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Norfolk Bafta winners make clockwork robot computer game

09:47 19 November 2012

Sophia George and Kristian Francis, of Caister, have started a computer games company called Swallowtail Games. They have been awarded a £25,000 grant to fund their Bafta-winning iPad puzzle game Tick Tock Toys.

Sophia George and Kristian Francis, of Caister, have started a computer games company called Swallowtail Games. They have been awarded a £25,000 grant to fund their Bafta-winning iPad puzzle game Tick Tock Toys.

Archant

Designing computer games may sound like a dream job to most children, who spend hours escaping reality on their favourite games consoles.

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But two Norfolk friends turned that dream into a reality, gaining £25,000 to develop their own game - Tick Tock Toys.

Sophia George, 22, and Kristian Francis, 24, won a Bafta award for the idea in last year’s Dare To Be Digital Awards, and now they have been awarded the grant from Abertay University’s Prototype Fund.

The game - which sees players guide a clockwork robot safely to his goal - is expected to have its commercial release next year. And the pair say the moment their video game is released has been a long time coming.

Sophia, of Runham, near Great Yarmouth, said: “I don’t remember not wanting to do it.

“My first console was a hand-me-down from my uncle - a Sega Megadrive - and that set me off.

“Growing up I had a lot of ideas about how we would make this, but up until uni I didn’t have any idea how they were put together. “Getting the grant has been very exciting.”

Both Sophia and Kristian went to Caister High School and East Norfolk Sixth Form College, in Gorleston, before embarking on games art and design degrees at Norwich University College of the Arts (NUCA).

They are currently completing masters degrees at Abertay University, in Scotland, where they have got their first break into the industry.

After founding their company Swallowtail Games in September and winning the Ones To Watch prize at the 2012 Bafta Video Games Award, their university identified them for the £25,000 grant.

“I’m really lucky that my family are very supportive,” added Sophia. “If most children went to their parents and said they want to be in the games industry they could be discouraging, but I’m glad they were confident in me.

“I’m really proud of what we have so far.”

Their game is designed for use on iOS - the operating system used on Apple devices like iPhones.

And the students hope it will appeal to people of all ages, much like cult computer game Angry Birds - which can even claim Prime Minister David Cameron as a fan.

Kristian, of Great Yarmouth, said: “We’re hoping it can appeal to people who haven’t played games before as well as people who have.

“The idea started out as a couple of sketches on paper, then I would start to make 3D representations of the game.

“Then we would develop a really small game prototype using XNA software to see how it works - the basic game with no fancy graphics.”

The university gave the pair studio space to develop the game, and they are currently building more levels, artwork and music.

“We’re aiming for 100 levels,” revealed Kristian. “We’re probably going to release a free 10 level demo, then you could pay £2 for all of the levels or 69p for a pack.”

He is also eyeing merchandise - in the vein of Angry Birds - to help make Tick Tock Toys into a brand.

Both Sophia and George are grateful to the university for the grant, and are working to make games designing their career.

For details, see www.swallowtailgames.co.uk

They are also on twitter @teamswallowtail and at www.facebook.com/swallowtailgames

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