Developers and publishers shared valuable insights for aspiring game developers at this year's conference.
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)
If you’ve ever dreamed of creating a game that entertains and enthralls, DigiPen Game Studios (DGS), together with Nintendo, Ubisoft Singapore 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 DigiPen Institute 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 Nintendo SwitchTM development kit ahead of the console's worldwide launch scheduled for 3 Mar. Key personnel from Nintendo of America were present to introduce and explain the upcoming console’s various features and content development opportunities in DGS’s second “Call for Proposals” (see sidebar).
The efforts of international gaming companies like Nintendo and DGS to cultivate the local gaming community at 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 latest developments and opportunities. We will continue to encourage such partnerships that create chances for our Singapore game developers to improve their skills,” she said.
Here are three key takeaways from this year’s conference.
1. Getting the small things right
New developers should keep an eye out for seemingly inconsequential mistakes when creating a game for a console, 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 the correct error message. If your screen is going to go black for more than 20 seconds, it has to show a 'loading' message. It might seem pretty frustrating but the point is to give people a consistent user experience.”
2. Keep pitches focused
Mr Barnard also advised would-be developers to keep their pitches tight. "You don’t have to explain the name of the dog or how the main character’s mother died. Publishers want to know things like your track record so they can 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 game during a pitch to avoid giving the wrong impression. “A typical pitch might say it’s a fast-paced game where you control characters that kill enemies with lots of explosions and special effects… You’re probably thinking of Rainbow 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 platform adventure game.
3. Make it unforgettable
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’s Creed 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 only going 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 lot of 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 the future. "After you spend a lot of time developing a game, you stop playing it. which is quite dangerous. You need to play it because it can sometimes surprise you."
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