Creatives from four countries joined forces in the second cycle of the Playing Narratives project
After the hugely successful first cycle of the Playing Narratives: Comics to Games project, where five teams worked on concepts for new video games, we were inspired to make the next cycle even better.
While last year the theme of the program was dedicated to the intersection of comics and gaming, this time participants are developing game concepts that will offer creative answers to some of the burning social phenomena, through the interpretation of the umbrella theme – Tainted Nowness.
The new cycle, Playing Narratives: Ideas to Games, has invited participants from across the region. More than 150 applications were received, so after a detailed selection process, we selected 31 participants from Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Northern Macedonia and Romania. We are especially glad that there are as many as 14 girls among them, and as many as 60% of the applications received were from girls interested in the world of developing video games.
Creative ideas are best developed in person. That is why, in addition to regular online meetings and lectures every Thursday, we gathered our new participants from all over the region at the first working bootcamp in Novi Sad, an intensive multi-day gathering between participants and experts, lecturers and mentors from the local industry. The entire program was held at the Science and Technology Park Novi Sad, the just-completed, impressive facility for developing technologies and innovations, one of four such spaces in Serbia, next to Nis, Cacak and Belgrade.
During the four days, they had the opportunity to get to know each other, listen to several thematic lectures given by leading gaming experts from Serbia, but also to divide into teams, get to know their strengths and weaknesses, and start working on their common game concepts. They also had the opportunity to attend the Novi Sad SGA meetup, which was dedicated to the production and gathered about 100 professionally engaged people in game development in Novi Sad, or will do so soon.
We started the program with an introductory lecture in the world of game design, given by Stefan Lazarević and Uroš Kurandić from Ubisoft Belgrade. We answered questions about what game designers do, what they encounter on a daily basis, as well as what tools they use in their work.
Aleksa Bračić from 3Lateral introduced the team to the basics of using MetaHuman Creator technology, which was developed in Novi Sad in cooperation with the world giant Epic Games, whose Unreal Engine is also the general sponsor of this year’s program. Participants were introduced to some of the benefits of using this tool to create human characters, in order to better tell their stories and work as easily as possible to develop game concepts.
The participants were then divided into groups, according to the areas they work in, so the narrators had an inspiring session with Mladen Levnaić, one of our most experienced game designers and narratologists. Composer Ana Krstajić gave a lecture on the history of music in games and talked to sound designers, and illustrators and modelers had the opportunity to work with Diana Koltsova, Ilija Pantelić, Mihailo Novaković and Marija Josifović from Ubisoft Belgrade studios.
After all the lectures, the participants who write narratives presented their initial ideas to the whole group, after which eight new teams were formed, which will work together until the end of November this year on new game concepts, which will be pitched to an international jury.
In order to better equip them for this task, we organized a lecture on the importance of the producer’s role in the gaming team, given by Milica Todorović from Ubisoft Belgrade studio, who will mentor students in terms of production during their project work.
Back in 1986, Dragan Jerosimović developed his first narrative video game. Today, he works at 3Lateral (Epic Games), more precisely on the MetaHuman Creator project, and introduced us to the narrative aspects of video games at the first lecture on the second day of our PN bootcamp.
The teams were then “taken over” by Nana Radenković from Nova Iskra, who dedicated the rest of the day to practical exercises and a theoretical basis on how to build and maintain a strong team culture, creative collaboration and team identity.
Participants had the opportunity to get to know each other better through practical exercises and understanding of personal and team values, strengths and weaknesses, as well as to explore some of the challenges that await them in future work, and to better prepare for them.
All this knowledge will enable the teams to continue to develop their concepts in the best possible work process, until September, when the whole group gathers again in Belgrade, for another multi-day working gathering, when the focus will be on completing and “polishing” their projects. , as well as preparation for the final event and pitch.
We wish an unforgettable experience to all our teams, which are made up of wonderful and motivated young creatives from Romania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Northern Macedonia and Serbia: Maria Cârstian, Victor Băjan, Nataša Trpevska, Hristina Mitić, Andrej Maričić, Manja Topalović, Dario Zeljković, Srđan Elor, Sara Krstić, Edina Redžić, Hristina Mazneska, Vojislav Janković, Dea Arsova, Anastasija Zafirovska, Nikola Marković, Đuro Marković, Nikola Praskić, Dušan Žderić, Aleksa Janković, Mihajlo Nikolić, Stevan Stanišić, Aleksandra Miljković, Nikola Šoškic, Luka Beatović, Pavle Gajić, Aleksandar Užarević, Nikola Adamović, Vuk Damnjanović, Jana Baljak, Nada Antić, Olga Janković.
As in the previous year, the program is supported by the Franco-German Cultural Fund, which was established in 2003 on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Elysee Agreement. The general sponsor is Unreal Engine (i.e. companies Epic Games & 3Lateral), while the distinguished sponsor is the French company Ubisoft Belgrade. This year, the Niš-based Webelinx Games also joined the program as a sponsor, while additional support in the realization will be provided by French and Goethe institutes from the entire region, as well as SGA colleagues from Slovenia Games, MAGDA and RGDA.