Login | Signup

VeloCity & Carnage Previews | Gotland University's Gaming Legends In Training

Jonathan Lester
board games, Carnage, Gotland University Games, Indie Games, PC games, VeloCity

VeloCity & Carnage Previews | Gotland University's Gaming Legends In Training

The student developers of today will eventually become the legendary designers of tomorrow, and nowhere is this cliched statement more true than at Gotland University. This small Swedish outfit boasts alumni credited in games from Blizzard, Lionhead, Ubisoft, DICE, Starbreeze, Avalanche, Grin and many other studios... and are taught ethics and human rights issues as well as cutting edge game development. Each year, they bring their finest projects to GDC and Gamescom to be shown off to the world and brought to the attention of potential publishers.

We've already published previews of the outstanding mobile masterpiece Walkabout and the revolutionary RTS Victorious Skies, but it's time to take a look at two more student projects that are shaping up nicely.


VeloCity & Carnage Previews | Gotland University's Gaming Legends In Training

Most students - and I speak from experience here - don't accomplish much of note in their first year.  It's generally a time for kicking back, coasting and engaging in all manner of shenanigans... but Gotland's game design crew are thrown into the deep end, split into teams and tasked with creating videogames to be scrutinised by their peers. VeloCity is one of these first year projects, and it's incredibly fun to play despite being eight short weeks into development.

VeloCity is a fast-paced multiplayer brawler that vaguely resembles a cross between Super Smash Bros and Super Monkey Ball. Players are encased in an impenetrable sphere, loosed onto detailed levels strewn with pitfalls and tasked with ramming their opponents out of the stage. To do so, they'll need to harness the power of inertia, acceleration, friction and speed - since a sharp and endearing presentation masks a incredibly capable physics model. The five-strong team have slaved over creating the powerful physics engine from scratch, using the basic XNA toolkit to devastating effect. Building up speed and increasing your density with powerups is key to winning each match, which relies on players smashing into each other after gaining enough speed.

VeloCity & Carnage Previews | Gotland University's Gaming Legends In Training

As mentioned, the levels are incredibly detailed even though it's an extremely early build. Obstacles, ramps and interactive elements such as fans and speed boosts all add unique and exciting challenges to the experience, and the team plans to add many more powerups and design elements as the pre-alpha code continues to take shape. Despite originally being designed as a cabinet arcade game equipped with trackball peripherals,  VeloCity could well end up finding its way to the PC, Xbox 360 Indie marketplace and tablets/smartphones (using the gyroscope for acceleration). It's early days, but after several raucous minutes of play, I'm convinced that there'll be room for this unassuming work in progress in everyone's gaming collection.

Carnage: The Board Game

VeloCity & Carnage Previews | Gotland University's Gaming Legends In Training

The board game?

Yes, you read that correctly. Gotland Students are encouraged to explore all aspects of game mechanics, and a small team has created a surprisingly immersive experience using little more than a board, some cards and a level of graphic design that rivals the most respected studios in terms of imagination and competency.

Carnage is a tile-based boardgame that revolves around vehicular combat in a Mad Max-esque universe. After creating a track out of a selection of tiles, players use a deck of accelerate, break and item cards to dictate their velocity and race towards the finish line. Corners can be drifted around, item crates can be obtained and speed-reducing damage can be meted out with merry abandon thanks to an enormous selection of imaginative weapons. Rather than being a stereotypical board game that relies upon dice and random chance, the use of these cards adds serious tactical depth and injects the experience with an genuine sense of urgency. Carnage feels like a breakneck death race straight out of RAGE, not a sedate distraction.

VeloCity & Carnage Previews | Gotland University's Gaming Legends In Training

The weapon cards deserve a special mention, as they showcase some seriously impressive art direction along with some seriously dangerous imagination. Just look at them (pictured above). Considering that Carnage has only been in development for eight scant weeks including printing, its professionalism and polish is nothing short of staggering.

Board games, like local multiplayer-centric titles, invoke a sense of real friendship and camaraderie that's difficult to attain in an age where playing online tends to be the default option. I enjoyed a good half hour of light-hearted banter and reminiscing about student life while ragging my plastic car around the cardboard track... and if it proves successful, who knows? There could well be a lucrative potential franchise in the offing.

Add a comment3 comments
Tyro  Sep. 9, 2011 at 21:54

"Most students - and I speak from experience here - don't accomplish much of note in their first year." I think that this comment in conjunction with the fact that you only mention one game from the first years at the conference is overly generalistic, there were several games from the first years that were equally as good as VeloCity. One team for instance did a game with 3D models rendered into sprites from 16 different angles to 'fake' 3D, which on it's own is impressive if you disregard the game mechanics and the rest of it. I'd like to suggest that several first year teams this year at GGC made games worth noting. Regardless of what every student accomplished, everyone managed to complete a game in 8 weeks and not a day more, that should be worth a mention if nothing else.

JonLester  Sep. 10, 2011 at 11:07

@Tyro: I think that you've completely misunderstood what I was trying to say there. As the writer, that's technically my fault.

To reiterate: the point of that paragraph is to demonstrate that all Gotland students are split into teams and work on a project. Which contrasts with "most students" worldwide. Hence I say that Velo-City is just "one" of the first year projects.

I'd actually love to hear about more of these first year projects if you'd like to drop be a line.

Tyro  Sep. 10, 2011 at 15:45

Alright, no harm done, it may be misunderstood by other readers too, that's all i'd like to avoid.

I worked on one of the projects myself and that would make me bias, the game that i mentioned however with the Pre-rendered 3D from 16 cameras was not mine but deserves an honourable mention, it's called Roboturusama. They recieved the most points out of the Jury ballots for the first years. Personal Space was another hit amongst the Jury, it was a fighting game where each player could sabotage the other person's moves by pressing buttons on their own side of the arcade, or the opponents, anything goes. Clockworks won the public choice award, it was the start of something great, but not completely finished however it was absolutely stunning. You controlled time and the seasons of the year as opposed to moving the avatar.

None of these are based on my own opinion to keep in unbiased and none of them are a project I worked on. I encourage you to make your way to GGC next year, it's only going to get better each year.

Email Address:

You don't need an account to comment. Just enter your email address. We'll keep it private.