Two weeks ago we got back from Melbourne International Games Week in Australia. It’s been a year since the last time we went. This year was bigger and better as it should! The week was full on. There were Unite, GCAP and PAX conferences, the Arcade open day once again, INTIMATE was an amazing night put up by BackYard.sk and Wonder Consortium indie game collectives, Megadev party with lots of gamedevs partying every night. It was exhausting and very inspiring!
This year GCAP opened with an amazing keynote by Brie Code speaking about crafting one’s future and finding one’s voice, and closed with an amazing keynote by Martin Sahlin, about honesty, things we hold dear and the challenges that break us and birth us back into the world. GCAP had a great vibe, lots of talks, great unscheduled balcony sessions which they should definitely bring back next year. Spontaneous activities like the GCAP badge game designed at one of the sessions, Tony and Adam’s first time Vegemite tasting, and a bunch of us had tim tam slams!
— nomand (@nomand) October 27, 2015
— Farah Khalaf (@farahkhlf) October 28, 2015
There was an excellent talk titled “Dreams are the Seeds of Growth” about the process of building a studio by Morgan Jaffit of Defiant Development (AGDA Studio of the Year 2014). He dove into the evolution of Defiant as a backdrop to explore the philosophy, the “why” and pillars of running a healthy game development studio.
Even in a cut throat capitalistic society it’s possible for a game studio to thrive with human balance that can work for its games, players, developers and its bank account. Knowing why the studio exists in the first place is an important place to start, not just surface level but discussing and discovering what each member expects both from the present moment and the future. Bookkeeping, marketing and making excellent games is important too of course.
Talk notes here.
“Design With Intent – How Small Details Matter” by Tim Dawson was an awesome insight into the deliberate design processes of Assault Android Cactus. Tim suggests a good approach is to define the pillars of your game design as ideals to discriminate between valid directions (but not be laundry list of good qualities most games would want).
For example Assault Android Cactus Pillars being:
– Color – distinctive, mix things up
– Momentum – unrelenting intensity, flow, rhythm, tempo, don’t interrupt or take over or get in players way
– Honesty – avoid random elements, clear and consistent game state, cultivate and protect players trust in game
These are good pillars because they help inform decisions.
Talk notes here.
Adam Brennecke‘s talk on “Unity Tips and tricks – What we learned from making Pillars of Eternity” at Unite was an excellent insight into tips, tricks, project management, and structure and development of a large RPG. He said to focus on team productivity and had a lot of other agreeable takeaways.
Talk notes here.
Another awesome thing was an overwhelming presence of Kiwis and NZ based developers throughout the week. It was great to see leaders and students alike take part in the games week.
We were preparing for PAX weeks before. Swordy wasn’t ready for a show, and we were implementing another game mode at the time. We were scrambling for time and unfortunately the new mode went untested and wasn’t ready. Hamish ended up spending a few nights before the show cramming some bug fixes for deathmatch. It’s easy to laugh it off when joking about indie life and coding on the plane to a show, but this time it was a serious oversight that we’ll never repeat again. Other than that, PAX was another huge success for us.
First thing to note, the indie area (this year called “PAX Rising”) was twice as big as last year. When we first saw our booth, because our placement was inside, we thought we’d get much less traffic than last year. Turned out however, it was just as busy, placement didn’t impact us as much. This year we came back with the same setup – 2 big screens with 2 machines, 4 players each, and we were busy at all times.
This year we showcased Swordy with a lot of updates and changes, with new physics and rendering, updated weapon handling, cleaving, damage types, and the new “White Peak” arena on the front end, with a lot more work in progress that wasn’t ready to be shown in time, like Hoard mode AI and other game modes.
We had a lot of fun meeting new players and seeing last years champions come back to play Swordy. A lot of great feedback from the community! We’re grateful to everyone who came by our booth, played our game and picked up one of our famed pins.
More photos from PAX and Melbourne games week on our Facebook Page!
Melbourne gamedev scene is flourishing, and the higher end of it can be seen here at the Arcade. It was great to see the many resident studios grow, games be released, a vibrant community driven by successes and healthy support from Victorian government, GDAA & IGDA.
A big shout out to League of Geeks for keeping our PAX screens for a year and having them ready for us, setting up for PAX was a breeze thanks to this fine crew!
SK&WC‘s event was my highlight of extracurricular events of the week. This was held at an awesome venue Inward Goods, that was set up with projectors, computers and custom controllers all over its two storey brick and wood re-purposed warehouse interior. The party had a donation bar, DJ and games among which there were Evan Greenwood’s Magnetic Assholes, Paloma Dawkins’s ALEA, Robert Yang’s Cobra Club, Fingercandy’s Fuball, and my favorite of the night Broken Sounds, a collaborative audio-light experience using playstation move controllers.
And as always, Megadev marks the end of the week. A sigh of relief as heavy as the mourning for the end of it all till next year. Lots of new and old friends, lots of beer and no looking at the clock till our phone batteries run out for an uber back to real life, here we celebrate the celebration that this week has been, of everyone and their achievements this year. Call it, the Gamedev New Year if you will.
We are so grateful for this whole experience, everyone who helped, everyone who came to play Swordy, everyone we shared a drink with and everyone who inspired us! We hope to bring Swordy back next year! We’ll be out by then, surely 🙂