Hilton Brighton Metropole 9 - 11 July 2019
Insight:Inspiration:Networking

Indie

While competition is hotting up for indie game devs, fresh opportunities continue with ever more tools, services, and other resource emerging to help turn your ambitions into reality. To help you become one of the winners, the Indie track brings together the indie community plus a few super star speakers to share hints, tips, lessons, and dreams.

Indie sessions

Do Switch Quick, Get Rich Quick?

Wednesday 11th July: 15.00 - 15.45 : Room 2

Nintendo Switch is the hot new kid on the console block, but should you bring your indie game to it? Having ported a few games to the platform (including Mike Bithell’s Subsurface Circular) Tony talks through some of the pros and cons. As well as discussing the business case and marketing angle, he also talks through the design considerations in porting to a device that has controllers and a touch screen, and ways to integrate some fan (and reviewer) pleasing platform-specific features without ballooning your project’s scope.

Takeaway

  • The business cases for and against Nintendo Switch porting for indies.
  • Design considerations for porting mouse or controller-driven games.
  • Ways to add Switch-specific features without increasing scope.

The Steampocalypse - A Survival Guide

Tuesday 10th July: 11.00 - 11.45 : Room 4

For the last couple of years Steam has become a competitive space. In the last few months, since Steam Direct launched, that has got even harder. The number of new games on Steam has gone from a handful per day back in 2015 to over 200 per week in March 2018. Can this rise continue? What do these dark omens tell us of what Steam may do in response? Is this a ‘Steampocalypse’ or simply the next iteration in the ongoing story of games development? Should you give up? Move to console? Pivot to mobile? Jack it all in and go work in another industry? Tomas Rawlings - indie developer running Auroh Digital and a co-director of Bristol Games Hub shares with you some of the survival strategies that he and other indies are using to attempt to ensure that they survive the Steampocalypse.

Takeaway

  • Understand a key trend shaping our industry.
  • See what other devs are doing in response.
  • Learn how to plan your own response in a fast moving industry.

Lessons From the Wilderness. Positive Outcomes from a Failed Project

Wednesday 11th July: 12.00 - 12.45 : Room 4

There is no doom and gloom in this session; it is a resoundingly hopeful discussion that aims to destigmatise failure and provide an opportunity to learn and grow from our most challenging experiences. This session follows the course of project that is destined to fail and discusses the factors that can contribute to such a fate. The session also looks at the aftermath, both personally and professionally, of a project that comes to an abrupt end, and the process of picking up the pieces and leveraging your hard-won wisdom to do it all again, only better. Simon begins before the project starts a vital time to plan for success, whilst preparing for failure. He then moves to the initial prototypes with their freedom to experiment. Then to the heady rush of taking a demo on the road, where hubris and humility mix with equal measure. And finally, into that odd space beyond a project where the painful and liberating process of dis-entangling your sense of self from the game takes place.

Takeaway:

  • That failure can be as constructive as it can be painful
  • There are many things you can do to mitigate the costs of failure whilst maximising the benefits
  • That taking unexpected paths can lead you to your intended destination

Team Organisation, Culture, Leadership and Tools in an Area of Games-as-a-Service

Wednesday 11th July: 16.00 - 16.45 : Room 2

In this live fireside chat, three production veterans will share experiences and ideas around how Games-as-a-Service affects team organisation, leadership, culture, and tools. The panel will address challenges of distributed development, scaling large productions, and new challenges brought by developing for VR/AR.

Takeaway

  • Learn from experiences organising production and business for Gaming-as-a-Service.
  • Be inspired by trends in organisation and leadership to organise your teams for the future rather than the past.
  • Get best practices around building culture, managing distributed teams, and tools tips and tricks.

Development as Marketing: An Open Production Case Study

Tuesday 10th July: 17.00 - 17.45 : Room 5

Open production is the process of making games transparently and honestly, fostering community as you go. This turns the development you’re doing anyway into marketing, engendering trust in you and your team, creating an engaged community ahead of launch, and providing you with violently useful steers, feedback and a growing audience along the way. Taking you through two case studies - Sunless Sea, where the team had limited open production experience, and Cultist Simulator, where the team had prior form delivering games this way - this talk will cover what open production offers, its potential pitfalls, how it fosters an audience for your studio and products, and Kickstarter and funding opportunities.

Takeaway:

  • What open production is
  • How to use ongoing development to build a community for your game and your studio (Kickstarter, public roadmaps, Early Access, sprint updates)
  • The additional benefits of developing transparently (trust, support, word of mouth)
  • Specific insight into the process of open production on Sunless Sea and Cultist Simulator (the process, the things that worked, and the things that didn't

The Difficult Second Game

Thursday 12th July: 11.15 - 12.00 : Room 5

The plan: make a game, sell loads of units, use the profit to make the game of your dreams, never worry about money again The reality: make a game, sell a modest number of units, question all your decisions, panic about what to do next In this talk, James Parker, director at Ground Shatter, talks about how the company went from a largely self-funded single-person developer to a fully-fledged microstudio with a six-figure publishing deal and its own label-maker. He will cover the highs, the lows, and the stumbling blocks along the way; from finding and then losing a publisher, to the importance of singing, making your first hire, firing your accountant and how it's possible to fund a studio expansion when your first game sells only an average amount. Warning: May contain survivorship bias.

Takeaway

  • An understanding of the business considerations when expanding a small indie developer
  • Real life examples of the potential up and downsides to various funding streams that are available
  • An appreciation of the changing marketplace for indie games and/or at least one great joke

Community Management in the Memeverse

Wednesday 11th July: 11.00 - 11.45 : Room 5

As a social media manager for a community of almost half a million on Facebook alone, Grace Carroll is used to dealing with passionate fans. This talk will cover a number of key points for anyone interested in managing online game communities - dealing with negative sentiment, growing a community and above all, keeping the fans informed and excited without giving everything away. This talk covers the important basic knowledge of online community management and some tips and tricks to finding the voice of your game.

The Never-Ending Fight: Getting Noticed as an Indie

Thursday 12th July: 12.15 - 13.00 : Room 5

While developing Abandon Ship, Team Lead Gary Burchell kept track of all marketing-related data, from trailer views to individual social media posts. All of this was focused on one drive: building up as many Steam Wishlists as possible. Join him as he goes through the data, breaking down strategies that helped get Abandon Ship covered by major outlets dozens of times, attaining a newsletter with thousands of subscribers, gaining a million plus views on YouTube and over a hundred thousand wishlists – all with no prior marketing experience. Learn from the successes and mistakes that allowed a remote working micro-studio, self-publishing its first title in Early Access to hit 4th in the Global Top Sellers charts on Steam – yet also why it may not be a challenge you wish to take on alone.

Social Marketing Revolution: How Data and Social Can Help You Win!

Tuesday 10th July: 14.00 - 14.45 : Room 6

How do you build an audience around your game even before it’s released? How do you turn loyal fans into brand advocates who celebrate and promote your game for you? We look at case studies from the world of TV and big brands and explore how a revolution in social media data and advertising can be harnessed to take on the big publishers and win. 

Takeaway:

  • How to build an audience
  • The role of social advertising
  • Using data to drive creative
  • Turning customers into brand advocates

In Plain English: How to Create and Scale Your Mobile Free-to-Play Game

Tuesday 10th July: 11.00 - 11.45 : Room 2

David went from years of running console studios to building and then selling a mobile free-to-play company. Now part of the mighty MAG Interactive, he's gone from knowing next-to-nothing about mobile F2P games to hundreds of millions of installs in the space four years. David gives an overview what he's learned in a way that anyone can understand and talks about best practice in current and future games.

Case Study - Claws of Furry, a Global Release on Consoles and Steam

Thursday 12th July: 15.00 - 15.45 : Room 4

I will be talking about how a studio with the majority of staff working remotely managed to successfully release a game globally in consoles and Steam, including Nintendo Switch. I will go in detail about the problems we encountered both during development and pre-release production. Decisions about changing or removing features of our game because of these problems, the impact on the software architecture and post-release steps. Interesting information about what is needed to release in Asia, localisation and the required specifics of age ratings. Finally, I'll talk about what new developers need to ensure they take care before they try it.
 

Blockchains in Gaming: Today and Tomorrow

Tuesday 10th July: 12.00 - 12.45 : Room 4

Fig helped make equity-based crowdfunding successful and turned traditional games publishing on its head.  Now they are helping developers understand the value of blockchains in gaming.  Join Alex Amsel, Head of Blockchain Development at Fig, for this informative session, which will begin with a primer on blockchain technology and its first use case, Bitcoin.  Alex will then introduce the potential uses of blockchains to game developers whilst providing a balanced view of the nascent blockchain sector.  He'll wrap the session by taking a look ahead and offering some opinions on the future of decentralised technology and its use in the games industry.  Anyone curious about blockchain and cryptocurrency for their next game project will want attend this session.

What To Do When That One Big Deal Doesn't Turn Into The Next Big Deal

Tuesday 10th July: 12.00 - 12.45 : Room 2

Aj will discuss life before, during and after signing the "contract of a lifetime". The ego driven rose tinted glasses that can cause you, and your team, danger. Scaling up for a contract and then maintaining that some number of staff when the contract is pulled from under you. This will cover managing budgets, remote workers, non-remote workers, overseas publishers, someone else's IP, contracts, a trip to Disneyland, a trip to another Disneyland, spending more money on "exploration" than you ever have on a game, that game being cancelled and everything that falls in between! How 5 guys in a garage got a multi-million dollar deal, turned into 14 people in a studio and then had that deal killed.

Starting a Start-Up: Learn from Us!

Thursday 12th July: 14.00 - 14.45 : Room 2

As our company was formed by three programmers with no business background and without any business courses/modules, almost everything we've learned has been from making mistakes on the job or by looking back on how we could have done things better. While that suggests we’ve made a lot of mistakes, we are still going which means we must be doing something right. In this talk will I will highlight all the things I wish I'd known at the start that we should've done differently. There will be special focus on the aspects that I think would have significantly improved our business prospects. This includes areas that weren’t really highlighted to me by the mentors and advisors I talked to when I started (and the areas that were which I didn’t really act on). People will leave the talk with a better understanding of what it takes to run a business and all the things they should be considering, even before starting, to get the most success from their company.

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