Turning heads

Everend video game about an owl wins national Intel contest

March 6, 2017

Members of the Everend team celebrate their first place in San Francisco.

The game design program at University of Wisconsin-Stout is turning some heads for the second time in four years after a video game designed by a team of students took a first place in a national competition.

Everend, about a young owl caught in a massive cave after an ancient volcanic eruption, won the Best Visual Quality award at the Intel University Games Showcase. The award was announced Thursday night, March 2, in San Francisco at the world Game Developers Conference.

Two other winners were announced. Carnegie Mellon University of Pittsburgh, Pa., won for Best Gameplay and University of Central Florida of Orlando won for Innovation. Games from 11 universities and colleges from around the U.S. were chosen by Intel to compete at the showcase.

UW-Stout will receive $10,000 worth of Intel products for its game design program.

In June 2013, the video game Flash Frozen by a UW-Stout team was named co-champion in the E3 national video game competition in Los Angeles sponsored by the Entertainment Software Association.

A scene from Everend.We can't believe our little owl game has garnered so much support and recognition, and we are so incredibly thankful for this award,” said UW-Stout student Megan Daniels, of Oshkosh, one of 12 students who created Everend in 2016 in a class taught by Associate Professor Dave Beck, the game’s executive producer.

Teams had
five minutes to present their games to judges and three minutes to answer questions. Judging was done by a team of seven industry professionals from companies and organizations such as Unity, Unreal and the president of the International Game Developers Association. Judging was based on creativity and innovation; rendering quality; character design; and art style and education, including quality of noncharacter models and animation.

Randi Rost, manager of Intel’s game developer experience team, was impressed with the artistic quality of Everend. “One of the great things about the Intel University Games Showcase is that we get to see so much variety and so much talent in one event. Although they were new to the event this year, UW-Stout brought an amazingly artistic team, and they deservedly grabbed the top prize in the Best Visual Quality category,” Rost said.

Beck, who also taught the class that produced Flash Frozen, says the latest award speaks volumes about the quality of UW-Stout’s program.

Everend team members Emily Dillhunt, left, and Megan Daniels admire the Intel University Games Showcase award for Best Visual Quality.

“To have UW-Stout’s student team take first place in the Best Visuals category amongst so many large, internationally known art schools demonstrates that we can and will continue to compete on a national level in myriad art and design disciplines,” Beck said. “I truly believe Everend’s aesthetic success is largely due to the passionate and talented faculty and staff working in the School of Art and Design, all of whom are tirelessly dedicated to training the great visual thinkers and creative researchers of the future.”

The other schools selected for the competition were New York University, Rochester Institute of Technology, University of Southern California, Utah, Drexel, DigiPen Institute of Technology, University of California-Santa Cruz, Southern Methodist University and Savannah College of Art and Design. Many of the entries were by graduate students. UW-Stout’s team had one graduate student.

Beck is director of the Bachelor of Fine Arts game design program — UW-Stout also has a Bachelor of Science game design program — and is director of the School of Art and Design, as well as associate dean of the College of Arts, Communications, Humanities and Social Sciences.

“I couldn’t be more proud of these 12 students. Their capstone project was a major part of their life for seven straight months, so this recognition will hopefully begin to demonstrate that not only was it worth all of those long days and late nights, but that we have something really special in the both the game design and development program and the School of Art and Design at UW-Stout,” Beck said. 

Everend is a short, single-player game that revolves around Kaia, a young owl caught in cave.Along with Daniels, members of the UW-Stout Everend team are:

  • Lead programmer Will Brereton, of Sauk City
  • Mitch Clayton, of Frankfort, Ill.
  • Daniel Craig, of New Berlin
  • Gabe Deyo, of Austin, Minn.
  • Lead artist Emily Dillhunt, of Menomonie
  • Alex Knutson, of La Crosse
  • Logan Larson, of Stillwater, Minn.
  • Zachary Pasterski, of Green Bay
  • Phoenix Hendricks, of River Falls
  • Hue Vang, of Two Rivers, a graduate student in the Master of Fine Arts program
  • Tyler Walvort, of Waupun

Everend is a short, single-player game that revolves around Kaia, a young owl in a vast cave after being separated from its family during an ancient volcanic eruption. Kaia hasn’t yet learned to fly and must avoid various obstacles as it traverses the many levels of the cave in trying to escape.

Download the game here or watch the trailer.

Learn more about UW-Stout’s two game design and development majors here.

With more than 1,000 art and design majors, UW-Stout’s School of Art and Design is the largest public higher education art and design program in Wisconsin, Minnesota and the Dakotas.

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Photos

Top: Members of the Everend video game team who attended the Intel University Games Showcase in San Francisco celebrate their first place March 2 for Best Visual Quality. From left are Hue Vang, Emily Dillhunt, Megan Daniels, Associate Professor Dave Beck, Mitch Clayton, Gabe Deyo, Will Brereton and Zach Pasterski.

Second: A scene from Everend.

Third: Everend team members Emily Dillhunt, left, and Megan Daniels admire the Intel University Games Showcase award for Best Visual Quality.

Bottom: Everend is a short, single-player game that revolves around Kaia, a young owl caught in cave.