Character Selection Screen from – Don’t Stop the Party
Gameplay from award-winning student game – Don’t Stop the Party
The student team from ‘Don’t Stop the Party’ seen hamming it up with their student voice-over actors and music composer.
Cellar Vault Games and their two founding members – former students from UOW Malaysia KDU’s Bachelor of Game Development Program – Benny Chan Beng Lee and Eshan Jayatilaka
By UOW Malaysia KDU
Early in the month of October 2020, it was announced that students within UOW Malaysia KDU’s Bachelor of Game Development program were amongst the Top-40 Finalist of the prestigious SouthEast Asian Games Awards. The SEA Games Awards, part of the LevelUP KL conference, are Southeast Asia’s premier industry event for game developers. This regional event organized by the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) will was conducted virtually and attracted gamers, developers, distributors, and visitors from across 30 countries. The awards were aimed at recognizing and celebrating the creativity, artistry and technical genius of the finest developers and games from around the region in addition to upholding creative and technical excellence in the Southeast Asian video game industry.
Last week, after more than month of waiting, the winners were announced. The event was a showcase of talent from across the Southeast Asian (SEA) region. The winners for this year’s SEA Game Awards were incredibly diverse, representing Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines. They included prestigious studios such as Streamline Studios, an international studio based in Kuala Lumpur as well as smaller independent studios such as Dream Tree Studios from Malaysia, Fairplay Studios from Thailand and Mojiken Studio from Indonesia. ‘Don’t Stop the Party’ a student project by One of UOW Malaysia KDU managed to clinch the Best Student Game award in Southeast Asia and as icing on the cake, managed to walk away with the Audience Choice Award as well. The Audience Choice Awards is a significant achievement as the student project was not only pitted against other student projects from across the region but also industry developed games as well.
The ‘Don’t Stop the Party’ game was created by a group consisting of seven final year game development students and is an aesthetically pleasing, four-player beat-em-up that calls back to the 3D arena brawlers from the late 90s and early 2000s. This student game also managed to clinch a silver medal at the Sintok International Games & Gamification Challenge (SIGGC), a video games and gamification competition organised and hosted by the Innovation and Commercialization Centre, Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM). What a fairy tale ending for this group of amazing students. According to Project Leader, Sophie Azlan, “Our seniors in the UOW Malaysia KDU Game Development Program really inspired us, and we vowed to make it to the SEA Game Awards just like they did in previous years. The game was always meant to be ambitious, but we made the goals clear as soon as we could; made a great game, made something that would pass the class, and make people take notice of what we can do.”
However, the amazing story does not end there. Not only did a group of current students get a double win at the SEA Games Awards but an amazing treble was won by Cellar Vault Games, a small Indie game development studio set up by Benny Chan Beng Lee and Eshan Jayatilaka, both alumnus (Class of 2015) of UOW Malaysia KDU’s Bachelor of Game Development (Hons) program. Their game, 7PM which is the first formal instalment of an anthology horror series managed to get a hat-trick at the SEA Game Awards as well. This group of enterprising and talented game developers managed to clinch the Best in Game Design, the Best in Visual Art and the coveted Grand Jury Award. This award-winning game employs a unique papercraft art style, reminiscent of Paper Mario’s art style, though it leans more towards a rustic and gritty aesthetic befitting its horror storyline. According to Eshan Jayatilaka “Cellar Vault Games is a really young studio, and we’re still figuring things out. But no matter how hard it gets, being able to create an experience from scratch and having someone else experience the game is the closest thing to a childhood fantasy come true.” Benny added, “One of biggest challenges in starting your own games company is that everything is dependent on you and your resourcefulness. From being a student and now starting my own company, I had to quickly learn many things to help me to face these challenges head on. But for me, my foundation has always been my fallback and that was learnt from the game design lecturers at UOW Malaysia KDU, who ingrained those teachings and values in me.”
UOW Malaysia KDU is considered to have the premier game development reputation in the Region and has the largest specialised game development bachelor degree program in Malaysia. It is also the first university level outside North America and Europe to be an Unreal Academic Partner. The Unreal Engine is a game engine developed by Epic Games and is considered as one of the world’s leading game engines. EPIC Games is one of North America’s major game studios responsible for award-winning titles such as Unreal Tournament, Gears of War and the hugely popular Fortnite.
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