After a bit of a hiatus its great to see the IGDA Scotland meetings getting back on track with last months meet up in Glasgow, for a play party of the Scottish Game Jam games, being the best attended event so far and next months Edinburgh meeting already planned – keep the 10th April free.
In Dundee we’re back at the Hannah Maclure Centre, at the top of the Abertay Student Union for talks from Mal Abbas and Paul Andrew McGee and then the usual networking drinks, giving everyone a chance to catch up with old and new friends, chat about the industry and plan new and exciting game ideas, or simply talk about concepts which came to you, one midwinter morning.
Brian MacDonald welcomed everyone to the meeting and talked about the theme of this meeting, prototype and indie funding, before doing the usual set of announcements and explaining the opportunities that being a member of IGDA provides and the advantages to students of being an IGDA scholar. Then we moved on to the speakers
First up was Mal Abbas from Quartic Llama who discussed the team and history of the company. Drawn together following the Samsung Development Challenge and Dare to be Digital; allowing them to get to know each other before applying for Abertay University Prototype Fund. The Prototype Fund provided a 25k grant to develop the game prototype for Dama, a strategy/collection game, spending three months developing the product.
At the end of the funding though they had to come to terms with the funding gap, having already looked at collaboration and work for hire. As Mal pointed out, the more collaboration and products you produce to a high level the more work will come, and better paid and more high profile work. Currently they are working to make a game with the National Theatre of Scotland for their production of “other”, a stage version of movie Let the Right One In.
Mal was honest, realistically explaining that funding as a small company is tight but explaining that some of the things that have helped them are branding, website, social media and public and networking events. The last being important for making new contacts. He also explained how important the community was and how they use it to keep in touch with people and share knowledge.
Paul Andrew McGee, from Secret Lunch, discussed game software and how it shouldn’t be considered as an industry process but as an entertainment process; the fact Doom was more popular than Windows, stimulating Gabe Newell to start Valve. With games like World of Goo and Castle Crashers hitting the market in 2008 it proved that indie developers could create popular titles and the iPhone added yet another avenue that these developers could use.
The problem being that piracy is rampant, so how do you make a profit from your product. Paul suggested that free to play was one route, making it easy to pay and accessible, creating value and community around the product. On the bad points you make the consumers a commodity, create a precarious relationship and then there is the simple fact that it does not work for all games, especially more authored experiences. An alternate approach Paul suggested was illustrated by Amanda Palmer’s TED 2013: The Art of Asking talk. So crowd funding is an option to listen to people and their feedback and allows the customer to contribute what they want. Terry Cavanagh’s Hexagon leading to Super Hexagon and http//www.freeindiegam.es being other examples.
Paul still felt that mass appeal, good gameplay and quality will help you succeed but essentially making stuff, communicating about it and listening were important. Often you have to create the audience rather than await that lucky hit, like Farmville or Slender Man. So fostering a successful community involves investment, funding, the talent pool available, mentoring and collaboration. Paul ended by showing us the attractive looking Shu, which Secret Lunch are developing at this time.
As always IGDA Scotland brought those who attended a high quality evening of entertainment. Well structured talks that made you think and a new forum before the talks, where people could make announcements about future events and job opportunities. As a free event you should make the time to be at your local event but you can gain so much by setting the time aside to attend each month. They are, as always, an excellent opportunity to find out what’s happening in the independent gaming scene in Scotland.