Human evolution, the Black Death and life on Mars are some of the themes chosen by the semi-finalists selected for Developing Beyond, a $500,000 year-long development competition by Epic Games and Wellcome in which teams create new games IP using Epic’s Unreal Engine. In the recent call for entries, developers were challenged to submit compelling, immersive and highly entertaining concepts based on the theme Transformations.
Comedian and broadcaster Susan Calman is chairing a panel of judges which will follow the games’ development throughout the competition. The judging panel includes games development legend John Romero; historian, author and broadcaster Bettany Hughes; Professor Ian Goodfellow, Head of Virology at the University of Cambridge; and Eurogamer’s Chris Bratt.
Each semi-finalist will receive $15,000 and be matched with a scientist to develop their concept further. The six semi-finalists are:
- Cure Me! by Sluggerfly – Multiplayer game in which three scientists try to prevent an evolving entity’s breakout from quarantine.
- Ecce Homo by Holy Warp – 3D action adventure game that explores the evolution of humans.
- Seed by All Seeing Eye – Virtual reality game where players are able to discover, grow and engineer generative plant life.
- Singularity by Random Logic Games – Interactive story game where an AI transforms constantly in order to adapt itself to new obstacles.
- Terramars by Untold Games – A game in which the player adapts the environment of Mars by exploring the physiological changes required for humans to live on a different planet.
- Winter Hall by Lost Forest Games – Narrative exploration game about the legacy of the Black Death.
Judging panel chair Susan Calman said: “As a gamer, these are all games that I’d love to get my hands on! It’s such a delight to be able to follow the developers’ journeys as they take this from initial idea to an early stage game. I can’t wait to see where their imaginations take these projects.”
In July 2017 the progress of the six projects will be judged at Develop:Brighton where three teams will be selected to go through to the final round, each receiving $60,000. The winning team will be awarded $150,000 in January 2018. Second place will be awarded $50,000 and third place will be awarded $30,000.
The Developing Beyond competition is designed to provide a sustainable platform for studios to create a minimum viable product of their title over the course of the year.
Iain Dodgeon, who leads broadcast, games and film work at Wellcome, said: “From a high-speed evolutionary arms race to the controlling of an AI new born, these game ideas are brilliantly diverse in how they embrace the transformations theme. I may never actually live in an early hominin, medieval or Martian colonist community, nor may I be a successful horticulturalist, but these games can give me perspectives on what that life could be like and their relevance to my life today.”
Mike Gamble, European Territory Manager at Epic, commented: “The response to the challenge has been outstanding and we had a hard task to get down to the final six from a large field of excellent entries. Our semi-finalist teams are a diverse crowd, spread out across Europe, each bringing a
unique style to the challenge. I’m confident that we’re going to have a fascinating competition over the coming year.”
This is the third collaboration between Epic Games and Wellcome, having previously undertaken Make Something Unreal Live and The Big Data VR Challenge.
For more information, visit the Developing Beyond website: www.developingbeyond.com
About the Semi-Finalists
Cure Me! (working title)
Project Summary: “Cure Me!" is a first-person asynchronous multiplayer game. One side controls an entity that can rapidly evolve and take on characteristics of different life forms such as bacteria, parasites or fungi. The other side plays as human scientists trying to prevent it from breaking out of quarantine. This is a biological arms race in fast forward.
Developer: Holy Warp
Project Summary: “Ecce Homo: A Journey Through the Dark” is a 3D action adventure game which explores the life of the early humans or, to be more precise, the evolution of the homo genus: from the earliest bipedal to anatomically modern human. The game is split into 11 segments (levels or chapters), with each chapter focusing on major milestones in development of early humans.
Developer: All Seeing Eye
Project Summary: “Seed” is a virtual reality game where players can discover, grow and engineer generative plant life. The game immerses the player into a visually stunning environment, using hand tracking to allow players to craft unique and beautiful plants which grow quickly before their eyes. As the planet’s population expands, the relationship with plants and crops is crucial to human survival. In the face of a changing world Seed aims to explore this relationship by taking inspiration from seed banks and the roles they play.
Developer: Random Logic Games
Project Summary: “Singularity” is an interactive allegorical story with strategic elements about human transformation during the digital era and how seemingly logical beings are affected by information, and how we can become both “good Samaritans” and “Terminators” through apparently logical conclusions. In Singularity an AI transforms constantly to adapt itself to new obstacles, which serves as an allegory to human transformation and adaptation to new conditions, and explores how decision making, morality, information and context shapes both how we think and how we behave.
Developer: Untold Games
Project Summary: In “Terramars” the player manages six crew members in a mission to start the terraforming of Mars. In order to do so, they will have to manage the planet’s resources, development of the human’s base camp and, most importantly, the repercussions on the mental and physical health of the astronauts from the conditions in which they're living. Alongside exploring the transformation of the planet, Terramars explores the challenges and stresses on human bodies, minds and social relationships when adapting to life in an alien environment.
Developer: Lost Forest Games
Project Summary: “Winter Hall,” a narrative exploration game about the legacy of the Black Death, enables the player to leap through time and live a few hours in the lives of a connected web of characters. As the player explores the world from their first-person perspective, and items and stories set in that era will be surfaced. The game sees the player transform into different people throughout time, and explores their lives and the changes that occur through the years.