Finals day is fast approaching, and as much as the entrants to Search for a Star and Sumo Digital Rising Star are important, so are the industry professionals who volunteer their time. These games industry professionals are providing individual feedback on everything from code and animation to art and gameplay. Their feedback in earlier stages had a dramatic effect between Stages 1 & 2 as we saw a great leap in the quality of some of the artwork being submitted.
Understandably, none of this would be possible without the support of our industry partners including Sumo Digital, nDreams, BossAlien, Red Kite & d3t. However, it is the response from freelancers, senior studio figures and big-name studios across the world that has us floored. Search for a Star has the industry taking notice!
Over 100 professionals, from nearly 100 studios sharing their knowledge and experience.
From studios including –
- Avalanche Studios
- CD Projekt
- Criterion Games
- Double Negative
- Infinity Ward
- Natural Motion
- Splash Damage
- Travelers Tales
Even movie graphics firms like Lightstorm Entertainment, who have done ground-breaking work on movies like Avatar. We thought we would introduce you to some of the assessors for 2018.
Brian Cox – UI Programmer
Environment & Character Art
Tom Pickard – Art Manager
Tom is the Art Manager at BossAlien, and indie developer Knifey Spoonie. He has been at BossAlien for little over a year but has been in the industry since 2006. He graduated from Teeside University having studied Computer Games Design and landed a Lead Environment Artist role, at Creative Assembly working on titles like Empire Total War, and Shogun 2.
Tara Wahlbäck – Senior Character Artist
Sweden is one of the game world’s creative hotbeds, and native Swede Tara has worked with studios like Southend and Starbreeze on titles like Sacred Citadel and Payday 2. She is now based in Skovde with Stunlock Studios as a Senior Character Artist.
Anthea van Leeuwen – Environment Artist
Anthea is a Grads in Games veteran winning Sumo Digital Rising Star Environment Art in 2016. A skilled environment and character artist she completed internship with Sumo and is now working at award-winning studio Playtonic. According to the company website she plays a mean game of Mario Kart.
Amanda Cheng – 3D Artist
A graduate of Bournemouth University with a degree in Computer Animation Amanda spent 3 years at mobile games developer Marmalade as a 3D Generalist. She is now working at Coatsink as they work at the cutting edge of VR with Oculus, Playstation and Samsung Gear VR.
Animation & VFX
Glenn Brace – Art Director
Glenn is an industry veteran with almost 2 decades of experience. Cutting his teeth with Stainless Games and then Climax Sudios, working on franchises including Assassins Creed; Glenn is now heading up the Art Department at nDreams as they continue their assault on the worlds of Virtual and Augmented Reality.
Raúl Ibarra Díez – 3D Character Animator
When we said that Search for a Star and Sumo Digital Rising Star was drawing attention from across the
globe, we weren’t kidding. Currently working with Ubisoft Barcelona as a 3D Character
Animator Raúl is a talented artist with a lifelong passion for video games. He says he always dreamed of working in the games industry and is here to help others follow their dreams.
Nic Chambers – VFX Artist
Nic is a world traveller with an impeccable record in games. Studying Character Animation & CGI Production in Australia he has graduated to work with some of the top names in games. Including Creative Assembly, and Rockstar in the UK and now Ubisoft in Toronto. His talent has genuinely taken him around the world.
Craig Wright – Tech Director
We are very proud to have local studio Sumo involved. Backers of the Rising Star initiative they are currently going from strength to strength with 3 studios in the UK and 1 in India. Craig has been based in Sheffield his whole professional life with Argonaut and then Sumo. With over a decade’s experience with the industry, and plenty of AAA credits under his belt we are looking forward to hearing Craig’s thoughts on this year’s entries.
Andrew Greensmith – Tech Director
Red Kite Games
The old says goes that, “Those who can’t, teach.” Well if there was ever someone to prove that saying wrong it’s Andrew. The former Abertay University lecture has had a glittering career working with industry legends including Rockstar and Activision, working on iconic titles like Red Dead Redemption, LA Noire and Grand Theft Auto. Now with Red Kite games working with franchises like God of War, Call of Duty and Dirt, Andrew will have some serious insights into the technology and coding submissions.
Andy Booth – Tech Director
From another Grads in Games partner Andy brings some serious skills to his role as an assessor. Graduating from the University of Salford with a 1st Class degree in Computer Science Andy has not stopped doing 1st class work. Initially with THQ (on titles like Warhammer 40k: Kill Team and Red Faction: Battlegrounds) and now with award-winning d3t. As perhaps “the” premium software engineering company in games there are few in a better position to assess code quality.
Tom Whittaker – Senior Programmer
Senior Coder at nDreams, with over 17 years’ experience within the games industry.
Prior to joining nDreams Tom worked with companies such as Born Ready, Curve Digital, Edgies, Zoe Mode and is credited on over 20 titles including Bloody Good Time, Fast & Furious 3-4 and Strike Suit Zero.
Former CTO for award-winning studio Exient, Jason has almost 2 decades experience in creating amazing titles. FIFA, FIFA Street, Madden, Need for Speed, the Sims, Skate It, Angry Birds, DJ Hero. The list goes on and on. A genuine expert, with encyclopedic knowledge and an incredible pedigree.
Yan Knoop – Junior Programmer
A real Search for a Star Champion! Yan won the Sumo Digital Rising Star Coding title in 2015 only to come back in 2016 to claim top honours in Search for a Star as well. With a clutch of other honours including being one of Develop’s 2016 30 under 30 it’s great to see Yan back with us. He is currently with AAA Swedish studio Avalanche best known for their Just Cause and theHunter titles.
Gabriel Moreno-Fortuny – Lead Gameplay Programmer
Keeping the international flavour going, Gabriel is a Lead Gameplay Programmer with Bioware in Edmonton. With over a decade writing code for Bioware, Gabriel can boast the sort of credits you would expect including, Dragon Age: Origins, Dragon Age: Inquisition, and Star Wars: The Old Republic.
Henry Tofts – Associate Level Designer
Rounding out the stable of assessors from AAA studios is Henry from FPS legends Splash Damage. A graduate of the University of Bradford’s in Interactive Systems & Video Games Design; cutting his teeth with RedLynx and Sega; Henry has been working with Splash Damage for the past 2-years. If there’s anyone who understands gameplay, it’s Henry.
We hoped you enjoyed this quick glimpse into some of this year’s assessors.
To see the full list of the 2017/18 Round 2 Assessors click HERE.