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Moves afoot for an Australian Indy Game Dev. Conf.

Posted by souri on Thu, 03/07/03 - 10:37 PM

Submitted by (Zoot)

Have you noticed that there seem to be more conferences taking place in Australia for people who write about games, censor games, and generally proclaim themselves as experts on games than there are gatherings of people who actually make games?

There is of course the AGDC, which is fine as an industry conference but it doesn't cover all the kinds of game dev. related stuff that happens outside the mainstream industry (and it costs lots of $$$$ - ouch!)

A few of us around the traps have been talking about holding an indy game developers' summit for some time and we've just found a way we might be able to get this thing off the ground funding-wise next year in Melbourne (not meaning to snub Sydney or Brisbane, it's just that's where the opportunity for this is next year)...

So we want to know before we get too carried away: would you come to something like this? If so, what would you like to see/do there? (air your opinions in the sumea general/industry forum)


Submitted by Maitrek on Fri, 04/07/03 - 12:52 PM Permalink

For sure I'd be interested in attending. But god knows what I'd like to do/see there!

Submitted by Daemin on Fri, 04/07/03 - 9:20 PM Permalink

Well for an indie game festival we'd have to have representatives from Auran (for the Jet engine), from GarageGames (really important), and possibly a few of the other cheaper / free engines out there. This would either be as part of an expo thing, although with Indies and in Australia this would be very small I'd take it... Or they could just give presentations on certain topics etc. Probably would also be a good idea to have a space dedicated - like a lan, but with more space to walk around and put stuff on tables - for all the indies to show off the latest projects and that.

It might be getting a decent Inde Game Festival in Australia of all places, unless you want to really make it big, and make it a regional event, then we can get people from all over Asia and NZ etc. I dunno.

Submitted by louis on Fri, 04/07/03 - 10:03 PM Permalink

we would make the 2000k trip south to be there and also give any suport that we could.
personaly, after going to 3 AGDC's, i think it is just an ass kissing event for the big boys to show off at[:o)].

Dimsdale & Kreozot United Games Manufacture

Submitted by fuzzmeister on Fri, 04/07/03 - 11:07 PM Permalink

Any game dev related event that is held in brisbane will get my attendance.

Submitted by souri on Fri, 04/07/03 - 11:50 PM Permalink

quote:Originally posted by Souri
Submitted by (Zoot)

If so, what would you like to see/do there?

BOOTH BABES! [;)]

Just kidding...

I think I would go away from a conference idea, and have a rather relaxed gathering of like-minded individuals over some beer/food and computers/lan/projectors.. unless of course you get over fifty people coming. You'll have to see what the turn out will be like, but if it's anything small, then what I mentioned would be pretty nice.

I definately agree with Daemon. Get some Auran people to come and showcase their engine (Jet v2.0 is coming soon btw) - and Nocturnal Entertainment, Hemiware as well.. plus some lectures from people who know how to market and promote independant games, and other independant developers on how they've approached things. Get some of that knowledge around! If you need sponsorships, it might be worth trying [url="http://www.mmv.vic.gov.au/CA256985002E8DB7/All/116A486DEDA8FD13CA256997…"]MultiMedia Victoria[/url].

I think the independant game developer scene is definately one worth encouraging. Melbourne House/Beam and Krome started off as a small bunch of people making games, and look at them now!

Submitted by Maitrek on Fri, 04/07/03 - 11:58 PM Permalink

Yeah I'd prefer to stick to a slightly less formal format than the AGDC. See how it goes...

Submitted by quiklite on Sat, 05/07/03 - 7:12 AM Permalink

The last AGDC I went to was in 2001 I believe; it was good, but I could only get in because I was a student and got in cheaply. I wanted to go last year, but the price had skyrocketed and I wasn't financially prepared enough to go.

But after reading about how well IndieCon (GarageGames' equivalent) went, I would love to see something like this. Melbourne would be a great setting to have it in (I'm in Adelaide), and I would be an informal event. I have no idea how big our indepedent games scene is over here, but I'm gathering it hasn't reached critical mass yet.

I would love to go just for the (human) networking aspects. It's hard enough trying to do stuff over the Internet... I've tried it before years ago and it worked for a while, but it fell apart in the end. To be able to inspire and encourage each other would be the kind of thing we all need.

Has anyone ideas on how we can organise such an event... where it can be hosted, who will speak? I like Daemin's idea of getting a GG representative, but getting them out here is a different question. Any other technologies that help push indie games out there too should come along for the ride.

I'd be willing to volunteer a little of my time if it helps to organise something. I don't know what I could do, but the offer is there.

Paul.

Submitted by Blitz on Sat, 05/07/03 - 9:10 AM Permalink

I'd definately be up for another gathering other than the AGDC.
Some things that might be intersting to see...
Maybe one or more of the CEO's of the big game companies in australia doing a talk on getting started...I say this because John deMargheriti (sp?) gave a really good talk at school (AIE) last week which was mainly focused on starting up your own company etc...
Booth babes!
Representatives from the various supportive goverments (ACT,VIC,QLD afaik) on what the government is willing to do for startup game companies...
Lots of booth space where indies can show off their game demo's...
Getting some publisher representatives along to a) look at game demo's and b) give talks on what publishers are looking for...
A "showcase" (maybe not the right word) sorta thing where say each game demo thats on display there will get 15-30 mins or so on a big screen and the developers can talk about it...
Definately get someone from the GDAA to talk about what they can do for indies...
Thats all i got for now. Oh yeah, LANs are always good too.
CYer, Blitz

Submitted by redwyre on Sat, 05/07/03 - 9:35 AM Permalink

I was going to sugest an indie part of Sumea for our indie friends, I've seen some interest for this in Brsibane too..

Submitted by CombatWombat on Sat, 05/07/03 - 9:18 PM Permalink

Great idea - count me in [:)]

Main interest for me would be meeting other game
developers, a couple of sessions on development
or business related stuff would also be useful to
me.

Demos of games that people are/have developing/ed
would be cool.

Cheers,

Wombat

Submitted by tachyon on Sun, 06/07/03 - 10:12 AM Permalink

An indy conference would be really good. it'll be a good oppoortunity to network and meet other developers. maybe it would be possible to get publishers interested, maybe they might find something interesting. who knows. i think encouraging indy developers would be good for the oz games industry (who else are gonna start the companies). I would definetely be attending (i wouldn't mind volunteering some of my time to help organise fi there is a need). sounds like a leet fully sick idea

Submitted by Dace on Mon, 07/07/03 - 1:23 AM Permalink

Sounds like a great idea and something I would definitely be interested in attending. I'll even volunteer to help out if it's needed.

Submitted by Maitrek on Mon, 07/07/03 - 1:41 AM Permalink

As long as there is a way to promote the work that indy developers are doing (demos etc), then it's all good. I'd really like to see what other indy developers are up to.

Submitted by souri on Mon, 07/07/03 - 3:45 AM Permalink

Keep us updated on what you're planning, hey Zoot!

Submitted by Zoot on Mon, 07/07/03 - 4:47 AM Permalink

It sounds like lots of people are interested in the "how can indie developers break into the main industry/find a publisher" question. I've had word that this year's AGDC might be more accessible for indy developers for these 'business' kind of needs, by providing a day/venue to showcase their work with a view to attracting publishers and so on. I think this is a great move for the AGDC but I wonder if there are other needs that can't really be addressed by the AGDC...

stuff like:
* a real focus on low-budget/independent games but also non-commercially oriented games, modding, mapping, game design as art, original/bizarro ideas etc
* a relaxed event run by game developers/modders and gamers themselves - not by games industry CEOs (ie a chance for certain professional developers to socialise and express our true opinions about the state of the games industry *away* from our bosses!)
* a place where even a 15yrold kid can feel comfortable about bringing his mod/map/animation/idea to get some friendly advice from local professional developers and skilled players, and meet up with some likeminded people to involved with a new project...
* advice for indy developers on distribution, self-publishing, open-source game engines, low-budget project management, running linux on your xbox etc etc
* a way of building our community that's run by us rather than the corporate industry (i guess a kind of sumea in the flesh)
* the bar/lan party/informal kind of atmosphere that people have been talking about in this thread
* similar to the way the Sound Summit (http://www.soundsummit.org/) fulfils a need outside the big budget australian music industry

The opportunity for next year in melbourne is to get funding/venues etc as an event during the 'next wave' youth arts festival. This is a very real opportunity, but we need to find out if this has enough support/volonteers/ideas before we set about getting it off the ground. So I guess it's a matter of whether if people feel they want to branch out beyond the AGDC/commercial industry kind of event....?

Submitted by Maitrek on Mon, 07/07/03 - 7:29 AM Permalink

I'm all for it. The AGDC does have alot of "business" and "start-up" stuff but alot of it is for people with larger resources than an average indie developer has.

Submitted by Blitz on Mon, 07/07/03 - 9:01 AM Permalink

The AGDC is, and *should* be a conference mainly for established game developers. As maitrek said there is some "start up" type stuff there, but the majority of it is for companies establishing themselves who do have some funding to back themselves up, rather than fresh out of school types with $23 to their name.
I'd prefer to see an indie conference as less structured..? The indy conference shouldn't really bother to much with any technical talks or anything like "Getting the most out of xbox live" or "Texture management on the ps2" or anything, because those things won't be that relevant to indy people who don't have access to xbox or ps2 debug machines etc.
Talks should be more focused on (as has been said) low budget stuff, open source engines, and starting up a company with the least amount of $$.
Doing some tutorial/talks about modding stuff is interesting, i don't know how it would pull off (wether you'd get much interest in it from attendees).
I think definately (especially if the conference is run with ties to the youth arts thing) it would be a great idea to have some people talk about how to get involved in game development for people still in school etc. I think thats probably one of the hardest decisions to make is what to do when high school finishes.
Anyway, it's a great idea, i'd attend for sure. Wether i could volunteer time or anything might depend on if i'm anywhere near melbourne at the time :)
CYer, Blitz

Submitted by Shams on Mon, 07/07/03 - 8:04 PM Permalink

I went to the first AGDC, but have not been back since. I think the price is ridiculous..($800 entry?) and I know that it has been setup as more of a fundraising event than as a true developers conference.

It would be great to have a indie developers conference (preferably in Melbourne.. if not than Sydney is my pref ;). If it happens, Nocturnal will most likely have a presence there - and I'll make sure all our contributors know about it.

Nocturnal's one-year old birthday is approaching, and we are having a little party to celebrate - and inviting all the developers in Melbourne.. I guess the idea was to turn that into a mini-developers conference - where the focus is getting together and having a chat more than anything else.

Mike (aka Shams - I run Nocturnal for those wondering..)

Submitted by rcumine on Mon, 07/07/03 - 8:13 PM Permalink

I would be interested in supporting this as Editor and owner of GameBiz. Zoot if you could contact me over emial rcumine@gamtbiz.com.au.

Submitted by kalin on Tue, 08/07/03 - 6:00 AM Permalink

I would definitely be at anything going on like this in brisbane.

Submitted by Tim on Tue, 08/07/03 - 8:47 AM Permalink

Sounds like a great idea Zoot. Souri mentioned above about Multimedia Victoria - I think that would be good, as having some of the government based game industry supporters talking informally about what programs they have on offer would provide some good opportunities for indie game developers to get a handle on who's who from organisations like Multimedia Victoria and Digital Media Fund (both Vic govt). It is a two way street as it is good for them to get a feel for the indie/emerging game makers and at the same time for indie/emerging game makers to have access to these people because they have good networks and knowledge.

Again, the GDAA was mentioned above, and I'd see this as an opportunity for the GDAA on the one hand to promote the organisation to future members, but to also understand what indie game makers may want from the GDAA (and that might be as simple as getting information out about the potential pathway for indie developers with regard to becoming established developers) - anyway, I think the idea is great and I'd be happy to get something into the GDAA newsletter (which I edit) to cover it before and after (tim@ematic.com.au).

Cheers

Submitted by ascl on Wed, 09/07/03 - 2:04 AM Permalink

I'm all for it. Would be great to see.

Submitted by quiklite on Wed, 09/07/03 - 11:45 PM Permalink

Just an idea:

If there are only going to be a few of us congregating in Melbourne (say twenty?), then might it be a good idea to spend some of our time getting to know our peers, throwing round game ideas, and working out how *we* are going to go from lone wolves to indie startups. Maybe we could get Mike/Nocturnal to tell us how he got to where he is now, or anyone who catches wind of the event could relate us their story.

Maybe we could even try have a couple of small roundtables on different topics.

After that we might find somewhere we can showcase projects in development. Of course, that would depend if there were any projects developers were willing to show. There might be some Jet-powered ones from the Auran competition at least.

My opinion is that we should have an event where we can talk, relate our idea to the guy sitting next to us in passing conversation, who says "yeah, that would be cool, let's start a project." I know Sumea does that to some degree already, but talking about things in the flesh can get done what months of forum posts can't.

Just my two cents.

--Paul

Submitted by Blitz on Thu, 10/07/03 - 7:27 AM Permalink

IMO a turnout of only 20 people would be a bit of a failure. I'd be expecting at least 50-100...
CYer, Blitz

Submitted by quiklite on Thu, 10/07/03 - 11:31 AM Permalink

True it would be bad, however, there are going to be people who wouldn't come simply because they can't afford (or can't be bothered) to get to Melbourne. I don't mind travelling, I did it for AGDC, why not an indie festival which is more up my alley? :)

I'm just going on the action I see on Sumea, as to how many people would turn up, because as far as I know, Sumea *IS* the closest equivalent to a gathering place for indie developers. Maybe there are a whole lot of lurkers who may turn up -- I'm one of them. I'd gather they'd build awareness of this festival at AIE, too.

Anyhow, I suppose it depends on what Zoot had in mind for this opportunity.

--Paul

Submitted by Zoot on Thu, 10/07/03 - 9:59 PM Permalink

I think it's ultimately more a matter of what you guys as participants have in mind.

This what we imagine the process will be like:

Stage 1: Putting together a convincing argument to funding organisations that there is a need for this sort of gathering. Present a rough idea of the kind of stuff we'd be doing there. This will involve getting expressions of interest from people who'd be willing to participate.

if stage 1 is successful then...
Stage 2: Putting out a call for people to submit proposals for holding workshops, roundables, events, presentations, expos, LANs... or whatever people want to run.
Getting a team together to coordinate all this stuff (including reps from different parts of the country maybe)

Stage 3: Making sure the above mentioned participants can actually get to Melbourne by coming up with travel subsidies and so on (from carving up the above-mentioned funding!)

So to help get Stage 1 happening, it'd be great if anyone who thinks they'd 'in principle' come to this kind of event and participate at some level could drop me line at kipper(at)gdlo(dot)org and briefly say what kind of game-related stuff you do. This is so we can say 'hey look, there's all these people who do this kind of stuff who are interested in participating' and get a sense of how big or small this event might be.

And if you're interested in helping to get this thing off the ground make sure you say that too!

Thanks to everyone who's aired their ideas on the forum so far - it's really valuable for us to get a sense of the needs of the developer community. Keep'em coming...

Submitted by Blitz on Fri, 11/07/03 - 9:29 AM Permalink

AS far as convincing arguments go, it might be worth taking a look at the recent GDAA submission http://www.gdaa.asn.au/houseofrepsinquirysubmission.pdf
It has a lot of good info about the current and future projected state of the aust. industry. Especially focus on the growth in jobs etc.
Good luck.
CYer, Blitz

Submitted by Jodan on Sat, 09/08/03 - 12:49 AM Permalink

It is a shame nothing like this comes to WA, even a workshop of some kind would be great. It would be good to hear from fellow WA people who are disapointed in the lack of game development choices here in WA.[:(]

Submitted by Red 5 on Fri, 15/08/03 - 10:15 PM Permalink

Great idea... this is exactly what we need.

Maybe a good way to begin would be to have a poll to see where the majority of people are located to get an idea of where it should be held. I'm sure state governments in both Melbourme and Queensland would have grants to help fund it as well as corporate sponsorship... hopefully enough to allow for free or very low admission cost.

I'd also be prepared to offer some time to help kick it off.

Submitted by Blitz on Sat, 16/08/03 - 6:37 AM Permalink

Just FYI ACT gov has the same sort of funding set-ups for game dev as vic and qld do. I doubt the population is very dense in canberra though :P.
Personally i wouldn't mind a holiday to QLD for it *hint hint* :)
CYer, Blitz