Three weeks ago we’ve submitted a prototype of our game together with some documentation for the Imagine Cup 2013 National Finals preselection. At the time we didn’t really see the national finals as a tangible opportunity to qualify in the World Wide Finals. There were around 190 students from Romania and Moldova registered in the competition (that’s somewhere between 40 and 50 teams) and they were only going to choose 9 teams to participate in the next stage. Also, they were going to judge all the projects from all categories together, after the same criteria… This meant that they had to compare games with serious world citizenship and innovation projects. The odds were not in our favour.
We’ve been caught off guard when, three days after the submission, the finalists were announced… And we were on that list… Alongside with a team of freshmen fellows from our University, ThinkIT.
We were going to Bucharest to present our project in front of a panel of judges…
Some of the details regarding the organisation of the event were quite confusing. For example in the event’s agenda it was scheduled some kind of press event that we knew nothing about and it seemed that we’d also have to present our project at some sort of booth… And we were given no further details until the evening before the contest.
After an exhausting 8 hours road trip, our delegation finally arrived to its destination and after a small quarrel with the lady from reception, we finally got our rooms. We had to participate in a small meeting where all the details regarding the next day were clarified. We also got to test the equipment they were providing for us to give our presentation. Everything went smoothly…
… except that we didn’t have an actual presentation. Tired as we were after the long trip, we had to stay up late to write our presentation notes and put together a PowerPoint Show as well as build a final version of our game prototype and prepare for the upcoming press event. The pressure was finally getting to us and it seemed almost impossible to concentrate and focus on our tasks… We were just sitting there, laughing for no apparent reason…
After a couple of hours we’ve managed to pull ourselves together and got the work done.
The next day we had to get up early for breakfast. We then had to install our booth and later participate in the official opening of the event, where the jury was presented. After that we stood by our booth waiting for visitors to come and play test our prototype. Unfortunately almost no one showed up before the press event… Well we may have scared them off as we were really nervous and agitated before the fast pitching in front of the press and our speech in front of the judges. We were the 6th team to present our project.
The fast pitching went really well for us. We’ve managed to capture the attention of the audience and we’ve got to answer a couple of intriguing questions about the concept of our game. Overall I think we’ve left everyone in the room with a good impression and a clear view of our project.
So we’ve got some of the pressure off our shoulders and our morale was quite high… After the press event we were flooded with visitors and we’ve managed to gain a lot of feedback, mostly regarding level design. Unfortunately, a few minutes before our presentation, we’ve discovered a bug during a key moment in game play. The build of the game was crashing inexplicably. So we had to sit down and track and then fix this bug under the close attention of the visitors passing by our booth. It was not an easy task, but we’ve managed to pull it off.
The time had finally come for us to give our presentation. Unfortunately we had to exclude Cristina from it because she was really sick and could barely speak. This is when things started to get blurry and go down the hill. We were exhausted, we didn’t get to rehearse enough and we were really, really nervous. So yeah… The presentation was not great at all, but even so we’ve got mostly positive feedback from the jury. A little disappointed in ourselves we went back to our rooms and rested until the awards ceremony.
We knew that we were not going to win, but we certainly hoped we would. It was quite a bitter moment when the winners were announced. Not because we didn’t get the big prize, but because we didn’t even get the first place in our category. It’s no wonder though that Vertex Army won the first place with their game, Equitrilium. No one from the jury was specialized in game design or game development in general, so of course that the game with a broader appeal, casual feeling and clever design has won.
While we were having our dinner, one of the judges came and talked with us. He told us that he was really impressed with what the games category had to offer this year and there was only one point separating us from the winners, so it was really a close call… I’m not sure if that’s really the case, or he was just trying to be nice…
Nevertheless we are still waiting for the online final results. Our Imagine Cup adventure might not be over just yet, so fingers crossed! 🙂
We are currently redesigning the first part of our game in order to “feel more epic” and we will keep you up to date in this regard.
Also we are planning a series of articles about some basic game design principles and how they are applied in our game, Elysian Fields, starting with a post on “Elegance in Game Design”.