Category Archives: games and science

Fun, Frantic and Free, Camelina Caper Releases Today on iOS and Android Tablets

Take control of Gerald, a fish living in dangerous, jellyfish infested waters, desperately collecting chains of algae to keep the timer running and the score counter ticking, and grab the Camelina flowers for a quick boost. You’ll need speed and precision to achieve high scores, so challenge your friends to see if they’ve got what it takes to beat you!

Camelina Caper Screenshot

Camelina Caper, the latest project from GameTheNews.net, is a light hearted glimpse into the work of Rothamsted Research, produced for the BBSRC Great British Bioscience Festival exhibit Alpha & Omega; making fish oils in GM plants. The exhibit will be first showcased at Cheltenham Science Festival Explore Zone on the 7th-8th of June 2014.

Omega-3 fish oils are beneficial for our health and can help reduce our risk of heart attacks. However, they are a finite and limited resource. Looking into solutions for sustainable sources of omega-3 fish oils, Rothamsted Research scientists have modified Camelina plants to accumulate omega-3 fish oils in their seeds.

Camelina Caper is now available for free on Apple and Android tablets.

Coverage so far…

Camelina Caper Screenshot

Ndemic Creations brings Plague Inc. onto Steam with help from Auroch Digital

Updated! The game is now out on Steam Early Access. There is much more info on the game’s official page. Also see this article on Polygon. The trailer is below:

Twitter and Facebook have been a-buzz with the recent news that the developer of smash hit mobile title Plague Inc will be releasing the much anticipated desktop version, Plague Inc: Evolved very soon. Auroch Digital is proud to announce that we have been working with Ndemic Creations to help make Plague Inc. on desktop a reality. The new version will see the same captivating gameplay with the addition of multiplayer, user-generated content and much more. Plague Inc: Evolved launches to Steam Early Access on the 20th February. The game’s official page can be found at plagueincevolved.com and can be followed on Facebook and Twitter.

Plague Inc: Evolved Announcement Image

Royal Society invites online gamers to vote for their favourite science inspired game

Online gamers and visitors to the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition are today being invited to vote for their favourite science inspired game. Gamers will be able to play and then vote for one of four games developed at a 12 hour Game Jam hosted by the Royal Society in May. The Game Jam saw scientists taking part in this year’s Summer Science Exhibition team up with experienced games development studios to bring the science behind their exhibits to life.
The games can be played online on the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition website or found as free PC downloads via the IndieCity website. They will also be available to play at special games stations throughout the Summer Science Exhibition at the Royal Society.

Players will be encouraged to vote for the game that they think is the most fun, playable and explains the science best. The game with the most votes will receive funding to be developed further – perhaps by adding another level or extra characters or making it available on more devices. Voting closes on Sunday 7th July. The games competing for further funding are:

  • A Pinch of Salt: an ocean set 3D game which sees players pilot an ocean glider and measuring sea salt and trying to cover as much ground as possible in a limited time, developed by Kanko and the University of East Anglia.
  • Cell Invaders: a puzzle-action game exploring the complex life of sugars, developed by Robin Baumgarten, Gorm Lai, Benjamin Donoghue and the University of Manchester.
  • Out Both Ends: a biomedical puzzle game about identifying the source of an outbreak of disease, developed by Opposable Games, Force of Habit and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute.
  • Quantum Revolution: an excitement packed space shooter game based on quantum physics, developed by Bossa Studios and Toshiba Research Europe Ltd.

Professor Peter Sadler FRS, chair of the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition selecting committee, said: “We’re delighted that our first ever Summer Science Exhibition Game Jam was such a success. It was great to see the enthusiasm with which scientists and developers alike approached the gruelling 12 hour Game Jam. The games that they were able to develop in such a short time are absolutely fantastic. The Summer Science Exhibition is all about communicating the wonders of science to the public in new and exciting ways. I’ve certainly had a wonderful time trying out all of the games and I look forward to seeing which game triumphs in the public vote!”

Unity Technologies, a games development software company, has supported the Royal Society in designing and running the Game Jam, through Unity, the flexible and high-performance development platform used to make creative and intelligent interactive 3D and 2D experiences. The Royal Society is partnering with indie game distribution portal, IndieCity, to share the games produced at the jam. The vote’s Twitter hashtag is #RSgamejam

Auroch Digital produced the event and also developed a game for one of the exhibitions, Zombeetle & The Fossil Colour Quest.

 Zombeetle and the Fossil Colour Quest

Zombeetle and the Fossil Colour Quest

Some links to this:

Royal Society invites game developers to bring research to life at Summer Science Exhibition

The Royal Society is looking for experienced games development studios to take part in new initiative that will turn some of the research on show at its annual Summer Science Exhibition into video games. The Royal Society will host a 12 hour game jam on 24th May that will see developers work with the scientists behind exhibits to produce five exciting new games.

Royal Society Game Jam 2013

Royal Society Game Jam 2013

Unity Technologies, a games development software company, will support the Royal Society in creating fun interpretations of the science that will be on show at this year’s Exhibition. Of the 23 exhibits taking part this year, 5 will be selected to take part in the game jam. The Royal Society is partnering with indie game distribution portal, IndieCity, to share the games produced at the jam.

The game jam will take place at the Royal Society in London. Five development teams of up to 4 developers will be partnered with the selected exhibitors for an all-day game jamathon from 10am – 10pm. Each development team will receive £2,000 to further develop their games after the game jam so that they are ready to be played at the Summer Science Exhibition which runs from 1st – 7th July. The games will be available free online and at the exhibition itself so that the public can cast votes for their favourite game. The team that receives the most votes will receive an additional £2,000 to further develop the games once the Exhibition closes.

Professor Peter Sadler, chair of the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition selecting committee, said:

“The Summer Science Exhibition is one of the highlights of the Royal Society’s year. It provides a unique opportunity for members of the public to interact with scientists and ask them questions about their work. We’re very excited to be introducing a new element to the Exhibition this year in the form of the Games Jam. An increasing number of exhibitors have used games as a way of communicating their science over the last few years and we’re hoping that by giving some of them an opportunity to be part of the Games Jam it will bring state-of-the-art creativity and innovation to their video games and some fantastic news ways of bringing their cutting-edge research to life for our visitors. I’m really looking forward to playing with what’s created on the day!”

The Royal Society invites the UK’s talented games development sector to join it in communicating the fun and fascination of science. Interested developers can find out more about the competition and how to apply from the Royal Society’s website at bit.ly/RSgamejam .The event’s Twitter hashtag is #RSgamejam

This project is being produced for the Royal Society by Auroch Digital (aurochdigital.com) in conjunction with Unity 3D and IndieCity.   The accompanying image for the event can be found here.

Links to articles:

First Syria, now Climate Change: Controversial Game Developers Explore Global Warming in New Game

BRISTOL, UK JANUARY 18th, 2013: Having made waves worldwide by covering the brutal Syrian civil war in the form of a game, the developers behind Endgame:Syria have released their latest ‘news game’ and this time the subject is not war, but carbon.  Titled ‘Climate Defense‘ the free game released today for Android devices, offers the player the chance to stop CO2 emissions from reaching the atmosphere by capturing it in nature’s carbon sinks, trees.  However there is a twist – before the game begins the player is offered a choice, if they want to play the game for fun or as a more realistic simulation – a choice that will lead to a very different gameplay experience.  The games designer, Tomas Rawlings, explained more; “Normally with a video game, the developers will have made huge concessions to ensure the game is fun so with a shooting game you may be able to be shot and recover many times over which is not realistic, but does make the game fun. In Climate Defense, that distinction is apparent so you can have fun playing the game or you can choose a more realistic experience and see how our continued emissions will impact our world.”  The game is free to download from the Google Play store or from the GameTheNews website.

The creators of both games, GameTheNews, became a global talking point over their release of a game covering an ongoing war, have clearly decided that making games about difficult and controversial topics is not something they are willing to shy away from.  There is no sign of them turning to the more traditional topics of gaming such as zombies or aliens and they are currently developing a game about the ‘War on Drugs’.

Screenshot from ‘Climate Defense’ Click to Download from Google Play.

Winning Wellcome Trust ExPlay Game Jam Entries now Online to Enjoy!

A busy audience assembled at the ExPlay event in Bath on the 2nd of November to hear the winning games announced from the eight short-listed titles. After much anticipation Professor Bruce Hood awarded the winning teams their prizes:

First Prize: HIVe (Java download, video)

In HIVe the deception moves to a molecular level, where one player is a HIV infected cell disguised as a normal cell, seeking to infect other cells. The second player is an antiretroviral seeking to find and destroy the infection. The developers write, “The objective of the HIV player is to infect as many cells as possible before being caught by the antiretroviral drug player. We felt that the lifecycle of a virus is a constant battle of deception with the body and our game tries to capture this whilst at heart still being a game and being fun. We felt using HIV as the virus was important for its relation to scientific research and global social issues.”

HIVe screenshot (Wellcome Trust ExPlay Game Jam 2012)

Second Prize: Qualit-eye Control (iPad, video)

Based around the structure of the human eye and using the inspiration of the Thatcher Illusion, where it becomes hard to detect changes in an upside-down face. In this puzzle game, the player must select if a given object is really the same as its mirrored counterpart. The developers wrote of their game; “Given the theme of deception in science, we began thinking about how the human eye is an astoundingly amazing tool – yet deceptive. The human brain has to process a lot of data continually, so will occasionally make assumptions and take shortcuts, meaning we occasionally interpret false images in line with our expectations… So we developed Qualiteye Control, a game that puts the player in the position of a miniature scientist acting as a controller between the eyeball and the brain of Prototype X1.”

QualiteyeControl screenshot (Wellcome Trust ExPlay Game Jam 2012)

Wildcard Prize: InCogNeto (Android download)

A two-player game in which each player must connect cogs to a top wheel and at each turn select it to mask their actions or advance their plans. The developer wrote of their game, “…inspired by the idea of subterfuge, how we deceive ourselves and create false realities when we don’t have all the information… Strategy and tactics play an important role as you read your opponent’s body language, listen for audible clues (i.e. the rack moving) and use spatial memory to spot changes in the playspace. While your body is performing quality control of a widgetoid factory – you must decide what widgetoids are correct, and which ones are being falsely interpreted and need to be rejected quickly.”

InCogNeto screenshot (Wellcome Trust ExPlay Game Jam 2012)

The judging was based around the balance of the gameplay and the science so the judges looked for great games that integrated the science into the gameplay.

The judging was based around the balance of the gameplay and the science so the judges, Professor Hood, Dr John Williams, Head of Neuroscience and Mental Health at the Wellcome Trust and Dan Efergan, Creative Director at Aardman Digital, looked for great games that integrated the science into the gameplay. The games needed to be fun to play; they were not looking to develop a ‘worthy’ game, it needed to be fun in its own right. The aim was to make the combination of the science and the gameplay engage the player; those that did scored well.

The games were created on the 5th and 6th of October during the Wellcome Trust ExPlay Game Jam. The event, held over two locations, the Science Museum in London and the Pervasive Media Studio in Bristol, saw over 100 developers create 22 entries around the theme of Deception. Where possible, the games from the event are available online at: explay.co.uk/gamesjam and are free to play.

Links to this story:

ExPlay 2012: What can games offer science and society?

There is a write-up on Edge of the recent ExPlay session that Auroch Digital’s Tomas Rawlings chaired:

It’s encouraging to hear from developers engaged with areas such as science and education who are so passionate about ‘traditional’ gaming values. The idea of closely aligning education with game goals – needing to know that copper conducts electricity in order to solve a puzzle, for example – is a simple, but powerful one.

The Games/Science/Society Panel at ExPlay (image by ExPlay UK)

Auroch Digital wants to say a huge thanks to the ExPlay people for making us feel so welcome and putting on such a great event!

The talk above happened the day before the games from the Wellcome Trust ExPlay games jam’s shortlisted game’s were showcased.