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Kiwi game developer students hit commercial success

04 Mar 2016

Students from New Zealand’s Media Design School are celebrating the official commercial release of their game Split.

The game, which was created through the Media Design School Studios accelerator programme, will feature on Steam, one of the world’s biggest game digital distribution platforms.

The game is described by Split's production manager and third year Bachelor of Creative Technologies student Claire Barilla as a “…beautifully minimalist puzzle game where players must divide themselves to explore, solve and create."

The game was originally created as a second year group project in response to a classroom brief as part of Media Design School’s Game Development programme.

Due to the overwhelmingly positive feedback the project received from Media Design School faculty, the five students involved in the project decided to create an indie games studio, itsfine, in the hopes of further developing their initial prototype for Split through Media Design School’s industry accelerator programme, Media Design School Studios.

“We have been thrilled with the success of Split on what is such an internationally renowned gaming platform,” says Barilla.

In October 2015, the students submitted their prototype to Steam Greenlight, to major acclaim from the Greenlight community.

According to the Media Design School, titles listed on Steam Greenlight are typically selected based on the recommendations of Steam community members, who provide feedback on the initial concepts and whether they want the game to be further developed into a game.

Split not only managed to reach the Top 100 games list in little over two days, the top 20 in six days, but it passed through the entire Greenlight process in just 10 days, which is virtually unheard of for indie developers starting out in the industry,” explains Barilla.

“The amount of support and feedback from the games community, both in New Zealand and overseas, has been incredible and has enabled us to make a commercially viable game in such a short period of time,” she says.

Media Design School Studios offers a select group of students who are studying in the field of Game Development (Game Art or Game Programming) the opportunity to take their game prototype or concept and turn it into a commercially viable product.

Jackie Young, Media Design School Studios programme director, says that the success of both Split and the other title selected to participate in the Media Design School Studios pilot, Dolly by MA Game Studio, shows that indie New Zealand game developers have real potential to be competitive at a global level.

“The success of Split gives evidence to the fact that New Zealand game start-ups, no matter how small, have the potential to create viable commercial exports that will resonate with audiences overseas,” says Young.

“We are delighted with the hard work that itsfine have put into developing Split through Media Design School Studios,” she says.

“Their dedication has certainly paid off and we look forward to seeing what other titles itsfine devises.”

In Split, the player takes control of a cube, which has the ability to break up and split into smaller cubes. Using whatever cubes they have at their disposal, players must try to solve puzzles to reach the door at the end of each level.

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