Skip to main content

Free Play IGDC 2

Hi Sumeans,

So you can put it in your diaries we (Next Wave) have tentatively set down the dates of Fri 15, Sat 16 and Sun 17 July 2005 for this year's Free Play conference. All going to plan, it will take place in Melbourne at the Australian Centre for The Moving Image at Federation Square (no more complaints about how rough the venue is!). Suggestions for how we should go about it, what we should include, who we should bring out, etc are welcome and taken seriously and it would be great if people want to make some suggestions in this thread.

No one should be booking tickets to Melbourne or anything until i finish raising the money (a bit of a challenge, but looking do-able) but if your thinking about getting married or anything you might want to move it to another weekend to be on the safe side! Assuming we get some money, I will be back soon with a shout out for help and people who want to be involved in it all.


Submitted by CynicalFan on Sat, 26/02/05 - 9:27 AM Permalink

To help counter my ?defensiveness? in my last posts, and to hopefully not have another topic thread that I have effectively ground to a halt with a post, I thought I would post another with some suggestions about what to include in the Free Play conference.

First off, I would like to see a talk on Computer Games and Youth Violence. Preferably I would like to see a talk that doesn?t try to have some discussion about whether games are or are not sources of violence in our society. Being someone who was temporarily under the delusional mindset that game violence was bad and should be controlled for moral reasons, I would prefer that the event focused on the evidence that shows that games do not aspire violence in society and in particular youth, and that there is not strong proof for such claims. I would also like the talk to discuss ways for this perception to be changed, so that computer games (interactive Entertainment) can be considered and respected as an artform much like films are today ? and how films were also attacked and blamed for society?s ills in its beginning.

Perhaps the AAG can have something to do with this?

Second, I know that the conference is very much in line with the IGDA and its goals, and that their will be some talk or another from them, but I would like to see some kind of organised get together or perhaps a chapter meeting to be held during the event ? perhaps this is part of a talk. I know that the event is kind of an IGDA meeting, but perhaps having a specific time and meeting place for this could be of benefit, especially for those that want to attend an IGDA meeting but can?t due to not being in Melbourne. Basically not to have a general get together and discussion ? that you would find at the social events ? but more of get together with discussion about IGDA issues, and perhaps with a structured meeting / panel to start off with.

Anyway, that is just a thought on my part.

Third, in regards to people to invite to talk in the way of internationals, two that come to mind is Eric Zimmerman (indie developer and author) whom I saw talk at another conference. He is a great talk giver and debater, though, he tends to hijack panel discussions. Someone else that comes to mind is that bitter old bastard Chris Crawford, he is also a great talk giver. The only downside is that both have given talks at conferences in Australia, and may not be willing to come down under again.

These two guys are the only ones that spring to mind at the moment, but I thought I?d mention them.

Submitted by xyz on Sat, 26/02/05 - 12:06 PM Permalink

Eric Zimmerman /

is that the curly haired guy from new york, he rocks.

I met chris crawford who I have admired for about 5 years, the guy is without a doubt, crazy but cool in his own way.

imagine the 2 in a debate!!

Submitted by CynicalFan on Sun, 27/02/05 - 4:29 AM Permalink

Yeah I think that is him, curly hair, New York. I also recall that he might wear glasses and he is on the short side.

I definitely think that both would not be afraid to speak their mind and drive discussion with their experience and insights, and Chris in no way would let Eric dominate a panel.

I don?t really think that the last Free Play had anyone like either of these two as a speaker, with their ability to discuss, debate and entertain

Submitted by lorien on Wed, 02/03/05 - 4:03 AM Permalink

I realise it's unlikely to happen this year, and perhaps freeplay isn't the place for it, but there really is a need for a conference with a real academic track. By "real" I mean formal peer review procedures and published proceedings with an ISBN number.
Without these any conference is of limited value to postgraduate students and staff at universities, and they are likely to present their best work elsewhere. This limited usefullness has nothing whatsoever to do with the usefullness of the overall content of a conference, and has everything to do with rules and regulations in place wordwide concerning what is considered an "academic publication/presentation", so no insults/flames/etc intended to anyone.
Presenting work at a conference without formal peer review can lead to big problems presenting that work elsewhere, and a presentation without that peer review is considered next to worthless by the bureaucracy.
How ACMA (the Australasian Computer Music Association) handle this issue is by having two submission standards: one without peer review where you submit an abstract of a presentation, and one with, where you submit a full research paper.

Just thought this needed to be made clear...

Submitted by lorien on Sat, 12/03/05 - 3:15 AM Permalink

Well IE is running again and not bundled with freeplay so no point in full peer review of papers.

For anyone interested there is also ADCOG in Hong Kong (and yes that is my ugly mug in the photos)

Submitted by Mdobele on Fri, 18/03/05 - 11:37 AM Permalink

I just wish they would stop holding these events in Melbourne. At least move em around to a few capital cities every now and again. Travel costs and accomodation and time invested certainly adds up [:(]

Submitted by palantir on Fri, 18/03/05 - 7:12 PM Permalink

Yeah, Brisbane?s supposed to be a growing epicentre of game development, so lets get some conferences up here!

Submitted by Zoot on Tue, 19/04/05 - 1:33 AM Permalink

Hey everyone, like we said earlier Free Play really needs more of your ideas!
What do you want to hear, who do you want to see... As well as general discussion we need to throw around heaps of concrete suggestions. ie "we need a workshop on coding play-by-SMS games" or "we need a jerry-springer style punch-up about [insert controversial topic here]" or "I want to see Jeff Minter from the UK speak because llamas are cool" etc

BTW: Mdobele - Last year Free Play was able to offer a bit of assistance to the worthy yet needy, and we may have a similar scheme this year, so keep an eye out

Submitted by Mdobele on Tue, 19/04/05 - 8:03 AM Permalink

Cool, keep us informed on any deals / assistance you can offer to get us poor "Insert anyplace not in Melbourne" guys down there for it. I'd love to attend.

Submitted by Soul on Wed, 20/04/05 - 9:47 AM Permalink

Personally I'd like to see more sessions on design. Indie developers have so much freedom in this regard, it'd be great to cover some of the complexities of the subject so we don't waste the opportunity.

On that topic, it'd be great to hear from people such as Doug Church, Warren Spector, or even Richard Garriott... might be a little unlikely though.

Submitted by Discmage on Fri, 22/04/05 - 4:48 AM Permalink

GDC had some good topics that could be easily brought to the forefront once more (cos they SHOULD be at the forefront) in regards to various topics that really seem to be all the rage at the moment (and rightly so)

As noted games(interactive media) and violence is always a hot topic and should be covered from BOTH sides, perhaps an official debate to liven things up...but in the end we need to see what EVIDENCE is out there putting games to violence and what is simply authoritarian paranoia/blame.

One of the main reasons I think this would be good is simply to bring forward the idea for the R rating in games. This topic seems to be coming to the fore a lot lately but never seems to get there, it really should be changed in my personal opinion.

THe other topic is the future of gaming. Is it a deadend or will things pickup. When will gameplay come back as an important thing over graphics. As much as a lot of people SEEM to be saying that this is already happening, there is actaully very little evidence apart from a few quirky left wing games that spriong up by indie devs who are lucky enough to get it into the market by hard work and perseverence...or, well, sheer luck :) Next gen is where all the spark is at, so what will it mean. Fantastic graphics with rehashed versions of games we have played for years can only get them so far. We need to rethink the industry strategy and get creativity back in.

I could rant on what I think on this, but as this is not the time or place, I'll just leave it on that :)

ANOTHER area I am interested in is Interactive media as a MAIN artform. At the moment it seems to be picking up but it is still only a very minor wave of interest. With such potential in machinema, interactive worlds and what have you the sky is the limit and there has been only a few really stand out creations that can push this medium. THink the mozhart, MC Escher, the abstract the thought provoking...all these things have barely been touched in regards to games.

Interactive education is another thing that could be looked at. Not so much the school room variety but the Civilisation as a history lesson variety. Be it either semi subliminal or actual reenactments of world events (NOT WW2 however, I'm SOOO over WW2!) in a educational yet fun and interesting manner could prove beneficial.

Even creating interactive ienvironments of a HIGH quality for older teens...chemical simulations (seeing as you can't do anything fun in the lab anymore due to the fact the pop test is close to a dangerous phenomenon), flying through the solar system, exploring worlds that we can't usually do...such as the insect world, animal kingdom in first person etc.

The only catch with HALF of these ideas is Commercial viability...which is the BIG catch. Gambles have to be made...and gambles with big money, where publishers are not willing to take the risk and indie devs can't afford to create without backing. It's an unfortunate situation.

Anyway, that's just my two cents (well maybe five) that I can think of off the top of my head. Apart from getting Will Wright and Peter Molyneaux that would be COOL :) Oh, and Cliffy B hehe

Submitted by lorien on Wed, 27/04/05 - 2:38 AM Permalink

Chris Crawford was in aus last year, he was a keynote speaker at IE 2004. There was a rumour that he did something else while here and didn't get paid for it, and had to resort to lawyers. Don't know how keen he'd be to come out here again if that's the case (and I heard the rumour from a very reputable source).

Submitted by Zoot on Wed, 27/04/05 - 10:26 AM Permalink

Lots of great ideas here. We're noting them down so keep 'em coming.

On the question of commercial viability, perhaps that's a topic for discussion in itself: should games *have* to be made for profit at the mercy of commercial game publishers? Or should funding be available to make games for public good? (eg the way public broadcasting funds television and radio shows)

Submitted by Peter J on Thu, 28/04/05 - 6:04 AM Permalink

Hey, by the way, when will the free-play site be updated for this Indie fest? The current one still has 2004 detail, and, well, it's getting kinda close to the proposed date for this, isn't it?

What's the agenda looking like to date?


Submitted by Zoot on Wed, 04/05/05 - 10:53 AM Permalink

The website will be updated pretty shortly we hope. As for the agenda, it's still in development and we're still putting the feelers out for ideas. Remember this includes not just topic ideas but ideas for speakers (especially local people who have interesting things to say or skills to pass on) you want to see. So keep posting them to this forum (or email Natalie at by this Friday if you can (things are going to start being locked down soon).

Yep the conference is pretty close, but unfortunately it took us a long while to source funding for this year's conference and we couldn't really go ahead until we had that side of things confirmed [:(]

Submitted by EIN on Sun, 08/05/05 - 1:07 AM Permalink

you guys should definately have more workshop type talks where people actually show their work-flow etc.....Considering that a large number of people attending will be students or people still learning I think that this would be quite benificial..

ie: show someone blocking out a simple level and elaborating on game flow etc.
have someone just sit down a build a model...people can learn a lot just from watching someone else work.
these two example could appply to pretty much anything from concept sketching to using reactor to lay out uv's..

Submitted by BinhNguyen on Thu, 16/06/05 - 9:52 PM Permalink

Hi Souri,

I just checked out the vote results for how people feel about freeplay. A lot of people feel they could not make it because of the distance.

Would you be able add a big announcement about travel subsidies please? The freeplay group really want people from all over Australia to come and we want people to use the subsidies!

Great work on the survey


Submitted by CynicalFan on Fri, 17/06/05 - 3:42 AM Permalink

You know, what might get people really interested and willing to buy tickets and apply for travel subsidies, is if you guys bothered to update the conference schedule and speaker list. That way people will know whether it is worth it or not.

Just a suggestion ;)

Submitted by BinhNguyen on Fri, 17/06/05 - 9:11 PM Permalink

I know.

A lot of that depends on things that we cannot control.

Submitted by justgord on Fri, 24/06/05 - 4:19 AM Permalink

Have to say Im a Melbourne loving Kiwi,
but Im likely to miss this one, damn!

Here in Bangkok, Ive been banging the drum about
viability of using Open Source on Game projects.
Theres lots of piracy as you can get a copy of
3DMax/Maya for less than 5 bucks...
people just dont know about the cool stuff
out there for free.

One of the more fun things I did here was
hand out 15,000! folders with CDs containing
Blender and Gimp at TAM05 - Thailand Animation/Multimedia
and we had a booth where we showed off Blender [3D tool] and
Gimp [2D].

Was a big hit, Id like to see something similar,
so student developers know there are good tools
available for free, that they can start with.

Blurbs here -
OSS links
Open Source can boost Game Dev -

TAM05 Photo here,
all the booth/folder art done in
free/open source tools.

SIPA Thailand funded this directly, the folder and CDs were
fairly cheap to produce here, < 1 dollar AUD.

From first view, Blenders game engine is very nice tool
for game prototyping in Python. Blender is quite a
ambitios modelling/animation tool.

And then theres game engines & tools - Irrlicht, SDL, etc.

Hmmm... if somebody could help with funding for this, you
could produce a pretty solid Open Source Game Developers
CD pack.

Just some ideas from left field :)


Submitted by Zoot on Tue, 28/06/05 - 3:31 AM Permalink

hey justgord - what a brilliant initiative!

i don't know if we have the money and/or person-power to do that(?), but we should at least try and do it next year, i reckon.

Submitted by emptyshell on Fri, 08/07/05 - 8:22 PM Permalink

Will there be any recordings made of the sessions? I won't be able to get to Melbourne this year, but I'd cough up the bucks for a CD of highlights. Doesn't matter if it's shaky-cam footage or scratchy voice recordings, as long as it's intelligible. Even just the keynotes would be cool, if the speakers allow it.

Submitted by lorien on Fri, 15/07/05 - 12:38 AM Permalink

Don't know how viable it would be, but how about The Fat Man (George Sanger) as a keynote speaker next year?

Submitted by baboon on Thu, 21/07/05 - 2:55 AM Permalink

If anyone has some feedback about this years' FP I'd love to hear it.

Submitted by CombatWombat on Thu, 21/07/05 - 4:35 AM Permalink

Yeah, I wasn't able to make it this year but interested to hear how it went!

Submitted by CynicalFan on Thu, 21/07/05 - 7:38 AM Permalink

Some feedback huh.

I think over all that this year?s conference was far better than last years.

ACMI is a great creative space for the conference, and shits all over the string of venues they had last year, and even the venue that the AGDC usually uses.

Anyway, venue aside the real selling point of a conference is content. And I would have to say that this year that the content was not necessarily better, as the talks and workshops seemed to have the same interest level as last year?s ? for me. What was different this time was the quality of the presentations, as nearly all that I attended used a prepared power-point to provide structure and drive their presentations, and most importantly, wrote out their presentations and spent time practicing it. So the quality of the actual content was far more rewarding this year for me than last year?s ad hoc all over the place and obvious presentations ? meaning nothing new content wise.

Who ever suggested that one is a real genius and his / her name should be chanted in praise if you ask me.

To be honest, I had never heard of Greg Costikyan before, and I am disappointed with myself for it. He was a valuable component to this year?s conference, full of information and strong opinions ? that unlike others at the event, did not sound like an old rant. I am far more richer for attending the talks that he was apart of, and for once I can truly say that I learnt a thing or two new and at the very least had some ideas of mine reinforced ? which is never the case for me at the AGDC.

International speakers like this, with years of experience and insight, really add quality to an event, far more than any local speaker possible ever could, as he has had experience in a far more developed and larger arm of this industry.

Kieron Gillen to a lesser extent had the same impact on me, as he was a game journalist and not a game developer. But that is not to say that his input was any less valuable, as he has worked as a game journalist and observed the industry for quite some time.

As for the other speakers, most were solid and not a disappointment. Some of the talks were a bit too arty for me, and the talkers seemed to have no real depth of insight to provide, but that was just me, as I am looking at it from an experienced developers point of view.

The social events were solid, but, a little lackluster for me. Though this could have had something to do with the flight down Friday morning and the lack of free booze on Saturday ? shame on you, free booze greases the wheels of conversation. As for Sunday?s demo thing, I had already caught a flight out and can?t really comment. Though from what I had seen of that aspect on Sunday, I was not really impressed as it was mostly student-types showing of their Half-Life 2 mods. A pity there weren?t any more companies, even if startups and indies and the like.

My main gripe was the lack of earlier marketing for the event perhaps may have resulted in less numbers than were possible for the event. If people are unsure of what is going to be on then they are less likely to take the risk of showing up, especially from interstate. Early marketing and having the schedule up ? even if only in a rough form ? would have let people plan for the event so as to make sure they could attended in the first place, I know at least one person who didn?t attend because they could not due to work.

I also think it resulted in far more students and those hoping to break into the industry rather than experienced developers. They really need to be attracted so that those trying to break into the industry can then make contacts within the industry itself ? the main way of getting a job.

That said, anyone in Melbourne who didn?t attend is a complete idiot. This was a quality event for a reasonable price, and if you were in Melbourne you should have taken advantage ;)

Submitted by lorien on Wed, 27/07/05 - 1:36 AM Permalink

I rather like the art flavour of freeplay, I find it refreshing. Also I think it probably leads to more women showing up, and that can only be a good thing.

Something that dirsturbs me a little is the audience survey: it asked some very personal questions, and while it said that all information would be non-identifying it also had questions on the same page as name, email address and phone number, which makes them hard to seperate. Please fix this for next year, although I also wonder what purpose many of the questions had.

I'm not being paranoid, and I trust the freeplay organisers, I'd just like a little more thought put into surveys.

Submitted by lorien on Wed, 27/07/05 - 1:54 AM Permalink

Also I don't agree with some of what Cynical Fan has said above: while I have no argument with attracting more experienced developers, I don't think this needs to be a major event focus. If it's a conference about making games in general (rather than commercial games) then perhaps "getting a job" shouldn't become a big freeplay thing- it already is at another conference.

Submitted by CynicalFan on Wed, 27/07/05 - 4:19 AM Permalink

I think you have jumped to conclusions Lorien ;) I don?t think it should be about getting a job in the industry at all, I was just highlighting a deficiency in the conference, and not being thorough in my reasons for it. Another reason is that experienced developers have just that, experience, and those without it can pick their brains for it or make a contact that they can use later to do just that ? not just get a job. Another benefit of having the more ?professional? ? I use that word loosely ? developer types is that indie and arty / political game developers can also benefit from their experience in game development and perhaps use that to make better games.

I also want experienced developers to show up so that they can learn from the conference and better themselves and the industry. To not rely upon the AGDC and the GDAA, but have a more open and objective medium for the industry ? one more open in content in a number of ways.

I also don?t think it should be primarily about ?commercial? games but rather about quality games and most arty / political games are anything but that ? most commercial games are as well. Regardless, any indie title that is for sale is a ?commercial? title. You don?t have to be working on a large budget title for the PS3 to be ?commercial.?

That is a bullshit word used be marketing (publisher) morons that have no idea what does and doesn?t sell and for what reasons.