Intel rewards the best college gaming projects

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Intel recently unveiled its Intel University Games Showcase winners as part of its effort to showcase the best new talent in games.

The winners were selected from 20 different finalist entries from various universities across the United States. Seven games were honored in the all-digital affair, which would normally have taken place at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco before the pandemic.

The winners

For the best gameplay, Zoélie from Savannah College of Art and Design took first place. Second place went to Larger than Light from the University of Southern California. And third place went to Crystal Call of Southern Methodist University Guildhall.

For the best visual quality, Metamorphos from DigiPen was the big winner. Second place went to Beat Breakrz from Ringling College of Art and Design, and third place went to Flicker of Hope from the University of Central Florida.

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The Innovation Award went to Camera That Bleeds at the Rochester Institute of Technology.

You can see the winners in the Intel DevMesh group.

Judge impressions

I’ve served as a volunteer judge alongside others including Ahsley Alicea from Unity Technologies, Gene Chorba from Riot Games, Steven Isaacs from Epic Games, Peter King from Greenman Gaming and Bobby Oh, who is the head of the Intel University Games Showcase at Intel.

I was very impressed with the overall quality of the games, and it’s a shame the teams didn’t have the chance to explain their work and show it off at a big event. It was interesting to see how much the students could accomplish with great teams that had a lot of time to work on the games.

Flicker of Hope had an interesting stealth mechanic where you played like a candle trying to escape a creature in dark places. Zoélie gave me the impression of wandering in a Latin American town square. Beat Breakrz had amazingly realistic 3D visuals. Crystal Call was a fast-paced action game, and Metamorphos was a beautifully animated Souls-type game where you had to seize the right moment to attack an enemy boss, then move aside as it fought back. Larger Than Light had a very cool interaction between the real characters and the shadows on the walls. And Camera That Bleeds has incorporated a certain horror into what you can only see through a camera lens.

Winner’s Comments: Metamorphos

Benjamin Ellinger said in a post that it was amazing to win in the visual quality category. He described the games as a Souls-type title heavily inspired by From Software’s Dark Souls series, but also added inspiration from other genres and media for different parts of the game.

The team formed in the fall of 2019, but the team roster changed every semester as people joined or left. In the fall of 2020, the team added eight new people at a time to the project, which was a big factor in achieving as high visual quality as possible, Ellinger said.

Arthur Bates, Creative Director, brought together the first team with his vision and his first artistic concepts.

“My favorite story is about how we had to change the sound effects of the Sand Manta-Ray,” Ellinger said. “Our audio designer produced such a compelling and realistic animal cry when the Sand Manta-Ray was hit that players would feel bad to fight them.”

Zoelia

Ben Brook of Savannah College of Art and Design said in a post that it was surreal to take first place in gameplay.

“We’ve put so much work and love into Zoe over the 22 weeks we’ve had for development, and having that recognized by the judges has been an amazing time for us,” said Brook. “Our Discord server lit up with joy when the results were announced.”

Brook noted that King’s comments were both kind and touching. The inspiration was to try and do something original.

“Our designers and programmers had strong combat design and programming skills, so we really wanted to push ourselves to create something new and unique,” ​​Brook said. “The student body of SCAD is also extremely diverse, which inspired us to move to another country. After playing with places like Japan and Europe, we fell in love with Latin America and decided to base our mechanics and artistic direction on places like Argentina and Brazil.

Students from Latin America or members of their families helped provide information on culture and architecture. Production ran from January 2020 to June 2020. The team worked remotely due to COVID from April to June, and two faculty members led the class.

A total of 39 students were chosen to work on the game and they were divided into four groups to handle different aspects of the development. The team consisted mainly of senior students with a few juniors who were also accepted.

“Working on the game really taught us a lot about studio life,” said Brook. “We went from students to aspiring professionals in such a short time and had to ‘grow up’ fast enough to meet the deadlines. “

The team relied on LinkedIn as a tool to find out how to do things like animate a quilt, while professionals helped with referrals to experts. When it comes to working remotely, Brook learned to handle project management across different time zones as an AI programmer lived in France during his quarantine, so the team often met at odd times to connect and get things done.

Interacting with Latin American students from other fields also opened eyes for the team by creating things like the town square environment.

Innovation award: the bleeding camera

Mark Lipina of the Rochester Institute of Technology said winning the award came as a shock and the team had worked hard to improve the base gaming experience.

The basic premise arose when Lapina was browsing through “found images” style horror artwork, and he came up with this idea: “What if ghosts were only visible in photographs? As the team continued to work on the game’s prototype, fellow programmer Davis Snider suggested a black sleuth direction, which matched the basic premise perfectly and provided a new aesthetic direction for moving.

At this point, to inform the aesthetic, the team revised some classic noir crime films (like The Maltese Falcon) as well as black graphic novels, especially the work of Frank Miller.

Snider and Lapina started the game as a weekend game jam in March 2019. Over the next year the team grew quite dramatically, with 3D artists, animators and sound designers who all played a huge role in the creation of the game.

“Our most dramatic story has probably been the name of the game itself,” said Lapina. “For us, naming things is sort of the hardest job imaginable, and we’ve gone through way too many names for our game. SpookyGame was the name of our prototype, and it’s still the name of our code project. . Phantom Frame was next, before we decided it was way too close to Fatal Frame, the cult classic horror game with a camera. We almost went with InSpectre, until an anime came out of nowhere with that exact name. Finally, we landed on The Camera that Bleeds, which is perfect. “

Beat Breakrz

Blake Morris of Ringling College of Art and Design said in a post that he and his family shouted for joy when they heard they had won an award.

Morris said inspiration came from two different types of media, such as the neon art style of Infamous: Second Son of Sucker Punch. While creating the game, they also played through Metronomik’s No Straight Roads which was very inspiring for the fun element.

Another inspiration came from the photography of Seoul’s Noe Alonzo at night, as well as the photography of Tokyo’s Liam Wong at night, which helped the team light up the game with pops of intense color.

“One of the coolest sources of inspiration for us was flying to Seattle to take some real-world reference photos that would later influence our dress,” Morris said.

The team including Joenna Steuber started working at the end of February 2020 in the second semester of their junior year. They started pitching ideas during this time, leading to BeatBreakrz.

“It was pretty easy for both of us to get together to work on this game,” Morris said. “We were both interested in very similar things and we had been friends since the first year, so we thought we would work well together. We didn’t divide the work in a way that a larger team could have with people taking on roles for specific things. “

All of the voices in the game are voiced by Morris, and most of them were recorded on his laptop under a blanket and in closets.

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