Introducing PieceFall, the first PS4 student game from the PlayStationFirst programme

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Introducing PieceFall, the first PS4 student game from the PlayStationFirst programme

A polished puzzler from a talented Sheffield Hallam University team

Game studios like PieceFall creator Steel Minions don’t come much younger and fresher than this! In fact, the developers are all students on Sheffield Hallam University’s games degrees and don’t graduate until November 2015.

Sheffield Hallam University is part of Sony’s unique academic game development programme, PlayStationFirst, which provides educational hardware licenses for PS3, PS Vita and PS4 development kits to registered universities, and offers production support to help selected self-published titles.

Steel Minions Game Studio was created in 2010 to provide students at SHU with a ‘work simulation’ studio environment. Students are chosen to work in the studio based on merit, and game projects are an integral part of their degree portfolio.

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Available for PlayStation 4 from 15th July, the studio’s new game PieceFall is an agile 3D puzzle game set in a world of abstract floating islands. The islands were destroyed by a storm, and it’s the player’s task to return the islands to their former tranquility by rebuilding the land piece by piece.

Each island of the four has 12 puzzles to solve, and the player has to gather enough points to rebuild the ancient spiritual monuments. As a reward and with enough points the ultimate level of the Zen Island is unlocked.

With its strangely hypnotic puzzle mechanic that will have an immediate appeal to Tetris fans, PieceFall provides an intricate new take on the classic concept by flipping the puzzle onto a horizontal plane. Are you ready to accept the challenge, and restore harmony to the islands?

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The original game concept was developed as a group project for students back in October 2013, and it took three different student development teams, 10 months of development time over two years to finally bring it to market. It went through various iterations and game changes, where complex mini-games, bonus levels, multi-player objectives and additional islands had to be sacrificed in order to get a well-polished game over the finish line.

But with the help of local game developers, mentors and a dedicated PS First Producer – the ultimate goal of publishing a PS4 game on the PlayStation Store has been realised. This is the first fully published PS4 student game, paving the way for the next wave of PlayStation developers now in education, and is a real testament to what is possible when you follow your dreams.

Sheffield Hallam University has one of the largest PlayStation teaching labs in the world, and is producing talent that understands the complexities of making a great product for PlayStation and are ready to make the leap from the classroom, straight into AAA game development. It should come as no surprise that all five members of the final team have already secured jobs at LittleBigPlanet 3 developer Sumo Digital in Sheffield and Elite3D in Valencia!


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3 Author Replies

  • Do the students get some of the money?

    • Sheffield Hallam University is a registered PlayStation developer and self-published this game. The copyright is with the academic institution including the student developers.

  • Great initiative, hopefully not the last student game that makes it’s way to the Store!

  • Looks good, good luck :)

  • Worst. Name. Ever.

    But otherwise it looks fun. I was never a fan of Tetris though. So I’ll probably pass.

  • Looks interesting for sure. If the price is right I may get this.

    • I don’t know about the price in euros, but it’s 99 pence in the UK, so I don’t think the price is an issue for anyone.

  • I’ll definitely pick this up! Sheffield Hallam is a great University. Good luck with the launch of your game :)

  • Is this the sort of program that gets shut down after just a few years like PlayStation Mobile and the PlayStation Development Program did?

    If you’re gonna start initiatives, make sure you can make it last this time.

  • Is it possible to make students in Sweden gain access to this devkit as well?

    • Only legally registered academic institutions are eligible to apply. If your University is interested in the program – please follow the link to our home page for more information. There is a list of institutions whom we partners with including in Sweden.

    • Thanks for the quick reply! I’ll see if I can convince my school to apply, but are there any specific requirements? Does it cost anything? How will this program work, is it a course? Or is it only the devkit that the school can access and they have full control over it? Couldn’t find any information about it on the site, but if there is, please link it.

    • Hi
      Your University will have to send an ‘Expression of Interest’ to this email:
      No individual person is eligible for this program – only registered academic institutions.

  • It’s shame UCLAN never had this kind of support from Sony. Hell, it’s a shame I spent three years at that University to get a degree in ‘Games Design Enterprise’ to get screwed over by them and their seemingly fantastic skill of ruining a course. Never have I been so angry to have applied for a job at a game studio and be told that I “didn’t learn anything that couldn’t be taught from internet tutorials.”

    Fantastic to see this kind of support. Really disappointed that my University who apparently had a really good relationship with Sony Liverpool and Evolution Studio’s (before Liverpool Studio closed). I remember they did a seminar on 3D gaming and how it would impact the industry and because I was studying at the UCLAN campus in my home town rather than the Preston campus 32 miles away that I couldn’t attend.

  • Is there any hope of an American release of PieceFall? Looks beautiful and most definitely has a spot on my PlayStation 4 if it comes over!

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