Monday, May 20, 2013

Plannit - Officially Accepted into Dare to be Digital 2013

Aaaaaand that's my coursework done, and a good relaxing weekend without work. Now back to blogging and everything else. Sorry for the hiatus, my wonderful readers!

Some of you might have missed the news that I tweeted last week: My team, Orbit Games, and our game Plannit, have officially been accepted into this year's Dare to be Digital competition!

What is Dare to be Digital?

Anyone in the UK gaming industry has probably heard of Dare to be Digital, but I know some of my readers are from overseas or outside the industry, so I'll summarize. Dare to be Digital is a huge, prestigious competition held over the summer at Abertay University. 12 teams from around the UK and 3 international teams, each of five students, compete head to head to develop a game over 9 weeks. Even getting in to the competition is difficult, and requires an application, pitch video, and interview. Teams are accepted based on the quality and feasibility of their game idea as well as the strength of their team.

During the competition, teams work together in an "office" at Abertay University. Teams are expected to work at least 9-5, every day of the week, so it's similar to a real games job. In return, we will receive free accommodation and a weekly stipend for living expenses. In addition, industry mentors are available to advise teams over the course of development. At the end of the competition, games are made available to the public during a hugely popular event called ProtoPlay, which is now three days long due to popular demand and overcrowding. This event is free and open to the public, but is also attended by all sorts of industry personnel.

At the end of ProtoPlay, three teams are chosen as winners based on the criteria of innovation and creativity, market potential, and use of technology. These winners are are then nominated for a BAFTA - basically a video game Oscar. They get to visit London for a massively fancy, televised award ceremony and rub shoulders with the likes of (using some of last year's guests as an example) Game Newel, the creators of Journey, and many other industry greats depending on who has been invited to the ceremonies that year.

What will Orbit Games be doing?

Orbit Games is creating a mobile Android game called Plannit, in which players take control of a team of astronauts and travel to unstable planets, drilling to their cores and draining out the dangerous lava inside them, thus saving settlements on the surface. The game involves two distinct control methods: Turning the mobile device to change the game's gravity; and platforming using touch controls. We originally conceived of the game as a multiplayer, cooperative experience on two handsets, with one player controlling the gravity and another controlling the platforming character. However, feedback during our interview caused us to consider the possibility of a single-player and competitive version of the concept where on player controls both gravity and platformer, and competes with friends for score. We are still open to both ideas and will be experimenting once we have a basic prototype.

You can see our pitch video below:

The competition starts on the 10th of June, but we'll be bringing you updates before that since we are allowed 40 hours to work on the game prior to the competition start date. The team is just fantastically excited about this opportunity, and thrilled to have something so awesome to work on over the summer. I'll still be progressing on some side projects as well, so stay tuned for more information about those in the coming days.

Thanks for reading!

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