The story of Imagine Cup 2014 through the eyes of Brainy Studio
Last year, a wonderful team of student programmers from Perm Briany Studio went to the final of the Imagine Cup competitions at Microsoft headquarters in Seattle and brought Russia a victory in the “games” category. Now, when the main stage of the competition in Russia is just beginning, the guys decided to share their impressions of the trip in order to inspire other teams to participate in the competition and win. We are pleased to publish the impressions of the guys on our blog.
Hello! In the summer of 2014, our Brainy Studio team ended up in the finals of the Imagine Cup international competition , where we represented Russia in the Games category with our TurnOn project . We managed to take first place, win the main prize of $ 50,000, and also receive 20,000 euros for the development of our startup in the additional contest AppCampus Award .
If it’s interesting, go under the habrakat, there are many more beautiful videos there!
Many publications have written about us from Komsomolskaya Pravda to Look At Me . Even a special page “Brainy Studio: Instructions for a Dream” appeared on the Imagine Cup website . And that was great! However, we would like to write our own story and share with you the full material, how all this was with our eyes, how these 10 unforgettable days passed in Seattle (USA) in the homeland of Microsoft.
We hope that this article will be useful to all those who participate or plan to participate in the Imagine Cup. We also hope that this material can inspire those who did not succeed the first time - we won the Imagine Cup the second time, and the AppCampus Award the third.
As mentioned above, for us it was the second attempt to participate in the Imagine Cup - the first participation was in 2013: in April we reached the Russian final, where we took 2nd place. After that, it took us another half a year to finally release our first WitchCraft game , which was made absolutely free and without ads on the Windows Phone platform.
After the first release for 3 months, we were developing a sequel to WitchCraft 2- on the new Unity 3D engine for us. But soon came the realization of tiredness from the setting and the understanding that we are not ready for a quick transition from 2D to full 3D with a small team. And by the end of 2013, they decided to temporarily freeze the project.
After the New Year holidays in 2014, our artist Ilya at one of the meetings shared the idea for the next project: “It should be an atmospheric game about a small electric spark that lights the light in the city.” Having discussed the main points, we agreed with the concept and began to develop the idea further.
The first tasks turned out to be the design document and assembly of the prototype of the game. Two weeks later, they learned about the start of the Games Jam Kanobu contest, and this contest turned out to be an excellent test for the vitality of the game.
At that time there was not even confidence that we would be able to collect at least a small prototype of the game by the end of the competition. But over a month of development, we worked out the design document in detail and rolled out a working demo version of the game with two levels. As a result, we got an excellent feedback and comments on the project - most appreciated the concept, atmosphere and the proposed gameplay. This gave an additional boost of motivation and a desire to continue to do the project.
Moreover, in the “Realization” nomination, we unexpectedly took 3rd place and received a free Unity Pro license, tickets for participating in the DevGamm conference and 30,000 rubles, for which we subsequently went to this exhibition to show off our project.
Naturally, in February 2014 we decided to try applying for the Imagine Cup contest with TurnOn a second time and began to work hard on the game, so that over time it became more than just a prototype with two levels. Time passed, the game grew, we added new content, checked the gameplay, tested and processed it.
The regional final of the Imagine Cup in Perm was very easy for us. We showed a good level of preparedness for the project, and already in April we were at the Russian final of the competition, where we also won first place. Video about how the Russian finals went :
Based on the results , 3 projects of the winner in each nomination were selected : “Games”, “Innovations” and “Social Projects” . For a month it was necessary to take into account the comments, revise the project and all materials in English, and also record a 10-minute video presentation in full in English with one take. Then they had to choose only one team that will represent the country at the international final. And on June 6, 2014 , a letter came that out of the three teams they chose us and after 2 months we will go to the international final of the Imagine Cup in the USA.
Two months of preparation flew by very quickly and during this time we managed a lot:
- Finalize the project, add several new levels and implement understandable training
- Adapt levels and implement virtual reality support not only for Oculus Rift glasses, but also on mobile devices running Windows Phone
- Post a full demo version for public access
- Prepare for the exhibition of projects, make handouts and prepare versions of the game for different devices
- And most importantly, to work out and rehearse the presentation in English until automatic
And so on July 24, 2014, our journey to America began:
We were very lucky when, at the stage of booking plane tickets, we asked Microsoft to fly to the USA 5 days before the competition, so that we had time to acclimatize and have time to see the city and sights outside the framework of the main and very rich Imagine Cup program.
The only thing was to find a hostel on your own, where to live and choose how to spend this free time. This issue was resolved in advance: while the whole team was finalizing the game and preparing for the presentation, our mentor Anton spent a little time to plan the trip and we knew in advance where we wanted to go and what to see.
The next day, from so many walking tours of Seattle, everyone had pain in their legs, but it was impossible to give up, because On the third day, it was planned to visit the famous Museum of Flight - the Museum of Aviation, located in the territory where the famous Boing planes are assembled.
On the fourth day of the trip, a meeting was planned with our friend Michelle Fleming , who until recently had been managing the Microsoft partner student program - back in June, she promised to take us on Facebook for an unusual tour of the underground city.
And after the tour, we planned to go to the Bellevue area to find Valve's headquarters , try to get there on a tour and maybe buy souvenirs that were left from The International 4 last week .
Every day we were attracted by the famous Mount Rainier , which was visible from all areas of the city. And the last free day was devoted to a trip to the national park at the foot of this mountain.
A trip to Mount Rainier was a great emotional boost for the whole team to switch and be fully prepared for the most important event of this year. After all, tomorrow began why we came to the USA - the Imagine Cup .
The sixth and seventh days were so eventful that we physically did not have the strength to film everything that was happening - after all, the most important thing at that time was the preparation for the presentation.
Teams are given 35 minutes for the presentation, of which the first 5 minutes are preparation outside the audience, where all the rules of performance are repeated, then 10 minutes are the preparation of equipment, connecting laptops and necessary devices, the next 10 minutes and not a second longer is the presentation itself, and the last minutes are questions and answers to them.
Despite all the difficulties, during the main demonstration, everything went perfectly. Ilya came out at the right time, shocking everyone a little with his unexpected appearance and his appearance (white coat and glasses). The interaction on the stage between the cartoon character and the real person, and then his embodiment in the form of Ilya on the stage, was received with a bang. Our performance was a little delayed and exceeded the allotted time, but at the very end of the presentation there was a very epic video, so no one could interrupt us.
We made the presentation at Prezi and can be found here .
The next day we had to go to the Microsoft campusand show the game all day at the exhibition, including the judges, so that they have the opportunity to play and evaluate the gameplay. That day the winners of additional nominations were to be announced, which was a complete surprise for us ...
The evening dinner at Space Niddle was a wonderful end to the day when we realized that we did everything in our power and now we just had to wait for the results and enjoy the trip.
The World Championship Award Ceremony was the most vivid impression of the entire Imagine Cup - the full version can be viewed here .
For all participants of the Imagine Cup on the final day, a large exhibition of projects was organized at the Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI), where it was possible to show their projects to ordinary visitors. But as it turned out at the end of this day, another big surprise awaited us ...
After arriving in Russia, we had to prepare for the PAX Prime 2014 exhibition , where TurnOn was to be shown exactly a month later, all in Seattle, and a month later, two people from the team visited the AppCampus educational program to promote mobile applications at Aalto University ( Finland, Helsinki). But this is a completely different story, which we can write about in our blog .
Half a year has already passed, work on TurnOn does not stop, the project is not being developed as fast as we would like, but for a team of developers of 4 people this is a good pace. TurnOn recently released early access on the Windows Phone platform .
I hope this article was interesting and useful.