LAG 2013

The first edition of the Summer Games Academy took place in 2013.

Below, we present a summary of this event by Jakub Duda.

To be frank, this whole account could be filled up with names of courses, specializations, faculties and institutions which organized LAG . But since I’m lazy, I’ll just link you to the official website, mentioning only the spiritus movens of the event – Małgorzata Łuszczak who is the dean of the Art Faculty in Cieszyn and who was once the Art Director at TopWare working on the unforgettable Jack Orlando.
Designed as a workshop summarizing the academic year, LAG turned out to be a surprisingly well organized event, little short of a hackathon. Little short, I say, as it lasted a whole week and the participants only (but not always!) stopped their work for the night. There were 6 teams of graphic artists, designers and software developers. The indispensible Video Game Name Generator helped in choosing the topics for the projects. Each team had to prepare a working prototype of a game – a so called “design doc” (GDD) – and, finally, present the project in front of the public and juries. The stress level was high because apart from the faculty directors, the President of the Silesian University appeared together with Representatives of the Local Government. The jury was composed of: Małgorzata Łuszczak (Silesian University), Wojtek Pazdur (The Farm 51), Wojtek Borczyk (Incuvo) and, last but not least, yours truly, Jakub Duda (also Incuvo). So much for the introduction. Now it’s time for the highlights – project presentation.

Caesar’s Nazi Feud – Team Red

This is what “the reds” have to say about their project: Caesar’s Nazi Feud is an arcade shooter focused on the pure joy of shooting the Nazis. During an experiment in a secret lab, the mind of a prisoner of war named Caesar is transferred to a machine gun. This is how Caesar is born – a blood-thirsty, intelligent weapon that demands only one thing: human blood. The point of the game is to feed Caesar with the energy of the defeated enemies. If the energy runs out, the game is over. This is an “easy to learn, hard to master” type of game for everyone (above the age of 18, that is).

Without doubt it’s the most technically advanced project of LAG/LAG project, created by a very professional team. A playable tech demo of this cool shooter on Unreal Engine was made in a week, complete with interesting graphics and audio. On top of the dynamic action there is an amusing story of the machine gun with its own free will (the title Caesar) being in constant conflict with whoever is carrying it. Because of that, the game looks like a crossover of Wolfenstein and Darkness (in anticipation of potential hater attacks: this game is about shooting the Nazis!).
Islamic Cowboy in Toyland – Team Green

The team themselves describe the project as follows: Toyland is a unique shop where toys quietly come to life. New popular toys – Inquisitors – confront an Islamic cowboy, Hassan, and his friend, a horse named Fabio. Eventually, Fabio is captured by the inquisitors and held captive by their leader, Pope. Hassan has to do everything in his power to save his dear friend.

Team Green also decided to use Unreal engine. As can be seen in the movie, Islamic Cowboy is a third person shooter in a cel-shading style. Tons of humour and appealing visuals (including the comic book intro) and audio (the public demanded a DLC with additional dialogues by Hassan) – all of this made the project very popular.
Fiery Dragon: The Quickening – Team Blue

By looking into the game’s pitch we learn that ‘Fiery Dragon: The Quickening’ lets its players become the embodiment of the ultimate fury – a massive dragon lady terrorizing a great kingdom: “We wanted to create a quick, easy, addictive, nice-looking and, finally, absurd action game. (…) We achieved just that – a quick, simple game with 2D graphics and a funny, somewhat absurd, storyline, where the player controls a flying dragon (…).”

Technically, the project is totally different from the others: it’s a 2D side scrolling game made in Unity. The mature approach to the topic of the game was impressive. The team applied mathematical discipline to the issue of why such and such a number of virgins is available for a level and a psychological approach to the problem of their quiet death (“they’re shy”).

Kinekt Metal Uprising – Team Yellow

According to the marketing materials made available by the creators, Kinekt Metal Uprising is a platform game with elements of a stealth game. It’s set in a world where game consoles are so advanced they know our own preferences better than we do ourselves. It all begins when an evil console called Kinekt is launched. Its task is to constantly check if gamers are using the console as it is intended and if they’re using legal software. Kinekts, bored with their original tasks, decide to take over the thought processes of their users and, soon after the honesty of the gamers was ensured, Kinekts started to upgrade the moral values of the rest of the world. These were dire times for console gamers.

Beside the interesting idea and the persistence (creating a working platform game on Unreal engine), Team Yellow showed the biggest talent of all the teams in designing the gameplay. Their project is so good that Super Meat Boy could serve only at best as a tutorial for it.

Dracula’s Blade Hop-a-bout – Team Pink

The project of Team Pink was thought to be a favourite: interesting (“AppStore-like”) graphics, a fascinating story and unique music (“Transylvanian House”) suggested it could become a LAG-hit. Unfortunately, the story of Dracula travelling through Transylvania to the rhythm of music using a pogo stick (in order to collect blood for a sick child which had been dropped earlier together with garlic by a helicopter pilot who was a werewolf… talk about imagination) was beyond the team’s technical abilities. In the end we got a mix of Elite Beat Agents and Fruit Ninja (did I mention the garlic dropped from the helicopter and Dracula’s legendary sword?). Only the project technicalities were demonstrated but what a unique soundtrack accompanied the demonstration!

American Plumber Combat – Team Grey

The last project, presented by Team Grey, was the American Plumber Combat. The creators came up with an epic story of the world of the future ruled by a caste of plumbers who compete with each other in a sophisticated contest combining fighting and fixing pumps. The game is a blend of platformer and Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Unfortunately, the size of the project proved to be too vast and there was no playable demo or promo materials. This way the project became the first vapourware in the history of LAG.

After a passionate contest, by the verdict of the jury, the first place was taken ex aequo by three projects: Islamic Cowboy in Toyland, Kinect Metal Uprising and Fiery Dragon: The Quickening. The public’s favourite (decided by the loudness of applause) was the Fiery Dragon.

To ensure perfect happiness there was also an exhibition of retro computers and consoles – from Atari 2600 to Virtual Boy. Nintendo consoles (including the classic SNES and NES) were the most popular, whereas installing the ZX Spectrum games from a virtual cassette player ( apparently scared away the crowd. Of course, you could play ‘em all!

Text by: Jakub Duda