Kalypso Dev Days

Me and two colleagues attended the Kalypso Dev Days this year. This two-day event was provided for free by Kalypso. The location, Games Academy in Frankfurt, is pretty fortunate for us, and the price of 0 Euro was also a deciding factor :-) The event was definitely a nice opportunity to listen to game development talks and to network, especially in the German game development community.

The talks will be available from Kalypso. Unfortunately, only the keynotes have been made available so far. I’ll note the details I took away from the talks that I listened to, there were parallel sessions so of course I missed some talks.

I will add links to the videos once they are online.


 

Monday, May 26th

Might & Magic Legacy: What went right, what went wrong
Stephan Winter, Limbic Entertainment

For me, the salient point of this talk was that M&M Legacy was developed with a final phase of Open Access, which influenced the game in the final stretches, leading to some changes due to community feedback. Also it was interesting to learn about “Closing Kits”, archives that game studios or publishers manage where the assets (used and unused) that were created for a certain game are put into. They used these archives to flesh out the game world faster and with less costs than it would have been possible if they had created everything from scratch.

Aufbau und Pflege einer Low-Budget Asset Pipeline
Patrick Wachowiak, Chasing Carrots

As far as I remember, the focus of this talk was on their new project, Cosmonautica, and the associated asset pipeline.

Pitching als Nobody: Die Erfahrungen als neugegründetes Studio in der Spielebranche
Peter Angel, Linked Dimensions

This talk is a lesson in “Nevergiveupness” as Don Daglow describes it. They started out with no games on their portfolio and started pitching. They built a vertical slice of an adventure game, working on getting the feeling of the game across, and pitched this to publishers. One of the main takeaways I took from this talk is to never give up, and also never give up on any contact. When it was looking like they would have to close the studio, they appealed to publishers saying exactly this, that they would be out of their jobs if there would be no contract, and they were successful with it. They also detailed what was important in their pitches; if you are planning to “pitch as a nobody”, have a look at this talk once it is out.

Podiumsdiskussion: Pitching – Wie man es richtig macht
Peter Angel, Dr. Florian Stadlbauer, Ralf C. Adam, Reinhard Döpfer, Stefan Marcinek

This discussion is already available as a youtube video. One of the main takeaways for me is that publishers are inundated with many many pitches. Many factors have to be in your favour for yours to succeed. First of all you have to pass the basic hurdles, getting your materials to the publisher so they will at least glance at them. For example, print your materials on decent paper, choose your material well and so on. Then, it’s also interesting to hear that the producer on the side of the publisher also sometimes has to take a risk internally when they propose a risky project to the publisher. So it also boils down to making them trust that your idea is worth it and that you will be able to realize it.

The Inner World: Von der Entwicklung bis zur Publishersuche und die Folgen nach Release
Alexander Pieper,Studio Fizbin; Tobias Frisch

The Inner World had previously won the German Computer Games Award, which has given Studio Fizbin a large boost in confidence. And it’s great, an adventure game being called the best game of the year :-) They started out as a student project, from a workshop in which they were asked to create a fictional world and make some media product of it. One part of the talk was the technology, which went through several stages, starting in Flash and being re-implemented using Sparrow and Starling to be able to run it on iOS. They developed their engine from scratch, focusing on technologies to allow everything to be hand-drawn, which led to the need to manage many sprites. The second part of the talk was more about the organizational frame of the project, finding a publisher and the effects of the release, for example the many steps that were necessary to bring the game to the many platforms it was released on.

There is a similar talk in English available on youtube from Casual Connect.
Ludo Ergo Sum – Ich spiele, also bin ich!
Prof. Dr. Linda Breitlauch, Hochschule Trier

This talk stands out in my memory as the talk that so many people (including me) attended to the end despite the room being completely crowded and the temperature being very uncomfortable. Linda Breitlauch looked at many aspects of games, the motivations for games, the appearance and the realities of being a gamer. The discussion (if it is included in the video) is also very interesting.


Tuesday, May 27th

Eisberg! Doch das Schiff sollte schon im Hafen sein – Was tun als Projektmanager, der gerade neu an Bord kommt?
Johannes Bickle, Noumena Studios

This talk focused on the MMORPG on the Otherland book series, in which Johannes Bickle came onboard as the producer when everyone on the team was already burned out and the project was looking like a failure. There were some interesting things in this talk, for example about managing emotions. For example, when coming into an atmosphere where everyone has already given up, it is important to do everything to get this out of the heads of people.
Game Play Progress: Spielinhalte methodisch strukturieren
Andreas Suika, Game Designer

I quite liked this talk, and plan on looking at it again when I get the chance.
Was kostet die Entwicklung eines Computerspiels? Wie berechnet man das?
Thomas Friedmann, Funatics

This talk will be pretty relevant to anyone willing to start an (independent) games company, as it detailed what costs have to be kept in mind in running a studio. Apart from giving advice on some things that few people seem to think about (e.g. lawyers for making contracts or tax advisors), it also gave an awareness of the need for building buffers for the preparation of the next project.

 

Mad TV – Postmortem
Ralph Stock, Serious Games Solutions

I played Mad TV a lot at one point in the 90’s and liked it very much. The developer of Mad TV gave a very interesting post mortem. He started out with the conception of the game, which happened basically in their rooms at home, on cards they put up on the walls. The game was developed as a parody of the privately-owned TV stations which were new back in those days. He made us aware that the very liberal use of names and brands such as Lufthansa or movies like Star Wars would have been impossible today, when every company watches their brands very closely. Today, the game would have almost been impossible in that regard, as some of its appeal came from the real names.

Podiumsdiskussion: Publisher – Warum auch Indie-Entwickler sie brauchen!?
André Bernhardt, Stephan Winter, Thomas Friedmann, Simon Hellwig, Stefan Marcinek

 

I did not see this disussion, but as it is already posted as a youtube video, I decided to add it to this list.

Wohin all die Gamestar-Leser verschwinden und was das für die Games-Branche bedeutet
Heiko Klinge, Making Games

This talk on Gamestar, one of the most-read German games magazines, and other German magazines, showed how game journalism is changing and where previous readers of magazines are going now. One major aspect was that many young gamers don’t play several games or consider themselves “game players” but instead consider them “Minecraft players” or “WOW players”. Therefore, they have less need for a publication testing many games. Another aspect is of course youtube and Let’s Players, as an example the showed their review of Minecraft, which was made only when Minecraft reached 1.0, when everyone already knew Minecraft.

Eine Übersicht: Development Tools die das Entwicklerleben vereinfachen
Kai Rosenkranz, Nevigo

This talk stands out as being very interactive. Kai Rosenkranz distributed laser pointers before the talk and let the audience show where they wanted to continue during the presentation (e.g. whether they wanted tools for game design, writing or production). Many useful tools and ideas were given; it was also interesting to see what examples and experiences the members of the audience had with tools.

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