Day 4 of AGDC is career day. Today’s sessions are all sponsored by the Game Career Guide magazine and focus on getting into the industry.
The keynote speaker for the day was from Play Fish a company that makes Facebook games. They talked about how they made a free to play game in Facebook, where you create a character, and your own space and the invite your friends into the game to visit your space. They make money by selling items in the game to make your digital space more personalized. They talked about how they are selling a lip sofa in the game for $40 and are making millions. They also talked about the number of players in the game, which is close in numbers to that of mainstream games such as WOW. Personally, I don’t see why people would pay for items in a game, sounds like waste of money, but hey the game company is making money.
The next talk was on resume building. The hiring manager from Obsidian Entertainment was the presenter. He talked about the structure of resumes. For students who have little experience in games should develop a functional resume design, that includes:
- Your letterhead, with name, address, phone number, email, and web address.
- Objective statement (make sure it states what you do)
- List of skills
After lunch there was a HR Q&A, where three HR managers from various companies answered questions from the audience. This was probably the most beneficial talk since someone asked why you hardly ever see entry level job openings. Basically they said these openings are quickly filled by word of mouth, and really only IGDA members find out about it. Therefore one really needs to be a member to get into the industry. Another topic brought up, was if companies saw any signs of moving to the mid west. The answer, big surprise, was NO. They said most game companies want to steal the best designers and developers from each other, thus they need to be near each other, so for right now companies are going to stay on the west and east cost.
That was pretty much the end of the show, after that. All around it was a really good event and I was glad I could go!
Now, to hit the road and go home!
Day three at AGDC started with the keynote speakers, who presented on the Blizzard work flow. The session focused on the team breakdown for the WOW franchise. They broke down how each departments are broken down into different teams. Teams have a narrow focus and typically consist of 5-8 people.
After lunch, we attended a talk presented by Autodesk. This talked covered Morion Builder, Mudbox and the new Max feature, CAT. I hadn’t heard much on CAT before this talk, so it was pretty interesting. CAT stands for Character Animation Toolset, which quickly allows for creating a rig to a character model.
The final session of the day was presented by Free Realms. They talked about branding and how to keep the overall style consistent from inside the game to marketing ads and so forth. They talked about how they had to communicate the game style to the marketing team. The marketing team then hired outside designers to create the marketing campaign. This whole talk seemed silly, why would a company outsource a graphic design team to develop a marketing materials when the original game designers are right there. Because of such an issue, the flying squirrel mascot for the game isn’t even in the game.
We’ll that’s all for now.
Day two at AGDC started with a session on Premium Flash Games. The talked focused on developing high quality flash games for profit. They also pushed the idea of selling in game items instead of subscriptions. Good gameplay, open ended story social networking all make for good flash games.
Another talk I attended was on developing games for teens. This session described how the average teen has a little time to play games. Thus games that can be played in short intervals is key. Also teens like to socialize, so social networking in games is a must. Finally, teens don’t have money, so the games marketed to this age group should be free. However, like in the flash lecture, profit can be made with in game purchases.
Finally I spent most of the day on the exhibit floor. Several companies were hiring, such as EA sports, Bioware and Cartoon Network. I asked what they looked for in hiring game designers, especially for art, animation and modeling. All pretty much said they look for raw talent, lot of sketches and concept art, and only your best work!
That was it for today, more to come tomorrow.
Day 1 at the Austin Game Developer Conference (AGDC).
The exhibit floor isn’t open yet, but there were some interesting lectures. Many of the talked focused on iPhone development and indie games.
Tiger style studios presented a case study on their iPhone game Spider. The developers came from AAA companies and after being laid off decided to start their own indie game. They went with the iPhone because of convenience. There game was well revived, even though they weren’t prepared to market it. They stated that possible reasons could due to players quickly posting reviews of the game.
Another talk was presented by Ninjabee studio. This indie studio had little success with iPhone and PC games. Through they have been able to make profit producing Xbox Live Arcade(XLA) games. They said they didn’t give up after several publishers turned them down. They also said asking the publishers before pitching ideas, what games they were looking to fund, helped them with their pitch. They also mentioned that publishers don’t know anything about games, that is why you have to visually show them. Producing a two to three minute trailer of the game can really help you get the deal. The trail doesn’t have to be of the gameplay, it can be of concept art, sketches and even possible interface designs. Although they’ve had little success on other platforms they are not writing them off yet. Finally on a side note, I got to speak with the speaker and asked what should students have in their portfolio, he said sketches and models of people. If they can capture people the they can capture other objects as well.
Well, those were the highlights for the day.
Today was the Career Guide Seminar, which is absolutely a must for a student!
If you are serious about getting into the game industry, then you need to save your pennies and attend GDC. There’s no way around it.
The Career Guide seminar, offered session on resume writing for game designers. There was a mock interview session where you’d get question by HR reps from real game companies. There was a Q&A session with HR reps from game companies. Many game designers gave lectures about the dos and don’t of getting into the industry.
There was just so much info which a lot I tell you in class… but I think it actually sinks in when a real game developer tells you.
I’ll go over more details about what I learned in class on Tuesday, but really consider asking Santa for money this year to buy your ticket to GDC it really is a foot in the door to your game design career.
Well day two at ACDC was another full one.
Today I was able to attend another session on storytelling. This lecture was presented by the creative art director of Tomb Raider Underworld. He discussed issues with the character Laura.
That her original storyline was designed for a single game, but there have been many games since then. To compensate the game designers decided to give Laura a back story that motivated her actions. Another issue that Tomb Raider designers face is that many players see Laura as a Hero, and just as many see her as Anti-Hero, to make both fans happy, they develop seniors where Laura acts like a hero or anti-hero given the situation. This causes some character confusion.
In the end the lecture, Tomb Raider Underworld still teases weather Laura is good or bad, because the designers can’t agree. The purpose of this lecture was really some of the pitfalls that designers make when developing characters, such as they did with Laura.
Well day one at ACDC was a full one.
There are several track of lectures at AGDC one of which is writing, and since I like to write, I decided to attend a few of those.
The big talk throughout all the writing lectures was the move to interactive stories. Many lectures fantasized about the holodeck from star trek. They kept saying that the first mini version of this such technology would be out by 2010 and build into a new industry of interactive games.
Chris Crawford on of the founding members of AGDC game a lecture on “Moving Games to Interactive Stories” where he said that in most games players have a set number of phrases or behaviors that the AI characters can translate and react to. But the future of storytelling will be that any thing you are capable of doing the AI characters will understand and be able to react to, thus changing the outcome of the story.