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Monthly Archives: July 2011

Imagine Cup and Beyond

So, the Imagine Cup is finally over. For those of you who are just joining us, the Imagine Cup is a brilliant competition organized by Microsoft that pushes students to develop technologies that help save the world.

For the past ten or so months Wajih and I have been hard at work developing our entry called: Tale of a Tree Wisp. We got to present our project to a vast variety of people and we got a lot of positive feedback. We didn’t manage to win anything, mostly due to the fact that we were in Software Design rather than Game Design, but we walked away with something that might be a little more valuable.

(We did manage to rank third place in the People’s Choice Award, which was brilliant!!)

The World Finalists on Ellis Island

Bonus points if you can spot me

The best bit about making games is seeing how people react to them, I said this when we won the local competition and I’ll say it again now. We got even more exposure in the world finals and it was really a treat. Heads at Microsoft, including Mr. Somasegar, passed by our booth yesterday in the World Festival that took place in the Lincoln Center and they had nothing but positive feedback to give.

myself, standing next to the booth.

Walid Abu-Hadba – Corporate Vice President, Developer & Platform Evangelism Group – urged us to get out and start our own game company, and last but not least we got to show the game to Mr. Julian Gerighty – IP Developer at Ubisoft, who took the time to play our game and ask us a lot of questions about it.

So, now that the Imagine Cup is over, what is my next step?

Well, I am hopping on a plane to Chicago in a couple of hours where I intend to spend a good 4-6 weeks on a sort of development sojourn. I have a few game ideas I would like to work on using UDK/UDK Mobile and hopefully by that time I should have something to show. I would also like to give my website a massive face-lift that I’ve been scheming for the past few months, and finally I would really like to continue my UnrealScript Tutorials. I had a lot of comments and messages about them, particularly the game save system and unfortunately I could not address any of them.

Wajih and I will also finish Tale of a Tree Wisp (he is heading back home and soon moving to KAUST to do his PHD) soon enough as I intend to not only release it, but include it in some game design competitions I have my eye (the other eye is preoccupied somewhere else) on.

I'm the little chap in green on the right

I think it is also time to join the ranks of the industry. I’ve spent nearly three years now experimenting with games and working on several projects (and I will continue to do so) but I feel like the next step for me is to join the ranks of the industry and expose myself to new challenges and experiences. So time will tell where I end up.

In a few days I’ll immerse myself again in UnrealScript, writing all the tools I would need. I’ll also work on that site face-lift and (what I’m maybe most excited about) finally find the spare time to read, write, and play some games again.

If I were to take something away from all this it would have to be all the positive feedback. This was by far the most stressful game I ever worked on (I have the ulcers to prove it) and over the course of 10 months I saw the game differently than other people might have. When you spend a long time working on anything you don’t see it like other people might. You see what is underneath, the pistons pumping, the gears crackling and churning, the blood, sweat and tears that went into it… and you lose the ability to see “the magic”. It was very rewarding watching people get all excited and wide eyed about Tale of a Tree Wisp and the most rewarding one of them all comes from back home.

Shortly after presenting the prototype for Tale of a Tree Wisp to the finalist panel of judges in Lebanon we left the room as they deliberated. Soon after they came out with the unanimous decision. A friend of mine who was among the press overheard one of the judges saying that our demonstration was “like meditation” and that was very surprising to me. I never would have imagined that someone would feel something like that about anything I developed, and that stuck with me ever since.

Now, enough babble about the past. There is still a long way to go and it is time to take the next step.

Thanks for all the support, and for everyone who voted.

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