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Ubisoft Toronto NEXT 2024 Winners — Celebrating Ontario’s Student Talent in Game Dev

March 28, 2024
5 minutes read
Matt West Web Banner

We have our winners for the 2024 Ubisoft Toronto NEXT challenge! 

300 students and new grads across Ontario competed to win an internship at the studio and the tremendous level of talent displayed left our judges in awe! 

Now in its 11th year, Ubisoft Toronto NEXT has shined a spotlight on game development students in Ontario and helped to kickstart their careers in the industry. 

Since the launch of the competition, there have been 86 winners and over 220 participants annually from more than 30 different universities and colleges. We’ve hired 94 participants (including some finalists). And we’re proud that 39% of our NEXT hires are still with the studio today, many even coming full circle to become judges in the competition! 

Ubisoft Toronto Next Logo Next 10

“We’re proud to be in a position where we’re bringing people together and encouraging the next generation of talent,” said Darryl Long, Managing Director at Ubisoft Toronto. “There are so many passionate people that have come through NEXT and DAU as interns and stayed to grow and build their careers with us to become our brightest developers – working on Ubisoft’s biggest brands right here in Toronto.” 

“NEXT has now entered a new decade, and with relentless support from our academic partners, NEXT has made its mark as the platform for participants to take on exciting projects and receive an internship at our studio,” says Tanvi Athavale, Campus & Early Career Programs Specialist.

We are absolutely thrilled to announce the winners of the 11th edition of the Ubisoft Toronto NEXT challenge! 

The 2024 Ubisoft Toronto NEXT winners 

3DArt 

For this year’s theme, participants were asked to create a 3D video game environment diorama of a space explorer’s living quarters. Participants were encouraged to focus on visual storytelling, composition of quality assets, and attention to detail.

Winner: Yueran (Cassandra) Zhou (She/Her) from Sheridan College 

Yueran’s strong narrative and purpose-built environment fit both form and function and showcased her technical design approach. All the judges were impressed by how she overcame hurdles and challenged her initial process to redraft aspects to better suit the environment.
— Derian McCrea, Model Artist 

Second place: Vitalii Kiforenko (He/Him) from Seneca College 

Third place: Natashya Peddle (She/Her) from Durham College 

Animation 

The theme of this year’s challenge was “flip.” Participants were asked to create an animation with at least two characters, at least one of which was of biped form. The challenge was to display an understanding of body mechanics and acting through body language. 

Winner: Jonathan Chen (He/Him) from Sheridan College 

Jonathan delivered a fantastically polished piece that was very fun to watch. Not only did he incorporate “flip” in a few ways physically, he also did so emotionally in the flip of the human character! Clear storytelling, a great sense of timing, and keen attention to detail, right down to the animation of the checker pieces and the character’s hair, it all came together to produce a great scene!  
— Renee Brunton, Cinematic Animator 

Second place: Victor Hugo Arce Arica (He/Him) from George Brown College 

Third place: Xiaoyi Zhu (She/Her) from Centennial College 

Concept Art 

What would our world look like if fairytale characters were real and have lived among us this whole time? Whether it be fairies, princesses or evil wolves, this was a challenge to flex your artistic and storytelling skills to breathe life into a chosen fairytale scene. Participants were invited to flex their creativity while keeping in mind overall cohesiveness of characters or creatures, environment design and tone. 

Winner: Qiushi Jin (He/Him) from Sheridan College

Qiushi’s submission had a great premise and he displayed a very strong grasp of fundamentals, even in his loose sketches. I was impressed by certain advanced composition tricks he implemented, and his show of 3D skills is commendable!
— Brian Zuleta, Concept Artist

Second place: June Lee (She/Her) from Sheridan College 

Third place: Hiu Man (Mandy) Yu (She/Her) George Brown College 

Game Design 

The Game Design challenge lets participants showcase their problem-solving skills and experience with game engines as they plan a design from concept to playability. This year’s challenge was to create a new human enemy archetype for any Far Cry game. The challenge took participants through different stages from defining design goals, to creating a creative brief pitch document to constructing a detailed design document.

Winner: Tiago Massochin (He/Him) from Sheridan College 

Tiago’s FND Disruptor was presented in a visually striking and informative manner. His presentation skills were excellent and were only matched by his thorough design work. He had extremely well thought out answers for all our questions, received feedback gracefully and gladly. At first blush I thought he was presenting us one of our own documents, because of the visual design, but more importantly because it presented the goals, intentions and execution professionally and clearly.
— Nigel Soederhuysen, Lead Game Designer

Second place: Brandon-Lee Mohamed (He/Him) from Sheridan College 

Third place: Andrei Duta (He/Him) from Toronto Metropolitan University Toronto

Level Design 

From creating a pitch to a playable blockmesh, participants had to apply their design sensibilities across this two-part challenge, which was designed to be representative of the production journey a mission takes — from its earliest “on paper” pitch to its very first appearance “on screen.”

Winner: Chris Russell Shantz (He/Him) from Sheridan College 

Chris’ level shined in the way he did more with less, focusing on polishing its contents and letting the layout shine. His level was easy to navigate and his intentions with the spaces were clear and believable. We were especially impressed with his clear vantage points, clever AI placement, and a really cool escape sequence where the whole level started burning around us. 
— Camila Kukulski, Level Designer 

Second place: Lucas Altamirano (He/Him) from Sheridan College 

Third place: Tiago Massochin (He/Him) from Sheridan College 

Programming 

Participants were challenged to create a game made entirely in C++ over the course of a weekend! This year’s challenge was focused on the theme “firing projectiles!” (Think Angry Birds or Worms.) Using the API provided, participants were tasked to create a well-crafted and compelling game experience that innovates on the classic formula, while adding their own flavour to their game. 

Winner: Shaelynn Keiko Curran (She/Her) from University of Toronto 

Shaelynn demonstrated really strong game concepts, from entities to gameplay to object pooling. She went beyond the theme and used projectiles in unique ways. We were also impressed by her depth of knowledge in various disciplines and her detailed documentation. 
— Henry Bullingham, Online Programmer 

Second place: McCallum Armstrong (He/Him) from Algonquin College 

Third place: Roy Lu (He/Him) from Sheridan College 

Technical Art 

Creativity and technical skill come together in this challenge where participants had to create a technical interpretation of a 3D art scene featuring a conflict between humans and aliens on Venus in 2077. The goal is to ensure that production of a game is achievable by creating efficient and easily useable solutions for other team members that are adaptable to other needs and situations. 

Winner: Jiahui Hu (He/Him) from York University 

The judges and I were completely blown away by Jiahui’s submission! It’s clear he put a lot of thought and detail in every aspect of the project and was able to add a lot of life and variety to the scene. All while having tools that kept the artist’s usability in mind.
— Jessica Le, Technical Artist

Second place: Bharath Raj (He/Him) from Sheridan College 

Third place: Yuyang Qiu (He/Him) from York University 

Congratulations to all Ubisoft Toronto NEXT winners and finalists! And special thanks to all participants and judges for being a part of this program!

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