Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Consejos a tener en cuenta relacionados con la Game Developers Conference

  • Sabé escuchar: Por más que te hagas un plan hermoso para aprovechar la GDC, las mejores cosas pasan por estar atento al entorno y actuar en consecuencia. Te vas a comer algo y te encontrás con gente de Epic, te desviaste para ir a la biblioteca y ves al director creativo de Angry Birds, vas a cruzar la calle y te habla la recruiter de Naughty Dog. Las oportunidades están muy cerca y uno las puede saltar sin querer porque está siguiendo su plan a rajatabla.
  • Dale prioridad al networking: Si vas a elegir una sesión, que sea porque querés hablar con el orador o con el tipo de desarrollador que lo puede estar viendo. Las mayoría de las charlas se pueden ver en diferido  dentro del GDC Vault (no los talleres). Llevá muchas tarjetas personales. Los desarrolladores son de lo mejor: personas sencillas y siempre dispuestas a hablarte. Hasta los guardias de seguridad te saludan como Leonard Nimoy. Cada día, antes de dormir, juntá todas las tarjetas que te dieron y sacales una foto para tener una copia en la nube.
  • Filtrá el ruido: Uno tiene objetivos a cumplir pero en el evento hay mucho ruido. Ej.: Concursos de preguntas y respuestas para videojuegos, museos de consolas viejas funcionando para que juegues, grandes filas para probar dispositivos, etc. Está bueno, pero uno no va específicamente a eso. La emoción suele nublar la vista muy fácil.
  • Documentá: Escribí cada día lo que vas haciendo y cómo te sentiste. Adjuntale videos y fotos. Esto permite que la memoria no se te vaya diluyendo. De esta manera, podés mantener el recuerdo bien vivo para cuando tengas que acceder a él. Gracias a el hábito de documentar, puedo escribir estas líneas.
  • Usá correctamente tu energía: Parece una tontería pero una GDC es 10 veces más que un viaje de egresados. Hidratate bien. No consumas energizantes. No corras porque sí. Comé liviano. Tratá de tener este hábito antes de la GDC si es posible. No pierdas mucho tiempo en hablar con la gente de tu país durante la semana del evento (después hablan tranquilos cuando vuelven). Racionalizá las horas de sueño.
  • Llegá antes y regresá después: Tratá de estar algunos días más antes y después del evento en San Francisco por cualquier eventualidad, actividad, visita, etc. De paso, podés decantar todo más fácil.
  • Pedí consejos a personas que ya hayan ido a una GDC: Vas a recibir desde consejos súper buenos hasta los más clásicos como: "Abrigate bien a la noche, nene, que cerca del Moscone está fresquito", "Volvé con varias personas si vas caminando", "Ojo al cruzar que manejan rápido en el Silicon Valley."
  • Compartí lo que viviste: ¿En serio te ibas a quedar con la experiencia para vos sólo? 
  • Mejorá tu entorno con todo lo que aprendiste.
  • Divertite: En serio, disfrutá. Para muchos es la mejor semana del año. San Francisco es hermosa.


 

Mi experiencia como International Ambassador en la Game Developers Conference 2015

— Ya no se puede más — me dijeron.

No recuerdo puntualmente qué estaba haciendo en aquel momento pero me notificaron que las esperanzas para aplicar al programa de Conference Associate (CA) en la Game Developers Conference se habían acabado. No sólo para mí sino también para todos los que no somos de Estados Unidos. Los CA's son aproximadamente 400 personas que dan lo mejor de sí para que los 25.000 asistentes tengan la mejor experiencia posible y que el evento se mantenga fluido. El calibre de los CA's es bastante alto y ese es uno de los tantos motivos por los que muchas personas de todo el mundo quieren aplicar. 

Con esta noticia, se me pasó una miríada de momentos por mi cabeza: las reuniones matutinas para iniciar el día con todas las pilas, los desayunos y almuerzos en el CA Lounge, el hablar a solas con celebridades de la industria (sí, los que aparecen en los créditos del videojuego de tus sueños), el casamiento de Alex y Heidi, el traje con moño que me puse para el festival de premiación, Palmer Luckey mostrándonos el Oculus Rift meses antes que se fabriquen las unidades para desarrolladores, el EGW, la raffle, las fiestas, el quedarse todos los días hasta la madrugada hablando (y jugando al JS Joust, Ninja o a cualquiera de los cientos de juegos que estaban sólo para los CA's), el programa de mentorship, el dormir en el sillón cuando ya estás pasado de revoluciones, la última noche, los gritos, los bailes, las risas, el difícil "hasta el año que viene, los voy a extrañar", los abrazos y un sinfín de buenos momentos que podría estar horas y horas escribiendo. Uno además de relacionarse, inspirarse y aprender, se baña en energía positiva, alegría y calidez siendo CA. Y lo mejor del programa: Cada año se anotan horas de feedback para que al siguiente todo sea mejor aún. La buena onda que se siente cuando sos CA es indescriptible y el gran responsable de todo es Ian McKenzie, el líder de los CA's que sirve a la GDC desde que el evento se hacía en un comedor. Me permito esta digresión por cómo enalteció mi experiencia en la conferencia; no puedo estar más agradecido. 

(Algún día haré un post específico sobre mi experiencia como Conference Associate)

Las ganas ir a la GDC son MUCHO mayores cuando ya fuiste a una porque viviste en carne propia lo que significa y ninguna palabra está a la altura de tanta emoción. Ni hablar cuando hay tanta gente linda que querés volver a ver. En aquel momento no podía pagar la entrada y tampoco tenía algo como para ser orador; no cualquiera juega en primera. De pronto vi que se actualizó la sección de becas y ahí descubrí la de embajadores internacionales (IA). Esta beca fue un enorme gesto de solidaridad de parte de los CA que crearon el programa para las personas extranjeras que no pueden ser voluntarias y quieren mantener la vocación de servicio dentro de la industria de videojuegos. No encontré palabras hasta el día de hoy para representar el agradecimiento por ese gramito de esperanza que nos dieron. De 0 a 0,01 hay un salto infinito.

Por eso también celebro lo que hizo Facundo Mounes y compañía para crear y organizar el programa de becas Game Work Jam Argentina. No estaban cuando apliqué para la de IA (¡Y por diferencia de días!)

Me puse a leer los objetivos del programa de IA que decían algo como:

1) Brindar asistencia al embajador con un pase de acceso total y mentorship
2) Generar lazos estrechos entre los embajadores y los asistentes
3) Compartir el conocimiento y contactos a la comunidad local

Como encajaron perfecto con mis deseos, decidí realizar la aplicación.

El problema era que había 25 lugares disputados entre gente de todo el mundo y un ensayo de 1500 caracteres definía si estabas adentro o no; complicado.

Así que me puse a redactar bien sintético e invoqué a todos: a la figura de Dios por excelencia (Papá Noel pasado por Cormillot con brazos de gimnasio en un cuadro renacentista), a Miyamoto, a Buda, a Shaka de Virgo por las dudas, a los profes de Inglés y a un gran etcétera. La competencia iba a ser dura porque además de los desconocidos, me enteré que iba a aplicar gente grosa. El ensayo no se lo mostré a nadie porque ese tipo de escritos son personales. No quise teñirlo con una subjetividad que no me correspondía para que fuera 100% consistente conmigo. 

Finalmente, terminé de escribir y le di "submit".

Alea jacta est.

Pasaron varios días de incertidumbre hasta que en una noche de verano con temperatura agradable, habiendo ya cenado, decidí ir a la compu. Vi en la parte de arriba un mail cuyo asunto era "International Ambassador (IA) Status". 

—¡Wow! — pensé.

Respiré hondo, abrí el mail y me encontré con esto: Dear Sebastian,


"Congratulations! You are invited to join us as an International Ambassador (IA) at the Game Developers Conference (GDC 2015) in San Francisco, CA!"


Empecé a emanar mucha alegría. La carta de Hogwarts, un poroto. Podría inventar alguna historia super emotiva pero la realidad es que no me acuerdo de nada hasta que lo publiqué en Facebook, jajaja. Sólo voy a decir que agradezco a mi familia, a mis amigos y a mis mentores por bancarme siempre mi locura de querer hacer juegos. El logro también es suyo ¡Gracias!

Por un lado, toda la tensión se liberó. Por otro, me daba mucha curiosidad saber quiénes eran los 24 embajadores restantes y cómo iba a afectar la experiencia en mi vida. A medida que pasaron los días, empecé a caer en la oportunidad única que tenía por pertenecer a la primera delegación de un programa de embajadores internacionales en el evento más importante del mundo para desarrolladores de videojuegos. Me contaron también que el proceso de evaluación fue ciego para que la subjetividad no incida en el mismo. Lo que quedaba por hacer era responder lo mejor que podía ante lo que mandaba el staff de organizadores del programa. 

El segundo mail se dirigió al grupo de personas en particular. Ya veía nombres, caras...la situación tomaba otro color. Cada uno tenía que enviar mediante un formulario sus preferencias. Ej.: "Indie development", "Marketing", "Game Design". Esto fue porque nos iban a dividir en grupos de 5 tratando de buscar afinidades entre los miembros y comunicación más estrecha y fluida. Cada grupo tenía un capitán del IA staff y otro de los embajadores. Mi grupo estaba compuesto por embajadores de Irlanda del Sur, Holanda, Italia e Israel. Rápido: ¡Decime sin googlear 10 juegos de esos países! Sí, yo tuve la misma reacción. Más tenía que aprender. Ser embajador también es eso: darse cuenta que uno sabe muy poco de su mundo y por ende tiene que facilitar el intercambio para que se beneficien ambas partes a las que representan. De los 25, sólo 2 fuimos de Sudamérica y encima compatriotas. Se armó el grupo de Facebook y todos empezamos a nadar en el mar de las solicitudes de amistad. Ahí vi que el grupo era más heterogéneo de lo que pensaba porque había embajadores de India, Australia, Canadá, Serbia, China, Austria, Islandia (sí, ISLANDIA, las tierras que acunaron a Björk y Sigur Rós) y demás países. Luego usamos Anki, un programa al que subimos 3 fotos de nuestra cara y decíamos nuestros nombres pronunciándolos como lo hacemos con nuestra lengua materna. Este programa es muy útil para aprender cosas de memoria mediante un entrenamiento diario. Todo iba sobre ruedas. Fuimos realizando agendas específicas, dando consejos previos al evento, confirmando alojamiento, pasaje y empezamos a familiarizarnos con el otro (principalmente entre nuestro equipo debido a la afinidad común). El nivel de hype de todos era "over 9000". Escribo estas líneas con la misma sensación de aquel día. Ya estábamos en San Francisco semanas antes de pisar el aeropuerto. Luego vino la parte clave del programa de embajadores internacionales para aprovechar al máximo la conferencia. Cada uno tuvo que poner en una hoja de cálculo de Google sus objetivos, las acciones a realizar en la GDC para cumplir esos objetivos y cómo vas a ayudar a tu comunidad local cuando vuelvas. Como todos veíamos los objetivos de los demás, permitía que nos inspiremos mejor. Además, dejábamos un espacio para que los embajadores nos dejen feedback acerca de los mismos. Esto permitió una mejora constante muy acelerada hasta la fecha del plazo. Tanto el IA staff como los IA's eran personas proactivas y muy atentas a irse adaptando conforme a las distintas situaciones. Fuimos a la GDC para cumplir los objetivos y durante el resto del año informamos cómo usamos nuestra experiencia para ayudar a la comunidad local. Como el programa International Ambassadors fue creado por Conference Associates, hace énfasis en la vocación de servicio y posee lemas similares. 

Cuando me quise acordar, era miércoles y estaba bajándome del segundo avión luego de ver dos amaneceres en unas horas. El área de la bahía de San Francisco es preciosa. Como la reunión de orientación con los embajadores se agendó para el Domingo previo a la GDC, aproveché para hacer algunas actividades extra: ir al Exploratorium, tomar el Caltrain para ver a Sherol Chen, una CA amiga dar una charla en Stanford (que luego me hizo un pequeño tour por el campus de Google), comprar juegos de mesa en Gamescape, ir al Computer History museum, tomar un café en el Silicon Valley mientras pensaba en Alan Kay y Douglas Engelbart.

El Domingo llegó rápido. Ya estaba en la hora y lugar correcto para tener la reunión con el IA Staff y los demás embajadores. El punto de encuentro quedaba a unas cuadras de los 3 edificios del Moscone Center que es donde se hace la GDC. El lugar donde ocurrió la reunión era un game nest. Es como una especie de casona en donde las personas alquilan habitaciones para desarrollar juegos y tener reuniones. Varios desarrolladores de estudios diferentes comparten un mismo espacio generando un caldo de cultivo más que interesante. Nos sentamos en la sala de reunión y cada uno dio una breve presentación personal haciendo énfasis en los objetivos que se propuso cumplir para la GDC. La reunión terminó y todos empezamos a hablar de otros temas en forma más distendida. Incluso se sumó la anfitriona del game nest con demás desarrolladores. No todos los días llega gente de todo el mundo al laburo. Cada ser humano es una caja de sorpresas. Una persona que andaba por ahí me preguntó por escritores argentinos e intercambiamos tarjetas. Después me di cuenta de que había trabajado escribiendo para The Witcher. Llegó el momento del éxodo hacia el Moscone para retirar las badges de acceso total. Cuando llegamos, me encontré con CA's que estaban haciendo el tour por los edificios y me evocó todas las memorias que mencioné al inicio de este texto. Ahí es donde imaginás lo inmenso que va a ser el evento al día siguiente. Por ahí en el horizonte estaba Nico Castez, con el grupo de la Game Work Jam. Sí, sépanlo que a cualquier lugar a donde vayan por desarrollo de juegos SIEMPRE va a estar Nico Castez; él es ubicuo. Luego fuimos con los IA's a tomar cerveza a un bar y conocer más gente. Los que teníamos juegos mobile nos dábamos feedback. A medida que la noche iba pasando, los demás IA's se iban a otras fiestas. En mi caso, por haber sido CA en años anteriores, me dejaron entrar al CA Lounge para saludarlos. No lo podía creer :) Debe ser porque llevé alfajores (?) Cuando todo estaba terminando, me volví al hostel con otros CA's.

Cada embajador tuvo su propia GDC pero había algo que nos igualaba a todos. Teníamos reuniones matutinas antes que empiecen las charlas para decir qué íbamos a hacer durante el día. Es notable cómo nos ayudó la app de la GDC para organizar nuestras agendas. Había mucha libertad de acción en el programa y se notaba.

Al haber sido mi tercera GDC, me organicé la semana para ir a todo lo que no pueda ver sentado cuando llegue a casa (a menos que quiera interactuar con un orador particular o con la audiencia específica que va a ver ese orador). En los dos primeros días hay muchos talleres introductorios. El Game Design Workshop es un clásico para los que se inician en el desarrollo de juegos.

En lo personal, fui al taller de Google en donde podías programar con ellos cómo agregar Admob, Analytics y Google Play Services. También podías programar para Cardboard y juegos multiplayer masivos con Firebase. Los tutoriales eran muy didácticos y fáciles de seguir como una receta de cocina. Era muy raro que tengas que llamar a alguien para que te ayude. Yo elegí programar para Cardboard. Me dieron gratis varios de ellos para mis amigos desarrolladores junto con una remera. También tuve el agrado de tener en mis manos un rato Project Tango. Todavía está verde pero es muy prometedor. Fui al indie megabooth, al IGF Pavillion, vi los juegos que hicieron en la train jam y asistí a varias charlas interesantísimas. Es imposible ver todas y elegir las mejores del GDC Vault pero si tuviera que hacerlo dentro de las que no son tan técnicas, haría esta selección:

-Conference Keynote (Shigeru Miyamoto)
-Am I ready to go indie? (Don Daglow)
-Experimental Gameplay Workshop 2014 (Robin Hunicke y Daniel Benmergui)
-Hearts and minds (Frank Lantz)
-Infinite play (Richard Lemarchand)

(No encontré links de las siguientes)

-Hiring for hopeless perfectionists (Sunni Pavlovic)
-The state of the Unreal Engine (Tim Sweeney) (No la califico por el contenido en sí sino porque fue una cátedra de cómo presentar un producto que nadie esperaba: la NVIDIA Titan X)

Todo el evento está muy organizado. Los oradores tienen lugares para descansar y salones de prueba para ejercitar su charla en privado. Muchos oradores luego de sus charlas, se van a un apartado que tiene mesas redondas para seguir hablando del tema y contestar preguntas de los demás desarrolladores en forma íntima. Como los CA's escanean tu badge, se sabe cómo la gente va eligiendo las sesiones durante el evento. Esto permite también el envío de un mail automático para que califiques al orador una vez finalizada la charla. 

La expo estuvo como siempre: empresas que ofrecen productos y servicios para desarrolladores (Desde dispositivos de escaneo facial y captura de movimientos hasta masajeadores eléctricos pasando por Steam boxes). También por esa zona hay stands de universidades presentando su oferta académica y gobiernos exponiendo sus juegos locales). También es posible dejar tu CV a empresas y/o que te evalúen tu portfolio. Si tenés un proyecto para mostrar, podés agendar reuniones de negocios en lugares aislados de ruido. Obviamente, tenés una zona para comprar merchandising copado (libretas de anotación tipo pasaporte de Papers, please, tomos de la historia de Hyrule, libros de desarrollo de juegos, etc.) Llegué a ver hasta juegos bióticos (sí, cosas vivas; un flash). En lo personal, estuvo genial porque me regalaron un Tobii EyeX Tracker. Un dispositivo que te permite reconocer a dónde estás mirando dentro de tu monitor. Estoy agregándolo al ambiente de programación visual de robots open-source llamado Physical Etoys que hicimos en la UAI (universidad a la cual representé en esta beca). De esta manera un chico podría hacer aplicaciones para personas que sólo pueden mover los ojos ya sea para comunicarse, aprender, divertirse o explorar el mundo manejando un robot). Para los que fueron a la EVA 2013 habrán visto un juego como el JS Joust que mostramos en el espacio indie hecho con el mismo software. 

A mitad de la semana del evento, se hacen los IGF awards y los GDC Developers Choice Awards. Son el equivalente al festival Sundance pero de videojuegos. La plana mayor de desarrolladores AAA e indies estuvo ahí viendo quién ganaba en las distintas categorías mientras cenan. El salón es INMENSO y se vive un clima de festejo. 

Con respecto a las fiestas, son una gran oportunidad para hablar con otros desarrolladores. La manera de entrar a muchas es gracias a contactos o al estar muy atento en las redes sociales porque suelen ser organizadas por empresas. La fiesta "That Venus Patrol & Wild Rumpus Party" es muy deseada y las entradas se acaban en unos pocos días después de anunciarse. Destaco al "Segundo Encuentro Latinoamericano en GDC". Fue un evento muy ameno para conocernos entre hermanos latinoamericanos. 

Mucho también es impredecible. El embajador de Israel organizó un mini concierto con algunos CA's que sabían música para cantar Baba Yetu en un aula.

La keyword de la GDC 2015 fue: Realidad Virtual y muchos están enfocando sus esfuerzos para cuando se libere al consumidor.

Acá les dejo algunas recomendaciones que me hicieron aprovechar al máximo el evento. (Gracias Tembac por la idea de separarlo)

Una vez que la GDC terminó, hicimos una cena de festejo. El momento fue muy emotivo porque a cada uno se nos dio antes de viajar la consigna de llevar un regalo simbólico del país de origen. La persona que salía sorteada, tenía que explicar qué era lo que iba a obsequiar. La segunda persona que salía, recibía el regalo. Yo llevé un mate y se lo llevó el embajador oriundo de Canadá. Tengo que mandarle un mail para ver si ya tomó mate con sus alumnos de level design ^^ El obsequio que recibí fue una gran bolsa en forma de corazón de chocolates provenientes de Italia, cortesía de la embajadora romana. Estaban deliciosos. 

Luego de un par de horas, se hizo el postmortem del programa de embajadores dentro del Moscone center cuando sólo quedaban los CA's. Esto fue, juntarse a contar la experiencia del programa y dar feedback para que sea mejor el año que viene. Finalmente, terminamos todos jugando (y haciendo más networking porque es imposible hablar con todos) en el edificio hasta el amanecer. El Moscone Center de noche cuando no queda casi nadie tiene magia.

¿Qué me dejó la experiencia como International Ambassador?

Felicidad por haber conocido personas tan entrañables de todo el mundo que viven otras realidades/perspectivas, participan en industrias de videojuegos diferentes y tienen opiniones enriquecedoras. Alegría porque las personas que me quieren se pusieron contentas con mi experiencia. Me dejó en claro que es un evento que hay que ir al menos una vez en la vida si sos desarrollador de videojuegos. Impactó fuertemente en mi trabajo con el Eye Tracker que pude conseguir en la expo del evento. Pude saludar a la familia de CA's que extrañé todo el año. Me dio MUCHA energía, inspiración y conocimiento para seguir desarrollando cada vez mejor con mis amigos de PapaCorps :) Mando un guiño a nuestro próximo juego: Wizards of Lezama. Sabemos que al mejorar el nivel de lo que hacemos, nuestra industria también crece. Y por último pero no menos importante, me dieron más ganas de ayudar a la comunidad. Por eso hice este blog

Espero que les haya servido para algo mi experiencia como IA. Sepan que la GDC es un evento súper genial y pónganse en la cabeza el ir a algún día porque te cambia la mente como desarrollador de videojuegos (seas programador, artista, responsable de marketing, productor, actor de doblaje, etc.).

Todos los que están ahí que admiran, en algún momento empezaron de a poco. Y si ahora no pueden ir a la GDC, propónganse ir porque en algún momento lo harán. Cierro este post con una frase de Hideo Kojima: "El 90% de lo que es considerado imposible, es posible. El otro 10% se transformará en posible con el paso del tiempo y la tecnología."

¡Saludos y éxitos en sus proyectos!

Si quieren aplicar para ser IA, vayan a este link

PD: Pónganse a hacer juegos. Mañana no. El momento es ahora. Se puede :)

Friday, July 24, 2015

Yenni Desroches

Name: Yenni Desroches
Twitter: @yennijb
Gender: Female
Nationality: Italian American
Birth date: 12/01/1988
Title: Board of Directors for Boston Festival of Indie Games
Some games that you have worked on: 

Project Resurgence (Nectar Games Studio, Unity/PC, Producer/Consultant)
After the Storm (Fablevision Studios, Web, Associate Producer)
Cave Bro (Fablevision Studios, iOS & Android, Associate Producer)
Solar Skate (Fablevision Studios, iOS, Associate Producer)
Maritime Gloucester (Fablevision Studios, Touch Table, Associate Producer)
Mayan Mysteries (Fablevision Studios, Web, Android, & iOS, Associate Producer)
Disney Fairies: Hidden Treasures (Episodes 1 & 2) (HitPoint Studios, Windows 8, QA Associate)
ADERA (Episodes 1-4) (HitPoint Studios, Win 8, QA Associate)
Bejeweled 3 (HitPoint Studios, Win 8, QA Associate)
Plants vs Zombies (HitPoint Studios, iOS, QA Associate)
Seaside Hideaway (HitPoint Studios, Facebook, QA Associate)
Words In Space (HitPoint Studios, iOS, QA Associate)
Guardians of Magic (HitPoint Studios, iOS & PC, QA Associate)
iAMFAM (HitPoint Studios, iOS, Web, & Android, QA Associate)
Cappella (HitPoint Studios, Web, QA Associate)
Industry Islands (Kognito Interactive, Web, Producer Intern)
At Risk (Kognito Interactive, Web, Producer Intern)
The Witcher (Atari Inc., PC, Marketing Intern)
ArmA: Armed Assault (Atari Inc., PC, Marketing Intern)
ArmA: Combat Operations (Atari Inc., PC, Marketing Intern)
Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi (Atari Inc., PS2, Marketing Intern)
Test Drive Unlimited (Atari Inc., PC, Marketing Intern)
You Are Empty (Atari Inc., PC, Marketing Intern)
Fantasy Wars (Atari Inc., PC, Marketing Intern)
Dawn of Magic (Atari Inc., PC, Marketing Intern)


1-What did motivate you to become a game developer? 

I wanted to do something with 3d art after enjoying the cad portion of an architecture course. While in college I switched to game design, and then producing. I enjoy the creativity and watching something go from plan to complete.

2-What does inspire you creatively? 

Happiness, love, animals (dogs especially)

3-If you had unlimited resources to make any game you wanted, what kind of game would that be? 

Episodic narrative driven RPG

4-What was the biggest challenge of your career? In which game? How did you overcome it? 

Biggest challenge in my career was getting laid off mid project while at Hitpoint Studios working on Disney Fairies Hidden Treasure, but since my contract only had 2 weeks left, I asked if I could stick around to see out the end of the contract instead of breaking contract....Sitting at my desk for 2 weeks while half the rest of the studio packed up their stuff was very difficult, and I didn't overcome it, I more existed through it, and then became very depressed afterwards. GDC luckily was the next week, so that perked me up quite a bit seeing all my CA family/friends.

5-What do you usually do for raising the possibility of success in your projects? 

Ensuring that everyone on the team has personal needs met for family, activity, and space. An unhappy team will rarely succeed and still be a team.

6-What is the most helpful piece of constructive criticism you ever received? 

Your art lacks passion, you should change majors. I think you should be a producer (told to me freshman year by a professor, took me 3 years to realize he was right)

7-What are the advantages/downsides to working in games?

The biggest are:
Advantage: Sense of accomplishment
Downside: Time/overtime/crunch

8-What is your best advice to a beginning game developer?

Make sure this is really what you want to do, and be ready to be put through the ringer for it. Be ready to do things you don't want to, to reach for the job you do want to do.

9-Which skills are the most important for a game developer in your field/position?

Producers are people managers, you need to have empathy, but also be able to be tough when needed.

10-If I want to become a great dev in your field, what games should I play, what books should I read, and whose work should I follow?

Play them all, Read them all. Absorb as much Media and History as you can, the more obscure the better. Find historians, authors, architects, paleontologists, doctors, etc that you like, and follow their work. Don't just look at games or books, Media in all forms from any point in time is important.

11-What changes do you want to see in the game industry?

Equality for diversity, less layoffs because projects are done, we need a industry that we can grow up and grow old in, not one fueled by youthful dreams. We need sustainability.

Bonus: Tell us a funny story from your adventures in game development.

My first game project I ever worked on was in college. Freshman year we're in a class that put us in groups of 4 or 5, and we are supposed to make some sort of game in flash. Somehow our point-and-click escape the room game, which had 3 levels, managed to have each of those levels be a 15gb fla file. It barely ran on the computers in the lab lol

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Andrew Greenberg

Name: Andrew Greenberg
Twitter: @hdiandrew
Gender: Male
Nationality: USA
Title: Executive Director
Company: Georgia Game Developers Association
Some games that you have worked on: 

Mall Tycoon
Fading Suns
Emperor of the Fading Suns
Star Trek: Starfleet Academy
Warhammer 40K: Final Liberation



1-What did motivate you to become a game developer? 

I was a reporter writing about lawyers, and got rather tired of that. I started writing about vampires, and found them a better class of people, and have just kept going.

2-What does inspire you creatively? 

The world around us is an endless source of inspiration. From political battles at the highest levels of power to the bizarre nature of human interaction, there is always something going on that can be a character, situation or game mechanic.

3-If you had unlimited resources to make any game you wanted, what kind of game would that be? 

One that really explored what is involved with accumulating and utilizing power, in a modern-day setting, with real-world sources.

4-What was the biggest challenge of your career? In which game? How did you overcome it? 

The biggest challenge was always in keeping a company going to turn out good games.It is an ongoing process that requires working with the best people you can, and ensuring that those relationships stay strong.

5-What do you usually do for raising the possibility of success in your projects? 

Get a good team.

6-What is the most helpful piece of constructive criticism you ever received? 

If things are not working, end them quickly and cleanly

7-What are the advantages/downsides to working in games?

The advantages are the endless opportunities for creativity. The downsides come from everything that pulls us away from those.

8-What is your best advice to a beginning game developer?

Start with something you know you can complete and build from there

9-Which skills are the most important for a game developer in your field/position?

Patience, an ability to interact well with others, and a knowledge of one's own limits (as well as a desire to raise them)

10-If I want to become a great dev in your field, what games should I play, what books should I read, and whose work should I follow?

All of them.

11-What changes do you want to see in the game industry?

Better communication between developers around the world.

Bonus: Tell us a funny story from your adventures in game development.

Very few are printable. At www.siegecon.net, I always find that the funniest and most enlightening game development discussions come at the Scotch tasting party ...

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Jesse Lindsley

Name: Jesse Lindsley
Twitter: @jesselindsley
Gender: Male
Nationality: White
Birth date: 28/02/1974
Title: CEO
Company: Thrust
Some games that you have worked on: 

Cashinko
Cash Darts
Keywords
Words & Cards
Dungeon Crawlers
Zombie Smokeout
Boomblastica
Button Men



1-What did motivate you to become a game developer? 

I wanted to make a living doing what I love to do.

2-What does inspire you creatively? 

As a game agency, I am inspired to solve problems/challenges by thinking differently, which for us is about using game science (games, game mechanics, game environments, game tools etc.) to creatively accomplish our goals.

3-If you had unlimited resources to make any game you wanted, what kind of game would that be? 

I would spend my time and money to continue to develop "Boomblastica", which was a passion side/summer project that we haven't touched in about four years, due to being busy with client projects.

4-What was the biggest challenge of your career? In which game? How did you overcome it? 

For a massive multiplayer mobile game, we selected a back-end-as-a-service as part of the architecture for a project with a fairly tight timeline. About a month before launch, during load testing, the BaaS solution was acquired and subsequently sunset. Our game never launched as it didn't  scale and it was slated for a large tv audience. We were devastated. After dusting ourselves off, we overcame this setback by using the framework/engine that we had created to successfully launch another game in a similar genre. 

5-What do you usually do for raising the possibility of success in your projects? 

We find partners to bolster areas where we require support, including distribution, brand awareness, content, contacts, budget, etc.

6-What is the most helpful piece of constructive criticism you ever received? 

You have to love what you are doing. i.e. if you weren't getting paid to do game development, you would be doing it on the side.

7-What are the advantages/downsides to working in games?

The downside is that it's a hit business and there are very few winners in the space...i.e. 10% are making 90% of the money. 

On the other hand, the barrier to entry (of launching a game) has come down, which is very exciting and empowering. However it's still quite hard for an indie to make it and the percentages that do are embarrassingly low.

8-What is your best advice to a beginning game developer?

Do it on the side...i.e. not your day job. That is, until you have a stable, unconstrained and properly capitalized environment to give your all to this extremely competitive, hit business. Game development, like most creative outlets, is a subjective venture, so take advice with a grain of salt, meaning you should attempt to get as much advice as you can and then triangulate that shit ;)

9-Which skills are the most important for a game developer in your field/position?

It takes top notch talent in your discipline, combined with intangibles like being able to problem solve and communicate and you have to have drive and dedication.

10-If I want to become a great dev in your field, what games should I play, what books should I read, and whose work should I follow?

If I knew that I would probably be farther along on this journey...It's easy to say that you should be spending 10% of your time reading and playing the latest and greatest, as the space is moving so fast. I just know for me, finding the time to do this is quite difficult and my reading and playing to-do-list is growing every day. I do however read all of the headlines...

11-What changes do you want to see in the game industry?

Surely, the mobile platform for game developers is broken and not sustainable. I would think that giving up 30% to platform providers, who have driven down the accepted price for games to $.99 or free-to-play, leaves lots of room for improvement. 

Bonus: Tell us a funny story from your adventures in game development.

Nine years ago, which was two years into starting our game dev studio, I was at my first GDC and planning to attend a session on Starting a Game Development Studio. Unfortunately, right before the session started I got an invite to a meeting that I needed to take. So, after my meeting I rushed over to meet up with one of our team members, who had attended the session, and I asked them to tell me what they learned. And they preceded to tell me that the moral of the story was "to NOT do it". Well, looking back, I'm glad that I have lots of funny stories, because if I didn't, I would probably cry! ;)

Timothy Johnson

Name: Timothy Johnson
Twitter: @atlgamedev
Gender: Male
Nationality: USA
Birth date: 22/03/1978
Title: CEO
Company: No, You Shut Up Games
Some games that you have worked on: 

Thred
Adventure Time: Legends of Ooo
Adventure Time: Library of Doom
Adventure Time: World War Wizard
Mike The Knight: The Great Gallop
OddSquad
The Secret Castle
Zombie Room AR



1-What did motivate you to become a game developer? 

I always wanted to make games but I lived in Atlanta and there were few opportunities and the barrier to entry was high. As the internet became more ubiquitous and access to knowledge about engines became easier I stepped closer and closer to it.

2-What does inspire you creatively? 

It depends on the day, but mostly it involves deep reflection on things that I care about, usually by poking holes in it and destroying it logically. From there I spin off into untaken directions. It's crazy fun.

3-If you had unlimited resources to make any game you wanted, what kind of game would that be? 

I don't need unlimited resources, in fact that would be the worst thing that could happen to me. Limit my resources, limit my abilities. That's where true ingenuity and creativity lie.

4-What was the biggest challenge of your career? In which game? How did you overcome it? 

Biggest challenge was overcoming poisonous people with higher positions of authority. I won't tell you where or the circumstances, but I overcame it with cold calculated reason. 

5-What do you usually do for raising the possibility of success in your projects? 

Listen to the ideas and opinions of others, but don't let it pivot you from your goal. Also, boil the idea down to one sentence and then write it on the wall in big block letters. Judge all of your decisions by this sentence.

6-What is the most helpful piece of constructive criticism you ever received? 

I can't recall. I've gotten a lot of constructive criticism, but nothing sticks out as being profound. 

7-What are the advantages/downsides to working in games?

It's the entertainment industry, meaning it can be feast and famine. Also, the whole indie movement has both progressed gaming and harmed it. Due to the continually lower barriers to entry the mean quality overall is being depressed. It's a problem that will correct itself, but now is a difficult time.

8-What is your best advice to a beginning game developer?

Don't specialize, ever. Are you a designer? Go pick up a book on LUA or JS and start scripting. Are you a c++ graphics programmer? Learn more about the art of design or the overall infrastructure architecture.

9-Which skills are the most important for a game developer in your field/position?

C++ is a must. So many devs are coming out with very little knowledge. They're all learning node.js or some other functional stack. I know that's out of fashion, but that doesn't make it less true.

10-If I want to become a great dev in your field, what games should I play, what books should I read, and whose work should I follow?

John Carmack, Will Wright, Gareth Bourn. Find a game you love, find out who made it, find out what they read, what they follow. Do that.

11-What changes do you want to see in the game industry?

It would be great if people thought games were worth spending money on again, but that goes back to my earlier point about the mean level of quality currently being depressed. 

Bonus: Tell us a funny story from your adventures in game development.

Working on a prototype for The Sims and accidentally reclassified toilets as refrigerators. It was equally gross and hilarious.

Joe Cassavaugh

Name: Joe Cassavaugh
Twitter: @PuzzlesByJoe
Gender: Male
Nationality: USA
Birth date: 17/9/1957
Title: CEO/Designer/Engineer
Company: PuzzlesByJoe (indie)
Some games that you have worked on: 

Clutter 1-5 for myself (to make a living). 
Mah Jong Quest I, II, and III (for iWin)
Recon (Logical Battleships), Rack'Em, FitTris, GapWar and a bunch of other experimental games that made very little money.



1-What did motivate you to become a game developer? 

I've loved Puzzles since I was in 1st grade (1963). Been programming (for business) since 1981. In 1993 decided to switch from business to games and never looked back. I love to create a computerized/game-version of either existing puzzles or totally new concepts. 

2-What does inspire you creatively? 

Solving problems inspires me when I work for someone else. Making my own choices/decisions on a product that is "mine" inspires me on my own games. Believing that what I'm working on has potential to make money (and have 10,000s of people playing it) also inspires me. Making randomly generated puzzles also inspires me. Taking something hard-coded or hand-generated and figuring out how to ramp it in difficulty and provide variations and provide the randomly generated levels...inspires me to create games that people will want to play over and over again.
(Like Mah Jong, Solitaire, Mine Sweeper, Free-Cell, Candy Crush.)

3-If you had unlimited resources to make any game you wanted, what kind of game would that be? 

It would be an exceptionally difficult brain-teaser game (possibly called A-Ha) with no instructions. (It might also be called the Cube). It would be infinitely re-playable. 

4-What was the biggest challenge of your career? In which game? How did you overcome it? 

Two things:
1. Creating guaranteed solutions algorithm for any Mah Jong layout (including special tiles (as well as triple and quad matching mechanics)).
2. Creating a game targeted specifically to appeal to Hidden Object Game players, without being a standard Hidden Object Game itself.

In both cases, the biggest challenge was overcome through perseverance, hard work and some luck.

5-What do you usually do for raising the possibility of success in your projects? 

When I went indie, I picked a distribution channel where I knew I didn't have to worry about my own marketing. In that channel, I knew that I would get at least 100,000+ eyeballs downloading the game...and if I had a good enough conversion rate, I'd be ok. That was the PC Casual Download market. I knew if I created a game that met certain criteria it would get exposure on at least Big Fish Games and iWin. I also knew I could "please my audience" (The HOG crowd) and do alright there. I did just well enough to warrant a sequel...and since then I've done all sequels because that was the best way currently to guarantee ongoing success. 

6-What is the most helpful piece of constructive criticism you ever received? 

"No one will ever buy just a collection of puzzles." - This is correct on one level and totally wrong on another. On the correct level, it opened up my eyes to all the things beyond basic game mechanic that need to be done right in order to have a successful game. On the wrong level, a lot of people that are interested in "puzzle games" - often don't care a lot about the Story, Music or even Art....if the puzzle itself is compelling enough. And with Clutter IV, I proved that at least in the casual download market, people will in fact buy "Just a collection of Puzzles".

7-What are the advantages/downsides to working in games?

To paraphrase Wesley in The Princess Bride. Working in games is difficult, anyone who tells you differently is selling something. The biggest challenge in working in games is getting paid what you're worth.

I'm Indie because I no longer wanted to be a "hired gun" for someone else. I wanted to take my own risks and create original-IP that I owned.

And that the biggest advantage of doing games. If you can create your own IP, especially digital-IP (like an original game)...then no one is making money off of your sweat. 

It's also more fun than doing business programming (even if you do work for someone else).

8-What is your best advice to a beginning game developer?

1. Start creating a game.
2. Finish creating a game (and return to step one).

In the meantime, read, read, read some more....and keep perfecting your craft (whatever that is).

It's difficult to get into the games industry right out of college. If you're a programmer or artist take any job that will let you "perfect your craft". While you're doing that, work on games in your spare time. Once you've perfected your craft, then use your talents to get a job in the industry.

9-Which skills are the most important for a game developer in your field/position?

Judgment. Create a product that appeals to a market that already exists and keep your audience in mind. Games are fundamentally entertainment (before any other criteria), so keep that in mind. You're not making a game for yourself, you're making it for them.

Start using Unity or Unreal (someone's engine that you know will be around in a few years).

10-If I want to become a great dev in your field, what games should I play, what books should I read, and whose work should I follow?

Jesse Schell's - The Art of Game Design - A Book of Lenses. Play games you like. (To me, that is the Bible of game design).

Depends on what you want to do.
I don't consider myself "a great dev" and I don't aspire to be one. I do consider myself a fairly successful indie studio of size one, who's managed to stay in business for 5 years and I have not needed to do any 2nd or 3rd party work. My model doesn't work for everyone, but my story is an interesting one, and I'm one of the few indie game devs that's willing to share my numbers. Young developers can definitely learn quite a bit from knowing the details of my story.

11-What changes do you want to see in the game industry?

Would like to see the monopoly that is the App Store broken up. Don't think it will ever happen, but it is the biggest thing that prevents mobile games from finding an audience. I don't really understand why it's tolerated.

Bonus: Tell us a funny story from your adventures in game development.

It's not quite a story, it's my mantra and it goes like this...

...Working for myself, I still have good days and bad days. But the absolute worst day I've ever had working for myself is still slightly better than the best day I've ever had working for someone else.

Here's the shortest funny story I know about being in the games business - 

1. The stupidest thing I ever did, was go indie and make the first Clutter game.
2. The smartest thing I ever did, was to decide to do the sequel to that game.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Robin Hunicke

Name: Robin Hunicke
Twitter: @hunicke
Gender: Female
Nationality: USA
Birth date: 15/03/1973
Title: CEO
Company: Funomena
Some games that you have worked on: 

The Sims2
MySims
Boom Blox 1&2
Journey
Luna
Wattam



1-What did motivate you to become a game developer? 

I wanted to build programs that told stories. I started off as an artist and aspiring poet, became an AI researcher, and eventually began working in Games because I loved the people, projects and potential of the medium.

2-What does inspire you creatively? 

Film, food, friends, fashion... lots of things. :D

I love living. When I need to think big, it's a trip, a hike, a long bike ride or time in the garden. When I need to laugh and brainstorm, it's cooking dinner and drinking with friends, or camping and singing around a fire. When I need to believe that we can do anything, it's out to dance, see music or catch a film. When I need to feel introspective - curling up with a great book or taking a trip to the museum. And when I need to remember why I do it all - I spend quality time with a great game. :D

3-If you had unlimited resources to make any game you wanted, what kind of game would that be? 

I am making the games I want to make right now - for which I am very grateful.

4-What was the biggest challenge of your career? In which game? How did you overcome it? 

My largest challenge, always, is accepting my limitations and taking the time I need to see the big picture. It's very easy to get lost in the details of work, problems at hand. I will forever struggle with developing the strength to step away from my "to do" list.

5-What do you usually do for raising the possibility of success in your projects? 

I talk openly about our dreams, challenges and ask for help and support. Being honest about how small and fragile Funomena is can be humbling - but it's essential, I think, to connect with our future fans.

6-What is the most helpful piece of constructive criticism you ever received? 

Listen more, talk less.

7-What are the advantages/downsides to working in games?

Games are an interdisciplinary endeavor that require constant problem solving and thinking on your feet. That's the core attraction and challenge for me. :D

8-What is your best advice to a beginning game developer?

Be honest. Don't make promises you can't keep. If you say you will do something - do it. If you can't get something done, admit it and re-negotiate your commitment. Meeting the commitments you make is key in building trust with everyone around you.

9-Which skills are the most important for a game developer in your field/position?

Listening and letting people come to solutions on their own. Most of the time, there are good ideas inside people's heads... you just need to encourage them to come out. This is true for producers, designers and business leaders.

10-If I want to become a great dev in your field, what games should I play, what books should I read, and whose work should I follow?

See my answer about inspiration. Just live a full life and follow your heart. Have friends and relationships. Be loved and love others. The rest follows.

11-What changes do you want to see in the game industry?

I want more people from different/diverse cultures and backgrounds and perspectives to be successful making commercial game and interactive experiences. Diversity is the key to reaching more people, and is a virtuous cycle of expansion.

Bonus: Tell us a funny story from your adventures in game development.

A long time ago I was still in graduate school, studying robots, when I met Will Wright. After a talk he gave, I waited to talk to him and peppered him with questions. After patiently enduring me for about 10 minutes, he said... "You sure sound like a game designer."

:D

Sometimes, your curiosity and passion will make you look dorky, act silly or over-excited... but it's not always a bad thing to be enthusiastic. I left graduate school to work on The Sims2 and it changed my life. Be excited and ok with who you are. It will take you to amazing places.

<3

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Jesse Schell

Name: Jesse Schell
Twitter: @jesseschell
Gender: Male
Nationality: USA
Birth date: 13/06/1970
Title: CEO
Company: Schell Games
Some games that you have worked on:

Toontown Online
Lexica
DisneyQuest
Pixie Hollow
I Expect You To Die
Water Bears
Orion Trail




1-What did motivate you to become a game developer? 

I've always loved magic, and anything that seems magical. Games are a powerful kind of magic, and so is technology. Putting the two of them together creates all kinds of fascinating new magicks. All this led me to start creating my own games at an early age. You can read about one of the games that influenced me most here: http://press.etc.cmu.edu/content/mines-minos-jesse-schell

2-What does inspire you creatively? 

Everything. The world is full of magical things. You can read about some of my inspirations here: http://thingsifinished.com

3-If you had unlimited resources to make any game you wanted, what kind of game would that be? 

It would be a VR MMORPG. I love MMO games because of the depth and the social interaction. Combining those things with the deep immersivity of VR is the kind of experience I've been waiting my whole life to make.

4-What was the biggest challenge of your career? In which game? How did you overcome it? 

The biggest challenge of my career was my decision to leave Disney and go independent. It required quite a bit of bravery from both myself and my family, but we did it, and it has worked out well.

5-What do you usually do for raising the possibility of success in your projects? 

Work with excellent teams, and use best-practice project management techniques. You can hear many of my thoughts about that here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y92-vkyHKbY

6-What is the most helpful piece of constructive criticism you ever received? 

I revel in learning new things, and when I was younger, someone very close to me pointed out my tendency to act like a know-it-all. I had no idea that I was being perceived that way -- it was quite a shock. I have worked to curb that tendency, but most of all, I took away the lesson that when people behave badly, they often have no idea that they are doing so.

7-What are the advantages/downsides to working in games?

The main advantage to making games is that it is exciting and really fun to make games! You work directly with positive human psychology all the time, and that can be very rewarding. The downside is that it is a very challenging business, and it is easy to get your ego crushed.

8-What is your best advice to a beginning game developer?

Make as many games as you can -- and work with as many people as you can.

9-Which skills are the most important for a game developer in your field/position?

Critical thinking about games is very important, and this comes through practice. Teamwork and diplomacy are also important, but *listening* is the most important skill for any game designer... Listening to your team, to your players, to your game, and to your self.

10-If I want to become a great dev in your field, what games should I play, what books should I read, and whose work should I follow?

Play the games that interest you most. Read everything. Don't worry about following the work of others. Focus instead on writing every day, and creating as many games as you can.

11-What changes do you want to see in the game industry?

I am hoping that better ways appear for players to pay for games. Right now the business models are very chaotic, and to create great things is a terrible risk. I am hoping business models can stabilize somewhat.

Bonus: Tell us a funny story from your adventures in game development.

Once, we made a pitch to a publisher for a certain game, and they liked it, but they wanted us to do it in too short a time, so we said "no thanks." The publisher said, "Well, in that case, are you interested in this other project?" and it seemed more doable, so we took it. Turns out it was much harder than we thought, and the project was in some peril. At GDC, I met the head of another studio who looked glum. I asked her what was wrong, and she told me that she took on the title we passed on, and that it was way over budget. I told her I sympathized, as my project had similar problems -- she asked what game it was, and when I told her, her eyes got all big -- she had passed on the game, because she was certain it would go over budget! Neither of us could stop laughing... and of course, as is so typical in the game industry, we both found ways to get our projects done. It proves the old saying -- everything looks like a disaster in the middle.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Heidi McDonald

Name: Heidi McDonald
Twitter: @Death_Bow
Gender: Female
Nationality: USA
Birth date: 15/05/1970
Title: Game Designer
Company: Schell Games
Some games that you have worked on: 

PlayForward: Elm City Stories
Lionel Battle Train
Tunnel Tail
GumTrix
The World of Lexica



Website: www.deathbow.com

1-What did motivate you to become a game developer? 

I came to games accidentally, in an unusual way. It wasn't until I was shown that this is a viable career option that I realized I would be a good fit for it, because I've been a lifelong gamer and have always found ways to make things more fun (I toilet-trained two boys by throwing Cheerios into the potty and giving them points for how many they could hit). I love bringing joy to others, particularly my own children. It seemed like a natural progression. Communications to events to games. Pow.

2-What does inspire you creatively? 

My kids, and things that happen in daily life. I'll experience or see or hear something and think, that would make such a great game...just like as a writer, I observe things and say, that would make such a great character or a great story. Inspiration is everywhere, you just have to be observant. Next time something makes you laugh or feel good, think about specifically why, and how you can bring that with you into your game.

3-If you had unlimited resources to make any game you wanted, what kind of game would that be? 

I'd make that game George Lucas was talking about in 2013 when he said "“The big game of the next five years will be a game where you empathize very strongly with the characters and it’s aimed at women and girls. They like empathetic games. That will be a huge hit and as a result that will be the ‘Titanic’ of the game industry, where suddenly you’ve done an actual love story or something and everybody will be like ‘where did that come from?’ Because you’ve got actual relationships instead of shooting people.” 

THAT GAME. I want to make that game.

4-What was the biggest challenge of your career? In which game? How did you overcome it? 

The biggest challenge has been having to go from knowing no tech, to learning Unity3d, Twine, scripting, some code. That is not my strength at all, but it's not enough anymore to "just be a writer" because the bar is steadily going up in terms of how technical one has to be in order to get hired. In my case, I just bit the bullet and started getting my hands dirty. You have to break things a lot in order to learn how they work. The key is persistence.

5-What do you usually do for raising the possibility of success in your projects? 

Good communication: asking a ton of questions to make sure you understand what's required, and everyone is on the same page. Playtesting: making sure you expose your work to many people and opinions before it goes into the world. Teamwork: finding out ways to work with people even when you don't like them, personally...everyone has strengths and things you can learn from, even if what you learn from them is "here is the kind of person I prefer to not ever be."

6-What is the most helpful piece of constructive criticism you ever received? 

Stop fearing the technology. If you put forth the effort to learn new things, you'll find respect and support from people who are glad to see you do it.

7-What are the advantages/downsides to working in games?

Advantages: Getting to have nerf gun fights and have blue hair. Having your kids think you're a rock star. Downsides: If you are someone other than a straight white male in your 20s, you will experience difficulty in this industry, both getting hired and after you're in. It's getting easier, slowly, but this industry does have a problem with ageism, sexism, homophobia etc. and you need to be prepared to face that with persistence and grace. Only you can decide whether there's a point when it's not worth it anymore.

8-What is your best advice to a beginning game developer?

What are you willing to give up to be in games? Think very hard about that. Because this is a brutal, unstable industry. You may find yourself fired tons of times for reasons that weren't your fault, moving a lot, working 14-hour days for days at a time. If you're okay with that, then go forward, but watch your money, and have a savings account in case the unexpected happens. That, and be nice to everyone, and help anyone you can. You have no idea when getting your next job may come down to who you know and who you've done favors for. 

9-Which skills are the most important for a game developer in your field/position?

Communicating effectively is #1, whether that's describing something an artist has to draw, or explaining to a programmer how a feature should work, or tutorializing the game for players, or bringing across story and dialog. Listening effectively is also incredibly important.

10-If I want to become a great dev in your field, what games should I play, what books should I read, and whose work should I follow?

I'm a writer/designer, so: read Jesse Schell's The Art of Game Design. The Narrative Design Toolbox by Heussner, Lemay, Hepler and Finley, Evan Skolnicks' book, Lee Sheldon's book. Play anything BioWare makes, Telltale's games, and indies such as Gone Home and To The Moon. 

11-What changes do you want to see in the game industry?

I want more than lipservice to diversity, both in the developer ranks and in game portrayals. I want VR to stop making me throw up. I want YouTubers to elevate their content, making actual analyses and intelligent commentaries about games that make people want to participate and investigate, not just spectate. 

I want gamer trolls to be held accountable for their behavior, by game and social media companies, and where appropriate, law enforcement. Games are for everyone, and we need to create respectful places where everyone is welcome. 

Bonus: Tell us a funny story from your adventures in game development.

I was on a three hour client conference call about what we should call breasts. "Breasts" was too clinical a word, and not something that would typically be said by young teenagers. Other words on the table were felt to be too disrespectful or too sexualized. So, we have a game about HIV prevention and sexuality that has no mention of breasts in it, because we couldn't agree on what they should be called.

Nicklas Nygren

Name: Nicklas Nygren
Twitter: @Nifflas
Gender: Male
Nationality: Swedish
Birth date: 06/01/1983
Title: Game Designer
Company: Nifflas' Games
Some games that you have worked on:

Affordable Space Adventures
NightSky
Knytt



1-What did motivate you to become a game developer?

I've had a strong need to create things all my life. Building Lego thingies, drawing, writing short stories, making music, programming. I started to make games as a hobby because it allowed me to combine so things I like to create into a single product, and because games don't necessarily require a big team or a budget. In time it became my full time job, even though it wasn't part of my initial plan. I'm actually not 100% sure I'll keep making games forever, maybe I'll make music albums, maybe art installations? All I know is that I'll create stuff.

2-What does inspire you creatively?

It's hard to answer, because it can be anything there is. Any kind of change usually leads to new inspiration, so I always try to learn new things, seek out new adventures and meet new people.

3-If you had unlimited resources to make any game you wanted, what kind of game would that be?

I don't know. Before I started to make games, I would ask questions like that much more, but now I find myself subconsciously constraining my ideas to whatever I think can be accomplished one day. It's also hard to say if unlimited resources would even be of much help, as I don't want to work in big teams. Maybe I'd just spend the resources on more Affordable Space Adventures-sized (which was varying between 4-10 people over 2 years) projects.

4-What was the biggest challenge of your career? In which game? How did you overcome it?

My biggest challenge was to realize how to create my first game. It took me years before I realized I had to create something small, rather than some huge RPG or something, which is a mistake I share with a lot of my indie developer friends. I wish someone had told me earlier to keep things smaller, but I don't think I'd have listened to that advice back then.

5-What do you usually do for raising the possibility of success in your projects?

To me, game development is a bit like rolling a massive boulder around. As long as it has momentum, it's not too hard to keep it rolling. So, when I'm really into a project, I do a lot of work when I'm inspired, and when I'm not I work a little less but make sure to keep the momentum going. Misdirected inspirations and ideas can be dangerous, as losing myself in them can break the focus on my current project. Game development is my passion, but it's also my job, so I can't expect it to be fun all the time. Though inspiration comes and goes, I need discipline all the time.

6-What is the most helpful piece of constructive criticism you ever received?

I can't pinpoint a single piece of criticism. It's always during playtesting I learn the most important stuff. What players like/don't like, or what they get/don't get. Many things I've realized from watching people play has stayed with me with every project since (such as the rule that whatever I create is probably a lot harder than I think). Maybe the most constructive criticism aren't necessarily the things I'm explicitly told.

7-What are the advantages/downsides to working in games?

Game development is super challenging and fun, and I've got to know so many other cool people who make games. However, without a really big commercial hit, there isn't tons of money in it. Given the amount of time I put into it, it doesn't pay nearly as much as just a regular salary on a regular job. Not that I mind, I get to do something I love.

8-What is your best advice to a beginning game developer?

If you're a programmer, pick up a platform like Unity. Otherwise, start with something easy like Game Maker. Watch some online tutorials. Create a small game, the most simple you can possibly imagine. Spend one week on it the most, maybe even two, but not more. Then make another, then another. Show your creations to friends, watch them play. Post the games online. Also, and there are schools that teach you how to make games. A similar advice goes here: make sure you go to a school that makes you frequently create small things.

9-Which skills are the most important for a game developer in your field/position?

I consider my own most important skill that I'm a jack of all trades. Though I always get people to help me with lots of stuff, it's great to rarely get completely stuck due to something being completely out of my skill area. It's also a good skill as a game designer in a team, as it allows me to understand what everybody else is doing and speak their "language".

10-If I want to become a great dev in your field, what games should I play, what books should I read, and whose work should I follow?

The game that taught me the most was Ico, for its minimalism and focus on atmosphere. Journey gave me a whole new perspective on how to do online play (though I haven't actually made any game with online play). It also taught me that glitches can be insanely fun to explore. Proteus is a great example of how just a simple thing like a single-color frog that consists of a few pixels that plays a note when it jumps can be the most amazing thing ever. The game is full of wonders like that.

11-What changes do you want to see in the game industry?

I'd like to see more diversity among developers and players (gender/sexuality/culture), and that more games are made with this in mind. It's changing for the better, but it's happening too slowly, and it breaks my heart to see so many people oppose this change and think of it as a threat, instead of celebrating it.