New app allows gamers to battle robots in iconic locations

A new gaming app is hoping to bring the destructive combat of ‘Robot Wars’ to the streets around us – without anyone having to get their hands greasy.

Developed by students on Birmingham City University’s Gamer Camp and Interactive Entertainment courses, the app – ‘Xtreme Robot Destruction Micro’ – uses geo-tagging technology to unlock arenas set in digital versions of real world locations. In the game, players seek out opponents to take on robots in an apocalyptic future, made real with augmented reality.

At the game’s official launch on Tuesday 29 August, the Android title featured two iconic Birmingham locations; The Parkside Building, at the heart of the University’s City Centre Campus, and one of Europe’s largest inner-city shopping centres, the Bullring.

However, in order to battle against other players, gamers must be physically present in the real world locations the arenas represent, similar to players visiting a PokéStop or Gym in the popular ‘Pokémon Go’ app. As well as arenas, new robots and power ups are unlocked at certain locations in the new game.

Alongside the tablet game, the programmers, artists, producers and marketers at Birmingham City University have also developed a PlayStation 4 version – ‘Xtreme Robot Destruction’ – as part of their studies. Unlike a traditional University course, Gamer Camp and Interactive Entertainment students build real games from the ground up, operating in a studio environment over one year.

50 students have spent three months on the PlayStation 4 game, with the tablet version being delivered in just six weeks. To put this in to context, most console games within the industry are developed in 12 to 24 months, with three to six months devoted to gaming apps on average.

Project Leader, Valeria Petruzzelli, from Bari in Italy, said:

“Collaborating across various disciplines, I have grown so much as a professional throughout this course, and now we have two fantastic products we are all really proud of.

“People come from all over the world to study on these courses, so I am privileged to be working with, learning from and getting to know people from not only here in Birmingham and the wider UK, but also from the far corners of the globe – reflecting the international nature of the games industry. I see my course mates all as family now.”

‘Xtreme Robot Destruction’ was launched in Birmingham City University’s £62 million Parkside Building. Students showcased both versions of the game to gaming industry and marketing professionals, including representatives from Chapter, Codemasters, Microsoft Rare, NaturalMotion and Playground Games. The industry leaders also led a roundtable event, where various issues affecting the contemporary games profession were discussed.

‘Xtreme Robot Destruction’ is a button-bashing, metal-grinding, arena battler, where players are free to smash, ram and saw their way through opponents using their chosen bot.

Project Leader, Neal Mclean, who originates from Toronto in Canada, said:

“The PlayStation 4 game sees the carnage of ‘Robot Wars’ come face-to-face with the scale of destruction seen in ‘Godzilla’, through a seamless combination of intense robot battles and environmental obliteration. With destructible locations and the in-game wager system, players must smash their way to being number one by annihilating any bot who gets in their way.

“Getting the opportunity to work with professional-level equipment and software has allowed us to create high quality products that can impress. Birmingham City University has provided me with space to work in a studio environment that is as close to the industry as we can get.”

Gamer Camp was one of the first five courses in Europe to be given PlayStation 4 development kits by Sony.

Prospective students who are interested in enrolling on the Gamer Camp and Interactive Entertainment courses are being invited along to the University’s Undergraduate Open Day on Saturday 14 October, where visitors will get the chance to play ‘Xtreme Robot Destruction’ for themselves.

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