The minotaur and the space station
Over the last eight years, the German Computer Game Award has become the most important accolade in the German game industry. In the first ever nomination for HTW Berlin, this year the Game Design study programme has no less than two games nominated in the category “Best young developer concept”. We introduce you to the creators of the projects “DYO” and “ViSP”.
Every year hundreds of young computer game enthusiasts undergo a multi-stage aptitude test to compete for one of the 40 places on the Game Design study programme. The first challenge the successful students face is a project assignment which focuses on a new topic each time. When “Boundaries” was announced as the central theme in 2014, the five Game Design students Fabian, Oliver, Josia, Ragnar and Maximilian had long since passed their aptitude tests. However, instead of kicking back and relaxing during their semester break, they decided to tackle the assignment topic. That’s how they came up with the idea for DYO, a jump-’n-run game with strong references to Greek mythology. Two (Greek: δύο) minotaurs, one in each half of the screen, are trapped in a labyrinth of thick walls and deep chasms. By freezing the split screen, new ‘games rooms’ are created that enable the two characters to overcome the obstacles and together find a way out of the labyrinth. “What makes DYO so special is the innovative split-screen technique, an unusual setting and the professional graphics,” says Josia, when asked what elements would impress the jury of the German Computer Game Award.
“Space, the final frontier…” – the opening words of this popular TV series immediately spring to mind when you play ViSP (Virtual Space Port). Using a VR headset and two controllers, players navigate through virtual outer space with the goal of building a space station. The task involves managing your resources and defending the space station against “destructors”. ViSP is the result of a three-week project assignment carried out by Game Design students Timo, Sandro and Ngoc Hoang. Unlike most action-oriented virtual reality games, they have created a game that is based on planning skills and creative solutions. “The majority of VR games have not been specifically created for this technology. They are old game ideas which have simply been adapted,” explains Timo. “We decided to really think about what kind of movements would suit the VR equipment and what scenarios make sense.” Their approach also impressed the movers and shakers of the Ludicious Zurich Game Festival 2017. ViSP was one of seven games nominated in the “Student Competition”. The three developers are hoping for their big breakthrough at the German Computer Game Awards. “ViSP enables strategic thinking in a three-dimensional space,” says Sandro, explaining the game’s unique approach.
What comes with the award?
Both teams are guaranteed at least third place in the category “Best young developer concept”, which comes with 15,000 euros in prize money plus mentoring services. They can also hope for second place (30,000 euros) and first place (45,000 euros). They will use the money to further develop their games and launch them on the market –which will also include founding their own company. The gala for the award presentations on 26 April will be an important step in this process – it is the ideal opportunity for making important contacts.