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Path of Exile is a hardcore, old-school ARPG from the indie developers at Grinding Gear Games in New Zealand. They’ve been doing very well for themselves recently, and here at games.on.net we’re big fans of what they’re doing. But how are they coping as they scale up to open beta, and how has the recent launch of Diablo III and Torchlight II affected their player base? We spoke to producer and designer Chris Wilson for all the answers.

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Black Lab Games is the indie project of Western Australian developer, Paul Turbett, and has already produced the (very good) Star Hammer Tactics. He recently sat down to chat with Digitally Downloaded about the Minis platform, plans for the future of Black Lab Games, and what it’s like being a developer in WA...

(Paul) I started Black Lab Games in 2009. Prior to starting Black Lab Games, I'd spent time at the ill-fated Interzone Games, and another smaller game company, and just felt that I'd be capable of building my own company again, so I started that journey...

The community here (Western Australia) is pretty close knit and supportive. We have very well attended social gathering fairly regularly, and we help each other out where possible.

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An interview with start-up developer and publisher, Nnooo, is up at the Games and Business blog. The developer's creative director, Nic Watt, talks about being a developer in Sydney, and the challenges that creates, has some interesting theories about Nintendo's online strategy for the future, and, surprisingly for a developer with an iPhone game, speaks out in support of classifying Apple App store games.

Ultimately I think if there's a rule it needs to be applied to everyone fairly. At the moment Apple are kind of bending the rules worldwide – you’ve got ESRB in America, which technically is voluntary, but Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony and the games publishers make use of it. Apple are ignoring that. The same with PEGI and Europe.

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Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 08/09/10 - 1:22 PM Permalink

No offence, but how can you claim MJ as a veteran when he's only been in the industry what, less than 10 years? i count 8 maybe on moby

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 08/09/10 - 6:42 PM Permalink

I know from personal experience that Mobygames often will miss titles you missed on.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 08/09/10 - 11:04 PM Permalink

Not to mention titles that were cancelled. I worked for 18 months on Stargate: SG1 - The Alliance, only for it to be canned. You won't find it on Mobygames, but that's 18 months experience for me regardless.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 09/09/10 - 11:41 AM Permalink

Not sure about the current numbers, but last time I checked the average time to stay in the games industry was around 7 years. So if he's got 10 years experience (which sounds about right) then I for one would consider him a veteran.

In fact, having been in the industry for about the same time myself, I've regularly heard people with roughly 5 years experience referred to as veterans.

Games is a young industry, and a fast moving one. People become "veterans" fairly quickly.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 09/09/10 - 3:23 PM Permalink

These days they consider themselves veterans fairly quickly.

Lach

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Submitted by morgan on Sun, 12/09/10 - 7:32 PM Permalink

Not that it was me who applied the term (I wouldn't call myself a veteran) - but yeah, I've been making my living making games 10 years now. Did bits and pieces of work around in the three, four years previous - but none of that ever ended up getting released, so I don't tend to count that.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

An interview with Morgan Jaffit has popped up at the Games and Business blog. In it, he reaffirms his opinion that the delays to Team Bondi's L.A Noire is not a sign that the developer is struggling to complete the game.

However, at the same time he does say that the strength of the Australian dollar is creating some problems in the Australian industry, specifically around work-for-hire - and it is that that is hurting some of the other big studios around - such as Krome.

Overall he is quite positive about the future of Australian games development, although he would like to see the industry at large focus in on helping up-and-coming developers learn how to make a living as an independent developer.

MJ: I hope we see a boom in smaller teams doing good, profitable work over the next year. The seeds are there, and we're trying to support that with our incubation program at the moment. There are a lot of professional developers out of work at the moment, and that pool of talent is ideally placed to start making great stuff.

News

Jungalist caught a post E3, post Puzzle Quest 2 interview with game development veteran, Steve Fawkner, for a three-part feature at Kotaku AU. Kotaku AU readers provided a great range of questions for the Infinite Interactive CEO and Lead designer that touch on the big issues, news, and features concerning Puzzle Quest, Galactrix, and the recently released Puzzle Quest 2. From the Kotaku AU interview...

Why do you think Galactrix didn't do as well as Puzzle Quest?

(Steve F.) We kind of put that down to a couple of things. Firstly, the move to a sci-fi setting. I think sci-fi, for a game of that sort, doesn’t have the same broad appeal that a fantasy setting did.

Secondly, the kind of mechanics behind the game were a little harder to grasp. For casuals, and even some of the hardcore folks, didn’t grasp those mechanics as quickly as they should've done.

Additionally, for the third installment of the feature, Steve provides some of his thoughts on the current state of game development in Australia. It's a hot topic for an industry gradually making its way out of the mayhem caused by global financial crisis, and he describes how tough it is for the industry still when there's simply not much investor money going around.

Steve is enthusiastic about the independent games development space and the opening markets and opportunities it provides to smaller indie developers, however, he echoes the sentiments of many that some of the popular markets are simply too busy and noisy (like the Apple appstore), whilse Facebook is still a rich opportunity for developers who are ready to provide a more compelling game experience than the current offerings...

...Facebook has already had its first verve, its first wave of applications. I think there’s another one coming on Facebook, with better quality games. The games on there at the moment are lacking in terms of basic game design principles.

But they’re good enough to make a lot of money, so when the second wave of good games hits Facebook, there’s going to be a huge opportunity for indies there.

A fantastic feature from Kotaku AU, highly well worth the read! Head on over to Kotaku AU from the links below:

Part 1: Steve Fawkner On Time-Travelling Pirates
Part 2: Steve Fawkner On Improving A Classic
Part 3: Steve Fawkner On The Future Of Aussie Studios

News

President of the Game Developers Association of Australia (GDAA) and CEO of Tantalus, Tom Crago, has made an appearance at Triple R's Byte Into It technology focused radio segment. Tom talks about the upcoming Game Connect: Asia Pacific 2009 which is being held in Melbourne later this year, the trend towards casual gaming, the lack of the R rating classification in Australia, and all the latest at Tantalus.

MB: Do you see the trend towards casual or “snack” type gaming continuing, especially with Apple and the iPhone on the scene?

TC: We have studios here in Australia that are concentrating on that space very, very well. The most successful game on the App store ever was developed here in Melbourne, Flight Control, by Firemint, and Rob Murray who is the CEO of Firemint is going to give a presentation at the conference where he is going to go into what made that game a great success, how much money he spent on it, how much money he made, and the very, very clever way in which those guys marketed that game, to propel it to be, literally the most successful iPhone game, iPhone app, ever.

You can read the transcript of the entire interview at iTWire at the link at the end there, or you can download the 40 minute Byte Into It segment at this address:

http://media.libsyn.com/media/rrrfm/Byte-Into-It-20090805.mp3

News

Speaking of females in the games industry, Kotaku AU have a quick 5 question interview with Ellen Blaha, over at Brisbane's Halfbrick Studios. Ellen is a Qantm graduate and you would have seen some of her handy work in the very delightful racer / platformer Xbox Live Arcade title, Raskulls. From her interview at Kotaku...

My name is Ellen Blaha (commonly known as ‘L’, or ‘Ice Queen’). I work at Halfbrick as a games artist and spend most of my time concepting and creating art assets for our XBLA title, Raskulls. I also play the role of “Only female in the office”.

Kotaku AU are doing a series of these quick "snapshot" developer interviews, so be sure to keep your eye out for the next interview.

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Kotaku AU has a question time feature with Game Developers Association of Australia president, Tom Crago, with questions coming from Kotaku readers on a range of topics including Australia's place in the global games industry, how to get in and stability, the R Rating classification, and my personal favourite, was the GDAA set up to form a salary cap for the industry...

There is no agreement between any Australian development studios in relation to salaries. In fact, we actively compete for talent. At Tantalus we opened a studio in Brisbane specifically to get access to programmers, artists and designers working in that city. There’s a lot of movement of employees between studios in Australia.
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Got some questions for Game Developers' Association of Australia (GDAA) president and Tantalus CEO, Tom Crago? Kotaku are grabbing a games industry luminary every week and are allowing readers to submit questions in the comments section. The best questions are then chosen and passed onto the interviewee to answer. Sounds pretty snazzy to me, so head on to Kotaku and provide some questions!

You have until the end of today, so get in quick!!

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