Respawn is a game development conference that took place this year for the second time in Cologne. Last year, it was very competitively placed right at the same time as GDC Europe. This year, the organizers decided to cooperate, leading to a shuttle bus (unfortunately there was neither music nor drinks in the bus…) and a shared party.
I spent half of Tuesday and most of Wednesday at Respawn this year. It’s a really nice conference and feels much more down-to-earth and indie as GDCE. Everything happens in a large area, with 4 “spawn points” where the speakers are located and where an audience can sit. Since everything is open, there are no loudspeakers; instead, you grab a wireless headset when coming in and can tune into any of the four talks. If you were so inclined, you could watch one speaker and listen to another presentation. Or sit outside in the fresh air and listen. Gives a really special feel to it and you can switch presentations easily.
The talks will be made available for free to the public. When they are online, I will add the links here.
Big Projects, small teams: Create more with less
Manuel Scherer – Uniworlds Game Studios
Manual is actually working with his team in the building next to my workplace. They are a small team of three people, and still managed to bring their game, Tristoy, to release (due in about a month!).
He started the talk with an examination of effectiveness and efficiency. Effectiveness is about choosing the right thing to do. For example, he gave an example where they created inverse kinematics for a game they were developing to make the characters able to walk nicely on slopes. However, in the end it turned out that it a long time, didn’t look that great and didn’t make it into the game anyway. And not even AAA-titles like Skyrim have this. So, if they had chosen to not go into this direction would have saved them time and effort.
Efficiency, then, is doing the correct thing as quickly as possible with the highest possible quality. One of the examples was the build server they added to their workflow, which builds the game for all platforms at night and saves the developers a lot of time in the long run.
By the way, Manuel and his colleagues are also involved in organizing Devmania, a local game development event in Mainz.
Watch it when it’s online? Definitely!
Studio Fizbin & the Quest for the HUNAKEL!
Sebastian Mittag, Mareike Ottrand – Studio Fizbin
Studio Fizbin, the winners of this year’s German computer game award, presented a very hands-on approach to design and (visual) character development. The main part was “finding the HUNAKEL!”. The idea was to combat the “empty page” at the beginning of design, by developing ideas with little pressure and in easy phases. The quest for the HUNAKEL was started by drawing a random shape with closed eyes. Then, this “character” was given some attributes, concerning it’s “outer” and “inner” identity. The example given was of Maximus in the Disney Movie “Tangled”, whose outer identity is a horse, while his inner identity is more of a dog. Then, the character was given a face and some accessories or visual characteristics showing the outer and inner identity.
What it when it’s online? If you are interested in design, yes.
Creating an Indie RPG With a 3-Person Dev Team:
Life Lessons on Project Management
Jan Jirkovsky – Dreadlocks
Dreadlocks is working on the 2D RPG Dex. Jan Jirkovsky gave a very nice talk on how they managed to create the game so far. Aspects he touched upon were how they got funding (crowd funding and private funding) and how they outsourced some parts of the game. The talk was pretty motivating, they faced a lot of challenges and seem to be coming out on top.
Watch it when it’s online? Yes!