Freeplay 2009 – Saturday

David Shaw, 11:43 am 15th August 2009
Posted under: Blog Babble

I’m pretty exhausted after today’s session of Freeplay, but I’ll try to sum up my thoughts about the sessions I saw today. Again, I’m pretty sure vids will be up on tsumea sometime in the next week or so, so I recommend getting detailed summaries from there when they’re out..

Making the Leap: A session about making the jump to making a living out of indie game development. Out of the panel, Jarrad Woods has just made the leap to full-time, so he’s not fully sure his plan will work out. And Damian Scott has a day job, albeit as a games lecturer (in business-speak he’s diversified his game activity portfolio). Michael Shamgar has made it to self-sufficiency with his company’s games, though. Interesting discussion. Pretty much the entire panel were agreed that it was extremely hard to make a living as an indie just via desktop games, at least throught the traditional path of just releasing games.

Education and Development: I’ve probably outdone the education thing, but I attended this talk to get a feel for the state of game education and academics, plus I wanted to talk to the panel afterwards for how I can keep tabs with the latest on academic thought (hey, I’ve been in the uni scene for a while now, that’s what we do). Also interesting to see how far education has gone back from my day as an undergradaute.

Intellectual Property Issues for Game Developers: This workshop was run at the same time as the Education panel, but it ran substantually longer so I caught the tail end. I already knew the basics of IP issues, but there were some interesting points here, such as the secondary protection that DRM provides which might explain why it’s popular to large companies (copyright infingement is a civil case, but breaking DRM is now criminal; I’m still undecided of it’s worth to indies). There was some good tips at the end on some good yet cheap contract lawyers to help do all the legal paperwork, although that might be Melbourne specific.

How to Make Your Own Games for Free?: I was undecided between this and the “Where to From Here?” panel, but the “Free” bit drew me in – as with a whole bunch of other people; this was one of the better attended workshops. Really useful advice on how to make games cheaply. The main tip was prototyping with some of the cheaper game making tools out there, like Game Maker, Torque Builder, XNA or Flash. While most of those aren’t free, they’re cheap enough to be just as good, and you can often end up making the whole game out of them

Making a Lot of Noise Out of Nothing: This was an audio workshop; the presenter Stephan Schutze was the sound & music guy when I was working at Blue Tongue in 2000 but unfortunately I didn’t get to say hi after the talk. Pretty good all round talk on making and editing audio. Important info to note: Stephan is planning to release his collection of audio files as a free archive sometime later this year. This will be an tremendous resource for any indie, so keep tabs on it.

Freeplay Greatest Hits: This was basically a general panel with presenters selected from earlier sessions, including Petri Purho. The highlight was the end where Petri tried to build a game in five minutes (in training for a European conference). Hopefully the video of this out will come out, because it was awesome.

Overall I really enjoyed the two days, and it’s given me a lot to think about. I’ll try to make a post tomorrow about some of the general things I picked up from the sessions and some possible tweaking to my own game development game plan because of it.

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