Imagine Cup Experience – Enter your team now for Imagine Cup 2017


 

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Guest Post by Riccardo Deluca from Team Sapient the UK Winner of Imagine Cup 2016

I am a masters level grad you learn more about me at https://delucacode.wordpress.com. I graduated from the University of South Wales where I studied Mcomp Computer Games Development in the computer science department. I graduated with a distinction in my masters, averaging 79% in my final year of study and receiving awards from my university for being top of my class and from the British Computing Society for outstanding performance.

Me and my team got together over the summer of 2015 to start designing a game we could enter into the imagine cup. We shot off after our first meeting with this overly ambitious idea that we spent 2 to 3 months working on, but was never going to be finished in time. I was working on a smaller project on the side during this, and presented the core concept that I had coded up to my team mates, and said there was no way in hell we are gonna get the other game done, but this one is possible to nail down in time for the competition.

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After that we started working on this second game, unfortunately we were all programmers, so that really hampered our development when it came to the more artistic side of things. In hindsight it probably would have been wiser to have structured a more varied team. On the actually day of the UK competition we were a little worried, mainly because no one had told us that we needed to prepare a booth, so we had a heck-tick start to the day trying to throw together what we could. After meeting with our competition we all kinda felt a bit beat and worn-out, but after doing our presentation and seeing the reaction of the judges we were feeling more confident. And were completely overwhelmed when we are announced the winners.

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Riccardo DeLuca (myself) – Game Designer, World Programmer, World Artist
Thomas Mahoney – Character Programmer, Character Artist
Ciaran Harty – Sound Designer and Programmer, UI Artist and Programmer
Michael Harty – AI programmer

 

This is a game we are continuing to develop and have put a lot of passion into creating. And I hope one day to bring it to market.

Development up to the world finals was really strenuous, with core systems in the game needing multiple refactors to get it working to the level it needed to be at. To the point that a lot of the code that we submitted  for the UK finals did not exist and was completely re-written for the world finals. But our university showed there support, helped us set up test sessions for our game and helped us gather all the feedback we needed for the world finals.

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We were all invited up to London for prep talks and a chance to meet up with the other UK winners, and which point we learned that only 1 group of the UK winners can actually go through to the world finals. We were entirely convinced we were beat at this point, we knew no one from the games competition had ever made it to the world finals for the UK, so it was kinda hard to imagine it happening.  We kept working on the game, but more for general development rather than preparation for the world finals. I think I was the first to get the email that told us we had won, I remember thinking this is just a quick thanks for entering, but unfortunately your not going through kinda deals. So I kinda skimmed the email quickly and saw the words "Congratulations" and "Won", so I read it slower the next time, then a few more times just to be sure. After which I sent a message out to all my teammates, contacted my family and was on some kinda adrenaline high from it all. It was all quite surreal. 

Actually going to Seattle for the finals was incredible, the whole experience that Microsoft provided was immense. The competition itself kinda felt like a small part of it all, with all the people we  met, activities and the places we saw. It was easy at times to forget why we were there.

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Unfortunately things did not work out for us in the competition, the teams that won were far more prepared than us. They had more varied development teams, their games were on the market, and their presentations were top notch, it was hard to compete. But I cannot put into words how incredible the experience was, Seattle really lived up to my expectations. And when I went to go find a job every interviewer wanted to talk about the imagine cup, and thanks to it I landed a job before I graduated as a junior  mechanics programmer at Travellers Tales.

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I truly don't think that would have happened it it were not for the Imagine Cup.

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If I were to give my recommendations based on my experience it would be this. Create a varied team of people who have a great work ethic that can really all pull their own weight. Don't try to be over ambitious, design and plan something that can be realistically completed in time. Pick a leader who can drive and motivate the project. Nag your uni into giving you all you can get.

And finally get what you got on the market, even if it is just the app store. Every winner in the finals had their games ready to sell, and I cannot understate the importance I think that played. 

So enter now at www.imaginecup.com

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