For those of you who don’t know, Make Something Unreal Live is an international game development competition open to all students enrolled full-time at any European higher education establishment. More than 170 students across 22 teams recently submitted game pitches that cleverly play on the theme of “Mendelian inheritance: genetics and genomics,” which spans concepts such as variation, mutation and other behaviours of the human genome. All teams are using Epic’s Unreal Development Kit (UDK) to create new PC games based on qualifying pitches, with the ultimate goal of winning a commercial Unreal Engine 4 license for PC digital distribution!
VideoGamesUncovered has been lucky enough to sit down with the Managing Director, Producer and Lead Audio of Kairos Games, Kurtis Richards, hailing from Staffordshire University to talk to him about his experiences in the competition so far and tell us more!
Bradley: I am here with Kurt; he is part of one of the top 4 teams in this year’s Make Something Unreal Live with his game Polymorph. I should really ask as we start off, could you give us an overview of Polymorph?
Kurt: Polymorph is a “Unique third person platformer” in which your brave amorphous character and it's ever-changing offspring, evolve and adapt to take on the world around them, taking key evolutionary traits from other species. Your characters traverse the lush landscapes of Alelle, which are inhabited by a multitude of tribal societies, wild creatures and dynamic elements.
Bradley: Sounds pretty cool! How has the game been received so far by the MSUL judges?
Kurt: When we initially put our design document through we had some positive feedback, I think we have our artists to thank for that, they put a lot of time and effort into making sure our high concept document popped. It had a lot of artwork in it and we even ensured that the paper was textured. I think that helped us get through to the first stage. We were delighted when we made it through to the final 12. Then when we went down to London at the start of December (2012) when we had our official presentations and also found out we had made it through to the final 4, our game was very well received and we actually had a review from PCGamesN that stated we had “the most polished prototype in the competition”.
Bradley: So you are in the top 4 now, first of all, congratulations!
Kurt: Thank You!
Bradley: So you have met the other team’s right? Who are they?
Kurt: Out of the ones who made it though there is a team from Bournemouth with their game Mendels’s Farm, a team from Sweden with their title Loch Ness and a team from Abertay, Dundee with their project called Beings. They all made it through to the finals with us and it was great to meet them, we actually had an opportunity to see their game concepts and what they are actually producing late last year in December. It was a great opportunity to meet up with them and see what they had come up with!
Bradley: The prize for winning this competition is a licenced copy of the Unreal 4! Will we be seeing Polymorph being put into Unreal 4 if you win? Do you have any other ideas of what to do with the Unreal 4 engine?
Kurt: We are intending to win it. That has been our goal all along.
Bradley: It should be really!
Kurt: We are working hard to achieve that and I am amazed at how hard everyone is working so far. Polymorph is 99% likely to be released in UDK depending on how far we get along in development and if we can sort something out with Epic to release in UE3. But there is always a chance Polymorph 2 could be in Unreal 4, however we do have a few other concepts in production that we would like to put in Unreal 4. We have been liaising with a few other companies, not all based in the UK or Europe, regarding future games developments with Kairos Games.
Bradley: It sounds like you have a great bunch of people working with you, what’s the structure of you group?
Kurt: First of all I would like to say that I am really impressed with this team. Out of any group project I have worked on in the past I have never had such a dedicated team to work with. I appreciate everything they have put into this, including their time, especially with them doing in their third year or Masters as well as this. Our team breakdown is:
• Dennis Foster who is out Lead Designer, pretty much all the design decisions go through him. He is responsible for our game design document and ensures that everyone is working on the right areas.
• We have two Artists, Alex Shapland and Adrian Cruceanu. They are fantastic, Adrian has taught art in Romania and Alex was the winner of the art prize for Dare to Be Digital, so we have a good team of artists.
• We have two Programmers, Matt Tonkinson as our Lead Programmer; he has worked tirelessly on this project, and Bradley Austin who has been responsible for pretty much all of the DX11, some A.I and implementing some mechanics.
• The other members consist of Renn Farnell who is our Environment Artist; he has done a majority of the modelling that has been in the project so far. We also have Stephen Trimble who is our dedicated Rigger and Animator, he is fantastic at what he does as won and he won GradEx last year for his work on his Final Year Project and we have Chris Fleming who is our Level Designer and Narratologist.
• I handle everything else.
Bradley: So you seem to have got your dream team!
Kurt: Yeah, there is not a weak link between us and I’m happy we got everyone…and I pray I haven’t missed anybody out.
Bradley: It all sounds fantastic. I assume you are working hard on your game now to get it ready for the finals which are at the Gadget Show Live, how polished do you think your game will be? How wowed do you think the judges will be?
Kurt: One of the judges concerns throughout the project has been scope. Our initial design was very extravagant and had an awful lot of content but having worked with Matt and Alex before on another very large project which did end up having a lot of levels and was very polished, but it was worth it, as we came out on top out in the competition against the second year game design groups. We have been continually informed by our mentors and advisers that the scope of the project seems too large and very ambitious. We were initially planning to have 5-10 levels by the end of the Gadget Show, they have since suggested scaling that down. We initially had 5 tribes in the world, that has been scaled down to 2 and we now intend to produce 2 very well polished levels instead of the amount we initially envisioned. So we are certain that those 2 levels will be very polished hopefully we may be able to push it that bit further and get another couple done…
Bradley: You mentioned mentors there; I heard you have been assigned specific mentors from within the games industry. Would you like to tell us more about that?
Kurt: Yeah certainly. We were very lucky to be assigned one of my favourite studios, Ninja Theory, this was mostly due to us attempting to push DX11 in our game and with their recent release of Devil May Cry they have really been pushing the Unreal Engine to its max. The Wellcome Trust have also assigned us a mentor scientist and we should be going to meet up with them in February.
Bradley: All in all, your entire project sounds brilliant.
Kurt: Thank you!
Bradley: Obviously we at VGU wish you the best of luck in the competition. But what will be seeing from you in the near future? And how can people check out what’s going on?
Kurt: You can contact us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/KairosGames, or www.kairosgames.co.uk, You can find most of our work there we’re ready to release to the public, also Ninja Theory are doing a press release for us shortly and we may also be in Develop Magazine in the near future. We are also setting up a development blog so that people can keep up with up to date with the progress of the game.
Bradley: Thanks very much for you time Kurt and again, best of luck!
Kurt: No worries and thanks!
For more information about Make Something Unreal live you can visit the Make Something Unreal Live Website or check out the Make Something Unreal Live Facebook page for updates. Remember to check out Kairos Games as well and give them a Like on Facebook. Also stay tuned to VGU for more updates on MSUL as they happen and for information on Polymorphs progress as well!
What do you think of Polymorph? Are you interested in Make Something Unreal live? Let us know in the comments below!Last modified on