Author: Paul Godden – Communications Director, Two Patch Pirates
Game Anglia 2018 Conference at University of Suffolk, Ipswich
Game Anglia 2018 Conference at University of Suffolk, Ipswich. On a nice sunny morning I was dropped off near the bridge at St. Peter’s Dock and walked along the river front. I haven’t spent much time in this part of Ipswich for the past thirty five years so the transformation is quite something. When I used to hang out there it was between its time as a working dock and what it has since become and so at the time it was largely abandoned and run down. A classic nineteen seventies backdrop that could have been used for any number of Sweeney episodes.
But now there are boats as far as the eye can see and on a sunny day its a beautiful sight to behold. Added to that the water front redevelopment has meant there are nice cafes and restaurants to spend some time in (more of that later). I arrived at the University of Suffolk building on the water front not quite sure what to expect. I had booked to come because I was curious to see what was going on in my old home town now that I’m part of a games development company myself.
Game Anglia 2018 Conference at University of Suffolk, Ipswich. The first thing to say is that I very much enjoyed my day. I attended all the talks that took place and so I have to concede it was also a tiring day, but worth the time and effort. Well done to the Game Anglia organisers for putting this together and all the volunteers who were very helpful and kept things running smoothly.
Speakers – Morning
The first speaker of the day was Bill Roper (Blizzard, Improbable). Good start to the day. My notes are brief but he described his early entry into the business and this began a consistent theme for the day, the strange ways that people get into the games industry. Key to which seemed to be determination (any students reading take note of this). Bill emphasised the importance of multi player games and discussed the history of games development. He should know having worked on games such as Diablo , Starcraft and Disney Infinity.
A useful point Bill made was that players of your games will build great levels for your game if you give them the tools. He said competition to get into the games industry is high but that its a great time to start your own thing! Encouraging to hear him talk about AR and VR with enthusiasm and that he thinks Virtual Reality is going to happen, says there are lots of amazing games under development. Also says those left in VR are those that care about VR (good point worth saying). There is a massive growth in mobile games development at this point and Bill raised the spector of mobile games heralding the death of consoles because of streaming. Bill emphasised the need for prototyping (make stuff) also suggested practising pitching (make sure you know your stuff).
Catchphrase: (do)n’t Qu(it).
The next speaker was Andy Green who works at Bossa and works on Worlds Adrift. Talked about the Open Development model. Expressed how difficult it is to maintain updates. Stated that users had created eleven thousand four hundred and eighty one assets and counting for Worlds Adrift. Suggested users can do a lot of the work for a game if you give them the tools. Build games where users can make the content. They can make more than you! Emphasised good customer service.
Catchphrase: Don’t give up, game development is not easy!
Next to speak was Sam Read a producer for Gang Beasts, here’s a short summary of what he spoke about. Make games! No one has overnight success. Go to game jams. Get others to play your games as soon as possible. Quote “You gotta network to get work”. Come to events like this, talk to people. Make the game that you are passionate about.
Catchphrase: Make a game and you are a games developer
Time for a break, a cup of coffee and a short walk along the quay to look at all the boats.
Speakers – Afternoon
Abie Hepp from media molecule spoke briefly about her communications work and it would have been good if she’d been given a little longer. But then I am a communications director so I have a vested interest in this area. Her basics came down to find players and create content. She also touched on issues such as what is your companies message, set a company hash tag, brand your games, create a brief for each game so you know everything about it. Get everything out of each coder. Schedule using spreadsheets all events, alpha testing and beta testing.
Abie recommends Quip.
Catchphrase: Network, network, network, be proactive!
Also from Media Molecule was Tom Dent their community manager. Talking about how to interact with your audience his first tip was to make it manageable. Say when you are available to respond to questions/problems. Don’t be a robot, respond in a natural human fashion, show them you are people. Key to their business is cakes and these make for great social media :-). Always reply even if you have no new information. Think about users as a community. Have plans and strategies for communications.
Catchphrase: Every opportunity you have put your game in front of people.
Elie Abraham is involved in sound design for games and is famous for the catchphrase “I want to make music 4 ur game”! Has done over one hundred and thirty game jams. Top tips were..
– Your craft is not your career
– You don’t have to be the best
– Be a business person
– Ask (your friends) for help (pay them)
– Support each others careers
– It will feel random, work to make a random thing possible
Catchphrase: Take care of yourself
Next up was the all-star talks panel: Alternative routes into games. There were three speakers here the first of which was..
Cyborgangel – She spoke about how she began using Twitch as a creative hobby on the side but it ended up being a full time job. She now earns double what she used to earn! Good to hear that she is interested in Virtual Reality gaming. Advised indie games devs to reach out to streamers.
Jasmine Kanusa – Is a Tournament Manager & Esports Admin. She gave us a good overview of how she got into esports and stressed just how big esports has become! I suspect much bigger than most people would think.
Charlotte Steggall – Is a Higher Education Champion and former translator at Nintendo of Europe. Interesting to hear her route into gaming and the complexities of languages for games devs.
Catchphrase: Be nice to people! (you never know when you might want a job from them)
Coffee break and a short walk along the quay.
After tea Tom Kail gave a talk about activities in games, examples being puzzles, mining, foraging, hidden objects, travel etc. Spoke about Shadow of the Colossus. Also spoke about Heavens Gate (Still under development). Interesting to note that it will have its own language. Spoke about how activities can be used for games pacing.
There then followed a fireside chat with Rami Ismail (Indie Game Development Legend!). The first thing to note was that the room suddenly filled up as he took to the stage. I noted that he was a bit of a rock star, funny and smart.
Rami said he likes to break games. He had attended University but for him it was a bad idea and so he dropped out. Didn’t advise the students around me to follow his path.
Was amusing discussing his dutch/egyptian heritage and how this always results in him being tagged by airport security (what are the chances of that!). Discussed dopresskit.com. Spoke about feedback, people are human, be honest about feedback!
Rami spoke about developers in particular and gave some sound advice. First advice was don’t work yourself to death! Also stated that no game is worth a developer! Have to be ok with fucking up!
Speaking about Social Media his advice was stay consistent and keep doing it!
Rami was a very engaging speaker and his experience shows he knows what he is talking about.
At this point the transition to after party began and rather like Cinderella I had to rush away to catch a train, snapping a last picture of the quay as I walked away.
Very worthwhile attending Game Anglia 2018 Conference at University of Suffolk, well done to all concerned. Would have liked more time to talk to people but had to prioritise the Talks this time. Hope to be back again next year!