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Of bread and video games, AMC @ DevPlay 2019

Dev.Play Conference 2019 will be remembered in AMC Romania’s history as those beautiful two autumn days when our team attended the GameDev Conference at the Palace of the Parliament in Bucharest. With all its games, revelations, and team bonding.

DevPlay is an annual conference that marks Romania on the gamedev industry world map. 
It is organized by the Romanian Game Developers Association since 2016 and AMC has been tagging along as member since 2018. DevPlay brings together professionals from AAA studios, indies, publishers and hardware manufacturers to interact and share their wisdom. It has a relaxed format, featuring talks held by guests from industry giants (Blizzard, Epic, Unity, Ubisoft etc.), booths where different businesses pitch their products to the public, interviews, contests, indie game showcase areas and more. It’s a great opportunity to spend two days each year seeing how the local gamedev ecosystem has evolved. 

In the previous edition, AMC had its first experience running a booth at this event and while we had a great time making ourselves visible and promoting our craft, we felt we could do a bit more to get the most out of DevPlay. We wanted to interact with the audience and hold a talk where we could share our knowledge and encourage the younger audience to check out this profession. 

I say we managed to pull it off, ambitious ideas for next year already sparking in our minds, and since the theme for DevPlay 2019 was “Design”, allow me to – pause for suspense – design (ha!) this blog post in a more appropriate manner. 
Here we go:
Have you ever tried to make bread? It is surprisingly difficult considering you only need to juggle 4 (key) ingredients: waterflouryeast and salt
All kinds of factors affect the end result: quality of ingredients, quantity, timing, proper kneading, temperature, baking surface and so on.

Managing a booth at a game conference presents striking similarities with making bread. You start out shopping for ingredients.

Water is readily available at the DevPlay “supermarket”: a table, a couple of chairs and some printed materials. Then you go to the local market and buy the most organic, bio, eco flour you can find. Whole grain, no additives – 3D artists from the golden fields of AMC Art and Games. Don’t forget the yeast – CEO, PR Manager, Production Manager and Art Director – otherwise your bread can’t grow and take its lovely recognizable shape. The final ingredient, salt, is crucial, because without it, the bread might have adequate form, crust and crumb, but it will taste bland and uninspiring. 
So you can flavour your bread with some Kinect based installation that makes 3D models come to life in front of the viewers, mimicking their movement.













































You can add some papercraft 3D houses, stickers, T-Shirts, live ZBrush speed sculpting along with a 2D sketch contest to interact with the audience and your flavour is pretty much guaranteed.










































Now that you have your ingredients, you start mixing them together to form a cohesive dough. Once every ingredient is incorporated, you have to start kneading. Hard. Like very hard. You need to knead (ha!) in order to develop the glutinous structure that holds the bread together. In our case, this is networking. One kind of interaction is with clients, peers, and other businesses with the purpose to get in sync with the industry, discover new ventures and set up future projects. Another kind is with the people that stop by your bread… I mean booth… curious about what you do, your portfolio, looking for job opportunities, an interview for their Youtube channel/TV coverage, or just to have fun.






































 

If you kneaded hard enough, the next stage is the rise and the bake. You wait for the dough to work its magic, puff itself to double, even triple in size and after shaping it in the form of your choice, you gently place it into the hot oven to become a golden, delicious bread. This is when all your hard work inspires the visitors who pass by your booth, leaving them brimming with anticipation for the upcoming presentation. While that is happening, you can inspect other people’s loaves of bread and get some inspiration of your own:

Bandai Namco was our neighbour with their already iconic arcade cabinets featuring space invaders, pacman and other IPs. Across from us was the Asus/Intel combo booth, sporting some wild gaming gear and a raffle for a beastly gaming laptop. To our right were the Red Goblin folks, with a different kind of hardware business which involves board games, official merchandise and 3D figurines (a must have at every gaming conference worth its salt). 
Standing proud among their statuettes were a couple from the Witcher 3 franchise that AMC has worked on. Completely shameless plug aside, it’s a real treat to see your work leave the digital realm and permeate the physical one. UbisoftGameloft and EA had booths presenting some of their games and job opportunities, while Amber mingled with the indie devs and reminisced about last year’s party.

Booths aside, if the heart of any game conference is its talks, then its soul undeniably is the gaming section. 
It is there that you find all the tech, art, design, passion and hard work – the lifeblood of this industry –  mixed together and manifested in playable nuggets of happiness. The Romanian indie scene is growing larger at DevPlay every year, and you can see the hunger for public interaction in the developers’ eyes when you walk through the door into the gaming area. They can’t wait for input, and watch your every reaction as you test their creations. This year I had the pleasure to solve some creative physics puzzles in WarriOrb, had a blast in the hilarious party game Bossgard, had my butt royally kicked in Gridpunk and played it stealthy in the isometric infiltration game FearLand. I was glad to see veteran titles make a return, such as the 2D platformer Unbound and the pixel art coop shooter DoorKickers: Action Squad. The eye candy was provided by the artstyle of the action and exploration game Retro Machina, especially by its rich hand-drawn environments.

I recommend taking a look at the official page for all the titles showcased at the conference because you might very well find the next entry in your wishlist.

Now your loaf is out of the oven and people are excitedly awaiting for that warm, crunchy outside, fluffy inside slice of bread (we’ll skip over the fact you need to let it cool for 4 hours for the sake of the metaphor). 
That would be one of our senior artist’s, RareÈ™ Tujan, talk about how “You’re Gonna Have A Bad Time, In A Good Way” while being a 3D artist.

RareÈ™ offered the participants a ride through his early days as an artist and what it meant to swap projects with completely different approaches and art styles. He also provided insights into his methods and learning process, as well as sharing some great stories from working on Entropia UniverseThe Witcher 3, World of Tanks

Other interesting speakers I had the chance to listen to were Krzysztof Pachulski of Epic Games on the studio’s efforts to help developers succeed, Raw Fury‘s Andreea Chifu about how to publish simultaneously on multiple platforms and Juha Vainio from Remedy who shared with us what it means to hold the reins on a AAA game such as Control.

Your bread is now gone, but everybody hopefully enjoyed eating it as much as you did making it. The only thing left to do is pack up, head home and have a well deserved sleep. 
DevPlay 2019 gave us the opportunity to experiment with what we could offer to the audience and left us heading for the 2020 edition with lots of ideas on how to make our bread crispier and fluffier.

Thank you for your time! I hope you enjoyed this post and if you think I am going to end without a bread pun… you oat to know better than to crust me. (*gets dragged away from the keyboard while screaming bread puns). 

Yours truly, Andrei Danescu, Tech Artist in AMC Romania











Might you be interested to read another industry event fluffy review? 
Here’s on the biggest video games event of the year, my GDC 2019 experience.




 

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