Moving a dairy cow with an iPad instead of a dog or motorbike wouldn’t work in the real world, but it does at the University of Waikato’s stand at Fieldays.
The university’s graduation mascot, MÅ« the cuddly Friesian cow is the model for the main character in a new iPad game which will allow visitors to the university’s Fieldays stand to try their hand at dairy farming.
Mu cow, is a ’cuddly’ graduation mascot
Players aim to keep milk production up by grazing MÅ« in a paddock; however, they also have to watch out she doesn’t eat too much thistle or ragwort, and that she doesn’t bump into the electric fence too often.
The game - complete with the catchphrase ’Morning, girls!’ -- has been specially developed by a group of Waikato students to fit with this year’s Fieldays theme of the changing face of farming.
The University is a strategic partner of the National Agricultural Fieldays, and its stand in the Premier Feature area will also showcase university research and innovation that’s adding value to land-based industries.
"The game’s been designed so you move Mu around the paddock by tilting the iPad," says Brian Cole, director of hi-tech start-up Cold Studios, which has developed the game. "There are three levels, and when you finish each level you get to improve your grazing with inputs from University of Waikato researchers."
Brian, who’s midway through a Bachelor of E-Commerce, came to Waikato after 10 years in the military - the last five of which as a science researcher. Going to university was an opportunity to move out of the Auckland rat race and into something a bit more entrepreneurial.
"University is the perfect sandbox to get in and rip around and try things out.
"You’re surrounded by some extremely knowledgeable people, so help is never very far away. And you’ve got a ready pool of young talent."
To scope out that talent, Brian last year decided to take both core first-year computing papers as part of his e-commerce degree.
"My strength is in management, but I thought: ’This is the skillset I need, let’s go and find people who excel in this area as well as gain programming skills’."
He got talking to his fellow students about breaking into the highly competitive computer games industry, and they decided to put together a company to give themselves experience and material for their portfolios.
Cold Studios now employs three programmers and two graphic designers - all Waikato students. Brian says they expect to be able to pay themselves a living wage by the third year of operation, but in the meantime he’s working hard at leveraging course credits for some of the work the company does.
Apart from the Fieldays game, Cold Studios is also working on its own IP. Projects include a space shooter game, an internet radio streaming app for a specified music genre and an app which allows users to create their own sound files for ringtones, for example.
The `Morning girls!’ game can be played at the university stand (PF19) at Fieldays from Wednesday June 13 to 16.