Birmingham City students impress with revolutionary app

An innovative university course sees students creating a drone-racing app to rival Pokemon Go

Tapping into the success of the popular ‘Pokemon Go’ mobile game, students at Birmingham City University’s Gamer Camp and Interactive Entertainment courses,  have developed an ‘Xtreme Drone Racing Micro’ app. Using a similar technology it allows the player to unlock racing tracks in real world locations. The game, which was launched on the 23rd August, features two iconic Birmingham locations; Millennium Point which is at the centre of the University’s city campus and Cathedral Square. The latter allows gamers to move around a digital recreation of St Philip’s Cathedral whilst dodging a squadron of Spitfires – famously made in the City during the Second World War.

However, in order to race on these tracks, gamers must be physically present in the real world locations the tracks represent, similar to players visiting a PokéStop in ‘Pokémon Go’. As well as tracks, vehicle modifications and power ups are unlocked at certain locations in the new game.

Alongside the tablet game, the programmers, artists and producers at Birmingham City University have also developed a PlayStation 4 version – ‘Xtreme Drone Racing’ – as part of their studies. Unlike a traditional University course, these students build real games from the ground up over the course of one year. 50 students have spent three months on the PlayStation 4 game, while the tablet version was delivered in just six weeks. This is an impressive feat considering most console games within the industry are developed in 12 to 24 months, with three to six months devoted to gaming apps on average. 

Students at Gamer Camp were also lucky enough to showcase both versions of the game to industry professionals from Sony and Codemasters amongst others. Luke Savage, Senior Academic Development Manager, Sony Interactive Entertainment was there to see the launch. He said: “Gamer Camp works closely with PlayStation First, Sony Interactive Entertainment’s global academic program, to give students the cutting edge game development skills that modern game studios are hungry for. These students are the next generation of PlayStation game developers, and we want to give them the best opportunities to become part of our developer community.”

Both these games allow players to experience the high-speed world of drone racing, an increasingly popular sport in the physical world which sees participants race drones around rollercoaster-like aerial circuits, while monitoring their position through a virtual reality headset connected to a camera on the drone. The students behind the app hope that their game will encourage people to get-together and race drones socially, just like pilots do in the fringe sport.

Bharat Trivedi, Technical Director at Red Bee worked with the students during the developmental stages. He said:“I’m always blown away by the quality of work produced by the students on this course and the ‘Xtreme Drone Racing’ project is no exception. The milestone presentations were very professional, with a clear breakdown of project status and remaining action items. I’ve been particularly impressed with the integration of the geo-tagged gameplay elements, as this is currently a hot area in the world of interactive media. All the students and staff alike should be very proud of their efforts.”

Prospective students who are interested in the Gamer Camp and Interactive Entertainment courses are being invited along to the University’s Undergraduate Open Day on Saturday 8 October, where visitors will get the chance to play ‘Xtreme Drone Racing’ for themselves. 

The tablet version of the game will also be available to download for free later this year via Google Play.

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