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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 MoonUnit on Sat, 05/02/05 - 5:19 AM Permalink

first off thanks for taking the time to listen to what people have to say :) my only suggestion would be to make it very clear the intended audience of each talk. Last years classic example was the AI talk where programmers walked in and listened to a talk which was simply explaining what AI was. I mean thats great for someone who wants to learn what AI is and has no idea but there were people who went with a different expectation. Hope that helps

Submitted by CynicalFan on Sat, 05/02/05 - 5:35 AM Permalink

That?s funny, I?ve found that most programmers (especially the AI kind), tend to need game AI explained to them ;)

Submitted by qwertyuiop on Sat, 05/02/05 - 5:43 PM Permalink

moonunit: I agree that being clear on what talks are about is a good idea and we will try and be a little clearer on it. Obviously FP is a fairly low budget event and unless we go and get a lot of cash and seriously compromise our independence (or our affordability) it will probably remain one. Sometimes that is going to mean we can't do everything in as much detail as you would want us to or as much as we want to. Sometimes it is going to be hit and miss - but i'd take that any day over boring and predictable.

I have noticed some negative comments about the sheer volume of simultaneous things that are on at FP but that's part of the point of it. If you go to a session and it's not relating to where you're coming from, there should always be something else on. It's important that FP is a diverse event for people with different experiences and interests. It's not trying to be a 3 day computer science course - we try and cover a range of creative, technical, ideas, industry and philosophical stuff.

But you're right, the clearer we can be about those things the better. Feel free to keep the comments coming.


Submitted by irous on Sun, 06/02/05 - 4:04 AM Permalink

I've mentioned it in the other thread about Free play, but it would definately be worth contacting the folks at the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) Melbourne and Brisbane chapters, probably for comments/help or even for the steering committee. I'm sure a fair few of them could help out with some workshop tutorials and as speakers [:)]
Anyway, some links:

[url=""]IGDA Brisbane[/url]
[url=""]IGDA Brisbane blog[/url]
[url=""]IGDA Brisbane forum[/url]

[url=""]IGDA Melbourne[/url]
[url=""]IGDA Melbourne forum[/url]

Submitted by vanillaflavour… on Mon, 07/02/05 - 10:33 PM Permalink


I couldn't be happier to hear that Freeplay is happening again this year. I had a whale of a time last year - definitely a worthwhile event.

I'm more than happy to help out, both personally and through the IGDA. Please do get in touch and let me know how I can help.

My introductory IGDA talk last year was really dull and boring, and I'd like to avoid doing something as dry as that again. The other session (the Quality of Life one, which was meant to be a panel, but ended up being just the moderator and me) I think was a little better, as it seemed to provoke a lot of discussion - perhaps we can follow up on some of that sort of stuff. I'm going to the IGDA's Quality of Life Summit at GDC this year, so perhaps I can do some reporting back from that. Let me know.

My other hat, of course, is that of game designer, so I'd be more than happy to speak in that capacity as well.

As far as the IGDA goes, we'll certainly help out in whatever ways we can - I think that the IGDA and Freeplay are a particularly good fit. In fact, Freeplay actually came up at the industry discussion panel we had at our last chapter meeting, and a few of us commented that we hoped it was coming back this year :)

In summary:

1. I think it's great news that Freeplay will be back this year, so I'm voicing my support for that, as a developer.

2. Personally, I'm happy to help out however I can.

3. Let me know if/how you'd like the IGDA to help spread the word.


Submitted by James A Burke on Tue, 08/02/05 - 5:03 AM Permalink

quote:Originally posted by qwertyuiop

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!).

That is good :D

Submitted by CynicalFan on Tue, 08/02/05 - 3:07 PM Permalink

Well, I guess with this post I will first off quote what I wrote in the other Free Play centric thread:

?If you ask me, Next Wave was great in getting Free Play off of the ground, and did a great job of doing so in general, but, they are not game developers ? but then again this does have its benefits.?


As I also said in that post in relation to the quote, that this is apparent in the end quality of the event, such as the lack of preparation and quality checks present for the presenters and their talks ? more so their talks. I believe presenters were told that such preparation was not necessary, that it was more of a casual laid-back affair, where presenters just got up and talked and fielded questions ? this is ok for some talks, but not all.

I think this is due to there being inadequate involvement from professional developers, and also due to a lack of experience with the industry with the organisers, therefore they did not feel confident in making quality judgement calls or enforcing them ? but perhaps I am way off on this one.

I?ll also say that having no involvement from those outside of the industry is a bad thing, as you need the kind of ?objectivity? that they can provide ? so I am not saying this at all.


If funding and quality is an issue, then raise the price of entry, though this does not really help in raising the funds to put on the event, but perhaps will help you feel more confident in reassuring ?investors? that the event will at least breakeven. I think that the cost last year was great, but it did show in the end quality of the conference, and I think that most this year would like to see this bar raised, much higher.

Personally I think that $100-150 for Students / Unemployed is reasonable to ask for if the quality is improved from last year?s conference, and $200-300 for Developers / Employed (other industry) again is not much to ask for from the employed if the quality is right, and seems to be the unanimous amount that most are willing to part with ? and I think the recent polls on Sumea for the AGDC price support this.

And those figures are for a 3 day pass FYI.

Personally, I was under the impression that most that attend the conference were from Melbourne, so the $20 or whatever they paid was really nothing at all, I think that for them to pay $100 is still nothing. For those that came interstate and had to pay for accommodation and travel costs, $20 was not much of a saving, and raising this to $100 wont make that much of a difference ? as for the developers / employed, they are working and can afford it if they really want to attend.

BTW: You really need to have passes of some kind for those that have payed for more than one day, I ripped my wrist thing off after the first day and had problems (with security) getting back in due to my ?appearance? ? he is lucky I didn?t punch him in the face ;)


I am under the impression that most (the newbies) that attended last year wanted to be professionals, meaning, earning a living from their chosen artform and profession, therefore the bulk of the conference should reflect this ? I also felt that there were too few developers, but this comes down to venue capacity and bad timing, both of which I assume have now been addressed.

Being an indie can mean a lot of things to a lot of people, for instance, some may think of an indie being someone who in their spare time to their regular job creates games and releases them on the internet ? for free or profit. To others being an indie could mean being a big time professional that has carved their mark on the industry by starting out as a shareware / internet release developer, then self-funding all or part of their own titles ? developers that spring to mind are Blizzard, ID Software.

Being an indie to me is being a professional, with the aim of having the creative freedom and financial muscle to negotiate favourable terms in your publishing / distribution deal for your titles ? or utilising ?alternate? methods to get your title developed, marketed and distributed.

When I think of Free Play, an Independent Game Developer?s Conference, I think of ?professional? developers more so than ?hobby? developers. Therefore, there should be more content for professional developers that wish to become more independent or wish to stay (or become) independent in the future.

Talks on modding and machinima (hobbyist game development) are great as these are clear avenues for those wishing to break into the industry, but, should not reflect the bulk of what this conference has to offer. Talks like ?What Game Designer?s really do? don?t interest me as a professional as I already know what they do. Though you may argue that this is more intended for the newbies, but, even though I found overall the range of topics and the topics themselves for talks interesting and ?solid,? I found that I was disappointed by the actual content of most of the talks that I attended, especially those that I thought were for more ?experienced? developers, as they actually offered nothing new and only covered the basics ? I think Moonunit mentioned this as well.

For instance there were various ?funding project? talks that covered no new ground only the basics, and offered no clear or solid strategies and business models that developers could take away with and apply in their own projects ? I want to hear the low-down from experts on the subject and their opinions on what will work. And when I mean strategies and business models, I mean not just as a small time indie, but how to grow your business into another Blizzard, or strategies on moving away from fee-for-service work and becoming more independent on a creative level, and owning more of your projects and seeing more of the profit from them ? but I will admit, I did miss one or two talks that could of offered this :(

Talks that show you how to do the latest thing ? like normal mapping ? do not interest me as I can probably learn this from the internet, or buy a book that will tell me how to do this. What I would be more interested is in a discussion of the uses of the technique in commercial development, the pros and cons of its utilisation today and within the future ? not how to do it in a 3D modelling tool.

From a newbie perspective, I want to hear the ?realities? of starting a studio and an indie project, what goes wrong and why. I want to hear the realities of working in the industry, how hard it is to get a job and why, how you usually get a job and why, why you may very well find more appealing working on a mod, level, game art, machinima or indie title in your spare time (along with a regular job) far more rewarding than becoming a ?professional.?

This conference should be a clear independent and affordable rival to the AGDC, and willing to discuss issues like Quality-of-Life issues that plague our industry, and how we can overcome them. An important medium and forum for industry change for the better, not afraid to discuss the hard and often ugly issues that face developers ? the kind that the AGDC ignores or downplays.

I guess the point I am trying to drive at is that the conference should be less ?underground? and more professional and should consider itself as such. And also, no talks where developers / companies market their new whiz-bang product, I for one do not like having to pay for this ?privilege? ? a good rule of thumb for which Australian developers will and will not do this is if they are ?active? in creating an image in the local media, especially with all their spin they really have very little in the way of achievements to talk of, try the developers that are the ?quiet-achiever? types, they have more personality and wisdom to share ;)


One last thing, I stayed at the Victoria Hotel, and got bitten to shit by bed bugs. Now, you might think that this is no big deal, and that they are as bad as mosquito bites, wrong! First off they make you itch like crazy, you will not be a happy camper for at least 2 weeks, and you can forget about getting any work done ? mine, and even the small ones, grew into large itchy welts after a couple of days due to an allergic reaction. Anther thing is that it will cause nausea, unless you take medication for allergies ? it was so severe that I nearly collapsed (passed out) from it, and I also think that people thought that I was drunk, especially security :). The worst part of it is that I only realised a day I got back from the conference, after all the bites, even the ones I did not see, grew into the large welts I mentioned, so I had slept in an infested bed for four nights with the little bastards sucking me dry, so I was pretty much covered with them ? at first I thought I had contracted some kind of disease.

I suggest finding another hotel with higher standards for your mid-range budget accommodation, as I hear that I was not the only one ? this means they are infested, they know it, and they don?t want to do anything about it as most people are completely ignorant about them so will not bother to complain.

Submitted by CynicalFan on Tue, 08/02/05 - 3:14 PM Permalink

BTW: I think this thread / topic should be a ?sticky.?

Submitted by lorien on Wed, 09/02/05 - 3:15 AM Permalink

Big thanks to Helen Stuckey and all the ACMI people too.

I think this topic should be marked "itchy" rather than sticky [:)]

Submitted by qwertyuiop on Thu, 10/02/05 - 4:59 AM Permalink

CynicalFan, at least there is no false misrepresentation in your name there! I understand your general criticisms and am sympathetic to some of them. But you're not cutting us a lot of slack here and you're little off the mark with some of your comments. Some of them, i'd like to throw around to get other people's views on because as often as not when someone complains we should be going one way, someone else is telling us to do the exact opposite. Doing anything like this is a deliberate balancing act and we make the best decisions we can within the limitations that we got.

Ok, down to specifics:

+ "they are not game developers ... I think this is due to there being inadequate involvement from professional developers, and also due to a lack of experience with the industry with the organisers, therefore they did not feel confident in making quality judgement calls or enforcing them ? but perhaps I am way off on this one.? - Way off. I think Zoot (who was a coordinator of the last FP) corrected this in the last thread but you didn't seemed to deliberately ignore it. FP _was_ coordinated by developers. Next Wave is not a game dev organisation but we know that which is why the group that developed the program, philosophy, speakers lists, suggestions etc for FP were all developers. Souri was involved in that process, we had two employed developers for major companies (also doing indie stuff), a game artist, a startup DIY game guy and an enthusiastic student. Only Fiona and myself weren't game makers (although i am a pretty fanatical game player, have worked as a web developer, tech software writer and journo in another life so i am not a luddite) but i'd like to think we had a few useful skills to offer;

+ "this is apparent in the end quality of the event, such as the lack of preparation and quality checks present for the presenters and their talks ? more so their talks. I believe presenters were told that such preparation was not necessary, that it was more of a casual laid-back affair, where presenters just got up and talked and fielded questions ? this is ok for some talks, but not all."

Yes, i make no apology for the fact that this was a deliberate approach. The idea was definately to keep it as informal, conversational and unlike a university or a corporate promo fluff piece as humanly possible. We told most speakers not to over-prepare - that we we wanted them to speak for 5 or 10 minutes and then we would throw it open to audience questions comment and discussion. I think this actually explains a lot of the vibe of the event and that it is mostly a good thing. Obviously, not going to work for everyone and we will be more aware of where it might not make sense next time around, but in principle i think casual is the right way to go. Obviously you disagree, but more people have praised the casual nature of it than have criticised it by a factor or 4 or 5 to one from the feedback that's got to us. What do people here think?

As for the quality of the speakers themselves, this was always going to be a bit hit and miss. There is a relatively small group of people in this country to draw on and not all people with great knowledge are great speakers. Sometimes some people don't handle that environment so well. Sometimes people claimed to be experts and were full of bull. It is always going to be a bit like that. I have been to events with a thousand times the budget of free play and hit the same problem. The only real alternative there is cut back on the number and range of sessions and go for proven talent. If this is what people want, then we would consider it, but giving new voices a chance to speak is part of what i personally value in the whole exercise. Thoughts?

+ ENTRY COSTS "I think that the cost last year was great, but it did show in the end quality of the conference, and I think that most this year would like to see this bar raised, much higher. Personally I think that $100-150 for Students / Unemployed is reasonable to ask for if the quality is improved from last year?s conference, and $200-300 for Developers / Employed (other industry) again is not much to ask for from the employed if the quality is right" - speak for yourself. I think that's a big call. Keeping it cheap was part of the philosophy and the idea was to attract a really different audience for FP than the AGDC. It's not meant to be as slick, it is meant to be diverse and accessable. If you want the AGDC then that's cool but that's why it's a different event and there is space for alternatives. It's meant to be rougher than the slick commercial stuff, it's meant to take risks and fail, it's meant to be open to fifteen year olds who are passionate and motivated (not rich) enough. It's cool because the people there are cool and not because of the quality of signage or what's in the showbag. A lot of the feedback we got last time appreciated that a lot. What do others think?

+ Re: Passes, good practical suggestion.

+ i have cut out a lot of what you've said there because i think you have spent a lot of time complaining about what shouldn't be represented at Free Play. A lot of what you are saying shouldn't be there is stuff that other people really appreciate. I take all your suggestions about what SHOULD be represented really seriously but you're not the only one. There were over 400 people at free play - how many of them did you talk to? I am pretty confident that those of us involved in putting it together talked to more of them than you did. THe cool thing about that was the diversity of things that people wanted more of and i think catering to that diversity will be part of the FP philospohy for a while to come.

gotta run but happy to continue the discussions,


Submitted by CynicalFan on Thu, 10/02/05 - 12:14 PM Permalink

Hey, hey, hey? no need to take it so personally, you did after all ask for anyone?s opinions, and that all would be considered. I merely offered mine, and if it is a bit focused on the negative, well? I prefer to focus and address the negative rather continue to praise the positive? and I also don?t like arse kissing ;)

I do not know who Zoot is, and I did not know what he meant by his fairly concise comments - I was also fairly busy at the time. So don?t jump to a conclusion that I had (on purpose) ignored what he had said, I take offence to that. I also did not know about the level of involvement of developers in the conference, and I still do not know how much input they had to be perfectly honest.

As for the price thing, well if you want a better event, you will probably have to raise the price of the event. If you want to keep it low priced for some attendees, then offer a lower priced entry point. In my mind something like 100 for students and 300 for developers is reasonable, and are also the ?extremes? that you should price the event, I did not say that they had to be this price, they could be cheaper, and you could have more entry levels for different attendee types.

As for my comments in regards to the level of quality in the talks, your approach is wrong I think. This is a conclusion I have drawn from speaking to the people at the conference, and from comments made online about the event. You have taken this personally as you were a part of the event organisation, therefore you are subjective about it ? as apposed to objective. I will not go into my reasons as to why your approach is wrong and why I suspect you all had decided to go with it, as it will only devolve this discussion into a series of personal and childish attacks.

I will say that your slightly heated subjectivity has actually missed some of the positive comments I have made, but granted, I did not see much reason to go into so much detail with those, so I can see why they were overlooked.

As for the rest, I will leave this to others to comment on and make their own voices heard. I will also leave you with something I once read, and goes something along the lines of:

?Sorry, I did not have the time to write you a short letter, so I have written you a long one instead.?

Writing a clear, concise post takes a lot of time, effort and (sometimes diplomatic) skill, therefore it is easier to write a long winded one instead, one that is perhaps not so clear, and can make people jump to conclusions about the writer and their meaning.

Especially, when you are dealing with what is basically nothing more than plain text on a screen.

Submitted by qwertyuiop on Thu, 10/02/05 - 9:57 PM Permalink

Hey CF,

I didn't take any of it personally and didn't mean any of it personally. Started writing a response and had to finish it quickly (had to go to a meeting) without thinking about it quite enough. Sorry if it was taken personally, certainly not intended that way. If you come down for FP or you're in Melbourne i will buy you a beer and be more than happy to discuss in person.

I guess the key things i was trying to get to was that we get very different feedback from different groups. So, i can honestly say for every time someone says "i'd be happy to pay a lot more" someone else comes up to us and says "i'm on youth allowance and i am so glad someone has put something like this on at a price that i can afford". I guess that's why i am putting the counter views to you because they have certainly been put to us in feedback forms, other forums, conversations with participants, etc.

Zoot is a professional developer and has also been involved in a few indy projects along the way and Zoot was very instrumental in getting FP going and getting other real developers in on it. Zoot can speak for Zoot, but it is a key point in the origins of FP that it was initiated by people on the inside. I am sorry if i said you'd ignored that on purpose (i didn't think i had, but i did as i read back over it) - brain to fingers crisis, lack of editing, too much of a hurry. All the usual excuses.

Developers had a huge influence on the conference program - it's also worth trawling through the Sumea archives because we did really try and incorporate people's suggestions in the lead up to the last one. We certainly learnt a lot from the experience and it will all be applied this time around - it's not like it's not obvious to us that a whole bunch of things could work better. It was the first time we'd tried anything like this, some things went great, some went pear shaped, we took notes! It's also why we're asking for suggestions.

If you want to go into the reasons why our approach is wrong in the tone of the conference that would be very welcome and it won't degenerate into childish attacks, i promise. I've been to more than a few conferences and events in my time, i personally really prefer the idea of energetic discussion to the more tired "expert talks for 45 minutes while the audience falls asleep" approach. I am not saying that you are suggesting that we go to that extreme but that's part of the balancing that we're trying to pull off. Which is not to say we shouldn't tweak it - some topics lend themselves to discussion, whereas - for example - more technical presentations (whether that is coding or legals) probably need a fair bit more preperation than we encouraged last time.

Your point about me being subjective is totally true and well taken. You could probably have gone a little further and point out that i'm a little defensive (which is an unfortunate part of being a human being that i haven't quite been able to get over) - fortunately you didn't because it would have made me even more defensive :). But everyone who goes to an event like FP or posts an opinion here is subjective (not everyone is defensive, i'll concede) and that's my main point. Obviously you would like to see the program go in a certain kind of way that matches most what you personally are interested in and want to get out of it. Fair enough too. But we get a lot of people with very different interests talking to us and we don't want to take away whole streams of the conference that they're keen on. Diversity is it for me and diversity is not something we are likely to get rid of.

The philosophy behind FreePlay is to assume that people are coming in with different interests, different skills, different expectations and to try and make sure there is enough in there for all of them. It's a big, diverse program to accomodate that. It's not just for startup garage companies, it's not just for young modders, it's not just for people trying to get a job with a big company, it's not just for uni students, it's not just for frustrated overworked professional developers, it's not just for people interested in the shape of the industry, it's not just for companies trying to recruit talent, it's not just to show off product and skills - it's a bit of all of those things and a balance between them. We are really interested in how to better balance those things but i doubt we will throw any of those groups overboard without really serious consideration.

Anyhow, i am taking all this as a good constructive discussion, not an argument - as you say it's hard to get people's tone via typed text but there's no steam coming out my ears here, no objects flying around the room - just trying to put other views in and explain where we're coming from.

It's all good, let it roll on...


Submitted by lorien on Fri, 11/02/05 - 12:32 AM Permalink

One thing that annoyed me a little about the last one was to find some advertising posters put up in the staircase from a company that (AFAIK) didn't even sponsor the event.

I agree that it needs to be made clear that a presentation isn't a chance to spin a load of marketing BS and hype.E

And don't worry guys, Cynical Fan makes steam come out of everyone's ears (no insult intended). Even more than I do [:)]

Don't know if the "arse kissing" comment was directed at me, if it was I suggest you find out a little more about what Helen and ACMI in general have been up to and why they deserve thanks.

Submitted by CynicalFan on Fri, 11/02/05 - 1:41 AM Permalink

Oh, I didn?t mean you specifically Lorien, I meant that one in general ;)

That one I just new would piss someone off, but I said what the hell, I?ll say it anyway, knowing that it was not the exact truth ? just one part or side of it. One thing I missed with my clear and concise is: complete. Saying something like that that is clear, concise and NOT complete is bound to irritate people ? I suppose that is why I left it in after thinking twice.

Marcus: I think I will not give my reasons as I do fear it will result in someone starting a childish flame-war ? probably me by saying it. I?d prefer to sit on it and think more about it, and figure out whether it will actually help or just hinder.

Submitted by axon on Fri, 11/02/05 - 3:08 AM Permalink

(Had a hard time picking up all of the previous discussion (sheer volume). Hopefully what I'm about to write isn't already covered.)

I'm very interested in career pathways. I'm a few years out of uni and have been working FT since in simulations & defence sw. I'd love to hear from ppl who've successfully made the career transition.

(I've interviewed for games sector work but it seems like game firms are unwilling to acknowledge any coding expertise that isn't applied to commercial titles (defence sims are just games guys.. just not as fun to make (?)).)

Submitted by lorien on Fri, 11/02/05 - 11:59 PM Permalink

What does this have to do with freeplay? Are you saying you would like some presentations from people who have made a career transition to games?

Submitted by irous on Sat, 12/02/05 - 1:32 PM Permalink

My friends and I are excited that there is a chance that Free Play 2005 is happening. We'll be coming down to Melbourne for it! I'll be posting my thoughts on Free play 2005 when I come back after the weekend. (I'm going camping in a few hours o_O)

Submitted by Chaos on Sat, 12/02/05 - 11:28 PM Permalink

I would like to see one session deal with resume writing and presentation. What game companies look for in a resume, how to avoid getting yours end up in the junk box and actually read. Could take a couple that people have submitted and go through them, like one for artist and one for programmer etc.

Submitted by scorpiontail on Sun, 13/02/05 - 11:52 AM Permalink

Ok one thing that really annoyed me last year was the fact that it was really hard to hear what was being said in the discussions, tho im thinking that this will be rectified with the change of location.

Also im one of those people who are content with the price. Cuz im a student studying and im on youth allowance, i would rather purchase a book to learn from than pay $100 to get into an event where i might not get the same value. That being said, it would be nice to hear discussions about topics that cant be just read out of a book. Information that only comes from experience, like the perks and pitfalls of working in the game industry.

The only other thing i can think of that was a problem was that some of the sessions definitely werent planned very well. Its not that i blame anyone for that, since it was all undefined as to the right mood and detail that each session was to have. Hopefully some careful planning this year will mean that wont happen again.

At least i can say i got something out of last years event, and thats gotta be something!

Submitted by quiklite on Sun, 13/02/05 - 12:25 PM Permalink

Free Play was great. I had an awesome time, and to be honest, while I didn't learn a great amount that I didn't already know, or didn't learn enough of new things that sounded good to learn about, I did come back from Melbourne fired up. Especially after drinking a couple of beers and listening to Harvey Smith.

About the only suggestion I would make is to perhaps indicate the level of expertise required by some of the sessions. You went into some sessions expecting to be overwhelmed by knowledge, when all you got was an hour long introduction for beginners.

Other than that, I found the boheme venue unexpected but a delight to be in, and I regret that it moves to somewhere like ACMI which is a bit sterile for my tastes. You can't have everything I suppose. It's not often you get the opportunity to paint stencils on the walls of the venue with some crazy drunk Melburnians artists.

Say hi to Kathryn and Fiona for me if you get the chance; I haven't seen her around for ages. I'll try and help out this year if we can get more planning ahead of time.


Submitted by axon on Mon, 14/02/05 - 9:18 AM Permalink

lorien: The ideal would be if half a dozen ppl in the industry could give their account of career breakthroughs which they feel enabled them to make the transition. I'd also be very interested in hearing from indies and where/how they made the transition to FT producers.

Submitted by lorien on Tue, 15/02/05 - 3:51 AM Permalink

I think last years venue had some charm to it too. ACMI will be great though (and you will even be able to read peoples slides), and it's good to see this thing hasn't been grabbed by one of the uni's down here- I think a LOT of them wanted to host it.

Submitted by xyz on Tue, 15/02/05 - 11:34 AM Permalink

I tried reading the massive amount of words in this thread and have some notion of what is being said, now I would like to add a few ideas.

1) Demo Scene. For me this is one of the most interesting areas of or uses of game technology. It fits perfectly into the Indy mind set. If it is a part of the conference already, great my crew and I will be coming.
If it isn't, then lets have a demo party.

2) What are Indy games about? Is it a realm for experimentation, a way to cut out the publisher, a place to train for the big league?

When I went to art school, I got pissed off because people would come and give seminars and do a really half arsed job. I don't mind listening to Chris Crawford giving a watered down explanation of games to a room full of academics that know nothing about the subject, because Chris knows how to present.

My point is, if somebody wants to get up, put in a good effort, then know body has the right to shoot them down.

We should form a community as a result of the event, not some snotty nosed elite boys club.


Submitted by Zoot on Wed, 16/02/05 - 12:31 AM Permalink

The demo scene...yeah that sure was part of what we tried to do with last year's FreePlay but it was quite small despite our efforts... it's a matter of us having the contacts to reach out to the community. The guys are great, gave us advice and got involved because they're melbourne based, there were a couple of guys who did sessions on console hardware modification, and we had a few "demo scene" type demos at E3.1b but it was mostly game demos.
But we *really* wanted to find more Australians from the demo scene to contribute to the conference but the most we could do without having enough contacts was just post to forums like xboxscene. So if you want to help us make a really good demo scene component for this year's conference (if it happens) that'd be ace [:)]

Submitted by Steve on Sun, 20/02/05 - 1:54 PM Permalink

About the price: CynicalFan's logic seems to be this: For those who live in Melbourne, they can afford $100-150 because they don't have the expense of travelling and accomodation. For those that are coming from interstate, if they can afford to travel and pay for accomodation, an extra $100 isn't going to make that much difference.

Let me just say that I will be coming over from Adelaide at great (to me) expense. I am a student and I support myself without help from Centrelink. I will be coming over as cheaply as possible and if the cost reached triple digits I wouldn't bother forking out for something that could be a complete dissappointment. Think about this: A high ticket price equates to great expectations on the quality of the event. It could cost $200 per ticket holder and still be a complete disaster.

I didn't go to last year's event. I didn't even know about it. I would have loved to go to something completely unprofessional and underground, if only to finally meet a lot of people with which I share a common interest. I think that's what most people would want most to get out of it. And for that, all we really need is a venue and the people to show up.

Of course, the talks/seminars will be a bonus and I'd love to go to some of them. I get the idea that last year a lot of stuff ran simeltaneously. I hope that if that happens again, the events are scheduled such that the least amount of people would be torn between simeltaneous talks/seminars. But then again, that kind of stuff is hard to predict.

What has there been planned in the way of displays? I mean, can anyone come along and setup a table promoting their game/library/other software? I'm not talking about big companies here. I was thinking of things like an Allegro display, an SDL display, a GBA homebrew display, etc for those that would want to organise such things.

On price again, I think $30-40 is an ideal price for such an event. If people want to give seminars, let them do so because they want to share knowledge, not because they're getting paid for it. We all have knowledge to share, so let it be a forum for that. I really like the idea of diversity. I certainly wouldn't want the event to be geared mainly towards one interest or another. And certainly not geared towards people that get paid to develop games yet call themselves independent. Of course, I'm not against getting paid for it! It's just not that sort of event.

If you want a big-ticket event with a big price, go to AGDC.

Submitted by CynicalFan on Tue, 22/02/05 - 5:46 AM Permalink

Opinions are like arseholes. Everybody has one.

Submitted by Steve on Tue, 22/02/05 - 7:25 AM Permalink

Here's my point: Lower price, more people. The most important thing is to get as many indie game developers as possible.

Submitted by CynicalFan on Tue, 22/02/05 - 10:54 AM Permalink

Here are my points:

Next time, read the whole post and most of the thread. My point was not that the event should cost those prices at all. As I stated in a follow-up post, they were the extremes the event should cost. I also stated that there could be as many entry points (pricing) as you like, to cater for the different ?developers? that would attend.

No one usually gets paid for a conference talk that they give. You don?t get paid for giving one at the AGDC, and not even for giving one at the GDC. Free Play I believe is no different. What they may ?pay? you, is to help with travel and accommodation costs, but this is more for the international speakers that they invite downunder. These guys may be willing to not be paid for their time, but they aren?t exactly going to fork out for a plane ticket and hotel room out of their own money, especially when they are flying down from the states and Europe ? pretty much a 24hr flight. They do need some incentives to come here, to counter the money and time they lose.

What have you got against those that make money from being an independent? What have you got from local developers that make money, and are looking for ways to be more independent? It might actually shock you but this conference was initiated by those very people. And I don?t care what Marcus says, this event was started with the primary goal of changing the local industry here for the better ? the ?professional? industry. The woman that (I believe) pretty much started this conference, put it at a conference I attend in Sydney half a year before Free Play, as wanting to: change the local industry for the better, to help local developers have more freedom and creativity in their projects, instead of being fee-for-service developers ? don?t ask me for her name, I don?t recall, but she was the one that wanted to get it all going ahead I believe, and initiated it.

So, judging by your last comment, anyone that wants a quality event, should go to the AGDC. Is this what you are saying? Do you have any idea how much that offends me? Now Free Play doesn?t have to cost a lot, but that doesn?t mean it has to suffer in quality, that would dissuade local (paid) developers from attending, because they would probably prefer to use that time with their families, or doing something else other than GD. After all, why would they attend if they are not going to learn anything new? Why would they attend when there are only opinionated newbs present, that resent them. Anyway, I don?t believe that the only reason that people want to attend is to network with others like you, in the same boat, but also because they wish to attend a cheap event for them to learn about the industry, and make contacts within the industry, with established studios ? if the content and quality is not there then they (the professional developers of all kinds) may not turn up.

Sorry if I am a bit harsh with my comments, but I get irritated at times when someone makes ignorant remarks. Especially when they have based them on my comments, by having misinterpreted them, probably due to a lack of understanding of what is being discussed due to a lack of experience with the industry.

Submitted by Jacana on Tue, 22/02/05 - 6:22 PM Permalink

Come on guys - its not going to do anyone any good arguing about this stuff.

Steve is just saying he doesn't like the concept of Freeplay being expesnive. He it looking at it from a Uni student who doesn't have much money - nuff said. He isn't picking on Freeplay for anything other then the fact that if you want to spend $900 to go to AGDC which is set up a lot different (caters to CEO's not workers) then do so.

Cynical - As for rasing the price of tickets to get the speakers over Freeplay did a pretty good job of it last year with the speakers they did get in and still kept the cost low. I realise some of this may have come from external funding because of Next Wave so they were able to keep their tickets lower. *shrugs* Point is really that you can run it cheap and still get decent people over.

Submitted by CynicalFan on Wed, 23/02/05 - 1:14 AM Permalink

I never said you couldn?t run the event for cheap! I merely stated what the most I think people would pay for the event if the quality was right. I also said that you may also need to raise the price if you want a better quality event. Now let me say that I actually had no problems with the last venue at all, in fact I really liked the main room with it Japanese style wall-mural. I had no problem walking to the various rooms and going up flights of stairs ? I have no problem with exercise. I was merely making a comment on what I had heard from people, which appeared to be one of the main gripes from people about the event ? the biggest being the quality of the talks and presentations, on this one I am in agreement with them.

Now, when I say quality, I don?t mean a useless show bag full of crap like mugs and t-shirts, I couldn?t give a toss about that kind of rubbish. I mean more in regards to the venue, so as to keep an underground feel but still attract the professionals to the event, and not have anyone complain ? but I am sure they will with the new venue anyway. And to have better facilities for presenters to prepare if need be and give better presentations. Also, to cover costs that would go into making sure that speakers are providing the quality required for their respective talks. With the last one there were no substantial quality checks, so no one was forced to prepare, unless they wanted to. If you have more quality-checks this time around, then they may add to the cost of putting the event on. One other thing I can think of is better multi-day passes, the kind that can be taken off and put back on ? they don?t have to be that fancy either.

And as you stated, there may not be as much government funding this time around, so the price may have to go up for this reason ? hopefully by very little.

Hey, I am all for having as great an event as possible for as little as possible ? do you think I like spending hard earned money on industry conferences or something? I just want this event to be a viable alternative to the AGDC, and not have to pay the AGDC prices. An event that has much more freedom in what it can provide its attendees.