Microsoft Announces Silicon Minds Warm-Up Winners

Microsoft has announced this year’s winners of its ‘warm-up’ challenge to the Dream Build Play Competition.
Microsoft Research Cambridge, U.K. (in collaboration with Microsoft XNA, Lionhead Studios, and Rare Ltd.) announced the five winning teams of the international game development contest Silicon Minds Dream-Build-Play 2008 Warm Up Challenge. The contest asked participants to invent and build a new PC or Xbox 360 game using XNA Games Studio 2.0 (available for free download) and artificial intelligence techniques in the development of the game. The winners are: Nicholas Barratt and Gillian Allen for Conquerator; Nancy McCourt and Alexandre Coutur for Hive; Markus Jost and Remo Zehnder, creators of iSheep; John Montemorano for Orblast; and Brent Strandy for Specimen. Winners received the opportunity to interview for a three-month internship at the Microsoft Research Cambridge lab, U.K. or at one of the Microsoft game studios Rare or Lionhead Studios (from Summer 2008). Additionally, the finalists received a $3,000 stipend and a one-year subscription to the XNA Creators Club. The goal of the contest, said Microsoft officials in a press release, was to encourage the understanding of how gaming research, artificial intelligence, and machine learning contribute to innovative gameplay and more realistic and fun gaming experiences. Contestants had only seven weeks to create their games using innovative AI. Contest organizers said there were more than 600 registered participants and 31 valid submissions. “I was blown away by what many of the contestants managed to achieve in such a short [span] of time. It’s really inspiring for professional game developers like ourselves to see the passion and talents of a future generation of programmers demonstrated in such a unique and exciting way through this competition,” said Kieran Connell from Rare in a prepared statement.

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