Nix (Category: Creative / Artistic)

Name of Submitter(s): Jackson Rolls-Gray, Sebastian Filby, Faye Allen
Name of Team: Gothulus Rift
Organisation: University of South Wales (Former students)

Nix is an award winning virtual reality game made for the Oculus Rift wherein players explore a warped underwater environment with Beckford's Fonthill Abbey as the centerpiece.
Nix was created as a response to a brief provided by Gamecity as part of their Off the Map competition in collaboration with Crytek and The British Library. The competition challenged students to use the materials featured in the British Library’s upcoming Gothic exhibition as inspiration for a game made using Crytek’s Cryengine.

URL for Entry: http://nixgamedevblog.blogspot.co.uk/

Email: rollsgrayj@gmail.com

Twitter: @Jackseno_

Job Title: All three of us have shared the following job titles: Designer, Programmer, 3D Artist, Level designer. Person specific job roles include: Jackson: Sound design, Playtest lead, Particle creation Seb: Particle creation, Rift implementation Faye: Rift implementation

Background of Submitter:

Our team is comprised of three (now) graduates from the University of South Wales. We have a passion for games design & development.
Jackson - Portfolio link: http://jacksenoportfolio.tumblr.com/
Current Project: Tempest - Open world exploration game
Seb - Portfolio link: http://firazenics.tumblr.com/
Current Project: Tempest - Open world exploration game
Faye - Portfolio link: http://fayeallen.tumblr.com/
Current Project: Comet's Tale - Third Person Puzzle Game
Nix was featured in a variety of online publications. Such as the following:
http://uswgames.com/tag/fonthill-abbey/
http://www.digitalspy.com/gaming/news/a607024/virtual-reality-title-wins-british-librarys-off-the-map-competition.html
http://artdaily.com/news/74077/Lost-Gothic-treasure-Fonthill-Abbey-is-resurrected-using-cutting-edge-video-gaming-technology
http://vrfocus.com/archives/8235/vr-puzzle-title-nix-wins-map-2014-award-cryengine-3/

Problem / Challenge Space:

As part of the Off the Map competition in collaboration with Crytek, Gamecity challenged game designers across the UK to create games using research materials provided by the British Library.
The material provided by the British Library was intended as a starting point to inspire contestants to create games that would match the theme of the then upcoming exhibition about Gothic history.

Approach / Methodology:

For Nix, we used the Cryengine development kit provided by Crytek, as well as a range of other games development related programs such as Adobe Photoshop and 3DS Max/Maya. Extensive work was put in to getting the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset to work with Cryengine, as no native support was available at the time.
Being new to VR development we also undertook extensive research in to how to mitigate motion sickness - resulting in our design decision to set the game underwater.

Extent of showcasing BL Digital Content:

Nix made extensive use of British Library resources, utilising detailed sketches and maps of Fonthill Abbey including the surrounding countryside. Plans of the Abbey including a book providing in depth descriptions of its' interior spaces also assisted us in the development of the project.
The British Library also provided an archive of sounds to us to help our development process, some of which we were able to modify and use.
All of these resources were either provided to us digitally via staff managing the Off the Map contest, or in-person when we visited the Library to see the original copies of the various sketches and maps made for Fonthill Abbey

Impact of Project:

During development we were able to take Nix to a variety of different venues to showcase our work.
We took an early build to the Gamecity 9 Launch event in June - the event announced the dates for the annual Gamecity festival and also allowed us to test our build by letting those present an opportunity to play Nix.
We also took Nix to the Welsh Games Development show, a large expo designed to give games developers based in Wales a chance to show their work.
We were also present at Gamecity 9 itself, with a stand allowing members of the public to play Nix in Britain's first ever National Videogames Arcade. There was also the Off the Map competition awards ceremony itself that took place during Gamecity, where the audience were given a presentation detailing the British Library's contributions to the competition and its contestants.
Nix has since been available to download online from our website and IndieDb.com

Issues / Challenges faced during project(s):

Learning how to develop for virtual reality platforms was a big challenge for us. Luckily we were able to learn a lot from our extensive research that allowed us to take steps to mitigate VR sickness as well as playtest in order to gather feedback which we could use to iterate and improve our game.
Cryengine itself also proved challenging to work with both from a usability standpoint and a support standpoint. We encountered many problems during development - a lot of which revolved around trying to get the Oculus Rift headset working with the engine.