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Co-sponsored by Train2Game and Epic Games, the Make Something Unreal Live event was an independent game development challenge that enabled Train2Game student start-up studios to create brand new iOS games and then release them on the iTunes App Store. It was an unprecedented competition, spanning 6 months of work, learning new technologies, and competing against over a hundred other students. Only the best were going to win, but the prize was massive, A holiday at the luxury resort Aquacity, a place on the team inside a newly formed studio, a chance to work on one of the most well known brands in Gaming, Unreal 3 iOS engine (made famous by the recent success of Gears of Wars and the phenomenally successful Infinity Blade) all leading to the start of a new career, in computer game development.
The story started back in November 2011 at the Train2Game and Epic Game Jam when 10 competing teams, built games using Epic’s Unreal Development Kit (UDK), the free edition of Unreal Engine 3.
The theme was of course, Guy Fawkes
The Gadget Show Live 2012 saw the culmination of nearly six months' work for the four development teams that secured a place in the Epic Games and Train2Gamesponsored Make Something Unreal Live game jam. Amid the bustling halls of the UK’s biggest consumer electronics event in Birmingham earlier this month, with over 100,000 visitors, each of the ten-strong student teams had 48 hours to very publicly polish up their iOS games under the expert guidance of industry veterans including Cliff Bleszinski, Jon Hare, and Peter Molyneux, as well as Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson, authors of the long-running Fighting Fantasy interactive novels on which all four games were based.
Mike Gamble, Epic Games European territory manager explained that the stand attracted a lot of attention from members of the public, looking to get into the computer games industry. “We had plenty of people come up and talk to the teams and members of staff that were around, asking about how they could get into game development, both on a professional and amateur level.”
Helping and Mentoring the Train2Game teams were some of the most respected members of the computer games industry
Ian Livingstone OBE is an English fantasy author and entrepreneur. Along with Steve Jackson he is the co-founder of the popular and influential series of Fighting Fantasy roleplaying gamebook series and author of many books within that series. He is also one of the co-founders of prominent games company Games Workshop. Awards In 2002, Livingstone won the Gift of the Academy in the BAFTA Interactive Entertainment Awards for outstanding contribution to the community. Livingstone was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire, for "Services to the Computer Games Industry" in the New Year’s Honours List 2006. In 2011, Livingstone was made an honorary doctor by Bournemouth University.
Steve Jackson is a game designer, writer and game reviewer. He co-founded the company Games Workshop with John Peake and Ian Livingstone. In 1980, he created the line of the Fighting Fantasy gamebooks published by Puffin Books with Ian Livingstone. He went on to Co-found Lionhead Studios with Peter Molyneux.
Peter Douglas Molyneux OBE is an English computer game designer and game programmer. He created the God games, Dungeon Keeper, Populous, and Black & White, among others, as well as business simulation games such as Theme Park and more recently, the RPG series Fable. Awards Molyneux was inducted into the AIAS Hall of Fame in 2004 and was honoured with an OBE in the New Year's Honours list announced on 31 December 2004. He was awarded the title of Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government in March 2007. In July 2007, he was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Science by the University of Southampton. In March 2011, he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Game Developers Choice Awards and has received a BAFTA Fellowship at the 2011 British Academy Video Games Awards.
Jon "Jops" Hare is a British computer game designer, game artist and musician. He is one of the two founder members and directors, with Chris Yates, of Sensible Software, one of the most successful European games development companies of the late 1980s and 1990s.Hare was co-designer and artist of all of Sensible's hits prior to 1992 including Parallax, Wizball, Microprose Soccer, SEUCK and Wizkid. He was also the lead designer and creative director of Mega Lo Mania, the Sensible Soccer series and the Cannon Fodder series, some of the most popular software franchises of the mid 1990s.
Ian Baverstock is a founding partner at Tenshi Ventures. He has been growing and leading businesses in the games and technology sectors since 1989. This has included a 4 year spell as CEO of 300 man game developer Kuju Entertainment. Outside of his commercial roles, Ian was Chairman of TIGA, the UK games developers’ trade association, for 4 years. He is a Director of the South East Media Network organisation, a member of the Game Developers Conference Advisory Board and a Director of the One Big Game charity initiative.
Jo Twist, Commissioning Editor, Education, Channel 4. Jo is Commissioning Editor for Education at Channel 4. She joined the channel in 2010 from the BBC, where she was Multiplatform Commissioner for Entertainment & Switch responsible for digital formats and online products. Before that, she was BBC Three Multiplatform Channel Editor and led the online strategy for the channel’s rebrand. Her earlier career was as a journalist for Newsround then BBC News online, commentating across digital print, Carsten Maple is the Pro ViceChancellor for Research & Enterprise at the University of Bedfordshire. He is the Educational Advisor to the TIGA Examination Board as well as the TIGA Director of Business Education Interaction. Carsten first taught 3D modelling at University in 1998 and developed one of the first BSc Computer Games Development courses in the UK. He is also a Director of Ansmart Technologies, a mobile games and applications development company. Carsten is an Executive of the Council of Professors and Heads of Computing (CPHC), whose remit is to promote public education in Computing and its applications.
Train2Game talking to Ken Gains from City & Guilds
“In terms of Gaming, Train2Game are the first people that we have worked with in this area, and the reason for doing that was when we sat down and talked to them, and they presented the programme, there was a very solid training programme there. There was a very solid method of assessing students wishing to go on the course, and what they were going to do, and that appealed to us.” – Ken Gains, City & Guilds
Ken Gains, from City & Guilds was very complimentary not only of the students, their work but also of the Train2Game course itself.
“Train2Game aren’t just about coming here and doing competitions, they do a programme to develop game developers in Design, QA, Art & Animation and the game development itself. We’ve worked with them to deliver a qualification that will support the experience that these young people are getting, so they can actually go out and get a job”
“Its industry backed, it’s very solid and the important thing for City & Guilds is that we’re able to take the experience element and a qualification element that will get them into the industry. Because the problem for many people is you might be able to design a game, but to what sort of standard? That’s where the qualification comes in. We do have people, who’ve done so-called qualifications in gaming before, but they have no experience, and a lot of industries want a combination of the two. So, that’s why working with Train2Game has been so good, because they bring the two things together.” That’s good, because City & Guilds is one of the best qualifications you can have, isn’t it?” “We’d like to think so, yes! We are one of the leaders in, if not the leader in vocational education, that’s where we come from. So the whole drive, especially for me, is making sure that whatever we offer, whatever certification we provide, is actually going to lead into something. It’s not just a piece of paper you can hang on the wall and go “aren’t I clever?” Why Train2Game? How did you become involved with Train2Game?
“They said, would you like to come and talk to Myra Smallman from Train2Game to see if there is something we can do together. What we’ve come up with is the first product at Level 6 and Level 7, so it’s quite high university type level of qualification in order to put a course programme with robust assessment criteria behind it.”
It’s interesting you say it’s the same level as a university qualification, is it in that ball game? “It’s in that level, yes”.
“So Train2Game are doing it Properly?” Interviewer “That’s what we believe, yes, absolutely” – Ken Gains, City & Guilds
TIGA is the non-profit trade association representing the UK's games industry. Their members include independent games developers, in-house publisher-owned developers, outsourcing companies, technology businesses, universities, individuals and students, and TIGA won trade body of the year for the last two years. TIGA is also the awarding body for all the Train2Game exams
TIGA were represented at the show by Richard Wilson CEO. Richard is well known to the students, as he has personally given many talks and lectures at various Train2Game events, including the last November Game Jam
Three months of home working for the Train2Game students, went into over drive during the Gadget show Live, where the students in addition to finishing their game entries also presented twice a day to industry legends, implemented their suggestions and continued the high octane pace
Train2Game student, Nick Stone, a member of the winning team, Indigo Jam was one of Indigo Jam’s game designers working on their Fighting Fantasy game Death Trap Dungeon
Nick started playing video games and designing them when he attended Canon Slade School, “I want to create game that people will remember. For me the Train2Game course doesn’t feel like learning. If you have a passion for something the urge to learn will be like second nature and you will always look forward to your work”
“It’s a wonderful opportunity to get to experience with a giant IP that can actually get me in to the Industry”. When Nick was asked about Train2Games Make something Unreal competition, and his team’s game he replied “The Game is an adventure with lots of sneaking and dice throwing like the original gamebook. I’m so excited it’s just unbelievable we’ve made it to the Gadget show, there’s so many high calibre experts who will be there. It’s Magic ! Win or lose Indigo Jam are intending to stay together.
Ben Stoneman, from Bognor Regis, one of the Train2Game students taking part in the Make Something Unreal competition, had this to say to members of the public who asked him about his time at the show. “We study mostly from home a sort of virtual classroom, and this is where we have made most of the game, my role on the Indigo Jam team (one of the student start-up studios) is that of Games Designer.” “I’m like the designer of a car, I make up the blueprint and make sure all the parts for it are in the right place, then the artists will embellish them, before the programmers put the parts together”. Ben works at the Unity games studio in Brighton making the software which runs the games, having gained a student placement through Train2Game. Train2Game’s student placement program has be very successful at placing those students that are able to take advantage of the opportunity, directly into industry
It was a real tribute to the quality of the Train2Game students and their training that they produced in only three short months, whilst working in virtual teams from their homes scattered across the UK, four games of such high quality that they all secured a publishing deal from a major App publisher, who will work with them as they finalise the games and get them ready for market.
Chloe Martin, from Digital Mage was one of the many female Train2Game students to have one a place on to the Gadget Show live event. It was Chloe’s passion for Gaming and Art that made her choose Train2Game as the best way to help her achieve her desire to get in to the computer game industry. Working as a team leader in a local coffee shop Train2Game has enabled to study in her spare time at home.
When asked about studying from home, Chloe admitted it could be a little hard sometimes “Because it is virtually (home study) it can be much harder to get the motivation after work, when you are feeling a bit drained, but you just have to realise where you want to be, where you want to get to, what you have learnt so far, which is amazing, and it all becomes worthwhile”.
“I loved every second, I’ve met so many important people from this industry and I have got so much feedback from the team, and developing a game has been one amazing opportunity. “
Chloe has really enjoyed being part of the Train2games Digital Mage team and is confident that this be the first of many games they develop together.
Train2Game student, Joyce Webb, of team Indigo Jam, thinks Train2Game is “brilliant” now about half way through her course, she is delighted at the opportunity that being here at the Gadget show as one of the contestant is bring her. Meeting Joyce was a real breath of fresh air, her passion and drive are quite infectious. When asked about what’s it been like the last few months she replied “A little bit crazy, trying to fit in a job at a local cinema, continuing with the study and the competition, coming home from work then going straight back to work (making the game) but it has been great fun, can’t fault the team, they are all excellent and great fun to work with.
When asked about her time on the team Joyce admitted it was quite fun being one of the girls, with the boys looking out for her and making sure she rested and ate properly. “it’s really good and they (the rest of the team) are really nice and supportive. The show has been absolutely amazing, loved every minute of it”
A Scene from Rise of Agglax - Digital Mage Team
Great Artwork from Train2Game Students
Citadel Of Chaos - Derp Studios
Train2Game Student wins fame
“I’m just dead proud of my team. They’ve worked really hard and this competition has changed our lives forever,” said Jonny Robinson, producer of Commando Kiwi and team captain for Make Something Unreal Live.
Train2Game Student, Ashley, talks about his win
Train2Game - Hot Job News
Jonny Robinson , captain of Train2Games Commando Kiwi team revealed, that he was invited to go for a job interview with a high profile computer game industry veteran, based on the work that he had created up to and during the competition. Jonny was understandably delighted. “it’s amazing, I just can’t thank you guys (Train2Game) enough, I would not have been able to meet xxx (name deleted for confidential reasons) let alone show him my work, I’m just so stoked at the moment”
Train2Game - Hot Job News
Cat Forsythe , a Train2Game student artist at the show, also confirmed she had been approached by a talent spotter at the show. It (the show) has been a massive opportunity
I could not have imagined being where I am now six months ago ….. I met up with a gentleman who liked my work and after the show, there is the possibility of a job, so all the hard work has been very worth while.”
Train2Game - Hot Job News
James Valaitis, Presenter and developer (Train2Game student Programmer) for Digital Mage, pictured here talking to’ Cliffy B’ Design Guru for the phenomenally successful Gears of war game, was also invited to an interview at the show, by a key industry figure. His comment “it’s amazing, just so amazing …” says it all James is only 18, and was one of the youngest contestants, he has been studying with Train2Game for about 12 months now.
James presenting and answering questions from Ian Baverstock, Jo Twist and Jon Hare, a tough audience !
Train2Game – More Fame, More Employment Exposure
The Winning Train2Game Team
“Train2Games Commando Kiwi really captured the essence of ‘The Warlock of Firetop Mountain’ with great gameplay and visuals,” said “Fighting Fantasy” author and co-creator, Ian Livingstone. “It’s remarkable what these student teams were able to produce working remotely for such a short period of time using UDK. Although only one of the teams has won this amazing prize, the experience the Train2Game students have gained is invaluable and I fully expect to see many of them working in the video games industry. We look forward to playing these games, and Steve and I are sure that Fighting Fantasy fans everywhere will really enjoy these new interactive experiences based on the books."
Happy Train2Game Students
A great competition that led to some excellent work by the Train2Game students resulting in three provisional job offers and several more interviews. It was the start of four new studios with their first project already agreed and signed
“I think our Train2Game students are now very much realizing that they can start a studio with just two or three people, and that there are more real possibilities for small studios than there have been in years,” - Train2Game course director Myra Smallman "Irrespective of what happens to the games and the teams as they exist now, I think every single one of those students has got an amazing leg-up into the industry so that if they want to go and join a studio they'll have a shipped game on their CVs, and have worked on a team that's immensely valuable.” - Mike Gamble, Epic Games European territory manager
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