Our good looking faces are in the local papers, again. The article isn’t about how young or awesome we are though. 联合早报, Zao Bao, did an interview with us, and wrote a piece on One Upon Light and the development team here at SUTD Game Lab.
Singapore game One Upon Light wins Best Game award at Independent Games Festival China
Singapore-made indie game One Upon Light wins Best Game award at the 5th Annual Independent Games Festival (IGF) China.
One Upon Light is a PC puzzle game featuring a photophobic scientist who is trapped in a world of darkness, where the few remaining sources of light are ironically harmful to him. Players take control of the scientist to manipulate objects within the environment to create shadows that act as refuge from the ever perilous light. As they progress through the levels, players uncover more of the truth behind the protagonist’s foreboding and mysterious predicament. The game is being produced by a team of 7 developers at SUTD Game Lab.
Established in 2007 as part of an initiative between the Media Development Authority of Singapore and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the lab was then known as the Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab, and had a goal to develop and explore new directions for games as a medium. This initiative ended in September last year, and SUTD Game Lab was established in its place to ensure that there would still be a place where innovation in games and quality training of undergraduates can thrive.
One Upon Light receiving the Best Game award at the Independent Games Festival China held in Shanghai in September 2013 served as recognition of the hard work of the newly established lab, while the game itself is currently nearing the end of its production, and is slated for release early next year.
A coincidence in the name increased awareness to the game.
Justin Kang, 29, game designer, mentioned that they were interested in making a game that played with opposites, beyond the simple concepts of black and white, yin and yang. From there, they designed puzzles that made use of the idea of light as a danger and the player having to manipulate the environment to create and use shadows for safety.
The game, made in 3D, simulates the actual behaviour of light and shadows in reality.It is also presented in a stark monochromatic art style to better convey the contrasts of light and darkness. When asked about the narrative of the game, the team preferred not to give away too much of the story at the moment, only revealing that there would be an underlying narrative as to why the world is as such, and the plot is something that the player would gradually uncover over the 21 levels of the game.
Development started at the beginning of this year under the working title Dying Light, but the team was caught off guard when a larger European company announced a zombie-themed first-person shooter which unexpectedly bore the same title, mere hours after the Game Lab had publicly debuted the game in May.
Ironically, this led to the Singaporean team’s trailer seeing an increase in user views, as many gaming fans searching for news on the zombie title stumbled upon the similarly-titled independent game instead. Eventually though, the title of their game had to be changed to One Upon Light.
Ang Yi Xin, 27, game artist, said that the new name is much more meaningful to the team as it served as an allegory for the team’s efforts working on the game coming under the spotlight now. She also mentioned that if the game is received favourably in the market upon release, it could possibly be deployed to other platforms.
Working with Local Institutions
Other than developing the game, SUTD Game Lab also runs an annual Game Innovation Programme to engage local industry partners to work with students from local institutes of higher learning, whereupon tertiary students are invited to apply for the game development internship.
The developers and staff at the SUTD Game Lab, as well as industry partners, act as mentors for the Game Innovation Programme, to provide guidance and advice to the students as they work on their games. This year, the students also helped give valuable playtesting feedback to One Upon Light.
This year’s Game Innovation Programme received a total of 170 applications, from which 32 students were selected to undergo the 14 week game development internship. They were then grouped into 5 teams to work on game prototypes for their clients, who consisted of the Game Lab’s industry partners.
The programme also advocates injecting fun into learning, to combine game innovation with the purpose of education and training. For example, the SpacEcon game prototype aims to facilitate the learning of A-Level Economics concepts via its resource management gameplay. The game was created in collaboration with Pioneer Junior College (PJC), to be used as an Economics teaching resource for 700 PJC students.
Justin Kang shared that, in recent years, Singapore-made independent games have been gaining recognition at various game competitions, and he hopes that this trend will continue and consequently help boost awareness of independent games among Singaporeans.
And why did I say again?