Sunday, 29 May 2011

'sup, Pitches?!

I could have updated about this a few days back, but Uni semester's just finished and I've been having a pretty lazy, laid back weekend with friends. Now that it's time to get my head back into work though, I guess I can share what I've been up to.

Last Friday I attended a quick meeting up in the city by letsmakegames.org, my city's game developer community. We crammed ourselves into one of the theatrettes as a few developers got up to make micro-talks (3 minute time limit) about what they were working on. There were a lot of talks by teams doing games for the iPhone and social networking sites - one team of which I remember since one of my university tutors had landed a job with them to do the art. But aside from potential designers and programmers to help me out with future projects, I wasn't too interested in these. iPhone games just seem like too much of a risk, and the most successful Facebook games don't respect their players at all (see this lecture by Jonathan Blow to see what I'm talking about).

I had expected a lot of these kinds of pitches, though. So it came as a pleasant surprise to see some more interesting talks, about 3D games or just other interesting stuff. Like the importance of making a (good!) website to get yourself out there. It was applicable since I had gone through the list of pitches on letsmakegames beforehand, checked each of their websites. There were two pitches from a company called moonstudios but their website had virtually nothing there, so I had no idea what to expect. Funnily enough, their work and pitches ended up being my favourites of the night.

Moonstudios is working on a few things. A very pretty 2D platformer called Sein being the first, and a strategy-based shooter called Warsoup being the second. I tried the demo of Sein and really liked the visuals and atmosphere of it all, but was a bit annoyed by the level design - enemy placement, the way it taught you what to do and how it introduced concepts to the player. It felt pretty clear to me that the developers needed to look for a bit more player feedback and adjust the game accordingly.



Warsoup, on the other hand, I was super (souper? ...sorry) impressed with. At least for something from Perth. I'm not exactly sure how Moonstudios is set up, whether they have a few developers over in Perth and some in one country overseas like the US or something. But it was a really neat idea - it found a niche between two popular game genres, offering something new and unique without being so radically different that it would turn off players. Definitely looking forward to seeing more of the game.

I wasn't able to stay around too long afterwards so I didn't head down to the bar with everyone else, but I did manage to talk to a few of Moonstudios' team members. One, a programmer who had studied game design at a local university, the other an animator who had studied in Perth and worked for a short time as an animator for Blizzard with Starcraft 2. I said straight up that I was a student and didn't really want a job as much as I did some tips or a bit of mentoring.

What they said was more or less a confirmation of what I already knew, but it was great to talk to them all the same. Universities in Perth are crap at teaching game design, and should only really be used for getting to know like-minded individuals, and getting the little bit of paper that says you have a degree. What I'd been thinking for a while was pretty much confirmed - use the time at University to work on a bunch of personal projects and study stuff on the internet from places like Autodesk in your own time. Join forums, give feedback on others' projects while getting feedback on your own. Learn how to use a bunch of different programs and engines, and build up your portfolio while you have spare time to do it.

There was one other talk there on the night by a guy whose card I regretfully forgot to steal, about funding for Perth projects. He said his company was looking for projects which were in development - nothing which was finished, but nothing that was a simple concept written up on a napkin either. So I'm pretty pumped now about working on a project of some sort in my spare time at uni so that I can pitch it next year should they host one of these events again.

That's all for now, though. I'll try and update with some of my 3D stuff that I've been working on in the last couple of days when I get the chance.

~ Nathan

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