Medical research charity Wellcome Trust is partnering with Epic Games to launch Developing Beyond, a game development competition that gives European developers one year to build a viable game.
Competing for a prize pool worth $500,000, entrants will be given one full year to create their game, and submissions will be judged by a panel consisting of id Software co-founder John Romero and comedian Susan Calman, among others.
Developing Beyond is open to all European developers. Signups are open at the competition's website. Applications must be entered before February 10, and must adhere to the event's "Transformation" theme.
Proposals for games should "explore the human condition—whether across moments or generations, microscopic or global, historical, geographic, or indeed contemporary," according to organizers. "Human bodies and populations across the world are constantly changing, and with this comes new opportunities, unforeseen journeys and incredible challenges; from the consequences of a global shift towards urban living, to technological innovations revolutionising lives and even bacteria outwitting the best antibiotics."
Given the 12-month duration of the competition and the prize money up for grabs, Epic Games and Wellcome Trust are looking for projects larger in scope than the smaller games that come from shorter game jams.
"The idea of the competition is to create a minimum viable product, not a finished game," Epic Games EU territory manager Mike Gamble told Gamesindustry.biz. "Using PC as the base platform allows for porting to any other format after the competition. After all, the products will hopefully be developed into full games."
Semi-finalists will be announced on February 20, and will be given $15,000 and the support of a scientist to help flesh out their transformative concept. Come July, their progress will be evaluated, and finalists will receive $60,000 to press on until January 2018, when a first-place winner will be awarded $150,000. Second place will get $50,000, with third place taking home $30,000.
"Games have always been a passion of mine," said co-judge Susan Calman. "They entertain and consume you like nothing else. Getting to look inside developers' heads for year is an absolute dream; I can't wait to get started."