— 30 April 2021 | Ubisoft Education
Quebec Proudly Represented at the 11th Ubisoft’s Game Lab Competition
On April 29th, the final of Ubisoft’s Game Lab Competition took place. The goal of this event is to mobilize university students across Quebec to develop, in 10 weeks, playable video game prototypes that respect to the theme, mandate and constraints provided by a jury composed of professionals from Ubisoft Montreal, Quebec and Saguenay. At the end of the competition, the jury awards the work of the teams in different categories and $22,000 is given to the winners in the form of scholarships. We spoke with Daniel Lucchesi, jury member and presentation director at Ubisoft Quebec, and Mathieu Bédard, member of the Université Laval team, to learn more about their experience.
CAN YOU EXPLAIN TO US, IN YOUR OWN WORDS, WHAT IS UBISOFT’S GAME LAB COMPETITION?
Daniel Lucchesi : The Ubisoft’s Game Lab Competition is a concentrated Bootcamp where participants work around a specific theme; “Separate/Together” for this year. The participating teams have to create a game, or rather a prototype in just a few weeks. Personally, this is my second year on the jury and I must tell you that I am impressed. All the games, without exception, had something cool about them. It’s very surprising, even for someone who has been in the business for 14 years, to see teams that have all the skills needed to make a game: art, sound effects, audio, programming. You see complete prototypes; it’s exceptional.
Mathieu Bédard : The Ubisoft’s Game Lab Competition is a golden opportunity to do something creative and new with diverse talents. In a normal creative process, you have to look for specialists from all fields everywhere and this is not an easy task. It is the opposite in the context of the Ubisoft’s Game Lab Competition. We are in the perfect situation to create something complete and original. It’s the opposite of a school project (laughs). Plus, having access to Ubisoft mentors allows us to push our vision further. They listen to us and take the time to help us.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR EXPERIENCE?
DL : We had a pretty clear role as a jury member: to play prototypes in teams. All the games this year had to be multiplayer games with a communication system. This constraint alone added a lot of fun and interactivity to the prototypes. There are many games that we wanted to continue after the trial period (laughs).
MB : Personally, I loved my experience. It was the first time I participated in a game jam and if I have the chance to do it again, I will definitely register. I want to thank Ubisoft for holding the event even in the current situation. You learn so much during the whole process. Having the mentors involved really helps you push yourself and improve. I suggest everyone, even if they don’t have much experience, to give it a try.
WHAT MOTIVATED YOU TO PARTICIPATE IN THE UBISOFT’S GAME LAB COMPETITION?
DL : I remember when I was a student, it really made an impression on me how intimidating and closed the field of video games was. Today, it’s with events like the Ubisoft’s Game Lab Competition, portfolio nights and conferences in schools that we can work to “open up” the field and make a career in the field more accessible. Once you’re in it, you realize that it’s much less intimidating and more fun than you might think. That’s why it’s important for me to be able to help and guide young people who are interested in making a career in this field.
MB : Basically, I love creating and making games. I am part of the video game development club at Université Laval. In fact, it was a member of the club and a former participant in the contest who first told me about it. As soon as I heard about the event, I immediately applied.
THE DESIGN OF A GAME DOES NOT COME WITHOUT ITS FAIR SHARE OF PROBLEMS, WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES THAT THE TEAMS HAVE ENCOUNTERED?
DL : One of the biggest challenges, whether in a bootcamp or even in a studio, is to filter and streamline our ideas. You don’t want to go too big. It’s much more rewarding to focus on a gameplay loop that works and improve it afterwards. That said, the teams have been very good this year. For all the projects, it was easy to understand the controls, the purpose, and to see the theme that were imposed.
MB : The constraint of an online multiplayer game caused many problems. We had so many bugs that we wondered if our project was too ambitious to be realized in the contest. For example, we initially had 3 different levels, but we limited ourselves to only 2. Not only do we have to create a whole game, but we always have to keep in mind the “connected” aspect.
DID YOU HAVE ANY FAVORITES OUR OF ALL THE PROTOTYPES YOU TRIED?
DL : I had several! For example, “Chroma”, a game where you had to separate and combine bugs of different colors. The handling and the controls, what we call the gamefeel, were pleasant and precise. It’s often details like this that, when properly calibrated, greatly enhance your gaming experience. Add to that a good art direction and the project has everything to succeed!
MB : I must admit that while playing the other games, I had a lot of favorites. We helped each other a lot and gave each other a lot of feedback. Sure, we’re still in competition, but we all benefit from sharing our feedback and expertise. Rusted Minds, Hellivery and Magnetrip are just a few examples of games that have made an impression on me.
FINALLY, WHAT DO YOU THINK OF CRISIS AT R.W.P. INC., THE UNIVERSITÉ LAVAL’S GAME?
DL : In my mind, it was clear that this was the game that used the theme the best. Crisis at R.W.P. Inc. managed to integrate it into the game mechanics, but also into the narrative. They are one of the few teams that took the time to really set up a story in their prototype. Without being too difficult, their game allows us to collaborate and interact effectively despite the distance installed in the game. It’s a fun and creative game, combined with well-crafted puzzles; a winning recipe.
MB : I really like what we’ve managed to produce. I think we’ve done something original and unique. We’ve managed to create a game experience that no one has done before. I’m a little disappointed that we had to cut our third level, but it’s for the best.
You can try Crisis at R.W.P Inc. right here.
Mathieu was working with Simon, Gabriel, Claire, Louis-Philippe, Adrien, Samuel and Alexis.