Games Development students through to global Microsoft competition

Imagine Cup winners

A group of MComp Computer Games Development students have made it through to the global finals of a competition run by Microsoft.

Team Sapient – made up of Masters students Riccardo Deluca, Ciaran Harty, Michael Harty and Thomas Mahoney – were named the winners of the Games category at the UK Imagine Cup finals, after creating a game called HexWorld. They later won the world semi-finals (held online) and are now through to the global finals in Seattle in the U.S in July. The winners will be awarded $50,000 and a mentoring session with Satya Nadella, Chief Executive of Microsoft.

Riccardo started working on the game last September before entering it for Imagine Cup. He then drafted in Ciaran and his brother Michael, as well as Thomas to develop HexWorld further.

“We’re all big fans of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, and particularly his character called Twoflower,” said Riccardo.

“He is Discworld’s first tourist, and inspired the main character for HexWorld. The game is all about exploring and going on an adventure.”

Thomas added: “It was a huge shock to find out we’d won, out of all the teams from across the UK. We were up against some amazing projects so to beat them all was absolutely brilliant.”

Dr Paul Angel, Computer Games Development course leader, said: “Riccardo, Thomas, Ciaran and Michael have done an excellent job making it through to the global finals. This is a great achievement as they worked on this game alongside their normal studies, and shows what can be achieved when you combine technical skill with the personal drive to create something new.”

Dr Mike Reddy, Senior Lecturer in Computer Games Development, added: "As a former Imagine Cup Judge, I know the significance of extra-curricular work in making sure our games graduates stand out from the rest when seeking employment. The effort of producing a winning entry to the Imagine Cup is significant; at least doubling the work that students might be expected to do towards their courses. So, even being in the UK finals was quite an achievement. To win shows the determination that Team Sapient has to succeed in preparing themselves for a glamorous, but hard working industry."