Student Post: Project Dugong – From Experiment to Serious Ambition

“What started as a group of students completely overestimating their skills at a GameJam is now a very ambitious team, eager to make their own fully developed video games.” – Martin Smith, Team Nigel’s Unity Developer.

Team Nigel is the mind child of four University of Lincoln Games Computing/Production students, after they worked together as a team throughout the ULCS Game Jam 2012 in late March earlier this year. Given 24 hours to make a game, they cobbled together Sheer Bloody Madness, which they describe as a “crazy Viking out for revenge in a mindless hack and slash adventure”. It won an honourable mention by the judges, which were made out of developers and academics from Crytek, RockStar, LiSC, ULCS and the LSoCS. Later, the game became the source of inspiration for Team Nigel’s current work, which has been codenamed Dugong.

Dugong is the current on-going project that Team Nigel came up with to introduce themselves into the world of video-games development. Since the ULCS GameJam 2012, they have made great progress and learned much about various aspects of making fun and entertaining video-games in a team-oriented environment. They describe their current game as following: You play a character (Called “You”) in ancient times whose village gets destroyed by evil forces. This incites You to go on a violent and revengeful rampage. The player controls the game character using typical third person views through a story-heavy hack & slash background.

When it comes to the design of the game, Team Nigel’s general approach is to throw anything at the project, as long as it’s considered as fun. Although the game relies heavily on a Viking background, they decided not to keep themselves bound to the typical Norsemen lore, but to let their imagination go out of control. Furthermore, magic plays a big part of the game, mastering the four elements is key to getting to the end areas. A currency dubbed “Wonga” is used to buy equipment, consumables or to play mini-games to earn more fame.

“We love open worlds, so our game will have exactly that”, says Martin, “We want to throw the player into a land that is full of stuff that lives and works without any player interaction, so they can explore them. Rewards, in form of additional items and insightful lore are given to explorers,  which can be used on their quest to go on. We’re using a very simplistic blocky graphical style for our game. We felt it’s much easier to work with blocks and pixels than it is to create full 3D characters and environments, although we are still debating on the overall style of the game as working with blocks isn’t always easy, especially when it comes to adding details!”

You can follow their progress at which they update regularly.

Research: Agent Based Crowd Simulation In Airports Using Games Technology.

PhD student Olivier Szymanezyk is currently working on a framework to simulate real-time pedestrian motion in an airport environment using a scalable layered intelligence technique, a physics middleware and the social force model. Olivier and his supervisors Patrick Dickinson and Tom Duckett have recently published their crowd simulation work in papers entitled “Towards agent-based crowd simulation in airports using games technology” and “From individual characters to large crowds: augmenting the believability of open-world games through exploring social emotion in pedestrian groups“, which are accessible through The Lincoln Repository. Recently, Olivier has released a short video showcasing his work. The video has been released on YouTube.

Furthermore, a few screenshots of the most recent iteration of the simulation:

Feel free to share the video, read the related papers and to contact Olivier Szymanezyk if you have any further comments or questions!


GameGadget Project

Duncan has been playing with the new retro console ‘GameGadget’. He says it’s great fun playing old Megadrive games in a handheld format, but he is especially looking forward to seeing what new games can be created for the device. If you are interested in a final year project in this area, please send him your ideas via email (

Crytek Nottingham Presentation

On Monday 5th of March Tom Feltwell, one of our MSc by Research students was invited over to Crytek Nottingham by Principal Programmer Mark Tully, to give a presentation about his research in the area of game data analysis. Tom described his arrival at the Nottingham office: “With the sun shining I took the train over to Nottingham from Lincoln and was welcomed into the concrete and glass behemoth that is the Crytek Nottingham office. Signing an NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) before entering the inner sanctum, I was able to see all of the up and coming delights that are being worked on by the 100+ strong team!”

Tom works full time within the School of Computer Science and is pursuing a Masters by Research in Automatic Analysis of Spatial User-Generated Data in Games part time. He is working to analyse game data captured from the 2007 shooter Red Orchestra: Ost Front 41-45. The data is collected from play sessions taking place at the University (Fridays, 4.00pm Comp Lab B) and doing some automated analysis to isolate the effects that changes have on game play. Full details about his research will be published in his paper he is submitting to GAMEON 2012.

Tom Feltwell giving presentation to Crytek Nottingham staff.
Tom, admiring the lime and charcoal colour scheme.

Tom says: “Initially I was told I would be presenting to the programming team, numbering 20 or so. As the time got closer to 1:30pm, more and more people turned up, until I was faced with a nerve racking sea of industry professionals! Thankfully the talk was really well received and the questions weren’t too taxing. I had a good chat to various team members who had a particular interest in the area, and in some cases were actively working on data analysis of Crytek titles. To top the day off I was treated to a full tour of the office!

It was a real pleasure to get feedback about my work from industry professionals, and I had a fantastic time. I look forward to further collaboration between the University of Lincoln and Crytek Nottingham!”

Announcement: Research seminars, Richard Bartle, and MMOs

It is with great pleasure to announce that Professor Richard Bartle, best known for being one of the pioneers of the massively online game industry, is coming to the University of Lincoln to give a talk about his recent video-games related work. His talk is entitled “How to Cheat at MMOs without Cheating“. Richard Bartle summarises the talk as following:

“Player Type theory has a long history of use in MMO design, and is accepted as a standard model of player behaviour. In this talk, I explain how different player types view what a virtual world “is”, and how this affects their opinion of whether an activity is or is not cheating”.

The talk will be given on Wednesday, 14th March 2012 between 15:00 – 16:00  in the Cargill Lecture Theatre, which is situated in the Main Building of the campus. No registration is required, just pop to the lecture theatre on time. We hope to see you all there!

Update! For those of you who have missed the talk, Bartle uploaded his lecture slides on here. In his blog, Richard describes his talk as follows:

“For the rest of you, the basic premise is that different types of player have different ideas as to what an MMO is “about”, and play to an unwritten set of rules consistent with those ideas. Anything that breaks those rules, they regard as cheating (or at least with great disapproval). Players of different types don’t have any conception of these unwritten rules, though, and therefore have no concerns about breaking them.”