This year, 21 teams consisting of a total of 170 members submitted pitch documents as entries to the contest, based on the theme ‘Mendelian Inheritance: genetics and genomics’, which is supported by the Wellcome Trust. Candidates were encouraged to treat the theme creatively, spanning concepts such as variation, mutation and other characteristics of the human genome. The entries were scrutinized by a panel of judges from Epic Games, the Wellcome Trust, and Stephen Gaffney, CEO of Fireteam.
The judges were looking for game plans that demonstrated an inspirational use of the competition theme, and which were ambitious while staying mindful of the contest deadlines and demands. Artwork with eye-catching visuals were commended.
The team, from Belkinge Institute of Technology in Sweden, blew away MSUL judges with their game Epigenesis, which was developed with Epic’s Unreal Development Kit (UDK), the free edition of the award-winning Unreal Engine 3.
In a surprise move, Epic Games also announced that Dead Shark Triplepunch and second-placed team Kairos Games have been given an Unreal Engine 3 licence specifically for the publication of their MSUL 2013 competition games.
After a week in which all four of the final teams in the contest worked on their games non-stop, presenting progress twice a day publicly on the show floor, Dead Shark’s third-person platform game Epigenesis won the votes of the judging panel, industry advisors and the popular vote from visitors to the show.
The judging panel comprised industry legend Peter Molyneux, nowhead of developer 22Cans; Mike Gamble, Epic’s European Territory Manager; Iain Dodgeon, Broadcast and Games Manager at the Wellcome Trust; Jo Twist, head of games trade body UKIE; Phil Wright, Head of Content Management at NVIDIA,and Matt Hill, deputy editor of T3 magazine.
Thanks to the generosity of the competition’s sponsors, NVIDIA and Logitech, all the finalists will go home with NVIDIA GTX graphics cards and Logitech mice, keyboards and gaming headsets. First placed Dead Shark Triplepunch also wins four of the high-end Seven series headsets donated by manufacturer Turtle Beach.
In an intense week at Gadget Show Live, all four final teams worked against the clock to complete their games inspired by the competition theme ‘Mendelian inheritance: genetics and genomics’, which was set by the Wellcome Trust. On finals day on Sunday, Dead Shark Triplepunch was able to present a very polished version of the game to an audience of the judges, hand-picked industry gurus and visitors to the show. The award of a specific Unreal Engine 3 licence in addition to the first prize UE4 agreement enables the team to complete Epigenesis and publish it through digital channels.
“It’s been clear from the early stages of the competition that Epigenesis has the potential to be a commercially viable game,” says Mike Gamble, European Territory Manager at Epic Games. “In giving Dead Shark Triplepunch a UE3 licence specifically for Epigenesis we want to enable them to bring this title to market in the shortest possible time and see them on their way to becoming a fully-fledged independent games development studio.”
“However, the judges felt that there were two games this year worthy of commercial release in the short term, and so we have also awarded Kairos with a UE3 licence in order to complete and publish its game Polymorph.”
In addition to hardware sponsors NVIDIA and Logitech, this year’s Make Something Unreal Live has also benefited from sponsorship from recruitment consultant MPG Universal, and graphics software specialist bluegfx. Staffordshire University also provided valuable organisational support to all contestants.
Individual teams were supported by games industry mentors who provided support, advice and reality checks during the six months that the student competitors worked on their games. They could also draw on guidance from scientific advisors supplied by the Wellcome Trust.
Dead Shark Triplepunch were advised by long-established development studio Splash Damage, while Lucid Games, Climax Studios and Ninja Theory looked after the other teams in the final. Giving scientific guidance to the winning team was Josh Randall, leader of the Human Genetics Informatics team at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute.
“The support from our sponsors and supporters has played a huge part in contributing to the success of Make Something Unreal Live this year,” added Mike Gamble. “Our judges, experts and mentors have been deeply involved with the competition and this in turn helped our competitors to produce some really outstanding work on their games.”