#UnityGameJam Winners: Up Close and Personal

And when all the commotion cleared, one team emerged victorious : Yoyi Halago, Dyle Ouano and Ishie Socro are the 1st place champs at the recently held “Unity Game Jam: Benilde”, the first ever live Unity Game Jam in the Philippines. The three talented DLS-CSB students made up the winning team “Team BL-ED”.

Held last October 11 to 13, the Game Jam was organized by the Smart Developer Network (DevNet),  in partnership with De La Salle – College of Saint Benilde (DLS-CSB), a pioneer in game development education, and Unity Technologies, the developers of Unity 3D, a popular 3D engine for game developers.

A grand total of sixteen teams of up and coming game developers slugged it out in a grueling 48-hour hackathon to come up with the best game app for computer and mobile devices.

In the end, it was the BL-ED team, composed of sophomore students from DLS-CSB, who bagged the grand prize for creating a game they called “Silhouettes”.

“Silhouettes is a 2D on-rails side-scrolling game where the player is immersed in a dark and mysterious world full of unknown obstacles,” explained Dale Quano. ”The goal is to avoid these obstacles and to collect the light orbs which keep the player’s light alive. The game requires the player to rely on his instincts a lot.”

“All you need are your senses and the desire to survive in a mysterious environment. Our team wanted to create a simple yet addictive and effective game,” added Yoyi Halago.

You can play a web-based version of “Silhouettes” here. 

The members of team BL-ED each took home a Samsung Galaxy S3 from Smart DevNet and a 6-month Unity Pro software license from Unity Technologies. Five teams tied for second place; each team received a Samsung Galaxy Mini and a 4-month license for Unity Pro. The complete list of winners are listed here.

For two nights and two days (total event time: 48 hours), the competing teams were hunkered down in a computer lab inside DLS-CSB where they ate, slept and worked to beat the 48-hour deadline. Mentors from Smart DevNet, Unity, CSB and local gaming companies assisted and advised the participants throughout the hackathon.

Jim Ayson of SMART DevNet was upbeat about the after effects of “Unity Game Jam: Benilde” on the game development scene in the Philippines.

“Pinoy developers are very creative and risk takers. Representatives from the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) and Game Developers Association of the Philippines (GDAP) – reps of both groups spoke at the event – say that Filipino developers are already world-class. Our local devs have the raw talent which can be shaped and honed to compete against foreign game developers.”

“Through events like the Unity Game Jam, we’re doing our bit to help out the local game dev scene.”

The 48-hour hackathon gave participants hardcore game development experience. It also provided lessons in self-confidence, camaraderie and people skills.

“I had fun because I got to work with my friends as well as discover things from various aspects of life,” noted Yoyi Halago of Team BL-ED. “All of us really had fun sharing our ideas as well as playing each other’s games. I also learned about teamwork and time management. It was an awesome experience.”

“I was actually there just for the experience and fun,” revealed Dyle Quano. “Winning the competition made me realize how all the troubles and hardship we went through in the Jam was so worth it.”

The road to victory was not easy for the BL-ED team. Team mates Ishi Socro and Dale Ouano found the conceptualization process the toughest part of the Game Jam. Given “Primitive Life” as the surprise theme of the hack, the team did not come up with a concept immediately.

“My sketchbook was filled with so many drawings and ideas scrambled everywhere,” confided Dale. “I honestly thought that we were going to end up with no game at all. We couldn’t decide on what game we were going to make.”

The team’s woes continued when “Sihouettes” would not operate smoothly at first.

“There were so many errors and bugs that kept popping out, Dale confessed. “Sometimes I thought I would never be able to fix them and that I will forever stare at my laptop screen filled with hundreds of lines of code.”

But with sufficient perseverance, the team pulled through to win big.

“When our team was called, all of us were really in shock. It took us around a day to realize that we won. We were absolutely speechless!” recalled Yoyi.

Brett Bibby, Unity technical evangelist, gave praise for the effort that Smart, schools, the GDAP and the local game developer community put in to create a ‘nice ecosystem’.

“There are people like Smart out there helping, developing, encouraging market development,” noted Bibby. “ I think that’s fantastic. Not every country has that. I love the fact that everybody’s getting together, collaborating and making things happen.”.

Held on the last day, while the hackathon was taking place, was a seminar on the game development industry. The session was attended by some 200 people. Unity representatives gave an overview of game development, tools, technologies and skills, and opportunities. Speakers from CSB and Smart discussed game development education and training programs. Representatives from IGDA and the GDAP shared their thoughts on the growing game development community and their success stories.

Of course, the game development scene was not just a pipe dream for the winners of the Unity Game Jam. They weren’t just talking about it. By participating in the 48-hour hack, they got to live and breathe it.

UPDATE: All signups and participants of the Unity Game Jam received a promotion code by e-mail for a 15% discount on Unity Pro. That was originally valid until October 31, but we’ve just received word from Unity Technologies that they have extended this to November 20, 2012.