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Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Abertay University’s Dare Academy play out at EGX Birmingham

The finalists of Abertay University’s Dare Academy 2018 games design competition will face a panel of industry judges as the curtain comes down on the contest at this year’s EGX in Birmingham.

Returning for a second year after a highly-successful first outing, Dare Academy 2018 has produced an array of creative, fun and thought provoking games, ranging from party puzzlers to those exploring disability and PTSD.

Last year, Dare 2017 winners Bit Loom were rated among The Guardian’s top games of EGX for their unique “double-ended dog puzzler” PHOGS!, with the game going on to be commercially released by Coatsink.

There was similar success for their Dare classmates, Wee Door, whose game OIL was “Game of the Day” on the App Store after its release; while Pocket Sized Hands, who also competed in 2017, now operate a successful VR, AR and games development business in Dundee.

The current crop of Dare Academy teams – Cation Games, Technofluid Games, Soda Float, Thunder Lime Games, Aetherfall Games and Zero Qualms - are competing for the upgraded 2018 prize, a paid trip to showcase their game at GDC in San Francisco.

Industry judges including, Jess Hider (Rare), Chris Dawson (Denki), Robert Henning (Tag Games), Chris Trewatha (YoYo Games), Neil Holmes (Xbox) and Luke Savage (Sony Interactive Entertainment Europe) will run the rule over the six finalists during EGX, rating each of the games on creativity and originality, audience connection and awareness, and excellence in production quality ahead of a winners presentation on Friday September 21.

Head of the Division of Games and Arts at Abertay, Dr Dayna Galloway, said: “Last year’s Dare Academy teams enjoyed outstanding success and the quality of this year’s teams has been equally as high.

“Making it through to the final six to showcase at EGX is a huge achievement in itself and I wish all of our finalists the best of luck when presenting their games to the judges, industry delegates and members of the public.”

Industry mentors for Dare Academy 2018 included Darroch McNaught, founder of DeuXality Games; David Hamilton, CEO of Ninja Kiwi; Keeley Bunting, Outplay Entertainment games designer; Marc Williamson, CEO of Tag Games and Pete Shea, a games designer and consultant.

2018 teams include:

Cation Games: Sketchtown Showdown is a creative party game where players draw their way to victory. The game is played entirely using the touch input of a smartphone. You sketch your own character before sending them into the “showdown” where they'll need to draw platforms, ski slopes, groceries and more in order to be crowned champion.

Technofluid Games: Physic is a level based puzzle which draws inspiration from smash hit games Portal and Qube and cult cartoon Rick & Morty. You play as eccentric inventor Dr Muucav, whose latest invention the “Physics Assimlating Suction and Transferring Apparatus” (or P.A.S.T.A) has been requested to be tested by a race of intra-dimensional beings.

Soda Float: Obsol33t is a game which sees the player take up the role of Jaison, a wheelchair user who tries to navigate his way through puzzles and challenges, conveying the day-to-day difficulties that those in a wheelchair face. The player sits in a wheelchair and uses two mouse-rollers to replicate the arm motion of wheelchair-user.

Thunder Lime Games: Kinoko focusses on relaxation as you direct the title character in his mission to clear a beautiful forest of winter into the new spring season. The objective is to explore the environment, identifying key areas to interact with and transform the land.

Aetherfall Games: Only Shadows is a first-person exploration that sees an unknown casualty of warfare tracing their steps through broken paths that conflict leaves behind. Journeying through time-shifting levels and psychedelic puzzles, the game demonstrates the psychological impact of war.

Zero Qualms: Vox Racers! is a rapid racing game taking inspiration from the teams’ favourite arcade games of the past. The game focuses on the fluidity of the racer’s controls and attempts to recreate retro racing arcade games, but with a modern twist.

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