Winners Announced for 27th West Australian Screen Awards!

27th WASA Awards - DrumBeats on Stage

Last night saw the red carpet roll out at State Theatre Centre of Western Australia, for the 27th WA Screen Awards. Local creatives came out to celebrate and be celebrated, but in the end there can be only one winner (per category at least). So on that note *drum roll please* the winner of the Best Game award for 2015 is HolyOake with DrumBeat Quest! Building upon the Drumbeats community health program, Drumbeats Quest is a rhythm-based game designed to be played alongside mediated sessions and group exercises to help build social and emotional intelligence in young people.

27th WASA Awards - Dinosaur Discovery Augmented Reality Experience

In addition to the Best Game category, the evening also saw the Best Interactive Production go to the teams at Hungry Sky and the WA Museum for their Dinosaur Discovery Augmented Reality Experience. This experience allowed for people to see themselves interacting with dinosaurs in real time on the big screen at the Perth Cultural Centre – fun and terrifying for the whole family!

We at Let’s Make Games would like to extend our heartfelt congratulations to the winners and their fellow nominees, be they makers of games, interactive experiences or other screen endeavours.

Photo credit: Michelle Sandford

Senate Inquiry on the Future of the Australian Games Industry

Photograph of Senator Scott Ludlam

In 2007 our industry was one the Government saw as full of potential, but with the recent funding cuts and grant cancellations it’s not unreasonable to think the sector has since been overlooked. However it appears that we have not been forgotten; just last week WA’s very own Senator Scott Ludlam, co-deputy leader of the Australian Greens, successfully proposed a Senate Inquiry on what the government can do to better support the Australian games industry.

“Five years ago, Australia had a burgeoning video game development sector employing thousands of talented people in this rapidly growing industry.” Noted Senator Ludlam. “Internationally, companies have experienced strong growth thanks to smart government support and favourable regulatory settings.

“In Australia, no such luck: the sector has been treated like the poor cousin of the creative industries, culminating in the Abbott Government’s decision to close the $20 million Australian Interactive Games Fund, just 12 months after it was established.”

The Inquiry will focus on the future of the Australian (video) game development industry, with specific reference having been made to:

  • (i) how Australia can best set regulatory and taxation frameworks that will allow the local video game development industry to grow and fully meet its potential as a substantial employer,
  • (ii) how Australia can attract video game companies to set up development operations in Australia and employ local staff,
  • (iii) how export opportunities from Australia‘s local video game industry can be maximised, and
  • (iv) any other related matters.

Public hearings will be conducted as part of the Inquiry, and more information on dates for submissions will be released soon. The Inquiry itself will be conducted by the Senate Standing Committee on Environment and Communications, and the report date is set for April 2016.

For more information on the Inquiry announcement, check out the Green’s official press release.

FTI Announces New Funding Opportunity for West Australian Game Projects

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The games industry in Perth continues to strengthen and grow, and new opportunities for collaboration, investment, and development are rising up. The fine folk at FTI’s Game and Interactive Program, known for such contributions to the games community as Playup Perth and Level One, are keen to keep the ball rolling on this. Following on from last year’s Games Industry Scoping Survey, FTI identified the need for more funding opportunities for local games projects; with this in mind they have just announced Oompf! Games, a one-off members production fund to the value of $10,000!

OOMPF! Games is competitive grant scheme that provides financial assistance for FTI members in the games industry to help them take their game to market with funding of up to $10,000.

Eligible games can include video games, console games, mobile games, online games, augmented and virtual reality games and pervasive, mixed/cross platform or other forms experimental games, as long as the production contains a digital component.

Projects that receive funding from the Oomf! Games program will need to be completed within 6 – 10 months from the approval date. To be eligible for funding, studios or individual developers must be West Australian, and at least one person from the studio must be an FTI Member. Projects that focus on diverse and inclusive content are of particular interest to FTI; games that focus on WA content, are created (or co-created) by Indigenous people, women or other underrepresented group, and/or tell their stories, are especially encouraged.

The key dates outlined for the program are as follows:

  • Public Pitch Night – 24 July 2015
  • Applications Close – 7 August 2015
  • Panel Assessment – August
  • Contracting – September 2015
  • Project Delivery – February 2016 (unless otherwise agreed upon)

For more information, check out the FTI Announcement Page and Funding Guidelines. For all queries, please contact the Games and Interactive Program Director, Kate Raynes-Goldie via or (08) 9431-6709.

‘Best Game’ Nominees Announced for the 27th West Australian Screen Awards

The fine folk at FTI have announced the successful nominees for the 27th West Australian Screen Awards (WASA), and 2015 is the third year that a games category has been included. Three local games have made their way onto the list, all quite varied in style and purpose.

As a bit of interesting background information, two of the nominations this year are for games that use novel control schemes, one of the titles has been developed as part of a therapeutic support program, and two of the studios featured have been nominated for the award on previous titles. But enough talk, on to the games!

And the nominees for Best Game are…

 

Drumbeats Quest - Screenshot

Drumbeats Quest, by HolyOake
(Drug & Alcohol Counselling and Support Service)

The Drumbeat Quest therapeutic program is a new health education resource for counsellors and educators based on the award winning Drumbeat program. Designed as an expansion to the original Drumbeat program, Drumbeat Quest innovates by using a video game as a tool for building social and emotional intelligence.

 

Catnips - Sk Games

Catnips, by SK Games

Catnips is a 2-team cat milking simulator. Described as “nifty” and “horrifying”, deep down catnips is just about love, nipples, survival and catmilk. Not the easiest to describe in one paragraph, keep an eye out and experience it yourself next time the cats are in town.

 

Square Heroes - Screenshot

Square Heroes, by Gnomic Studios

Square Heroes is a comical arena shooter featuring Online, LAN, Co-op and local multi-player and an arsenal of weapons to blast your friends out of the sky! Hone your skills and level-up your character in the single-player Tournament, or skip straight to the main event and challenge your friends in one of the hilarious and frantic online skirmish modes.

 

Congratulations and best of luck to this year’s nominees! The winners will be announced at the 27th WASA Gala Awards Ceremony on 29 June, 2015. This red carpet celebration is set to include special VIP guests, fancy food and drink, and will be attended by film industry leaders, WA screen practitioners, media, sponsors and industry partners. If you’re interested in attending, tickets are available via Ticketek.

The Business of Games Masterclass

Business Of Games Workshop

There is a great deal of work that goes on behind the scenes to develop a game, but one important aspect that just doesn’t get enough love from indie devs is the business side of things. To assist local developers in getting the best start for their game, FTI have teamed up with eGroup to present The Business of Games Masterclass. Presented by Dr. Kate Raynes-Goldie, this session seeks to give you the business knowledge needed to turn your good game into a successful game.

This masterclass will cover the two fast growing market segments of the games industry — mobile and indie — explaining their business models, value chains and potential investment opportunities. The masterclass will also provide an overview of the Steam platform and provide an initial watch list for investors

What: The Business of Games Masterclass
When: Thursday 18th June, 6:00pm – 8:30pm
Where: FTI Training Lab, 2nd Floor, State Library of WA
Cost: $25
Tickets: Available via Eventbrite

If you’re keen to build the basis for a successful game business, this session is certainly worth attending. For more information, or to grab a ticket, simply head on over to the Eventbrite page.

Star Hammer: The Vanguard Prophecy available now on Steam

Steam Banner

Last year the folks from Black Lab Games were successful applicants of Screen Australia’s Interactive Games Fund, allowing the team to work full-time on the next title in their space strategy series. Now at last, Star Hammer: The Vanguard Prophecy is in orbit and available on Steam! So get ready to take command of Naval Strike Group 7, and defend the people of planet Novus from the threats that lie beyond the stars.

Star Hammer: The Vanguard Prophecy is a game of 3D tactical space battles. Play your part in the Second Contact War in a campaign with a branching story and over 60 missions, or create your own scenarios in skirmish mode battles.

The game is available for both PC and Mac, with a special launch discount of 10% until June 11th (down to $17.99USD). So if you’re keen to set off into space and fight some alien squids, head on over to the Steam page now and check it out.

StarHammerVP_Screenshot1

 

Disclaimer: In the interest of transparency, please note that the author of this article (and sole news writer at LMG) is associated with this games project.

Level One Co-working Space

Level One - Co-working Space Logo

Western Australia may be a far away and expansive state, but still our game development community is thriving. We have honed our skills at working independently and remotely, but we also appreciate the importance of catching up with fellow creators to brainstorm, problem-solve, debrief, and most importantly stay inspired. And it is for this very purpose that the Level One co-working space was created.

[Level One is] Perth’s first ever co-working space just for game makers hosted by FTI in partnership with Murdoch University.

The space is open from 9:30 to 5:00 every second Thursday, and you are welcome to come for the whole day or just part of the day. WIFI, coffee and tea will be provided, and please bring some snacks to share. [They] also have 10 iMacs available if you don’t want to bring a laptop, as well as white boards and big flat screen tv.

What: Level One: Popup Co-working for Game Makers
When: Thursday, 11 June 2015, 9:30am – 5:00pm
Where: FTI Training Lab, 2nd Floor, State Library of WA
Cost: FREE (but RSVP are essential)!
Tickets: Available via Eventbrite

For more information check out the Level One website, or to get straight in on this excellent event simply head on over to the Eventbrite page.

Grand City: Live-Action Gangster Playtest

Grand City - Gangster Game Banner

We’ve all heard the saying, “The family that plays together, stays together”, but what if your family is a major player in the criminal underworld? Well, then playtime can get a little… intense.

Introducing Grand City, a live-action social game in which 20 players become a part of the sinister 1940’s underworld. Over the course of two hours you will find your place in one of three major crime families, and do your part to ensure they come out on top. The game’s developer, Handwritten Games, will be holding a special playtest event as part of Playup Perth, where you can get in early and act as their informant on the process.

What: Playup Perth #6: Grand City
When: Friday 29th May, 5:30pm – 9pm
Where: Carpe Coffee, 526 Murray Street Perth
Cost: $12 (FTI members) / $17 (regular) 
Tickets: Available via Eventbrite

Purchasing a ticket will not only give you access to the seedy underworld of Grand City, but also includes the supply of delicious pizza from the old country* to get you in the right mindset. Places are limited, so if you think you got the moxie for the job, head on over to the Eventbrite page now!

*Pizza may or may not be from the old country. Your mileage on authentic mafia pizza may vary. Gluten free & vegetarian options are available however.

 

Disclaimer: In the interest of transparency, please note that the author of this article (and sole news writer at LMG) is associated with the Handwritten Games studio, as part of a separate games project.

BrambleLash Demo Out Now

BrambleLash Banner

There was once a time where two-player games involved heading out into the garden and running around with your best friend for a few hours. Times may be a’ changing, but you can still tap into the age old joys of sprinting through the grass, and working together to slice up slimey enemies. Wait, what? Introducing BrambleLash by local studio ByteSprite, a two-player game where your only defence is to stick together.

The twin-stick shooter with only one stick, no shooting, all co-ordination! BrambleLash is a multi-player party game about communication, co-operation and fightin’ grime. Leash up with your planty partner and run sludgy enemies through with your thorny tether, while simultaneously working together to avoid their noxious attacks. Play with your friends, play with your enemies, play with your frenemies!

The first demo for the game has just been released, so if you’re keen to tether up and be a thorn in the side of some sludgy foes, simply head on over to the BrambleLash indieDB page. The game will also feature at Playup Perth: After Dark #4 this week. Grab your self a ticket and you will be able to play the game and chat directly with the development team! Fun times for all!

Backyard.SK Open for Business

SK Games Backyard Store Banner

A little over a month ago the guys from SK Games held a Kickstarter campaign with the hopes of providing a digital storefront for local altgames. Not only was it a complete success, but the BACKYARD.SK storefront is already up and active, ready for your game-buying pleasures.

Currently the store features physical and digital copies of games by the likes of SK Games (GunDash, Skulls, Seed & Icarus), Oscar Brittain (World’s Fastest Pizza) and 2 Hit Studio (One Heart). You can also get your hands on some nifty t-shirts, and the newly released first issue of their zine Backyard number oneThe store runs on a ‘name your price’ system, so while a small monetary amount is suggested, you can choose to pay what you like to show the devs some love.

We at Let’s Make Games would like to extend a belated congratulations to the SK crew on their successful Kickstarter.  And if you’re keen to get some local gaming goodies, simply head on over to the Backyard!