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      SAGA 2023: the nominated games

      Published 23 October 2023

      At this year's Sweden Game Conference 25-26 October, the Skövde Academic Game Award, SAGA, is awarded for the eleventh time. SAGA is Skövde municipality's prize for new gamedev talents at the University of Skövde. Three games, created by students at the University of Skövde, are nominated and have a chance to win SEK 20,000. We have spoken to the students behind Boulogner, On Thin Ice and ScanIt.

      Boulogner

      In the game Boulogner, you wake up one morning and discover that an inexplicable disaster has isolated Boulognerskogen (large park in central Skövde) from the outside world. It is up to you to solve the mystery and find a way out of the park which at night turns into a death trap. The game is a first-person survival horror game where a focus on exploration, resource management and tense combat leads to a mysterious, terrifying and atmospheric fight for survival.

      The game was created during the course Game Project 3 in the spring of 2023.

      “But we had made a prototype and experimented with mechanics and ideas even before that. After the course, we continued working on Boulogner as we felt that the game had great potential, and because it was so much fun.”

      The students behind the game call their team Mind Games.

      “Boulogner, and other games we one day want to create, are largely about putting pressure on and messing with the player. The phrase "mind games" means to trick, play with, or manipulate someone. We thought it was a fitting pun.”

      How does it feel to be nominated for SAGA?
      “It feels great! Being nominated is like an endorsement of the idea, like we're not the only ones who see what's interesting about the game.”

      What would it mean to you if you won?
      “If we won, it would be another recognition, and would also have been a great motivation for us in our continued work. But regardless of whether we win or not, it just feels great to be there and show off the game!”

      What's going on with Boulogner right now?
      “We continue to work on the game, and our plan is that one day it will be released commercially. Right now it is not available to download, but it will be available to play at the Sweden Game Conference, and it could certainly be appropriate to release, for example, a demo in the future.”

      See trailer for Boulogner on Youtube

      On Thin Ice

      On Thin Ice is a co-op party game with an exciting story. Players take on the roles of two penguins who work in a hotel floating around on an ice floe. Everything happens under supervision of the morally questionable hotel manager – the walrus Mr. Morrison. The hotel is visited by rowdy hotel guests in the form of polar bears. As usual, the polar bears are both thirsty and tired, so it's up to the penguins to serve beer and wine and arrange places to sleep so that everything doesn't get out of hand. The game is based on good cooperation in a stressful environment.

      “We like couch co-op games ourselves, so there was no doubt about what we wanted to do.”

      The game was created in the spring of 2022, during the course Game Project 2. The project group, which is called Rockhopper Games, consisted of eleven students studying various disciplines within game development.

      “The group was put together for the course and for many of us it was the first time we met. It must be remembered that this was in the final stages of the pandemic. The pandemic ended and the restrictions were lifted during the course. Then we got to see each other for the first time without face masks.”

      Where does the name Rockhopper Games come from?
      “The main characters of the game are two penguins and for the first play test the only graphic elements were the two penguins. Remaining game content were cubes and other primitive elements. The game was liked by the testers and was immediately nicknamed the "Penguin Game". When we thought about a name for the group, we wanted to connect to that identity. Benjamin, who was the group's musician, suggested the name Rockhopper to the group, who thought it sounded good but was a little questioning at the same time. When Benjamin filled in that rockhopper is a species of penguin, the question mark was changed to an exclamation mark and the name was unanimously adopted by the group.”

      How does it feel to be nominated for SAGA?
      “It's great fun to be nominated for SAGA! Considering all the good games we've seen develop at the University, a nomination like this is extra fun for us. This is something that we will take with us in our future careers.”

      “Should we win, it shows that there is potential for the game. At the same time, it means that there is an incentive to continue its development.”

      What's happening with On Thin Ice right now?
      After the course, the development continued with a slightly lower intensity. Among other things, we exhibited the game during a game expo during Skövde City Week in the summer of 2022. After the fair, our studies continued with other courses and therefore the development of the game was halted. We've made the game available as a free demo on itch.io so anyone can play the game today. A SAGA win could give the group a new lease of life. Among other things, there are already plans to expand with more levels that take place in different parts of the world with associated graphic themes.

      Watch trailer for On Thin Ice on Youtube
      Download the game on Rockhopper Games itch.io page

      ScanIt

      In ScanIt, you play as a cashier at the local grocery store, Beastsy. The game simulates a normal day in a grocery store, with the exception that the customers are animals! Other than that, there are no big differences – the manager complains, the customers are annoying, and there is always the risk that something could go wrong. As a cashier, it is your responsibility to ensure that all customers are satisfied and get the right goods home. The business has a calm and pleasant atmosphere at the beginning of the week. The customers thank you and are happy if you do a good job, but if it goes wrong, the boss will call and lower your salary. If you keep disappointing customers, they start to think you're doing a bad job and you get fired.

      ScanIt mainly consists of three different game mechanics; to scan, to weigh and to discard. Just like in real life, some items are scanned, while others must be weighed before being registered at the checkout. Sometimes, the customers manage to put some strange goods on the conveyor belt, which you (for both moral and health reasons!) have to remove.

      ScanIt was created by Mudcake Studios during the Game Project 2 course at the beginning of 2023.

      Where does the name Mudcake Studios come from?
      “The name symbolises how a bunch of randomly assembled game developers, with unique idiosyncrasies and talents, came together to create a slightly unexpected but equally fun and quirky game. In the same way that a real mudcake, despite its somewhat bland ingredients and unappetising name, is actually a tasty chocolate cake, Mudcake Studios, despite the haphazard way we were created, became a perfect, proud team of game developers.”

      How does it feel to be nominated for SAGA?
      Unreal! No one at Mudcake Studios had much expectation that the game would be nominated when we submitted it. We were all very surprised, but very happy. We are proud of what we have created together.”

      What would it mean to you if you won?
      “It would mean so much! It would be a confirmation that the hard work we put into the development of the game paid off. Being nominated has already given us enormous motivation to continue working in game development, and we look forward to new opportunities that open up.

      ScanIt is not further developed at the moment, as many members of Mudcake Studios are still studying at the University of Skövde.

      “The majority would like to continue with our previous work and work together, so nothing is impossible!”

      Watch trailer for ScanIt on YouTube

      Download ScanIt from itch.io

      Published: 10/23/2023
      Edited: 10/23/2023
      Responsible: webmaster@his.se