Early last year a group of students from University of Abertay Dundee, UK, started working on something that is to become their biggest accomplishment to date. They started work on a student brief for Care Inspectorate, a charity that works with disadvantaged kids in Scotland, and a little blue alien was born. Sid is a little blue alien that just doesn't fit into our world. He is stuck here and all he wants to do is go home. The project was hence named Far From Home and is a Unity based stealth game in which you play as Sid and try to rebuild your spaceship, avoid getting caught by the suits and finally go home.
The project started as an ambitious student project and was discouraged by lecturers at every turn. What the guys set out to do was simply impossible in the time frame. Two levels built in 3D, 4 fully rigged and characters, mini puzzle games and more. Learning Unity from scratch was difficult, putting the assets in was even more so. The team worked hard, lived in the university and even neglected other projects and commitments to get this game done. After the New Year day, in early 2013, things started to finally take shape. But that's also when problems started. It became quite obvious that some members of the team are not pulling their weight. There were fights and huge disagreements. By the summer it looked like the project is not going to be finished. That is exactly when the lovely people at Care Inspectorate stepped in and offered to fund the project for the next 3 months of summer. In this unexpected and very welcome turn of events the Far From Home team hired another artist (me!) and ploughed on with the development.
The workload was insane. We promised representatives from CI 2 more characters, one new area and a whole bunch of improvements and a new layer of polish. We worked like mad, pulling 12 hour shifts regularly and overcoming such set backs as lack of work space, missing licenses on uni computers and things simply not working. Once an asset was e-mailed between myself and a programmer 6 or 7 times because of scaling issues inside Unity. Nobody's fault, but extremely frustrating. Eventually, slowly but surely, the game started to look like what we all had in mind. There were animations put in on set pieces, the new area was done and Sid, the main character, was completely re-modeled and re-rigged. They paid us for 15 hours a week, and we gave them 60+, because this was a point of personal pride for us. We wanted to make it awesome.
And we did!
When the game was released there was a huge media boom in our home city. We were featured on the university website, CI built a whole new website from scratch and we even made it into the local paper. It felt great. Furthermore, imagine our excitement when we received word that we made it into the shortlist for TIGA Game Industry Awards 2013 for best student game of the year. We would travel to London for the award ceremony.
All suited up we embarked on our exciting mission. At the award ceremony we sat and held our breath when the announcer named the winning companies. Sony, Ubisoft, Microsoft, all were there, all receiving awards for various things and we were there among them. When they announced another student team we were obviously slightly disappointed. But such is life. It was time to go and drink our sorrows away at the free bar.
Last thing I remember of that evening is doing shots of Sambuca with a dude who produced Dungeon Keeper, Black and White, and Fable.
I hope you enjoyed this story of ours. If you'd like to find out more the game is playable here: meetsid.co.uk/sid-the-game/ and you can also find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/LinearCurveGa…
TL;DR Hard work pays off. Drinking with a dude from Lionhead.