Earlier this year, Crytek launched a creative competition for students in association with the British Library and GameCity. The Off the Map challenge invites students from participating universities and colleges to draw inspiration from a selection of British Library maps and then turn that inspiration into interactive environments using our free CryENGINE 3 SDK.
Among the participants is Birmingham City University. One of their courses is Gamer Camp Studios, a vibrant development studio and Masters Degree course working closely with Sony Europe, creating prototypes for green-light with original Sony IP for iPad and PlayStation®3. The program focuses mostly on work-based and experiential learning: the students learn prerequisite skills at the beginning of their modules, and then use these skills in 'real' situations achieved in the studio environment.
BCU has two different teams working on Off the Map: OffTheMap GamerCamp 2 with their project StoneGate: SH1, and another team without title.
Art Director Iain Harrison believes that participation in these kinds of competitions is vital for his students' future. "It's important for the students to gain as much experience and have as much interesting and diverse content in their portfolios as possible. Although we work extensively with Sony, it's important for the students to have a wide range of projects and exposure to different technology, such as the CryENGINE. I'm also keen to develop and maintain close links with our partners in their interest, and the Off the Map competition allows us to foster such ties."
Participants in Off the Map must choose between one of three maps as their source of inspiration: the Pyramids of Giza, Wiltshire's Stonehenge, or London around the time of the Great Fire in 1666. "Our team chose to work with the Stonehenge map, as we felt there was a lot of potential for working with some out-of-the-box ideas," says Will, Concept Artist for the GamerCamp2 team. "It's a distinct landmark, and we felt it would transition well to the CryENGINE. Our initial ideas for the entry are for the player to explore the history of the monument in a fun and humorous way through the role of a foreign tourist accompanied by a creepy tour guide."
Concept Art from Team GamerCamp 2.
The other team is working with the Pyramids of Giza. "Our early idea was to create something like a horror experience with a lot of interactivity for the player," says Ben, Character Artist for the second team. "But after further discussion, we decided to create a more cinematic experience that will feature time-shifting flashbacks and has a greater historical influence. We hope to create something unique that will appeal to a large audience, by adding a twist to our concept – but we are wary that this shouldn’t conflict with the importance of historical context."
Neither of the teams have had prior experience of working with CryENGINE, and both are having no trouble adapting to and learning about the software. "Even though we worked with other high quality engines before, it’s a great chance to see how we, as game developers, adapt to working with a completely new engine; that seems like an invaluable skill to the ever-changing technologies of this industry," says Nick, Programmer for the GamerCamp2 team. "CryENGINE 3 has amazing technology and many features that can be used to create interesting and exciting behavior within a world. We are currently designing puzzles and working out level progression to get the best out of the engine as possible."
The teams have been making some great progress and treat the competition as highly valuable and important. "It really shows the merit of this kind of creative work, and the students can see the potential for their entries as strong pieces for their portfolios," continues Iain. "They all want to deliver a high quality game and enhance their career prospective by using the CryENGINE, since that knowledge is often transferable. These projects are key to demonstrating their passion for the industry they hope to join."
To find out more about our CryENGINE 3 SDK and download it for free, please visit www.mycryengine.com.
Top image displays character art from team GamerCamp2.