April 14, 2016

Unreal Engine at EGX Rezzed, The BAFTA Game Awards and Nordic Game Jam

By Jess Hider

Constructed in 1811, Tobacco Dock (a grade 1 listed warehouse in East London) housed this year’s EGX Rezzed. Filled to the raftas with games, Rezzed focuses on showcasing the work of Indie developers and offers the public a chance to play pre-released games.

The Turing Test Team As part of the Xbox ID and the Square Enix Collective booths, Bulkhead Interactive were showcasing ‘The Turing Test’; a first-person puzzler being released in August 2016.

Spread across two floors and many rooms, there were plenty of Unreal Engine games on show; from old favourites like Rocket League by Psyonix, to upcoming new favourites such as Prospect Games' Unbox; the ultimate postal service game, where you play as self-delivering cardboard boxes, and GRIP by Caged Element, an intense futuristic combat racing game, inspired by the Rollcage games of a past generation.

Pixel Blimp Pixelblimp showed off their upcoming game ‘Jump Stars’, a 4 player co-op/competitive party game!

With plenty of people wanting to play games in supply, Rezzed is great place to get some free user-testing and feedback, whether the game is almost finished and is looking for its final pass of polish, or whether it’s testing to see if an early stage prototype could be a viable concept. Sumo Digital, took full advantage of this, testing out two different controls schemes for their prototype of Snake Pass.

  Sumo Digital The Sumo Digital team were coiled and ready to strike with a prototype for ‘Snake Pass’.

Alongside having lots of opportunities to play games, Rezzed also gives attendees an insight in how to get into making games at their Careers Fair, with booths from games companies and universities, plus talks and one-to-one sessions with industry members running from the Ukie stand.

Strangely Named Studios Arran Langmead, CEO of Strangely Named Studios, discovers whether bears can drift.

The six o’clock bells signalled the end of Rezzed and the beginning of the BAFTA Game Awards. In a matter of minutes, Tobacco Dock underwent a transformation from a cozy showcase space, to a glitzy award ceremony. With plenty of jokes courtesy of the night’s host Dara O’Brien, some tasty chocolate BAFTA faces and a multitude of amazingly talented nominees and presenters, it was a night to remember. Congratulations to all of the winning teams, and it was great to see some Unreal Engine games among the winners!

-    Rocket League: Sports, Family and Multiplayer
-    Batman: Arkham Knight – British Game
-    Life is Strange: Story
-    Smite: AMD e-sports Audience Award

Second Person Shooter Smiling faces when play-testing their game, ‘Second Person Shooter’. A game where you see yourself through the eyes of the enemies attacking you.

The next day, it was a quick hop over to Copenhagen to join the kick-off for the 10th Nordic Game Jam. Held in Aalborg University, Nordic Game Jam attracted nearly a thousand game developers from across Europe, who had 48 hours to create a game. This year’s keynote was from Jesse McCree and Kevin Martins, lead designers from Blizzard, whose optimum advice was don’t make a multiplayer, networked, VR game during a game jam. Keep the scope small. Wise words, but taken as a challenge by many of the teams!

Monkey Knife Fight's Things went a little bananas over at team Fuzzymelox during production of ‘Monkey Knife Fights’.

Being there over the course of the jam to help out and chat to developers, I got to see a breadth of games. From being a pirate, peering through a Spyglass (made from cardboard tubes with a phone strapped to the end) and yelling ‘aargh’ to signal to fire the cannons at approaching enemy ships, to dressing up in a hazmat suit and blowing bubbles of ink onto a piece of paper, Nordic always celebrates the fun, the original and the downright wacky concepts.

The Totally Epic Unreal Engine Award Exciting moment as the winning team is announced!

All too soon, the jam time was over and it was across to the Imperial Cinema for the awards ceremony. As sponsors this year, we had the “Totally Epic Unreal Engine Award” on offer for teams using Unreal Engine. Judged on how fun the game was to play, the visuals, and the interpretation of the theme, the award was to celebrate the creativity and innovation at the heart of game jams.

The winning team was Heigh Ho, with their game Guanta Gnomo; a networked multiplayer game. Set in a garden shed, one person uses a VR headset and plays as a gardener, trying to catch the pesky gnomes running around them. The gnomes are controlled by other players via pc, and are trying to escape the shed the game is set in.

  Heigh Ho
The winning team Heigh Ho, who received a bag of Unreal Engine swag and HTC Vive each.

It was a busy few days, but it was fantastic to see so many amazing games and meet so many awesome game developers. I can't wait for next years Rezzed, BAFTA Game Awards and Nordic Game Jam!