Minilab Meets: Games Design at the NFTS!
Earlier this week, we took the short journey out of the city to Beaconsfield, where we walked through the quiet country town to find the eye-catching array of buildings making up the National Film and Television School. After a quick tour of the quietly buzzing games department, we arrived in the cinema where our apps took centre stage (or centre screen, that is)…
Firstly, our Creative Director gave a talk to the students of the MA course in Games Design and Development. This interdisciplinary course brought together students from diverse backgrounds, from fine art to pixel art. We were excited to share our story, ethos and process with such an interesting and engaged group. They spent as long picking our brains in the Q & A session as we did on the presentation!
James’ lecture went over the beginning of Minilab, as a Research and Development project within Nobrow and Flying Eye Books. It all started from some Astro Cat GIFs that made the team wonder what the Prof’s books would look like in a digital format. Taking note of the negative connotations of ‘screen time’ for parents, we embarked on a journey to ‘make screen time matter’, turning “wasted” time into useful, creative time instead. Growing from the initial team of 3 to 7 in a year, Minilab Studios developed relationships with the app stores and various press contacts, and Astro Cat really took off…
We covered company structure (CEO, COO, Creative Director, Technical Artist, Developers and Marketing (yours truly!)), and our average timeline (from 6 months for Astro Cat, to 2 months for TotemUp). It was all the advice we could pack into an hour’s talk! Our key message? Experiment: always make sure that each project contains one major experiment, and is informed by at least one previous result. The students asked questions covering research, play testing, marketing to kids and parents, and much more.
Finally, we followed the students back to their studios. We spent 15 minutes with each second year student to hear about their projects and offer advice. We loved the range of disciplines and ideas amongst these 8 creators, from realism to steampunk to kitsch. Students draw on the talents of students from other courses, including screenwriting, sound design, and production design. The end result? Presenting a level, episode, or the entire game at EGX in September. No pressure!
We’d like to say a huge thanks to the NFTS for hosting Minilab Studios, to Alan Thorn and Tony Evans (@TonyEvs) for organising and overseeing the event, and to all of the students. We hope to see some exciting games from them in the future!
Check out the latest news from the Games course at the NFTS on their website, and Twitter @NFTS_Games.