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Takeaways from DigiPen Game Conference 2017

last updated 03 November 2017

Developers and publishers shared valuable insights for aspiring game developers at this year's conference.

20170224 Digipen game conf

Aspiring game developers gathered to hear from industry veterans on how to improve their craft at the second DigiPen Game Conference. (Photo credit: DigiPen Institute of Technology Singapore)

DGS Call for Proposals

DigiPen Game Studios’ (DGS) “Call for Proposals” invites game developers to submit their game ideas for all Nintendo and PC platforms. Shortlisted participants will stand a chance to be partially funded and mentored by industry veterans.

DGS began by collaborating with Nintendo to allow developers to create games on the Nintendo 3DSTM under its first Call for Proposals in 2015. It then partnered with Ubisoft Singapore in 2016 to open up development for the PC platform as well. More opportunities for developers are expected to emerge with the upcoming launch of the new Nintendo SwitchTM in March.

This year's Call for Proposals is open from now till 31 August 2017. Interested parties may visit for more details.

By Charmian Leong

If you’ve ever dreamed of creating a game that entertains and enthralls, DigiPen Game Studios (DGS), together with Nintendo, UbisoftSingapore and the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), are here to help you take the first step.

The second DigiPen Game Conference was held on 17 Feb at the DigiPenInstitute of Technology and brought together developers as well as partners to share their experiences and insights.

Participants also had the chance to catch a glimpse of the NintendoSwitchTM development kit ahead of the console's worldwide launch scheduled for 3 Mar. Key personnel from Nintendo of America were present tointroduce and explain the upcoming console’s various features and content development opportunities in DGS’ssecond “Call for Proposals” (see sidebar).

The efforts of international gaming companies like Nintendo and DGS to cultivate the local gaming communityat such an event reflects their confidence in Singapore-based developers and the quality of their work, said Angeline Poh,Assistant Chief Executive (Content & Innovation Group), IMDA.

"IMDA works closely with industry partners to help our local gaming companies keep up with the latestdevelopments and opportunities. We will continue to encourage such partnerships that create chances for our Singapore gamedevelopers to improve their skills,” she said.

Here are three key takeaways from this year’s conference.

1. Getting the smallthings right

New developers should keep an eye out for seemingly inconsequential mistakes when creating a game for aconsole, said James Barnard, founder and lead developer of Springloaded.“If you take the cartridge out of a Nintendo 3DSTM or turn the WiFi off in the middle of a game, it has to display thecorrect error message. If your screen is going to go black for more than 20 seconds, it has to show a 'loading' message. Itmight seem pretty frustrating but the point is to give people a consistent user experience.”

2. Keep pitchesfocused

Mr Barnard also advised would-be developers to keep their pitches tight. "You don’t have to explain thename of the dog or how the main character’s mother died. Publishers want to know things like your track record so theycan be assured that you won’t go bankrupt while making the game."

Meanwhile, gameplay programmer Adrian Lim urged developers to accurately describe every element of the gameduring a pitch to avoid giving the wrong impression. “A typical pitch might say it’s a fast-paced game where youcontrol characters that kill enemies with lots of explosions and special effects… You’re probably thinking ofRainbow Six or Watch Dogs but it could also describe a game like Rayman Legends,” he warned.Rainbow Six and Watch Dogs are realistic games, while Rayman Legends is a cartoon-like platformadventure game.

3. Make itunforgettable

Representatives from Ubisoft Singapore took the time to explain concepts that contribute to a memorable game.Associate lead designer Lin Junjie focused on the importance of world-building, drawing references from Assassin’sCreed Syndicate to illustrate how doing your research can make a game world realistic.

"Not only do we have to release games on time, they also have to be best sellers, and these goals are onlygoing to get harder over time. So I started to think of a solution, and that was to build a game world with depth. Do a lotof research and make your world meaningful and relatable," said Mr Lin.

He also urged developers to keep playing their games even after they are released to see how it can be improved in thefuture. "After you spend a lot of time developing a game, you stop playing it. which is quite dangerous. You need to play itbecause it can sometimes surprise you."