Factsheet

Developer:
Urustar
Based in Genova, Italy

Founding date:
May 5, 2010

Website:
urustar.net

Press / Business contact:
press@urustar.net

Social:
@urustar
facebook.com/urustar
Skype

Releases:
Zwan

Address:
Urustar Srl
Genova
ITALY

Phone:
COMPANY_PHONE

Description

Urustar is an Italian game design and development studio based in Genova. Urustar is made up by Federico Fasce, Alessandra Carboni, Marina Rossi and Lorenzo Pigozzo, four people constantly exploring the new frontiers of games.

History

Early Days

Urustar has been founded in 2010 by Federico Fasce, Marina Rossi and Alessandra Carboni. The main goal of the company has always been to create meaningful games capable to evoke emotions and to send specific messages through their mechanics. We started the company after making a pervasive wireless treasure hunt in Urbino in 2007, a small alternate reality game for Microsoft and a e-learning tool for an European Project (FEPIC - Female Engineers Pushing Innovations in Companies) in 2009. Before incorporating, we created "Urustar the Game", our first platformer (featuring a pixelated Ian Bogost) which was meant to show our values and ideas about games. Our main source of inspiration in designing and making games is the MDA model by Robin Hunicke, Marc LeBlanc and Robert Zubek, which we consider the foundation of modern game design.

The Flash Years

Our first projects have been focused on consulting for several Italian game companies. Besides we started working on our own with small projects made in Flash ("To the Bride Bouque-et", a funny commentary on wedding-day traditions and "Santa's Deadly Descent", a Christmas-themed platformer), and we wrote the game design document for our first, highly experimental, mobile game. During this year we made "Lionel", a flash platformer which has been diffused as a promotional game for an independent movie by Mohammed Soudani. 2011 has been mainly about consolidating the work made in 2010 and starting the expansion of the consulting activity. We worked a lot in making game design documents for other companies, but we found the time to publish, with the help of MWPowerlab, our first mobile game. "Potion Motion" has been released in march 2011, and we curated concept, game design and game writing, visual art and interface. Meanwhile we made two more commissioned games. The first, "WePlayVolando", aimed to promote a tour operator in a funny and fresh way, while the other one, "Privacy Traders", was a live game meant to show teenagers the implications in sharing personal data on social networks.

Playing with Unity

In 2012 we decided to abandon Flash and embrace Unity as the main tool for making games. We still made a couple of games in Flash ("Taste, Share and Have Fun", a commentary about underpaid tedious jobs given to young people, and "Alien Eater", a furious Robotron-style arcade game) but we started studying Unity by taking part in a lot of game jams. For the Global Game Jam 2012 we created "Samsara", a rhythm game about the wheel of life and for the 7 Days FPS Jam we created "Vin Diesel in a Paper World", a cartoony take on FPS where you shoot smiles on the frowny faces of the enemies. Lorenzo joined the team and helped us finish "Tale of Tails", a card game about monkeys in a sacred Balinese forest: the game has been selected as a finalist for the Premio Archimede 2012. Lorenzo then created another card game, "Earthquake Tornado Lizard Flood", and his first digital game in unity, "Hotot", a bizarre tale about a bunny on a lonely planet. Then we teamed up with other Italian game developers to build the Winnitron IT, an independent-game based arcade machine. The Italian Winnitron is still enjoyable in Bologna, at the Archivio Videoludico (the national video game archive). Then we released another game, "A Legendairy Christmas", a silly interactive narrative crossing different stories about Christmas Eve. We made some non-games projects as well: "Tiny Game Design Tool", a small booklet guiding novices in designing a game from scratch, "So You Wanna Be A Game Designer?", a guide for beginners, and we helped Paolo Tajé to create "Layers", a card-based game design tool. At the end of the year, we have been selected by the Bosch Art Game committee to develop a prototype out of a concept document we sent to participate in a contest they held. The request was to create a game about Hieronymus Bosch's art.

Jamming Our Way Around

At the beginning of 2013 we went on taking part in many game jams. At the Global Game Jam in January we created "Anheuristic", a gloomy adventure set in a dying planet, and we figured out we needed to get out our comfort zone and start experimenting more. For that reason we prototyped a lot and we decided to change our logo to something which can describe us in a more satisfying fashion. We created a political game, "The Wrong Lizard", during a game jam held in Italy in the week before the Election Day. We designed "Business Card War", a little wargame directly into our business card, making each card a spaceship; we made "Asso 91", the prototype for a dogfight local multiplayer game. Meanwhile Lorenzo worked on a digital and physical prototype for "Dervish Derby", a two player strategy game. Federico and Marina took a PlayStation Move controller and designed "Blind Move", a two player asymmetrical game about being invisible only when moving. Then Federico and Lorenzo made "Monarch", another game jam entry about a butterfly trying to lay an egg in a polluted world and "7 Seconds FPS", a super fast take on FPS clichés.

Zwan

But the project that took the most of our time in 2014 has been "Zwan", the prototype we created for the Bosch Art Game competition. In October, after finished our game, we flew to 's-Hertogenbosch (NL) to officially present it to the public in the final phase of the contest. We didn't come up as the winners, but we got great feedback from both the jury and the public. The game has been shown during several events in Europe and ultimately has been nominated for Excellence in Visual Arts at the Italian Drago D'Oro Award in 2014.

B*Sides 2010-2014

In 2014, for our fourth birthday, we released "B*Sides 2010-2014", a collection of 17 games we have created during the first four years of activity; we have polished some prototypes, plus we added some extra content: ebooks, original soundtrack, concept art, videos, wallpapers, print and play card games, and also a sneak peek of our next project, codename "Betelgeuse". Our "B*Sides 2010-2014* are available on Gumroad.

Urustar Today

We are a strong and well-sorted team, and we can count on many external collaborators helping us in various fields of the game-making endeavour. Every one of us come from a different field of work, and we have all matured a lot of experience in various aspects of making games. Today Urustar has the skills and the knowledge to create interesting and entertaining games. We are always deeply committed in creating games starting from the emotions we want to evoke and crafting meaningful mechanics around them. Through our games we want to empower and promote diversity, rather than targeting the usual heterosexual young white male which the main industry regards as the perfect customer. For that reason we try to think outside the box and make games which use different verbs than the usual shoot-run-jump (even if at times we love some good action too!). We like to make meaningful games with credible and non-stereotypical characters, and to use them to tell something about us, our ideals and our views. We see ourselves as game advocates and we are committed to respect our customers and always treat them like actual people rather than just numbers in sales reports. For that reason we try not to work with business models we consider exploiting and non-respectful as free to play, or with games that objectify people and use hypersexualised characters as a way to sell more copies.

Projects


Videos

Genius Loci inteview with Urustar (Italian only) Vimeo


Images

download all screenshots & photos as .zip (46MB)
pechakucha01.png
pechakucha02.png
premioarchimede_venezia2012.png
tastesharehavefun.png
tinygamedesigntool.png

There are far more images available for Urustar, but these are the ones we felt would be most useful to you. If you have specific requests, please do contact us!


download logo files as .zip (9MB)
logo
logo

Awards & Recognition

  • "Drago D'Oro – Excellence in Visual Art Finalist" - February, 2014
  • "Bosch Art Game (finalist)" - Zwan, 2013
  • "Premio Archimede 2012 (finalist)" - Tail of Tales, 2012
  • "Winner of Chrome Web Store Contest" - Santa's Deadly Descent, 2011

Selected Articles

  • "Meanwhile once more, at the Genoa-based brand consultancy Urustar, designer recast and condense hundreds of pages of my book into playable pixel art."
    - Ian Bogost, Alien Phenomenology, or What It's Like to Be a Thing (University Of Minnesota Press, 2012),
  • "Equally importantly, there are now emerging new and promising areas of development based on an intertwining of games with reality and in this regard Urustar is, with conviction, trying out products such as news games, or serious games, aimed at raising awareness and educating the player about important issues such as personal health, environmental protection, safety in situations of risk, and so on."
    - Fabio Abati, Genius Loci

Timeline
Our released games and major events urustar.net.

Portfolio
You can check our portfolio on slideshare.net.

Photos
Our latest photos and sketches are published on flickr.com.


Team & Repeating Collaborator

Federico Fasce
Creative Director, Lead Game Designer

Alessandra Carboni
Administrator Officer

Marina Rossi
Producer

Lorenzo Pigozzo
Game Designer, Groove Maker


presskit() by Rami Ismail (Vlambeer) - also thanks to these fine folks