Source: University of Derby
Games designer Peter Molyneux joined students on Computer Games courses at the University's School of Computing at its Kedleston Road site, in Derby.
Mr Molyneux helped pioneer the 'god game' genre of computer games, where players create and control entire worlds rather than individual characters. He established two highly successful UK games companies, Bullfrog and then Lionhead Studios; at the latter creating Fable, Microsoft's most successful role-playing game for its XBox console.
Now Creative Director for Microsoft Games Studios Europe Mr Molyneux is developing a computer game called Milo & Kate that makes use of a revolutionary, completely hands free control system for Microsoft's XBox360 console.
Instead of players manipulating a handheld control device games will react to them by using a three-dimensional camera, which tracks body posture and scans facial expressions through a system called 'motion capture'. The game will also respond to players' vocal instructions and distinguish between different players who have previously used it.
This new games control system - codenamed Project Natal - will not be available in stores until the end of 2010 but Computer Games degree course students at the University heard more about it when Mr Molyneux visited. He also worked with them on their own games designs.
Mr Molyneux said: "Microsoft has a strong relationship with the University of Derby and has taken a few students on as interns. I've always found Derby students to be bright and able to fit into the working environment very quickly. The courses here are very hands on and vocational, and maybe that's what makes the difference.
"Our industry is subject to constant change and students need to learn how to use new tools to not only keep up but to stay ahead and truly innovate. Anyone hoping to find success in this industry must have a massive amount of self drive, enthusiasm, and be prepared to take a seed of an idea and make it a reality. There's no instruction manual for that, the ideas have to come from within."
John Sear, Programme Leader for BSc (Hons) Computer Games Programming at the University, said: "We were delighted to have the UK's biggest name in games development come and speak to our students.
"For the students to hear direct about the ongoing development of Project Natal and for them to work closely with Peter was a huge treat."
During his visit Mr Molyneux also gave up his valuable time, and the benefit of his years of industrial experience, to coach teams of first year Derby students working on a 72 hour games design challenge.
This event for Derby students was inspired by Microsoft's X48 competition last year (2009), a national 48-hour games design challenge for students from around the UK hosted by the University of Derby.