Image Courtesy: Wake County Economic Development
Hello Everyone, and welcome to my first blog post here on Gamasutra.com. I figured that I would start off my blog with doing my own postmortem of the Triangle Game Conference which was a two-day event held at the Raleigh Marriott City Center in Raleigh, NC. For those of you who didn't make it to the event, I must say that this was one of my personal highlights of the year thus far. A great conference, beaming with potential to only grow in substance and in numbers. Here's my personal view of how it all went down:
Day 1: April 6, 2010 - The Pre-Conference Mixer
The night before the actual event, The NC Triangle chapter of IGDA hosted a pre-conference mixer at the ESS Lounge, also located in downtown Raleigh. Upon showing up I realized that this place was next to the train station, and that I'd been there before with my wife sometime ago. The ESS Lounge is a small, yet vibrant bar that sits on the outskirts of the city. When I walked in, the first thing I noticed was the running demo of the Havok Engine. The mixer was sponsored by Havok, and they brought their latest tech demo in which was quite impressive. I picked up my badge for the conference and the 'swag bag' with a few goodies inside. Dana Cowley from Epic Games addressed the crowd briefly, and then the partying continued throughout the evening. I ended up running into a couple guys from EA Tiburon, a few RedStorm guys, and then I briefly shook hands with Jason Della Rocca- told him I would be checking out his session on '10 Reasons Why The Game Industry Doesn't Suck.' After that, I had a couple beers then called it a night. Besides, the first session was at 9:30AM the next morning, and I didn't want to miss any of it.
Day 2: April 7, 2010 - First Day of the Conference
The first day of the conference started off slow for me- I didn't realize that I would have to pay cash for parking and it took some time for me to settle up with the parking attendants. At any rate, once I found my way in I attended the Unity Indie session given by Zachariah Inks, Creative Director at Digital Roar Studios. Overall a great introduction to the Unity Engine. I ended up asking him about how SVN is leveraged with their team, and how best to utilize it to store project files. Afterwards we exhanged biz cards, then I headed over to the 'Breaking into The Games Industry' Panel, moderated by John Austin of Emergent Technologies. It was a pretty good discussion on what people look for in portfolios, how to present yourself as a potential candidate for jobs in the industry, and etc. There was lunch at City Mall, followed by the keynote address from Chad Dezern of Insomniac Studios entitled 'The Portable Culture: Inside Insomniac's Expansion'. Chad discussed the reasons why Insomniac settled in the area, and how they work together as a team. Chad also explained that Insomniac is an indie developer which allows them to maintain control over their products, and how they have this method of 'ping-ponging' ideas back and forth during development allowing ideas to generate from everyone on the team. My afternoon session included a brief talk with John Lyons, CEO of Digital Roar Studios on how to build an 'Indie Game Studio on a Shoestring Budget'. This session was especially valuable for aspiring studio heads, and those of us attempting to have a solid understanding of how the business side of a game studio runs. After that, I took a brief stroll through the exhibit hall and encounter a number of local game companies all touting their wares and talking to us about their latest and greatest breakthroughs. I specifically remember Insomniac's booth where I played through the latest installment of Ratchet an Clank, and then heading over to the roundtable where I met up with Raven Manocchio, CEO of Stop Studios and talked about the perils of starting a game studio and getting your gaming career off the ground.
There were a couple more sessions that were probably worth it, but after such an exhausting day, I took another round through the exhibit hall, and headed home for the evening.
Day 3: April 8, 2010 - Last Day of the Conference
Started out bright and early for this leg of the conference, which began with a bonus session from Jason Della Rocca. A few of his reasons why the game industry doesn't suck included the emerging IP from the Big 3 around alternative input devices (Natal, Move, Wii Motion Plus), usability testing to improve the quality of game titles, games in academia, and the introduction of politically charged games or games for change. It was quite an insightful session. Following his session, I headed over to the 'Google and Games' session to hear what Joe Gregorio from Google had to say about the products and services offered by Google that shape web and flash games. He even did a brief introduction to Google Sketchup, and how it can be leveraged as a design tool in the industry.
By lunch the conference began to wrap up, but not before Film and Games John Zuur Platten's keynote where he discussed 'The Craftsmanship of Creativity'. His concept was simple- games and media to some are art, to him it's a craft; a craft with a repeatable process and unmarried to its awe and beauty. His philosophy allows him to create with purpose, and on most points I tend to agree. Next was the 'Video Gaming can save the World' session given by Co-Founder and Creative Director of Joystick Labs, Juan Benito. This session was an overview of how videogames change the world by offering predictions from real world simulations, and how the adoption of serious games can direct affect change across the globe. Yet another insightful session where I offered my thoughts to the group on how reward-based games could adversely affect a child's perception of doing good in the world from an ethical standpoint. I think that teaching kids through games is an effective and necessary tool, however there is a delicate balance that has to be achived upon illustrating to kids that often times good deeds go unrewarded.
The afternoon wrapped up with two panels- 'Raising Capital to Build a Game', and 'Ubiquitous Gaming'. Both were great open discussions on the state of the industry, and the outlook on game studios going forward admist the curren economy.
This was the second annual Triangle Game Conference, and I must say, with all of the great people I met, the speakers, the sessions, this event is bursting with potential. In fact, I'd be willing to go out on a limb to say that eventually the TGC may become known as GDC East or GDC South. With the explosive growth of the games industry in the Raleigh-Durham area, we can only expect to see more events like this in the future. As an aspiring studio head, it's important to take advantage of the conferences right here in my backyard, and meet some of the people within my reach that are inside the game industry making things happen.
If you haven't been to TGC, I highly recommended it. See you next year.