Publication date: 
The game Hell Baked, in which players as hell officials punish sinners, won this year's competition of semester projects by students of Faculty of Electrical Engineering of CTU. The winning team, consisting of Ondřej Baštař, Jan Kabíček, Ondřej Pelikán and Jakub Profota, scored points in a competition of 12 other groups. The presentation of all beta versions of the game and the announcement of the winners took place on Tuesday, 10 January, at FEL CTU building on Prague's Charles Square. The three best projects were decided by a 15-member jury consisting of academy members and representatives of game studios.

There are currently more than a hundred studios in the Czech Republic where computer games are developed. And the game business is still growing. In 2021, the annual turnover of the domestic games industry reached a record CZK 7.1 billion, up by a third year-on-year. A number of game titles developed in the Czech Republic have achieved global success.

In the footsteps of successful game developers, students of FEL CTU may also follow in the footsteps of successful game developers, who in the current winter semester took the Computer Games course taught by doc. Jiří Bittner and Doctor David Sedláček from the Department of Computer Graphics and Interaction at FEL CTU.

"We conceived this course as an introduction to game development. In the lectures we discuss concepts that are general and valid regardless of the specific tool that is then used in practice. In the seminars, in the exercises, we then show the students the concepts practically, in the Unity engine framework," said doc. Bittner. 

According to doc. Bittner, most of the students are creating their first game project on this occasion. They are traditionally tasked with mastering the motley array of steps necessary to develop a beta version of a computer game. According to the expert jury, the group that created Hell Baked was the best at it this time.

The player must keep order in hell

"It's a puzzle-building strategy. You build a factory where you have to punish sinners who come to hell," said Jakub Profota, co-creator of the game and a student in the Open Computer Science study program. "In the first phase, you have to build a factory based on the instructions. That's our puzzle part, where you have to think about making sure the cages roll through well so they don't collide and end up in the wrong torture chambers. And in the second phase, you navigate the cages by switching the intersections they go through," Profota outlined. He noted that the main task of the players is to overcome obstacles and punish as many sinners as possible. If a collision occurs, the player hasn't had time to punish the sin and won't get to the next of several levels.

Profota stressed that the creators also put a lot of emphasis on the music, which illustrates the atmosphere. The more cages arrive, the more varied the range of sounds that accompany the game, and there is no shortage of funny catchphrases. According to Profota, each of the four developers spent an estimated 40 to 50 hours working on the game. And the dedication paid off. Team No. 10 has received positive feedback from the developers and the possibility of further development is looming. "We'll have fun discussing it in the team and see. Maybe we'll finish the game and hopefully release it," Profota concluded. As far as the other co-creators are concerned, Ondřej Pelikán and Jan Kabíček are also studying Open Computer Science, while Ondřej Baštař is from the Cybernetics and Robotics study programme.

A trip to a gloomy planet

The game Solus is set on a dark planet, with which the group of Vojtěch Linha, Sara Dobiášová, Barbara Hálová and Kryštof Havlík won second place.

"The main character is Stello, a luminous alien who has crash-landed on a deserted planet. And because the planet is dark, his light starts to diminish and he has to collect solar fragments and get to checkpoints to recharge his light," Miss Dobiáš described. The use of light and dark is a major aspect of the game project.

According to Barbara Hálová, players walk through a forest landscape, an abandoned city and a factory during the different levels. "The levels are divided into three parts by checkpoints, so if you fail a part, you can go back and you don't have to play the whole game from the beginning. And the levels have two typical elements - there's either a puzzle or some kind of jumping challenge," Hálová added about the game's challenges. Each of the team spent around a hundred hours on the project. "We made our own visuals, sounds, all the scripts and so on," Havlík stressed.

This team also played around with music. This reacts to the light associated with the main character, the less light the player has compared to the beginning, the quieter the music is. At the same time, the creators wanted it to sound a bit "alien" and futuristic, making use of synthesizers, for example. The team members were excited to work on the game. However, they are not yet clear on whether they will develop it further. All of the creators from team 11 are studying the Open Computer Science study programme.

The garden where a great battle is fought

The Bronze Award-winning game The Plant Escape takes place on a farm. "Our game is a roguelike game where the plants you plant during the day come to life at night. And you, as the farmer, try to prevent them from escaping the farm," said project co-creator Matěj Navrátil, a student in the Cybernetics and Robotics program. The other members of Team 3 are Josef Kolář, Antonín Plevač and Ondřej Maceška, students of the Open Computing study programme.

In addition to fighting for crops, players perform common tasks such as buying seeds and then growing plants, according to the developers. In the action part, the player will then acquire enemies, for example in the form of a sneaky tomato or a chilli pepper, which is the toughest opponent. It is the defeat of the chilli pepper that is the goal that the developers have put into the game, but even after that people can keep playing. However, if during the game the player dies or aborts the game, they return to the beginning, which is one of the elements of the roguelike genre of games. The game was very time-consuming, with each team member spending roughly 200 hours in preparation. According to the developers, further development of the game is possible.

Students of the Bachelor's study programme in Open Computer Science can choose to specialise in Computer Games and Graphics as part of their studies. In the Computer Games course itself, students of FEL CTU will go through all aspects of game development - from concept and design to programming game mechanisms and presentation to experts.

Since last year, the Department of Computer Graphics and Interaction at FEL CTU has also been running a student game studio OI SIDE, where students focus on game development and discussions about game development. The aim is to enable them to develop joint game projects beyond their studies and to represent the faculty on the gaming scene in the future. There are also plans to collaborate with other institutions - for example UMPRUM, FAMU or other faculties within CTU.