A video game born in Abertay University's Centre for Excellence in Computer Games is set for a global release on Nintendo Switch.
Skye Tales, a puzzle-adventure game promoting mindfulness and accessibility, is the first game to be released by independent games studio Puny Astronaut.
Puny Astronaut’s co-founders met while studying games development at Abertay, with an early version of the game earning the studio a funding award at the University's 2016 ‘Dare to be Digital’ developer competition (see picture below).
Since graduating in 2017, the team has grown to 17 people and is now based at Water’s Edge in Dundee after receiving a six-figure investment from the city's 4J Studios in 2018.
Skye Tales is the first title to be published by 4J Studios, which is best known for developing Minecraft for Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo games consoles.
The investment and support that 4J Studios provided allowed Puny Astronaut the time, space, and resources to complete the game in line with the initial vision forged at Abertay, when the original concept game was known as Glaze.
Skye Tales focuses on the adventures of Skye, a friendly dragon, and has been designed as an ideal entry point to the world of video games for players of all abilities.
Gamers are invited to help their neighbours in the fictional valley of Brinn, by interacting with a rainbow of tactile toys, instruments, and puzzles.
'Skye Tales takes a gentler and more sensory approach to gaming, focusing on the journey just as much as the destination' - Cian Roche, Managing Director, Puny Astronaut
Relaxation and playfulness are at the heart of the whimsical game in which players are encouraged to take their time and enjoy the sights, sounds, and sensations of the world around them.
Puny Astronaut’s team worked closely with accessibility charity, AbleGamers, during the game’s development and has gone to great lengths to incorporate the feedback received in Skye Tales.
Cian Roche, Managing Director of Puny Astronaut, said: “Skye Tales is the perfect introduction to gaming for children and adults. There are still so many would-be players out there who just need a welcoming game with a lower barrier of entry and plenty of parents worry about the effects of overstimulation when it comes to traditional children’s games. Skye Tales takes a gentler and more sensory approach to gaming, focusing on the journey just as much as the destination."
Professor Gregor White, Dean of the School of Design and Informatics at Abertay University, said: “We are enormously proud of the Puny Astronaut team and it’s been a genuine pleasure to witness the care and attention to detail with which Skye Tales has been developed since the original concept was designed in our labs. It was clear from the outset that this was a really special concept, but producing such a highly polished game as a first release shows the level of skill that these developers have and also speaks volumes about the time and space they have been afforded, thanks to the vision, backing and belief shown by 4J Studios. Dundee has a global reputation as a leader in video games development and the quality of Skye Tales, which has been designed so carefully to be accessible, thoughtful and inclusive, really underlines the level of talent and professionalism that exists here in the city.”
Chris van der Kuyl, Chairman of 4J Studios and Puny Astronaut, said: “Cian and the rest of the team have gone out of their way to craft a magical, colourful, and accessible world that gamers of all ages and abilities can enjoy. It is a perfect example of the ‘games for everyone’ approach we believe in at 4J Studios, and another great game and team to emerge from Abertay University’s computer games centre-of-excellence. We are particularly pleased that Skye Tales will be the first game to be published by 4J Studios, which feels like an entirely natural progression for us, given the way consumers are now buying games online. We have more new games scheduled for release in 2023 - a mixture of original games from 4J Studios and titles from studios we are invested in through Chroma Ventures. Our ambition is to establish game brands we are close to and believe in and help them evolve into successful franchises.”