The month of April has been unreal for game development events and news. I’m here writing this article now and I still probably have a good week of things to do before I can truly say things are back to “normal”. So lets get on with it! ;)
“What would Molydeux?” Game Jam kicked off the month with an epic trailer we got to watch at the start of it… Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab hosted the 48-hour game jam. In that time eight games were produced in Boston alone, some 302 games were made over the course of the weekend across the globe!
MIT Business in gaming (BIG) was a one-day session full of panels and a “fireside chat” with Strauss Zelnick, which was really amazing. I scored a last minute ticket thanks to the generous donation from MIT via the Boston Indies google group. There were some great panels. One of the earlier ones spawned this article about how steam has “devalued” video games. They fed us, there was a post-event after party that we attended as well till it was time to run over to the NERD building and setup our booth.
I need to mention too that I had a complete stranger with me from London, ON, Canada. He had good referrals from other Boston Indies who knew him personally so that was good enough for me. Mike Kasperzak was in need of a place to stay coming down to PAX for the weekend so I offered our spare bedroom to crash for the weekend. I was able to score him a ticket to BIG also, so it was great to have company, plus he was a gracious guest. Was really cool to meet a stranger and part as friends.
Made In MA Pre-PAX Party happened that night, since MIT and NERD are pretty much neighbors it meant one long day out on the town. The Made in MA party was a game industry-centric event with some 1200 tickets sold. (Pro Tip, happens every year and there is a code to make the $50 event free, just him me up next year or any other Boston Indie for the code ;) I had a table there.
It was my first booth and it was amazing. I did a drawing for a free iPod Touch for folks who submitted their business card for our email list (I still have to plug in the 100 or so cards I got to mail chimp). I was also very fortunate to have several indie friends lend a hand and two great interns also help us man the booth because, man it was a whirlwind from 7pm-10pm. I believe there was an after party there as well, but they all kind of blurred together over the course of the weekend.
PAX East this was amazing across the board. There were so many industry events going on. This is an amazing event that while is largely consumer driven, has a lot of panels and opportunities for game developers as well. I found myself meeting a number of fellow indie developers over at the Indies Megabooth, which featured a number of local developers as well as out of towners showing off their wares. There were also a number of other locals such as Hip Point and Lantana studios showing off their products as well.
I was also really happy to get the word out about www.bostonfig.com, which we are looking to do this summer. It is a Festival of Indie Games where unlike IGF and others, will be a gamer-centric event where gamers will do the voting not developers. We wanted to make something grassroots and transparent when it came to the judging process and allow developers to directly interact with the public. So I handed out a bunch of these cards.
I was also really excited to meet with some of the folks demoing games, especially the guys from unknown worlds who were demoing their game “Natural Selection 2”. The first game was (and still is) a free Half Life 1 mod. It was one of those games that in its heyday a few years ago, I lost sleep playing. I was very happy to see the new game really captured the core of what made the original great, but now they could make the game do things the original could do with the tech it was built with.
Tencent Boston and Greatestern Tech held a great pax party on Saturday, which showcased all of the art submissions from area game artists non-game development art. There were prizes for the competition. I was fortunate to be invited and really enjoyed seeing the works that were submitted which ranged from 3d stills to oil paintings. It was a very diverse collection of work.
Later that night there was an awesome PAX party hosted by a number of indie studios such as TheTapLab, Viximo, Brass Monkey and more. It was kinda funny because after about 10pm they had some kind of dress code.. which many of us didn’t fit so they moved us down into the basement which was awesome. I got a chance to get to know a couple of other Londoners who Mike knew well known as Halfbot who besides just being two cool guys all around, they shared some really great stories like the time their game got completely cloned and released by another developer forcing apple to change their developer policies later that week. Not every day you meet someone who does that.
Also PAX (who just renewed their commitment to Boston for PAX East for another 10 years) was kind enough to donate space to the commonwealth to have a lounge to promote the game development scene in the state of Massachusetts. Each day had a 3pm roundtable session to discuss topics related to the state of the industry, the future and other topics revolving around game development. It was really great to participate.
MassDiGI Game Challenge finished on Sunday afternoon. It was a three-day event where various established and aspiring game developers got the opportunity to pitch their games to industry folks for feedback and the opportunity to win some prizes. I got some awesome feedback on several games I was considering proposing and opted to pitch a unique spin on the tower defense genre and won a runner-up award for best design so that was great, but more importantly was the chance to connect with some really great people. I had a blast and learned a lot.
3D Stimulus Day 2012 is an annual thing that just happened to unfortunately land on the same weekend as the Game Challenge so I couldn’t attend it. Fortunately both events were at the NERD building so we ended up joining forces for lunch sharing the same space and getting to catch up with developers where were there that I knew where were just there for the one day stimulus event.
BIG Expo (Brown University) Although I didn’t attend this I definitely felt it disserves mentioning. Props to Nathan and his crew for pulling together their 2nd annual event. It was a tough call to choose to speak at BIG or participate at the Game Challenge, but regardless, Ichiro and others attended so I know a good time was had by all.
Indie Game: The Movie was showing at a local theater for one night with two showings. Needless to say they were both sold out. It was an interesting movie watching these indie developers struggle with all too familiar problems many of us face.
Boston Indies Demo Night was one of the biggest turnouts I’ve seen in some time. A lot of great games were being demoed. I showed off a couple of recently launched titles and got some great feedback and know what things I may need to include in upcoming updates.
Boston FIG Planning is also in full swing at this point. We’re working to get the web page fully setup as needed for the event thanks to Caroline, Dan, and Justin’s collaboration with others. We are reaching out to any / all media contacts we have as well as potential sponsors to help us make this event classy from start to finish.
Whew what a month…