10-strong team from Swedish Technology Institute, Dead Shark Triplepunch, awarded Unreal Engine 4 licence for its game Epigenesis
Epic Games, Inc., creators of award-winning games and game technology, announced during the final day of the Gadget Show Live that Dead Shark Triplepunch, the team from Blekinge Institute of Technology in Sweden, has won Make Something Unreal Live 2013 with its game Epigenesis. All teams participating in MSUL 2013 developed their projects using Epic’s Unreal Development Kit (UDK), the free edition of the award-winning Unreal Engine 3.
After an intense, fast-paced and at times nail-biting six days at Gadget Show Live, Dead Shark Triplepunch emerged victorious after impressing the five members of the judging panel and visitors to the show with the playability and technological prowess of its game. Epigenesis is a multiplayer ball game played over rooftops and with the added twist that when a player scores a goal, they get to plant a seed which will over the course of the game, change the playing environment.
Judges praised Epigenesis for its ingenious concept, engaging gameplay and clever use of a scientific concept inspired by the theme for this year’s competition.
The team extensively play-tested the game at Gadget Show Live and following advice from games industry experts and advisors from the Wellcome Trust, they spent time developing the scientific aspects of the gameplay over the course of the show. On finals day on Sunday, they were able to present a very polished version of the game to an audience of the judges, hand-picked industry gurus and show visitors.
“Dead Shark Triplepunch was always a strong contender in this year’s competition, and I thought they demonstrated maturity and cohesion throughout Gadget Show Live, plus a much-needed ability to keep calm under pressure,” says Mike Gamble, European Territory Manager at Epic Games.
He also revealed that the high standard of games in this year’s Make Something Unreal Live competition was such that Epic Games would be also awarding Unreal Engine 3 licences to both Dead Shark Triplepunch and the second-placed game, Polymorph, from Kairos Games, to enable both teams to release their titles commercially as soon as possible. “From the first couple of days at the show, we’ve said that all four finalist games have the potential to be released commercially. We believe that our top two placed teams should be able to realise that ambition and granting the Unreal Engine 3 licence gives them a clear route to market.”
For Dead Shark Triplepunch, project leader Michael Levall said: “We’ve had the most fantastic support from people that helped us to win this competition. We couldn’t have done it without the help we’ve had from our college, the Blekinge Institute, and Netport, who gave us the use of an office. Then there’s Josh Randall, our scientific mentor from the Sanger Institute, and our studio mentors Splash Damage. Right from the start, Splash Damage told us how important it was to playtest the game externally as much as possible – and boy, were they right!”
The theme for this year’s contest ‘Mendelian Inheritance: genetics and genomics’ was set by the Wellcome Trust, which supported the competition this year and made four of its scientists available to the teams as mentors. Although responsibility for developing the final games lay with the teams themselves, the mentors were on hand to give guidance and a unique insight into how the games could be enhanced from a science perspective.
Iain Dodgeon, Broadcast and Games Manager at the Wellcome Trust and a member of the judging panel, said: “This has been an exciting initiative to be involved with and we’re delighted it has uncovered fresh talent in the games industry. Dead Shark Triplepunch has shown how it’s possible to draw creative inspiration from science, whilst never losing sight of the fact that they are producing a game that sets out to entertain. The collaboration builds on the Trust’s ambition to bring science into the culture of games and support the next generation of developers.”
Dr Josh Randall, from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and science mentor to Dead Shark Triplepunch, said, “Developing a game involves a lot of detailed work, research and expertise, not unlike science. It has been fascinating to see how Epigenesis, which draws on epigenetics, an area of science that looks at how expression of genes can be regulated, has evolved as the competition progressed. It’s been a pleasure to mentor such a talented team; they have a bright future ahead of them.”
Dead Shark Triplepunch was presented with both a commercial Unreal Engine 3 and Unreal Engine 4 licence for PC digital distribution as the main prize in this year’s competition. This will enable the team to publish Epigenesis commercially in its own name – many previous Make Something Unreal winners have gone on to become fully-fledged independent games studios.
For the other three teams, second-placed Kairos Games, and finalists Team Summit and Static Games, disappointment at not winning was tempered by the knowledge that they had competed in one of the hardest-fought Make Something Unreal contests ever held.
“We hope that all this year’s teams will continue to work on their games ,” added Mike Gamble. “We’ve had four excellent contenders here at Gadget Show Live, who have worked under intense conditions to complete their game demos. They all have the potential to be successful in the games industry and we wish them all well for the future.”