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Motoring news

Audi’s new Q cars

April 12 2017

Another week, another new Audi. Two new Audis, in fact. The German car maker has announced a couple more additions to its Q line up of SUVs. The Q4 is a coupe-SUV hybrid that will go up against the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC Coupe. As its name suggests, it’ll be positioned between the compact Q3 and bigger Q5. At the other end of the scale is the Q8, which will go head to head against the Range Rover. It’s lower and sleeker than the Q7 Audi is also producing. In concept form, it sat only four people, although it seems likely the production version will be a five seater. There’s a 630 litre boot as well. Eagle eyed Audi followers will notice the only SUV slots left to fill are the Q1 and Q6. Watch this space...

Gadgets & Games

Dare ProtoPlay festival helps rest of the gaming world switch on to Dundee

August 11 2011

This weekend Dundee is hosting Dare ProtoPlay, Scotland's biggest computer games festival. There are fun and games for all ages at the Caird Hall as well as an important insight into a switched-on city which has long been a hub of digital design technology. Jennifer Cosgrove found out more. At the halfway stage of the competition, local young people were invited to test out the games, helping the teams troubleshoot and discover what worked - and what didn't. The prospect terrified the designers. In fact, nothing strikes fear into their hearts more than the thought of children playing their games, but the results proved positive and created a real buzz among the teams. Over the course of the ProtoPlay festival, the Dare To Be Digital 2011 games will be judged by members of the public and industry experts. Three winning teams will then go on to compete for the exclusive BAFTA Ones To Watch award, which is announced early next year. In addition to showcasing the brand new games built by the Dare teams, visitors to the festival will be able to try out the latest computer games, watch professional gamers battle it out on high-end Intel machines, learn how to build games and attend a number of educational talks about the industry. There will also be a games fair outside in the City Square. As reported in The Courier last month, DC Thomson creator of The Beano, The Dandy and many other memorable comic books teamed up with Dare ProtoPlay to run a comic strip design competition open to entrants aged 13 and below. All shortlisted entries will be on public display during the three-day festival and the winners chosen by Beano editor Mike Stirling and Dandy editor Craig Graham will be announced at an awards ceremony on Sunday.'Hub of activity'Elaine Russell has been project manager for Dare to be Digital for five years and she says that every year the standard is always very impressive. "We have a good hub of activity in Dundee we actually have around 15 video games companies here so we want to attract the talent to come and study here," she explains. "We also want the people of Dundee to know and be proud of the achievements here. I think, apart from people who work within the sector, other people are not too aware of how good we are. "Dare ProtoPlay will hopefully make people more aware of how well we have been doing." She added, "We also want to take care of the teenagers who are thinking of what to do when they leave school. "Instead of getting into trouble for playing games, they can earn money out of it because there are good career prospects. "Companies can come and seek new talent, teenagers can have aspirations, people just come in and get inspired but there is also some serious learning to be done. "And, if you are really into gaming, we have a professional tournament which sees people travelling from Holland, France, Denmark and Norway to compete." Elaine says that "digital literacy" is high in Dundee and the improvement of broadband is important to this development, adding, "It's really time for Dundee to have a video games festival. "We had a few successful festivals in Edinburgh as part of the Festival Fringe and thousands of people turned up. "We are quite established now, so we really hope this first year will be a success and then we can continue to do it." It's the first year that Dare ProtoPlay has taken place outside of Edinburgh, and you can feel the buzz among the gamers of Dundee. For those who work in what seems like the city's secret industry, it's long overdue, and they want to shout about what's being achieved here. "Dundee is the true heart of Scottish games development and a fantastic place to live and work. The huge wealth of expertise in games development within the city is unparalleled," says Dan Leyden, technical manager of Dundee games company Cobra Mobile. "With so many companies producing such high-quality games, Dundee is the natural place for the Dare ProtoPlay event to take place." Cobra Mobile is just one member of the Dare Developer Showcase, a collection of leading companies that put their latest games and talent on show to the public at Dare ProtoPlay. Other big names include Blitz Games Studios, Crytek, Outplay Entertainment and Sony Computer Entertainment Europe. Dare ProtoPlay itself is a free three-day public event organised and run by Abertay University and sponsored by technology corporation Intel. It features a vast range of games-related fun for all ages and abilities, including serious game players and developers. Abertay has always hosted Dare To Be Digital, a leading video games development competition for undergraduates that sees teams being challenged to design games in a space of less than three months, and which culminates in the Dare ProtoPlay festival. Historically, the festival has been part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe but, in 2011, it is staying in Dundee and will feature all of the games created during this year's competition.'Dream come true'In June, teams of student programmers and artists were set a challenge to create fully-functioning prototype games in the space of just nine weeks ready for assessment by industry judges and also a public vote during Dare ProtoPlay. The idea is the competition not only showcases emerging talent, the intense experience also helps graduates to build skills for working in the industry. According to Dan Leyden, he would have "killed" to have been a part of something like Dare ProtoPlay when he was at university. "It's an absolute dream come true," he says. "Some of the work is technically really nice and, from a design point of view, it is really interesting. There are so many different game types here and some of the art is lovely. "The fact they have managed to bring all of this together under one project over a matter of weeks is really quite impressive." Dan and other members of his company have helped out with mentoring at Dare To Be Digital and have been very impressed by the diverse modes of technology being tackled by the teams. This year, there are no 'conventional' console games, and these have been replaced by designs for mobile phones, iPhones, iPads and XBox Kinect, which is so advanced it uses the movement of the human body as the control. "You just go round the teams, talk to them, see what they're doing and see if you can give them any pointers on the direction of their game or what they should concentrate on," Dan explains. One of the main aims of the competition is for teams to create a game that is easily accessible so if the user is having fun in 60 seconds, you've hit the jackpot. Dan goes on, "What you find is a lot of the games are overambitious and it's always a case of trying to reiterate that you shouldn't do this especially when you've only got nine weeks. "Sometimes the smallest thing can end up taking a lot of time. A game doesn't have to be incredibly complex to be good. Even the most successful ones, like Tomb Raider, are incredibly simple all you do is jump and shoot, there's nothing else to it!" Photo used under Creative Commons licence courtesy of Flickr user Yutaka Tsutano.

Gadgets & Games

Try it if you dare competition to design a comic strip for The Beano and The Dandy

July 9 2011

The Dare ProtoPlay video games festival is set to take over the city next month and organisers have teamed up with The Beano and The Dandy to search for the comic strip designers of the future. Organised and run by Abertay University and sponsored by Intel Corporation, the festival will be held in the Caird Hall from August 12-14 and will feature a range of games-related fun for all. It will also showcase brand-new video games built by teams of students currently taking part in the nine-week Dare to be Digital competition in Dundee. To add to the fun, DC Thomson creator of The Beano, The Dandy and many other memorable comic books is running a comic strip design competition along with Dare ProtoPlay open to entrants aged 13 and below. All budding artists have to do dream up a 10-frame comic strip on a video games-related subject using a PC or Mac then, with the permission of a parent or guardian, send their entry in via the Dare to be Digital website. Entrants can choose from Dennis the Menace and Gnasher, Minnie the Minx, Bananaman and Dandy favourite Desperate Dan picking one or more these characters to star in the comic strip, as well as creating new characters and coming up with an exciting story. All shortlisted entries will be displayed during Dare ProtoPlay and the winners will be announced at an awards ceremony on August 14. The winning entry will be displayed on the websites of The Beano, The Dandy and Dare ProtoPlay. The winner will have the chance to visit the DC Thomson offices to see how the process works and help put together pages for the comic. Runners-up will have their storyboards displayed on the websites and will receive Beano and Dandy merchandise. Beano editor Mike Stirling and Dandy editor Craig Graham will be judging the winning entries.The deadline for submissions is July 31. Fore more information and to enter visit www.daretobedigital.com/dcthomson.php


Top gaming designers in line for BAFTA award

August 12 2013

The shortlist for the Ones to Watch category of the 2014 BAFTA Video Games Awards has been revealed. The only way to secure a nomination for this BAFTA is to be crowned a winner at the Dare to be Digital game design competition run by Abertay University in Dundee. Each team of five had nine weeks to build a game and their work was showcased at the four-day Dare ProtoPlay games festival in the city which concluded on Sunday. This year a record crowd of 13,000 attended the festival and played the 15 games featured at the event. On the final day the three winning teams were announced: iKnow who created The Unknown for Android phone; Mazhlele, with their game Project Heera for XBox360 and PC and finally, Team DOS who have produced Size DOS Matter for iPad. They will now battle it out for the BAFTA, with the winner being announced at a ceremony early next year. Professor Louis Natanson, who leads computer games education at Abertay University, described this year’s entrants as “the best yet” and said: “The BAFTA-nominated winners stood out from the very tough competition for their exceptional game design and commercial appeal, but all 15 teams have the experience now to enter the games industry or start their own businesses. “Building a professional, playable and exciting game in just nine weeks is a very, very hard thing to do and these 75 students have all excelled during their time in Dundee. We look forward to hearing about their new companies, game releases and many successes in the future.” The festival was officially opened on Thursday by Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop and the creator of Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, Ian Livingstone. Ms Hyslop offered her congratulations to all participating teams and said: “As a creative nation, Scotland is the perfect home for game production with our cutting-edge skills, talent and infrastructure and once again Dare to be Digital has underlined Scotland’s place at the very heart of gaming excellence.” Imre Jele, creator-in-chief at Bossa Studios and member of the BAFTA Games Committee, said: “The quality of games shown at Dare ProtoPlay advances every year at an astonishing rate. “We’re not only looking at small prototypes showing seeds of ideas any more, but can play products surpassing the quality of many commercially released titles.” Dare ProtoPlay is sponsored by Creative Scotland, Dundee City Council and EventScotland with the three main Dare to be Digital awards sponsored by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe.

Gadgets & Games

Gamers Dare not miss ProtoPlay festival

August 9 2011

The countdown is on until the computer games festival Dare ProtoPlay boots up in Dundee. The three-day festival is a culmination of nine weeks of intense games development by students from around the world, all competing for a BAFTA. All 15 student games will be on show this weekend for the public to play and then vote on. Opening the event will be David Braben, who is recognised worldwide as an innovator in the industry. He co-created Elite, the first true 3D game, with Ian Bell in 1982 and also founded Frontier Developments. The festival includes new games from top companies including Cobra Mobile, Crytek, Digital Goldfish, Outplay Entertainment and Tag Games. There will also be fun and games outside in the City Square throughout the weekend. Dare ProtoPlay is organised and run by Abertay University and supported by Intel and other sponsors.'Genuinely life-changing'Dr Louis Natanson is academic director of the Institute for Arts, Media and Computer Games at Abertay. He said, "This weekend is a great moment in the continuing growth of the computer games industry in Dundee. "Abertay University's Dare To Be Digital contest has grown and grown, attracting the very best young computer game designers from all over the world to compete for a BAFTA that is unique to our competition. "To have the opportunity to build a game, get advice from world-leading companies and put your game on show to the public at the beginning of your career is a genuinely life-changing opportunity." He added, "The games are great fun for kids and parents, gamers and non-gamers. "Everyone should really come down to the Caird Hall in Dundee this weekend as Dare ProtoPlay is going to be fantastic fun." The event has previously been part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe but this year it is coming home to Dundee, bigger than ever before. The festival is free and runs from Friday to Sunday in the Caird Hall and City Square.

Gadgets & Games

Abertay University’s Dare to be Digital teams get down to the serious job of gaming

June 14 2011

Abertay University has launched its world-leading computer games competition Dare to be Digital. Fifteen teams from countries as far afield as China, Denmark and India have nine weeks to create a video game from scratch. The final results will go on show to the public and industry experts at Dare ProtoPlay at the Caird Hall on August 12 to 14 and the winning team will be given the BAFTA 'Ones to Watch' award at the Video Game BAFTAs. In previous years the completed games were unveiled at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival but Abertay University vice-principal Professor Steve Olivier said it has been "a conscious decision" to bring the finale of the competition back to Dundee. "We are from the city, of the city and like to put stuff back into the city," said Professor Olivier. "This is evidence of our new strategic plan, which goes before the University Court this week to be at the heart of the community." Will Dawson, convener of Dundee City Council's development committee, said, "Abertay is a world leader in teaching game development so it is fantastic to see this competition take place year after year." Andrew Semple, studio director at Rockstar North, said, "Dare to be Digital provides an important platform for fostering and bringing on new talent to the video games industry. Rockstar is honoured to once again lend its support and provide mentoring to this year's competitors." Richard Hare, co-founder and president of Dundee-based Outplay Entertainment, said, "The competition is now over a decade old and has been recognised as one of the most valuable experiences a student can gain if they're serious about entering the games industry."Find out more at daretobedigital.com

Gadgets & Games

Budding developers looking to catch the eye at Dare to be Digital 2012

June 12 2012

The 2012 Dare to be Digital design contest is under way in Dundee, offering a major shop window for ambitious young computer games developers. Fifteen teams comprising a total of 75 students will spend the next nine weeks developing their game concepts before they are showcased at August's Dare ProtoPlay festival in the Caird Hall. Hosted by Abertay University, the competition gives talented students the chance to be mentored by games industry experts from Blitz Games Studios, Codemasters, Cobra Mobile, Denki, Digital Goldfish, Jagex, Outplay Entertainment, Rare, Ruffian Games, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe and Ubisoft. Three teams will be shortlisted at Protoplay and the overall winner will pick up the BAFTA 'Ones to Watch' award. Professor Louis Natanson, who leads computer games education at Abertay University, said the competition has already launched a number of careers and industry headhunters will again be circling to pick up the cream of the talent. He said: ''We're delighted at the strong support our partners in the games industry continue to show for Dare to be Digital and our free Dare ProtoPlay computer games festival. ''The students who start Dare today have a very good chance of being hired by some of the most exciting, most successful games companies in the world.'' The games are developed for a wide range of platforms including Android tablet, iPad, iPhone, PC, PlayStation Vita, Smart Goggles, Xbox 360, Xbox Kinect and Windows Phone 7.Follow the teams' progress at daretobedigital.com

Gadgets & Games

Scottish Government pledges £85,700 for Dare to be Digital 2012

June 4 2012

The internationally-acclaimed Dundee computer games competition Dare to be Digital has attracted a record number of entries. Dare to be Digital 2012, which is hosted by Abertay University, has received 108 entries from 70 universities across 13 countries. Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop revealed Scottish Government support of £85,700 will enable teams from as far away as China, India and Finland to take part. The annual contest for talented computer science and art students takes place over nine weeks each summer and involves teams building prototype games for assessment by industry judges and a public vote at the Dare ProtoPlay games festival in Dundee in August. Ms Hyslop said: ''Scotland is known the world over as a creative and innovative nation, with our computer games industry undoubtedly one of our global success stories, supporting around 1,500 jobs and contributing £30 million to our economy. ''Dare to be Digital is a fantastic showcase of the talent, infrastructure and cutting-edge skills that Scotland, and Dundee in particular, has to offer in this fast-growing and competitive market.'' Her support was welcomed by Professor Louis Natanson, who leads computer games education at Abertay. ''We are delighted that the Scottish Government continues to support Dare to be Digital, helping these overseas teams from India, China and Nordic countries come to Abertay University and build a brand new game in just nine weeks,'' he said. ''The talent that Dare attracts is really quite phenomenal and our industry contacts like Rockstar North and Sony regularly hire competitors straight from the contest. ''It is a genuinely life-changing experience for the students who beat the very tough competition to get in and the students get so much from putting their games on show to the public at Scotland's biggest computer games festival, Dare ProtoPlay, in Dundee in August. It's an incredible experience for them, seeing their games being played by thousands of people of all ages.'' Former Bafta winner Marcus Heder moved to Dundee to develop his career after his Swedish team's success in the 2010 contest. He said he found Dare to be Digital a ''fantastic experience''. Dare to be Digital runs from June 11, with Dare ProtoPlay open to the public from Friday August 10 to Sunday August 12 in the Caird Hall. At Dare ProtoPlay three winning teams will be announced and immediately become the sole nominees for the Bafta Ones to Watch Award a category created specifically for the project.


Digital dreamers to vie for gaming award

July 4 2015

The world’s leading computer game design competition for students, Dare to be Digital, launches around the globe this week. Organised by Abertay University, this year’s event will see 16 teams from Finland, the Netherlands, the UK and the USA building games from their home universities. They will then travel to Dundee in August for Dare ProtoPlay, the UK’s biggest independent games festival, where they will show their games to thousands of members of the public. At the festival, three teams will be picked to go forward for the Bafta Ones to Watch Award at next year’s British Academy Games Awards. The Dare to be Digital competition is an increasingly important breeding ground for top young developers and their visionary ideas, which are increasingly leading to commercial success. “Every year the student teams applying to Dare to be Digital amaze us with their technical skill and creativity, and this year’s selection has been a really tough process,” said Professor Gregor White, acting head of the school of arts, media and computer games at Abertay. “Moving with the changes in the games industry, we’ve opened up Dare to allow games that have been started at game jams or during university studies and we’ve also got teams with up to eight members taking part. “Creativity, design and originality are critical to stand out and be successful in the highly competitive world of computer games and Dare to be Digital is recognising that. “The next global game hit can now come from a team of two or three people, rather than a team of 200 or 300. “Our Dare ProtoPlay festival in August will be a very exciting display of the world’s very best student game designers.” Dare to be Digital 2015 received entries from across Europe, Asia and North America, with half of the entries coming from outside the UK. The successful teams will receive mentoring from creatively and commercially successful studios including Denki, Giant Sparrow, Kobojo, Ninja Kiwi, Reflections (a Ubisoft studio), Sony, Sega, Tag Games, thatgamecompany and IGDA Foundation. They will also benefit from Microsoft technology support and the opportunity to pitch their games for Windows 10 and Xbox One. Microsoft UK’s Liam Kelly said: “Student developers are important for Microsoft. Through Microsoft’s involvement in Abertay University’s Dare to be Digital competition, we can educate and help foster new UK talent in game development and we are very proud to do so.” According to the Princetown Review 2015, Abertay ranks in the top 25 places worldwide to study video game design the only university in Europe to feature.