control car around an enormous loop-the-loop, and being towed on a skateboard at 30mph..

More information and tickets can be found at www.gadgetshowlive.net.

Train2Game news: All the Make Something Unreal Live interviews in one place

Train2Game News has recently posted a number of interviews with students taking part in Make Something Unreal Live. The event, which takes place at The Gadget Show Live, sees  four Train2Game student teams making games based on the prestigious Fighting Fantasy IP in an effort to win a fully licensed Unreal Development Kit for iOS.

In order to make them easier to find, we’ve put links to each Make Something Unreal Live interview below, in which the Train2Game student contestants reveal a bit about their games and tell us how they feel about taking part in the event. You can also listen to each interview here. Enjoy!

Team Digital Mage

Interview with Craig Moore.

Interview with Laurence Kinane.

Team Commando Kiwi

Interview with Jonny Robinson.

Interview with Adam Sherratt.

Team Derp Studios

Interview with Chris Ledger.

Interview with Stuart Moore.

Team IndigoJam

Interview with Ben Stoneman.

Interview with Daniel Rutter.

Keep up to date with the latest Make Something Unreal Live news, right here on The Train2Game Blog.

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

Train2Game interview: Adam Sherratt of Make Something Unreal Live team Commando Kiwi

Train2Game students are launching four new development studios in 2012 as part of Make Something Unreal Live,’ a competitive process designed to accelerate their careers by giving them the tools and resources needed to release games for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch this spring.

The studios are Commando Kiwi, Derp Studios, Digital Mage and Indigo Jam.

The first titles released by the studios will be based on the Fighting Fantasy series of books created by Ian Livingston and Steve Jackson.

We caught up with Commando Kiwi’s Adam Sherratt to find out how the road to Make Something Unreal Live at The Gadget Show has gone so far. Listen via Train2Game Radio or read it here on The Train2Game Blog.

Hi Adam, tell us about your team for Make Something Unreal Live, Commando Kiwi.

We all met at the Train2Game & Epic Games game jam in November. We all worked very closely together then and we actually came up with the winning game, obviously, that’s why we’re in this competition! We’ve all grown very close, working closely together on these projects, and we’ve got a nice range of skill sets – we have somebody who is good at just about everything – and it’s really working for us.

How are you finding working with the Fighting Fantasy IP and the Unreal Engine?

The Fighting Fantasy is very exciting. I honestly hadn’t heard of it previous to this, but having read the book, I can see why the series is so popular and it was a very exciting experience to read the book and think ‘we’re going to make a game out of that.’ As for the Unreal Engine, it’s been incredibly helpful, it has little quirks, but I can honestly say, without using such an amazing technology, we wouldn’t be able to pull this off in the time we’ve got.

You’re making a third person game on IOS for Make Something Unreal Live, how is the process of that going? Building a game using UDK for iPad?

It’s a bit more difficult than making a traditional game for PC, there’s a lot of considerations you’ve got to have in watching the performance and that sort of thing; you’ve got to build things in a particular way. Obviously, being on a small screen means you’ve got to watch how it’s laid out. It’s been quite a challenging process but also quite rewarding, because it’s pushed us more to think about what we’re doing and how we’re doing it and how it’ll work for the player.

So you’ve learned new things as you’ve gone along, in addition to using the knowledge you already have through Train2Game courses?

That’s right. As the lead programmer I use a lot of Unreal scripts, and the Train2Game course teaches you C++ which is very similar. I must say, this experience has been incredibly educational, I’ve gone away and learned lots of different things, and putting these into the game has been very exciting and a great learning experience.

What have been some of the landmarks so far in the development of your game?

This first landmark was just getting a character on the screen and running around! We have a very simple touch and move interface, and just getting that nailed so anybody could play it – a 10 year old, a 40 year old, whoever wants to play it – it’s so simple anyone could play it. Next key, milestone is we’ve recently got battles working; once again it’s a very simple interface which we can’t go into much about now, secrets, secrets! But once again, it’s a very simple Fighting Fantasy meets Final Fantasy style, very exciting times.

How have you found the transition from being a team at the Train2Game & Epic Game Jam to being a fully functioning game development studio working on IOS with UDK?

It hasn’t been too bad really because we got on so well at the game jam, and we all became good friends then. The only challenge really is communicating via Skype and the internet. We have our own forum, Facebook page, Basecamp, Skype conferencing every week and we talk to each other over the phone. The only challenging part really is the distance, but we keep in close contact with one another and as a result we’ve been able to stay close together as a team just like we were at the game jam.

Distance won’t be a problem when you’re at The Gadget Show Live, how much are you looking forward to being part of Make Something Unreal live at The NEC, Birmingham?

It’s incredibly exciting. I mean, I’d heard of it beforehand, but I never thought I’d get the opportunity to compete at it. So I’m incredibly excited to show the judges and obviously the 125,000 people there what we can do.

For those who want to keep up to date with Commando Kiwi on the road to Make Something Unreal Live, what are the details of Facebook and Twitter?

You can like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/commkiwi or on Twitter @CommandoKiwi.

Great, thanks for your time Adam and good luck.

Thank you very much.

Keep up to date with the latest news from Make Something Unreal Live here on The Train2Game Blog.

 

Train2Game interview: Jonny Robinson of Train2Game & Epic Games Make Something Unreal Live team Commando Kiwi

Train2Game  students are launching four new development studios in 2012 as part of ‘Make Something Unreal Live,’ a competitive process designed to accelerate their careers by giving them the tools and resources needed to release games for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch this spring.

The studios are Commando Kiwi, Derp Studios, Digital Mage and Indigo Jam.

The first titles released by the studios will be based on the Fighting Fantasy series of books created by Ian Livingston and Steve Jackson.

We caught up with Commando Kiwi’s Jonny Robinson to find out how the road to Make Something Unreal Live at The Gadget Show has gone so far. Listen via Train2Game Radio or read it here on The Train2Game Blog.

Hi Jonny. Your team for Make Something Unreal Live is called Commando Kiwi, what made you decide on that name?

There wasn’t really any decision on the name, it was just a case of asking ourselves what sounded cool, what sounded indie and we just chose Commando Kiwi. Someone on the team just said ‘Commando Kiwi sounds cool’ so we decided to roll with it. It wasn’t a real decision, because we didn’t want to take ourselves too seriously as a team, we just want to have as much fun as possible.

And you had a bit of fun making the Commando Kiwi logo as well.

Oh yes. If you didn’t know, we hosted a little competition, a little social media pump if anything. We asked our Facebook fans to make us a logo, and the best one, a team decision, was made our actual logo, and thanks to Dave Higgins, we have a cool little logo. So that’s going to be representing us for the Make Something Unreal Live event.

You’ll be working with the prestigious Fighting Fantasy IP, which book in particular is your game going to be based on?

We’ve got The Warlock of Firetop Mountain, the iconic one…unfortunately. Well, it’s not unfortunate but it’s just more pressure compared, I think, to the other teams.

And which genre of game have you been assigned to make?

We were given the third person style. At the Train2Game and Epic Game Jam, I read out ‘third’ at the presentation, so we’ve taken on the assumption of third person.

Does that mean the game is Fable-esque, perhaps?

No…I’d like to think our game has taken the course of Final Fantasy meets Infinity Blade. We’d like to say it’s a good looking game, really lush, with this kind of strategy element, making sure you pick the right moves at the right time like you’d see in a normal Final Fantasy. We’ve designed it that way so it has simple controls and not too thumbs heavy; it’s the same as another touch and play game.

How have you found working with UDK in the run up to Make Something Unreal Live?

It’s a great piece of kit. It’s been stressful at times, but it’s just like with any piece of software, there have been builds that have gone down and we’ve had to rebuild, luckily I’ve got an amazing team. We’ve tackled some hard problems on the UDK, we’ve bent the engine to our will, but it’s looking really cool and hopefully we’ll be delivering an awesome game.

And how have you found the transition from being a team at the Train2Game and Epic Game Jam, to being a fully functioning team going forward to Make Something Unreal Live at The Gadget Show?

One word? Nervous, just so nervous; the pressure is on, especially if you’ve got a big name like The Warlock of Firetop Mountain. I’ve read about it, I’ve read the books. I only first read the books two years back, but what I read was really cool because Train2Game actually talked about it (in the course books) which is why I was surprised when we got the IP of it! This is big.

How much are you looking forward to taking part in the event? How does the prospect of being there in Birmingham at the NEC while making a game make you feel?

Er, scared…Don’t get me wrong, it’s going to be an amazing experience. The reason I’m so scared is because it could change our life, and if anything there’s more pressure to get it right. If anything, these shots don’t happen very often, and we want to deliver as best as we can for this opportunity we’ve been given.

But the skills you’ve learned through the Train2Game course will help you throughout the process.

Oh yes, they’ve helped tremendously, especially for team management and project management for game design. It’s really opened a lot of the team’s eyes for what we’ve had to do. If anything, we’ve learned a lot more for this little development, and the Train2Game course helped.

What are the contact details of the Commando Kiwi social media pages?

It’s www.facebook.com/comkiwi and for Twitter it’s @CommandoKiwi We’re more than happy to engage with our fans.

Thanks for your time Jonny, and good luck.

Thanks Danny.

Keep up to date with the latest news from Make Something Unreal Live here on The Train2Game Blog.

Train2Game interview: Craig Moore of Train2Game & Epic Games Make Something Unreal Live team Digital Mage

Train2Game  students are launching four new development studios in 2012 as part of ‘Make Something Unreal Live,’ a competitive process designed to accelerate their careers by giving them the tools and resources needed to release games for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch this spring.

The studios are Commando Kiwi, Derp Studios, Digital Mage and Indigo Jam.

The first titles released by the studios will be based on the Fighting Fantasy series of books created by Ian Livingston and Steve Jackson.

We caught up with Digital Mage’s Craig Moore to find out how the road to Make Something Unreal Live at The Gadget Show has gone so far. Listen via Train2Game Radio or read it here on The Train2Game Blog.

Hi Craig. Why did you decide to call your Make Something Unreal Live game development team Digital Mage?

Well, originally we were called Team Gandalf, and because we’re using the visage of a mage and everything like that, it just seemed a bit close to the bone in regards to licensing. So, we decided to change to something that was equally wizardy and call ourselves Digital Mage, which actually came about because we found a random name generator online and it happened that upon us. It kind of felt like fate.

And I guess it works well with the Fighting Fantasy IP you’re working on, can you tell us which book in particular your game is based on?

We’re working on Armies of Death.

And what genre is your game going to be?

Luckily for us, we’re making a strategy game, and we’re hoping to do something quite fun and interesting with it within what we can do with the engine itself.

How have you found using UDK on IOS and how are you finding making a strategy game out of it.

In all honesty we’re working against the grain, it feels at the moment. It’s a lot of hard work but hopefully it should be good when we get it all up and running, we’ve managed to make some quite nice headway with it and we’ve got some really good stuff and it’s looking promising. We should be able to deliver the game we want to deliver at the end of it, the game we set out to deliver when we first started planning it all out.

What’s going to make your game different?

There are a lot of strategy games in general out there – tower defence is a huge genre on IOS devices – but one on the Unreal Engine is a completely different story, that’s a bit of a rare beast.

What particular element of strategy are you going for in particular?

We’re doing what we like to call ‘Tower Offence’ where we’re changing the game upsidedown on its head and you’re no longer places all the towers, you’re doing the attacking.

How have you found the transition from being Team Gandalf at the Train2Game & Epic Game Jam, to being Digital Mage, a fully operative game development studio?

It’s a lot of hard work, we have to spend a lot of hours in the evening just communicating things that could be done very easily in face to face situations. But it’s slowly coming together as a lot of people in the team who’d never worked in teams before are getting the hang of it now and it’s all kind of slowly falling into place which is really good. It’s a credit to the team themselves who are coming together nicely and it’s working well.

What targets have you met recently that you’re particularly proud of?

As sad as it sounds, about 1 a.m. last night he had a massive breakthrough. We managed to get all of our units appearing in the game and with little animations. It was kind of a real nice penny drop moment where we thought we could actually do this, and come up with something that potentially could be really cool.

And you’re looking forward to many more of those moments on the road to Make Something Unreal Live at The Gadget Show?

Yeah, hopefully! Fingers crossed we should have lots of more of those and they should just get better and better with each turn.

And how much are you looking forward to the event itself, working on the game in front of potentially a large audience in Birmingham?

It should be fantastic. The size of the crew and the crowd don’t really phase me in any way, it’ll be really nice just to have the team together in one place after all this learning experience building up to it, but having all that power and working knowledge in just one place again will be a really, really nice feeling and it should help us mould even better as a team.

For those who want to find out more about Digital Mage, what are your online contact details for Facebook and Twitter?

They can look for us on Facebook, just search for Digital Mage, we should show up with a little black icon.  And on Twitter we’re @DigitalMage.

Great, thanks for time Craig and good luck.

Keep up to date with the latest news from Make Something Unreal Live here on The Train2Game Blog.

Train2Game Students given access to Fighting Fantasy IP to create games for Make Something Unreal Live

The Train2Game blog chats to the teams about working with the Fighting Fantasy IP for Make Something Unreal Live at The Gadget Show Live, as the teams become studios in their own right.

The hottest new Indies in town: Commando Kiwi, Derp Studios, Digital Mage and Indigo Jam

With student teams beginning to perform as independent studios and working on a world-renowned IP, we caught up with the development teams to get a few choice words on the latest news and to get some more details on the games they are working on.

First on our list was Commando Kiwi.

Jonny Robinson, Commando Kiwi, said: “When we found out we’d be working on a game inspired by The Warlock of Firetop Mountain; we were all in shock, a few of us have read the book before so our minds were blown away with pure awesomeness! We’re working on a classic IP from legends in the game industry; Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson.”

Next we caught up with Derp Studios to hear their thoughts on working on a Fighting Fantasy title and the genre of game they’re designing.  We also got the lowdown on what it’s like to work remotely when designing games.

Nigel Clark, Derp Studios, said: “Our game is a gripping first-person RPG, a sequel to the second Fighting Fantasy gamebook, Citadel of Chaos.  Strategically combined combat with both melee and magic will only get you so far.  The player must decide the best course of action.  A true test of “fight or flight” awaits our players.”

“To combat the distance factor, we’ve utilised tools within Facebook, Subversion (SVN) and contact points within Train2Game and Epic Games, along with Skype conferences to maintain good team communication. Working as a team is challenging in the first place.  However with your team spread throughout the country it’s even more of a challenge.”

Our next destination was Casa del Digital Mage, where we asked: What do you want to achieve with your game?

Craig Moore, Digital Mage, said: “Digital Mage hopes to help the player truly become engrossed within the battlefields of Allansia by providing ease of use and an intuitive control system enabling quick decisions to control an army as a general should!”

..and what do players have in store should they buy it?

“An exciting, diverse, and adventurous team is sculpting a mobile experience that will keep you on the edge of your seat and keep you coming back for more, with lush graphics and a sweeping soundtrack, Digital Mage is using every last trick in the book to make this the best mobile strategy game available on any platform.”

Lastly we caught up with Indigo Jam, where we asked: What have you been designing and can you get us excited about it?

Indigo Jam, Deathtrap Dungeon, Action Adventure

Ben Stoneman, Indigo Jam, said: “Indigo Jam studios brings the Deathtrap Dungeon title to life with gameplay featuring a dark tale set in Allansia that leads you to a Trail of Champions in the dark dungeon labyrinth of Fang, riddled with monsters and deadly traps and other unknown horrors. Countless adventurers have accepted the challenge but have never been seen again.”

Train2Game then went on to ask: How has the course helped you develop the skills to deliver what is such an imaginative game design?

“Indigo Jam is very lucky to have a good range of skills and abilities gained from the Train2Game courses complemented by the extra training for the UDK Game Jam in November. The team is getting along really well. They are confident in their own abilities, and have delivered at every stage of development.”

 With the energy and hype that the teams are creating, Make Something Unreal Live at The Gadget Show Live can’t come soon enough.

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

Train2Game student studios Commando Kiwi, Derp Studios, Digital Mage and Indigo Jam launching 2012.

Train2Game  students are launching four new development studios in 2012 as part of ‘Make Something Unreal Live,’ a competitive process designed to accelerate their careers by giving them the tools and resources needed to release games for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch this spring.

The studios are Commando Kiwi, Derp Studios, Digital Mage and Indigo Jam.

The first titles released by the studios will be based on the Fighting Fantasy series of books created by Ian Livingston and Steve Jackson.

Train2Game and Epic Games have created the ‘Make Something Unreal Live’ competition where students are challenged to create their own studios and develop games for the iOS platform using Epic Games’ Unreal Development Kit. The winning studio will receive a full source, commercial Unreal Engine 3 licence for iOS as well as gain invaluable professional experience in the games industry.

As part of the competition process, students competed in the Train2Game and Epic Game Jam last November. The Game Jam had teams facing off against each other to create full games to a set deadline and to a professional brief. Continuing this process, students have created four new studios from their original teams to launch games at this year’s The Gadget Show Live.

At this huge event, they will reveal their new projects to the world, each finalising a full game for distribution. Key industry icons will be on hand to aid and advise with game designs as the studios compete to win a full Unreal Engine licence and a holiday to Aquacity in Slovakia, www.aquacity.sk.

“Train2Game courses aim to teach students how to work professionally in the games industry. Helping them launch their first studio gives them invaluable, hands on, in the field experience of what it’s like to create and distribute their own games.” said Train2Game Course Director Tony Bickley.

The games are being developed using Epic Games’ UDK, the free edition of the award-winning Unreal Engine 3, helping students gain experience with tools used by leading studios around the world. During the process, students have their work reviewed, critiqued and mentored by a series of Train2Game tutors, current industry leaders and game specialists.

The final games will be distributed globally on the App Store and launched at this year’s The Gadget Show Live, the premier consumer show taking place from April 10-15, 2012 in Birmingham.

Train2Game & Epic Game Jam interview: Train2Game Game Developer James Valaitis

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 Game Development student James Valaitis (Jams JV on the Train2Game forum)was one of those Train2Game students taking part. We had a quick chat with him during the Train2Game & Epic Game Jam to see what they thought about the event.

Read it here on the Train2Game blog, on the Train2Game Scribd site, or listen via Train2Game radio.

We’re about midway through the Train2Game & Epic Game Jam, how are you finding it?

Well I’m actually really happy, you’ve caught me at my happiest because I’ve just finished the level I was working on, I’ve now scripted the whole level. We’ve basically broken our whole team up into three micro-teams, and ours has now finished our level and we’re polishing it up now. So I’m really happy with it all.

Are things going well for the team then? Has it all ran smoothly so far?

Yeah, the team is actually brilliant this time. This idea to split us up and group us up according to skill level and where we are with the course has worked really well and I’m really happy with my team.

Of course the prize at the end for the teams that win the Train2Game & Epic Game Jam is the chance to ‘Make Something Unreal Live’ at The Gadget Show. If you got to that stage what would to mean to you?  

I’ve always wanted to develop a game and be known as a really good games programmer. All I want to do is be one of the best and to then have a chance to show I am better than someone else, it’d make me feel amazing, it really would. I’d love it.

So have you been using the skills you already know from the Train2Game course, and have you learned anything new during the Game Jam?

UDK is fairly different to the C++ that I’m learning, but the course has actually helped me to learn the fundamentals of almost all programming languages, because now whenever I see a programming language, I’m thinking “Well, this is how this would work in C++” and I can always just relate it to something I do know, and it just gives me that fundamental knowledge that I can probably do it.

When the theme of the Train2Game & Epic Game Jam was announced, the theme is Guy Fawkes, what did you think about that and how did you go about coming up with an idea for a game?

Well it always seems to be the most random of things, but I guess it wasn’t so random considering we’re around the time of 5th November. I tried more outside the box and like everyone I researched Guy Fawkes and reading about this anonymous man who sent a letter to Lord Monteagle, it really appealed to me so we should base around this anonymous guy. Maybe Guy Fawkes found out that he’d betrayed him and had locked him up in a room, that’s basically what our game is about, it’s about challenge rooms and trying to get out. Almost like Portal but medieval I suppose.

Would you recommend it to others to take part in a Train2Game Game Jam?

No doubt, definitely.

Great, thanks for your time.

Thank you very much.

For more information go to www.train2game.com