Universal Games and Unity Technologies announced the winner from the Universal GameDev Challenge: Voltron: Cubes of Olkarion, a prototype built by Zurich-based studio, Gbanga.
The Universal GameDev Challenge, sponsored by Intel and Microsoft, invited developers to design a PC game that leveraged one of five Universal-owned iconic brands: Back to the Future, Jaws, Battlestar Galactica, DreamWorks Voltron Legendary Defender and Turok.
The companies selected the winner from nearly 550 submissions worldwide. As the grand prize winner, Gbanga received $150,000 and a year-long consulting contract with Universal.
In the game, players duel each other in real-time in the Voltron universe. Using the cube super-weapon seen on the show Voltron: Legendary Defender, Gbanga imagined a world where the villainous Zarkon finds a way to mass-produce more cubes, and in their story, smaller cubes with different attack and defense abilities formed the basis for an ancient Olkari board game.
I was one of the judges, and I was impressed with the quality of the demo. I’m not a Voltron fan, but after a few minutes I understood how to play the 2D game. Judges selected Voltron: Cubes of Olkarion based on its instant playability of the game prototype, the game’s potential for expansion into a commercial product, and, most importantly, the amount of fun judges had while playing it.
“We’ve been creating gaming experiences on a wide range of platforms for more than a decade,” said Andreas Halter, game producer at Gbanga, in a statement. “But we’ve always been limited to designing games around our own IP. With the Universal GameDev Challenge, we relished the opportunity to work with a blockbuster franchise. We’re all huge fans of Voltron: Legendary Defender, and having the opportunity to pour our love for this series into an exciting new game project is a dream come true. We’re incredibly grateful to Universal and Unity for the opportunity.”
In addition to the grand prize winner, five additional runners-up were selected, including Mick Heijkens (Backpack to the Future), Tom Breuer (Back to the Future IV – Time Anomalies), Alexander Ferguson (Turok: Legacy of Stone), Max Snyder (Turok: Escape from Lost Valley) and From the Future (Battlestar Galactica Deception). Each gets $20,000 in prizes.
“It’s all about fast thinking and quick decision making. Two players face each other on battlefields across the galaxy. Each player must defend their own base while attacking their opponent,” Halter said in an email. “The titular Cubes of Olkarion offer both offensive capabilities – such as firing a powerful frost beam – as well as defensive characteristics, and must be arranged in strategic patterns to outsmart the enemy. No two matches are ever the same. There’s no winning strategy – players must constantly try to predict their opponent’s moves and adapt their plans on the fly in order to win.”
All six winning teams participated in a mentorship program in Los Angeles, where each team received project guidance from industry experts hailing from Universal, Unity Technologies, Intel, and Microsoft, along with competition judges, including Back to the Future co-creator, co-writer and co-producer Bob Gale, and Voltron: Legendary Defender showrunner and Dreamworks TV co-executive producer Lauren Montgomery. I was a judge as well.
All six winning game prototypes are playable at the Made With Unity booth at Unite LA from October 23-25.
Swiss-based game studio Gbanga consists of the following team members: game design lead Robin Bornschein, art director Yury Schicker, producer Andreas Halter, quality manager Ramona Ent, animation designer Manuela Seiler, AI programmer Alex Steiner, programmers Benjamin Klingler, Jonas Krucher, Kevin Biehler, programmer intern Federico Mantovani, testers Valeria Glauser and Ascan Helfer, writer and executive producer Robbert van Rooden and executive producer Matthias Sala.
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