Passionate about indie games?
Join us at the Vancouver Playhouse on October 22nd for a fun day of creativity, innovation, and inspiration!
The summit features presentations and panels on all matters of interest to game devs, with the goals of informing, educating and motivating.
We're very proud if this year's speaker lineup. For a bio on each presenter please visit our Speakers page. To get details on each presentation continue reading below.
Nels Anderson - Firewatch: Design Constraints in Narrative Exploration Games
The so-called "walking simulator" genre defies many typical game design conventions. Well-understood design techniques cannot be applied in the same way when developing games with a focus on exploration and narrative. We will discuss how the constraints of Firewatch's premise reached much further than imagined and how the team addressed these challenges as well as making the most of the opportunities this created.
Robin Baumgarten - What's going on in the Hardware Game Scene
Robin talks about making experimental hardware games and custom controllers, its emerging scene, and why now is the best time ever to get into hardware development as an indie. First, he'll give brief overview of who's making custom hardware games, who's playing them and where. Then, things get a bit more technical using Line Wobbler as an example, highlighting details such as iterations through festival exhibitons, using new manufacturing technologies such as 3D-printing and lasercutting, and approaching custom manufacturing companies. Finally we'll discuss higher level opportunities and difficulties with games that defy easy classifications and can't simply be copy-and-pasted, including exhibiting, debugging, pitching and scaling up.
Kert Gartner - Behind the Scenes: Making Mixed Reality Trailers
You've said it yourself: “You have to try VR to understand it". Being in VR is so different that it's hard to communicate the experience with traditional media. Translating the feeling of being in a fully interactive virtual environment into a compelling 2D video people watch on their phone is a complicated problem. Mixed reality shows a player inside your game and is the best way to convey what it's like to be inside VR. Learn how we created the mixed reality trailer for 'Fantastic Contraption' and how we solved many VR specific post-production problems along the way.
Steve Swink - The Sidestep or How to skip the things that don’t work
For pursuits like musical instruments and sports, we know what the skill progression is. We know the drills you need to do, how you need to do them, and roughly how long it will take you to get good. We understand the hard, excruciating, deliberate practice needed to attain mastery. In knowledge work - like game design - very few people are applying the power of deliberate practice. Game designer Steve Swink (SCALE) examines the idea of deliberate practice for game design.
Ryan Clark - What Makes an Indie Hit?: How to Choose the Right Design
What do successful indie games have in common, and how can developers select designs that are more likely to lead to successful games? Ryan Clark outlines the methods he has used effectively in his career so far.
Marc ten Bosch - Making Games in Four Spacial Dimensions
I will show how we generalized 3D game engine concepts to four dimensions for the 4D game "Miegakure" and show how we design levels in a 4D space. For example, in the game every position is represented using four numbers instead of three, objects are stored as tetrahedral meshes instead of triangle meshes, objects turn around planes instead of axes, levels are built using hypercubes instead of square or cubic tiles, etc...
Raphael van Lierop - Staggering Towards the Sublime
One of the dirtiest dirty secrets about arthouse exploration-survival hit, The Long Dark -- often commended for the beauty of its post-disaster Canadian wilderness setting -- is that the team has no art director! Instead, the discipline of art direction has been subsumed into the overall game direction and IP development process. But as a non-artist directing a talented art team, what steps did I go through, what did I have to learn about art, in order to go about defining the parameters of the game's visual direction? This talk walks through the process we went through to define the visual design of the game's iconic world, along with some analysis of mistakes I made along the way.
Zach Gage - Let's get physical — lessons from the real world
What can videogame designers learn from traditional physical game components? What approaches work best, what problems can be solved, and what kind of expectations do players have? In this talk, veteran indie game designer Zach Gage shares tips and tricks learned over his last few years of making games — large and small — that incorporate traditional game components, including dice, playing cards, and billiards balls.
Claris Cyarron - Take a Walk(ing Sim) on the Weird Side: a guide to #altgames and you
What are #altgames? It depends on who you ask! In this short talk we will explore this loose collective of interactive digital artists and designers through three lenses: Mystical architectures, Art histories, and Queerness. #altgames often employ bold and experimental uses of space & structure, wielding strange symbols and crafting magical spires to capture moments of cosmic dread and reflection. The movement’s eagerness to tackle queer issues and experiences, and support for marginalized voices further sets it apart. Finally, #altgames' connection with other art movements, and the way their champions position them as part of a long legacy of artistic expression offers new audiences for games as a whole. This movement is pushing the boundaries of the videogame artform, and considering that Vancouver has a growing #altgames community that is actively organizing events and making waves, it is absolutely worth it for indie devs to take a look at what their alternative cousins are cooking up.
Hugh Monahan - Smooth as the Titanic: What scuttled Brigador's Launch?
Brigador released on June 2nd, 2016 and barely registered a blip on the radar, despite two years of touring at conventions and previously enthusiastic coverage by PC Gamer, Kill Screen, RPS, and others. With a 94% positive rating on steam and metacritic tracked reviews as high as 90/100, the game itself wasn't a disaster, so why is it a commercial failure? I'll dissect the circumstances surrounding Brigador's development and launch from both marketing and design perspectives, discussing why we didn't see this coming and how others might avoid the similar fates.
Kevin Regamey - Effective Audio in Game Design
Join Power Up Audio's Kevin Regamey (and special guests) for a comprehensive examination of effective audio in game design. This rapid-fire, behind-the-scenes tour will offer a glimpse of how some of the game industry's best sound designers and music composers have applied their craft in achieving far more than a simple paint job.
Kayla Kinnunen - Beyond the Zombie Shooter: Unexplored possibilities in VR
Like the walking dead, developers are lumbering forward instinctively making the same games over and over again. However, VR changes everything: our interaction models, gameplay possibilities, and our ability to connect to the player at a deeper emotional level.
So why are we stuck continually remaking the same types of games?
In this talk, we’ll discuss the rise of VR to its current state and how this informs industry approaches to genres and themes. We’ll also look at unique experiences available across today’s VR space, as well as opportunities for future exploration.