Bit Rabbit Releases New Game

Michael el Baki (aka Bomberman) has just brought our attention to two major pieces of news from his company BitRabbit.

Firstly, his company has just released the game Platypus on smartphones and PDAs for Astraware/Handmark. All the porting process from PC was done at BitRabbit, using their own middleware.

You can find the game at and reviews of the game are also available at and—poss.html

The second major piece of news is the launch of version 2.0 of their RabbitFactory middleware for all native smartphone and PDA platforms.

The RabbitFactory is a full-featured, cross-platform, highly-optimized set of C++ APIs which provide a complete abstraction of native mobile platforms, offering extremely fast development and deployment processes. They have just signed a major client for the middleware so watch this space for more BitRabbit news.

Background on the company

Based in Dublin, Ireland, BitRabbit is a successful and innovative studio involved in middleware development, mobile games design and development. The company focuses on native technologies and games for smartphones & PDAs. BitRabbit was amongst the first developers to get OTA distribution of native mobile games with tier-1 carriers like Orange UK and Korea Telecom, and works with some of the most prestigious publishers in the smartphone and PDA space.

For more information see

see the thread on this and comment at

A Perfect Pitch

Gaelic games sell. Not only in ticket stubs, but also in the world of interactive entertainment. Despite receiving a critical bashing, Sony Ireland’s GAA games were the biggest indigenous selling games on the PS2, and with legions of fans of the sport around the country it was only a matter of time before a GAA management sim followed in their wake. But this story is not one of massive development teams and marketing spend. Instead, like every great sports story, it is one where the underdog wins – where passion and commitment are the conduits to victory.

Bainisteoir – Hurling, created by Tailteann Games, received critical plaudits across the country when it was released in 2007 – and it largely lives up to the hype. Unlike Sony’s productions, Bainisteoir features real-life player names: 1,000 real-life hurling stars in total, including D.J Carey, Sean Og O’hAilpin, Henry Shefflin and Eugene Cloonan. The game features the 32 Irish Inter-County, New York and London Senior Hurling panels. As in the Championship Manager series, players devise team strategies, watch the matches unfold on the pitch, plan player and team tactics, read statistics and listen to commentary. Between the muddy-kneed bouts, they interact with their team’s fans, sponsors and media, as well as opposing managers and players.

When Fergal McDonnell, Tailteann’s Technical Director, talks about Bainisteoir in terms of “intellectual merit”, he is not joking. “We produced what we believed to be a sports game of considerable subtlety and depth. [We wanted] to exercise the public’s cognitive skills and their intuition – it was for others to treat sport with a batter and bruise approach.” Fergal conceptualised Tailteann, and the Bainisteoir project, with his brother Padraig when the pair were studying at the University of Limerick (UL): Fergal, Masters of Technology; his sibling, Masters in Entrepreneurship. Between them, they had working experience in companies like Ericsson, the Ashling group, and the Irish Dairy Board. Bainisteoir, however, is largely a work of passion.

Fergal served as a Burgess GAA club board member and has represented North Tipperary at juvenile hurling levels – he is the current manager of his club’s under-16 hurling team and coach to the North Tipperary under 15-elite squad. Padraig, meanwhile, represented North and County Tipperary at under-age level and has captained Burgess GAA club to glory. Also involved in underage coaching, he has a firm understanding of the role of a hurling manager. “The project commenced to ensure Tipperary would be capable of winning an All-Ireland Senior hurling title,” says Fergal. “All joking aside, like many a hurler, we realised that we would never be able to play like Eoin Kelly or Henry Shefflin but, like many a hurler on the ditch, we felt we could do a better job than the current inter-county managers.”

By their own admission, the McDonnells were heavily influenced by 2003’s Championship Manager 4 (Eidos), famed for its groundbreaking 2D match pitch. “When CM4 was in its prime, we thought how great it would be if there was a hurling equivalent,” says Fergal. “And so the Bainisteoir – Hurling project commenced.” The chosen platform was PC “as we felt that sports management games in other genres were most at home on the PC and didn’t always cross over fantastically well to consoles.”

The decision to develop for PC also gave the start-up company an opportunity to maintain full creative control over the project. “With the Irish games industry still very much in its infancy and with no distinct game publisher based here, we were opposed to pitching Bainisteoir – Hurling to a foreign publisher, who would be likely to have little grasp or appreciation of the sport,” says Fergal. “Wanting to control our own destiny, we developed an indigenous path to the market. Although it was a riskier path to take, we were also aware that financial rewards, arising from taking such an approach, are considerably greater than receiving development costs, plus royalties, from a publisher.”

The brothers put almost as much work into research as they did into development. They read work by leading authors in sports management (including that of American football coaching legend, Vince Lombardi), as well as books such as Ger Loughnane’s Raising the Banner, Seamus J. King’s Clash of the Ash. In order to rate different counties abilities and devise individual player profiles, they consumed articles by top GAA journalists such as Enda McEvoy, Tom Humphries and Vincent Hogan. They examined websites, attaining information about current trends and company policies, and analysed GAA coaching manuals. In addition, Fergal completed his Level 1 Coaching Badge “to further comprehend the psychological elements of modern day GAA management”.

As is the case in most management sports games, Bainisteoir’s development process required a surplus of artistic skills, although Tailteann also had their share of technical challenges. “Working on a development budget which pales in comparison to the big boys of the industry was another factor which kept us on our toes,” says Fergal. “It constantly challenged our creativity and innovation levels.”

But the true strength behind Tailteann – which the McDonnell brothers set up in Nenagh, County Tipperary – is in its balance of skilled personnel. Padraig’s non-technical background challenged Fergal to overcome technical problems, providing essential elements for the good of the game. At the same time, Fergal’s technical background allowed him to recognise opportunities that arose during the programming phase. This led, explains Fergal, to a game that “contains both technical excellence and artistic flair”.
Padraig and Fergal McDonnell

The brothers also employed programmers, artists and designers – Fergal name checks MacDara Butler and Oisin Lavery – and formed strategic alliances with interactive design firm Tricycle Interactive Systems. A1 Games Distribution were brought on board to ensure that the game reached the masses, while John Tynan was employed in a Business Development role. Fergal continues: “Play-testers and quality assurance testers, focus group respondents and research assistants, were continually employed throughout the development process. [We also used an] external team of prime professional advisors and assistants, including top multimedia, graphic design, website design, publishing (including print, replication and distribution experts), PR, advertising, financial, legal, insurance, hurling and business consultants.”

Through the McDonnell’s close ties to the sport, numerous individuals within the GAA were called upon to lend a helping hand. Fergal mentions the National Director of Hurling, Paudie Butler, and GAA Director of Games Pat Daly (who also assisted with player development and coaching frameworks). Official endorsement from the Gaelic Players Association (GPA) allowed Tailteann to use the names of real-life hurling stars within the game. The GPA also helped in the terms of research, play testing, quality assurance and PR.

Although the game was made for a fraction of the price of a Championship Manager, its success in the Irish market is testament to the commitment of the McDonnell brothers and the team around them. “We have been genuinely thrilled with the reaction the game has received from both the hurling/GAA public and the media to date,” says Fergal, adding that by post-Christmas 2007 the company had met their sales targets, although “sales-wise it could always be better”. He continues: “Pre-launch I think there were quite a few people who were more than a little sceptical of us. They wondered if a small, unknown independent games studio could really pull off a high quality simulation. From a personal point of view, our biggest worry was whether the game would have a large enough commercial appeal.” And how about plans for a sequel? “We’re in the preliminary stages of the research for an update to the game but we haven’t anything set in stone yet.”

If there is a lesson to be learned here, it is that indie game developers, even small Irish set-ups, can be successful when armed with a good idea. But it is never easy, Fergal contends. “Most within the games industry agree that the industry is in rapid expansion and that we in Ireland should be positioning ourselves to take advantage of this… However, an Irish games design firm really does need to produce something quite unique to stand out from slick, mega-bucks international competitors.”

For more information on Bainisteoir – Hurling and Tailteann Games:

Women In Games 08 Call For Papers

Women.createGames();// Women in games design and development

University of Warwick, UK.
10th-12th September 2008

Women In Games 2008 will provide a platform for academy and public sector to join with industry figures in a discussion about the current gender in-balance within the games industry. This will be an opportunity to share ideas on what can be done to encourage more women to become active participants in a flourishing creative enterprise.

Themes for this year’s conference include:

————————– */
/* 0001 Dressing up programming – is this the way to go?

Initiatives have been launched to encourage people (read girls) to do programming without realising that they are doing anything ‘hard’, and then they perhaps appreciate that it wasn’t as hard as they thought. What initiatives are out there? Do these work? Do they have credence? Do they hide the realities of what programming is?
/* —————————————————————————————- */
/* 0010 Perception of Games Industry – what is it like to work in games?

Working in the games industry is more mature than many people might imagine, and does involve a lot of hard work. It requires people to work together as a team and communicate effectively. How does this compare with the outside world’s perception? How does it compare to other creative industries of film or music? How can we change that perception if it is wrong?
/* —————————————————————————————- */
/* 0011 Technology in schools – why do girls get turned off? –

Encouraging girls to study technology is fundamental to increasing the number of women in the games industry. What is happening in schools to result in very few girls coming out of school with Computer Science, fewer still studying at degree level, before finally only a trickle of women are attracted to working in the games industry? How does this compare with other countries?
/* —————————————————————————————- */
/* 0100 Development and Play – do women do it differently?
What are the different perspectives that women bring to both playing and the design and development of games? How much is it just more of the same; what are the differences in how they play, what they produce and how they go about it?
/* —————————————————————————————- */
/* 0101 Education for Games, Games for Education
/* */
What skills are needed to work in the games industry? Are they provided by higher education, and are they options taken up by women? How are games used in education? What is the current state of play? Is this approach (and the types of games used) equally attractive and educationally beneficial to men and women?
/* —————————————————————————————- */
/* 0110 Seriously applying games for fun and profit
How is the growth of the serious games sector impacting industry and research? What does the future hold for game powered applications and will they still be fun? How are women expressing themselves in this space? In what ways are games pervading our culture and what implications does this have for the future?


We will be very happy to receive proposals on any of these themes in a wide range of formats – talks, workshops, panel discussions, etc. Send us a 250 word (max) outline of how you would like to participate.

Important dates:
31/05/08 Submission Deadline in all categories
15/07/08 Notification of Acceptance sent to all participants
15/08/08 Speakers/Contributors Registration Deadline
05/09/09 Deadline for Open Registration
10-12/09/08 Women in Games 2008

For more information please contact Nicola Bhalerao at .

You can also contact

Gd.Ie Is 5 – Time To Vote

It is hard to believe we are five years live here on but to celebrate we are currently organising the annual birthday.

This event will take place on a Friday at the end of April and this year will move to Dublin Institute of Technology. Final details to be confirmed.

The event will involve some high profile speakers from the games industry and the annual awards ceremony.

While we are busy sourcing speakers and sponsorships for the annual awards you have a role to play too. We would like you to go to the birthday shindig thread on the forums – – and make your nominations. Please also tell us why you want to nominate someone.

The main categories are:

1. The Newbie award
a person who joined the boards in the past twelve months but who has already made a significant contribution to the life and info on the website…not necessarily the most frequent number of posts…

2. The Stamina gd/ie Hall of Fame award
a person who signed up to the forums near the launch date in April 03 and has just kept posting…can only be won once.

3. The Salmon of knowledge award
For the selfless posting of gems of experience and information.

4. The Humour award
self-explanatory really – for the funniest post/posts to

5. Gd person/group of the year
For their contribution to the growth of the industry and the wider games community as well as – from April 06 – april 07. Can be a person or group.

A neutral panel will decide on the winners!

Nominations will close on Monday the 21st of April.

Previous Winners:

1. Newbie –
2007 – Paul Murphy (eDen) – student in Ballyfermot Senior College
2006 – John Molloy (nifty) student in Ballyfermot Senior College
2005 – Stéphane Ambrosini (steph)
2004 – Ivan McCloskey (kyotokid)

2. Stamina –
2007 – David McGovern (Nooptical), PopCap Games, joined Feb. ’04.
2006 – Dave Kearney (skyclad)
2005 – Damian Furlong (Omen) with a special runners up award to Ronny Southwood (ronny)
2004 – Peter McNally (pete)

3. Salmon of Knowledge –
2007 – Simon, (Gizmo) student, computing, DCU.
2006 – Malachy Duffin (Mal) CanDo
2005 – Tony Kelly (Idora) (Torc Interactive/Nephin)
2004 – Michael Griffin (Kapooki)

4. Humour –
2007 – no award – no-one funny enough!
2006 – Ivan McCloskey (Kyotokid)
2005 – Peter McNally (Pete) or his Hoffness..(Torc Interactive/Instinct Technology )
2004 – Ian Hannigan (e-Spatial/Nephin)

5. Person/ group of the year
2007 – Demonware
2006 – Demonware
2005 – IGDA Ireland committee.
2004 – Tony Kelly

Reports of previous events and winners can be found here:
2003 – the launch –
2004 –
2005 –
2006 –
2007 –