Train2Game News: Train2Game talk to Pocket Gamer

Choosing Microsoft’s forthcoming Windows 8 wasn’t the only notable aspect of Train2Game’s recent game jam at the University of Bedfordshire.
The event was also a world record breaker.
The 48 hour hack saw a total of 299 students come together to create a series of games fit for the platform’s Metro UI, with an adjudicator from Guinness giving the event his seal of approval when the coding was over.
But, according to Train2Game course director Myra Smallman, Train2Game’s hacks aren’t all about setting records – they’re also about helping newcomers gain exposure, and uniting them with the platform most suited to the kind of games jams deliver: mobile.
We caught up with Smallman for her take on Train2Game’s record breaking bash in Bedford.

Pocket Gamer: What makes Windows 8 a good platform for today’s students to familiarise themselves with?
Myra Smallman: On our courses we aim to give students training with a wide range of different development tools.
We see Windows 8 as a vital development tool for them to be able to use as we think it will be one of the main platforms for games design in the future. It also supports the native languages they are familiar and comfortable with.
The students have the chance to choose what is right for them – C++/DX, HTML5/JS, XAML, C#

Can you tell us some more about the event’s ‘best in show’ winner, Royal Rush? Will it be released on Windows Store?
Royal Rush was chosen as the winner because the judges could see so many positives about the game.
The team jelled well together, the game used an innovative gaming mechanic and was perfect as a mobile title, with drop in game play and it’s instantly addictive.
We hope to see it in the Windows Store for Windows 8 on 26 October.

The game jam produced some 20 games, which have apparently been submitted for review to the Windows Store. How many of these will make it to market, and what slice of the profits would students see if so?
The plan is for all the games to be free to download, so there’s no revenue to share, but this is a great promotional opportunity for the students and their games.
Some would say there’s more value in them showcasing their work at this point in their careers, rather than making a quick buck.

Microsoft’s Andrew Webber, Guinness World Records’ Gaz Deaves and Myra Smallman

One thing we try to communicate to the students is the that gaming is a business, publishing and marketing are going to be vital to their future in the games industry. This experience is part of our whole ethos of getting students ready for work.
We hope to see the vast majority of the games in the Windows Store as long as they meet the required quality measures for successful submission.

Is a 48 hour game jam actually a good way of developing games intended for release??
Primarily, game jams are fun, but we also like to think that they teach our students how to work as a team and how to work under pressure.
We are very proud that our students have a level of dedication and talent that has allowed them to produce playable games within 48 hours.
In terms of quality of a release, it’s unlikely that all the titles completed in this way will be up to the standard of a game built over months or even years, but what it can produce is innovation.
Many mobile titles are based around a simple and addictive gaming mechanic, and the game jam environment is ideal to produce this simplistic game play that demonstrates a clever idea. Should one of the games prove particularly popular it could be further developed in the future by the students that created it.

Do you imagine you will work together with Microsoft on a similar sort of event in the future?
Hopefully. At the moment we are all exhausted, but we very much enjoyed working with Microsoft.
Those at Microsoft involved provided tremendous support to our students and given the opportunity we would very much like to work with them again.
Thanks to Myra for her time.

Train2Game News: Against all the odds brave Oliver soldiers on to bridge the age gap

Oliver Smith only has one lung, half a heart and is 7 foot 3 but like Master Chief from Halo, against all odds he is out to help the world.

Oliver, 19, has a plan to get young people interacting with the elderly through the medium of video games.

His idea is to get the older generation playing games and using instant messaging services like Skype. This way they can stay in contact and have common interests with their young relatives.

Oliver said “I wanted to do something to help elderly people communicate with young members of their families

“It just seemed a good idea, youngsters spend a lot of time gaming and their grandparents can become isolated because of health reasons and end up in homes. If they know how to use computers and things like Skype it can bring families together.”

He has always found video games have helped him through life. They were always there to cheer him up in some of his darker moments. He is now a student of Train2Game on the QA course and most recently took part in the world record winning Game Jam. He joined the course so he has a chance to be a part of the industry that has helped him.

Unconventional Oliver is not what you would think of when you imagine someone who helps the elderly however. He is what is known as, a Goth.

Talking about his lifestyle he said “I love the statement being a Goth makes and I’m what you’d call ‘steam punk’ – but a lot of people, particularly older folk, are a bit prejudice when they see the way I dress in leather and eyeliner, with my coat held together with safety pins.

“I’ve always been a bit of a rebel and I know my parents were afraid I might go that far off the rails with drink, loud music and late nights that I might never come back.

“I was born with heart and respiratory problems which nearly killed me me when I was younger… I think that made me feel a bit alienated and after all I’m seven feet three inches tall and look different.

“I guess I fitted into the Goth world pretty easily after all that.”

He contacted Exeter council with his idea and they happily helped Oliver by putting his business on there website.

Good luck with everything you do Oliver!

Train2Game News: Microsoft opening doors to new Windows 8 games studio

Following the weekend’s world record-breaking Game Jam, Microsoft is making more waves in the UK games industry.

Microsoft is opening their fourth studio in London dedicated to developing games for Windows 8 phones and tablets. The other Microsoft studios in London are Rare, Lionhead and Soho Productions.

The new studio will be headed by Lee Schuneman, current production director of Rare. He will report to Phil Harrison, corporate vice president of the interactive entertainment business in Europe. Schuneman was behind Kinect Sports, the Xbox 360 avatars, Fable: The Journey and the Sky TV app.

Schnueman said “I’m hugely excited by this new venture.

“Adding a fourth UK-based studio to the incredible roster of talent already in place not only increases our regional studio presence, but will allow Microsoft Studios to explore the many creative and business opportunities that developing new games and entertainment experiences on Windows 8 tablet devices and platforms will afford.”

The Windows 8 operating system was put to the test for games development by the students at the world record winning Game Jam at the weekend. The students proved that Windows 8 had a good diversity with all the different games they put together in 48 hours.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer sung the praises of Windows 8.

Ballmer said “Windows 8 is going to do great.

“I’m not paid to have doubts. I don’t have any. It’s a fantastic product… people talk about “how healthy is the PC market?” There’s going to be close to 400 million PCs sold in the next year, which makes it a big market. And whether it’s 405 million or 395 million, it’s a big market, and Windows 8 will propel that volume.”