Summit ends, leaves me with plenty to digest

MIGS logoWell, MIGS is over for this year. It was the first game-development conference I have attended, and for the most part I enjoyed it greatly. Interesting stuff being exhibited at booths/demo-stations, both from small-time indie-developers promoting their games (like for instance gamesbymo’s A.N.N.E. – one to watch!) and from big-time guys like Wacom, Autodesk, Granny, Epic and more showing off both hardware and software related to game-development. There were also other miscellaneous stuff going on, like a “sketch duel” competition, job fair for those looking for new (or their first – lots of students there too) gigs, and more.

Unfortunately I missed a good part of Tim Sweeney’s opening keynote since Google maps directed me to the wrong metro-station (NOT the one right next to the Hilton Montreal Bonaventure, where the event in question was being hosted), but hopefully I’ll be able to scrounge up a summary of it from somewhere.  The other conference-sessions I attended were of mixed quality (name/link-dropping to follow).

Some were awesome:

  • Building Bastion – Amir Rao’s talk about the history of his independent studio Supergiant Games and the creation process of their first game, Bastion.
  • Design postmortem of Mark of the Ninja – Nels Anderson’s talk about Klei Entertainment’s awesome 2D-stealth game Mark of the Ninja, with roots from Thief, Deus Ex, MGS, etc. In fact, it looked so awesome that I’m going to buy it on Steam right after finishing this post(I couldn’t wait! Bought right after writing the previous sentence, instead.)
  • Solving the game design puzzle: From management to executionAlexandre Mandryka‘s talk about the roles of game designers in game development, what skills go into those roles, how to train for those roles and evaluate people for those roles, etc.
  • Experiments and InnovationPeter Molyneux‘s opening keynote on the second day. Partly about the need for more innovation and experimenting in game development and how to go about getting there, partly about his new studio 22Cans and the people working there, partly about his new Curiosity experiment. Unfortunately he couldn’t attend the conference in person, so he held his talk over Skype – with mixed success (words randomly vanished on their way across the Atlantic Ocean from time to time). Still good, though.

Some were alright:

  • Holodeck: The First GenerationLee Sheldon‘s talk about something called the “Emergent Reality Lab“,  using VR/Augumented Reality/Mixed Reality technology to a Star-Trek like Holodeck for gaming purposes (though prototyped as an educational type thing).
  • Fueling and funding your indie game dreams – Vander Caballero’s talk was a mixture of “how to go about getting started on an indie game and getting it funded” (good) and “this is the game I made – Papo & Yo, and how it progressed through development” (alright). Closer to the end of the presentation though, it started feeling more like an advertisement for the game, which was a bit ‘meh’.
  • Push button, generate universe: Or, strategies in procedural content generation – Ichiro Lambe’s talk about the Holy Grail of video games: Procedural Content Generation (PCG), how it was used in AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! – A Reckless Disregard for Gravity, and what its strengths and weaknesses are compared to manual content creation.
  • Inventing the future: MIGS Brain Dump 2012 – Nine accomplished game developers ( Richard Rouse III, Lee Sheldon, Bernard Perron, Alex Hutchinson, Cord Smith, Tim Sweeney, Stephan Martiniere, Jonathan Morin, Stéphanie Bouchard) each spending ~5 minutes sharing something about where games should be going and how to get there. Basic predictions/wishful thinking about the future of games, basically. Inspiring stuff.

And one made me throw up a little in my mouth:

  • Migrating from paid to free games: Transition to a new design paradigm – Avery Alix’s talk about the efforts of PopCap Games to get players to spend as much money as possible on “freemium” games like Bejeweled Blitz and Solitaire Blitz on Facebook and iOS. Possibly a good talk (well delivered, by all means) for people who are more business oriented than me. For my part, it felt like I was attending a talk on how to make drug-pushing more efficient and more profitable, with a side-note to make sure that the end-users of said drug have fun, so they stick around.

And then there were a whole bunch of other sessions I would have liked to go to, but was unable to because I couldn’t figure out how to split into multiple versions of myself so I could attend them all at the same time. Real bummer, that. :(

2 thoughts on “Summit ends, leaves me with plenty to digest”

  1. Np, looking forward to the slides :) I’m hoping the slides from the other talks become available as well, especially the ones I missed!

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