30 Entries. 10,000 Votes. 5 Winners. Salt Valley Tally Rocks the Vote
The votes have been tallied and five emerging Utah digital media companies have been awarded $5,000 each to help promote and develop their projects thanks to the Salt Valley Talley competition.
Five Utah-based companies were announced winners on Oct. 10 at Utah Valley University (UVU), who co-sponsored the competition. These included the creators of Chess Trap, Cape Chronicles, Neb Jones: and the Ruins of Ouroboros, ChatFi and Live Gaming. These projects received the most online votes from the general public over a 30-day period.
“This contest arises from the Utah Cluster Acceleration Partnership (UCAP) project in digital media that Utah Valley University convened in 2011,” said David Buhler, Commissioner of Higher Education. “It is one of the ways we’re delivering on the plan to attract and grow digital media companies.”
Each of the winning projects have unique qualities and attributes that captured the voter’s support.
ChessTrap, the voter’s top choice with 1,341 votes, is a traditional chess game with a two-story board that will be available for iPhone, iPad, Android, Mac and PC computers. Pieces move between boards through hidden trap doors and spring-loaded squares. According to the 2011 UCAP annual report nearly 40 percent of the digital media sector in Utah is in video games.
Kendal Liddle, president of Hughmanity, the company that developed ChessTrap said, “100 percent of the money we will be receiving from the contest is going into development. We have been working on ChessTrap for about five months now and are about 90 percent done. The award money comes at a critical time for us and will help us finish out the project for a planned release of ChessTrap in November.”
Cape Chronicles, placed second with 1,335 votes, is another video game set in a medieval fantasy world where players act as heroes battling beastly minions through perilous castles. The game is being developed for multiple platforms including the OUYA,which is a new game console for the TV, powered by Android built on the open-source software model. A release date for Cape Chronicles is scheduled for March of 2013.
The third place project was developed by Yellow Bouncy Ball (YBB), a small Utah-based game studio, who created the video game called Neb Jones: and the Ruins of Ouroboros. This adventure game is inspired by games such as Kings Quest, Monkey Island, and Quest for Glory. Neb Jones: and the Ruins of Ouroboros received 1,078 votes.
While video games took the top three spots a mobile application called ChatFi, placed fouth with 1,055 votes. The app uses text messaging as a professional business tool by allowing businesses and consumers to easily communicate through text messaging. ChatFi can be used to text in food orders, restaurant reservations, or questions to any business without waiting.
Rounding out the top five with 986 votes was Appify. The company created Live Gaming, which blends the creativity of open-ended role-playing games (RPGs) with the ease and speed of video games.
“Winning the Salt Valley Tally gives us a wonderful opportunity to work and develop Live Gaming, and make it a new viable product,” said Alec Sorensen a founder of Appify.
In Live Gaming a host narrates the story line, players create and narrate the actions of characters, and a web application handles rules, points, and story assets. Live Gaming provides all the creativity and social interaction of tabletop RPGs without the need for memorizing books full of rules or buying lots of dice.
The goal of the competition was to spur creativity and innovation among the state’s growing digital media industry. In order to qualify, companies had to be legally incorporated in Utah, have less than $1 million in annual sales, and be developing technology that was not yet commercially available. Thirty unique projects were approved for the competition.
“Digital media lives and dies on the response of the market. We have been excited to use crowdsourcing to capture the wisdom of the market in determining which digital media innovations are most deserving of the cash prizes,” said Steven Roy, Associate Vice President of Economic Development at Utah Valley University and USTAR regional technology outreach director. “We felt that if people would rally and vote for a business, they will be more likely to buy the product.”
Roy said the contest was a first for Utah, allowing the market to drive the awarding of grant money to companies with strong ties to the community that will buy the products. “By letting the market determine the awards, we are helping to fund the companies people really want,” he said.