Announcing IGDA Future

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IGDA Future is like the Scouts of Game Development. It’s free, easy to access and aimed to give the participants tools and aid them in becoming independent, confident and skilled adults. We want to create an environment where it is safe to experiment, find friends and learn without fear of failure. It is our mission to encourage youth during times of strife and reward them for participation and volunteering.

Functioning under the same principles as IGDA, our goal is to take down the walls of obscurity surrounding the Game Industry and to offer people 18 and under an on ramp into the world of game development. Together, with the Helsinki Metropolitan Area Libraries (HelMet) and Digitalents Helsinki, we aim to produce events that will not only spread the knowledge of the games industry, but also empower the younger generation to participate and create their own games.

By choosing to organize events in open, public forums, we ensure easy access for participating. Libraries have long been in the forefront of media education in Finland, hence they provide a perfect venue for IGDA Future. Likewise, Digitalents Helsinki has a lot of know-how on working with youth.

IGDA Future is a pilot project that is the first of its kind in the world. The inaugural event will take place on October 25th at the Tikkurila Library at 17:00.


IGDA Nordics Party at Nordic Game 2018

Facebook event

Welcome to the IGDA Nordics Party!
Nordic Game Conference 2018 is taking place in Malmö on 23-25th of May. We are delighted to announce that this year, IGDA chapters from Nordic countries are joining forces to make the BIGGEST IGDA PARTY ever and we wish to highlight our gaming companies in this event. 

When and where?
23rd of May, after the first day of the conference we will gather at 20:00 in Moriska Paviljongen, Norra Parkgatan 2, 214 22 Malmö, Sweden. 

A HUGE thanks goes to our main sponsor Fingersoft and associate sponsor Apprien!

Helsinki Hub: April seminar and gathering with Futureplay and AppsFlyer

Text by Giorgos Riskas and Roope Sorvo, photos by Casimir Kuusela

The April IGDA Helsinki Hub Gathering was sponsored by AppsFlyer and Futureplay.

AppsFlyer specializes in mobile attribution and marketing analytics, with Facebook, Google, Twitter, Pinterest, Snap Inc., Tencent and 3,500+ other integrated partners, and clients including HBO, Alibaba, Skyscanner, and Activision.

In his seminar, “The State of Gaming App Marketing: Data Benchmarks,” Patrik Lehti, a senior sales manager at AppsFlyer, talked about attribution and how the information it offers can help the developers understand where users come from, how to maintain their established user base, and what actions they should take to grow.

His presentation covered the topics of marketing, installs, engagement, revenue and return of investment, though Lehti did a lot more than simply scratching the surface on the mentioned topics: he offered insights and dug deeper into the platform specifics of Android and iOS.

 Patrik Lehti addressing the audience. Photo by Casimir Kuusela

Patrik Lehti addressing the audience. Photo by Casimir Kuusela

One of the most important aspects of his talk was the relation between organic and non-organic engagement, and how it impacts on retention, revenue, and return of investment. As Lehti explained, both types of engagement are needed since they affect different fields of the user acquisition. Lehti also took some time to talk about the rising phenomenon of fraud: how developers can be tricked into a bleeding cash cycle and waste valuable resources on high value campaigns based on fraudulent information.  “Developers should always keep an eye for anomalies and act quickly when they show up,” he said.“They should stay close to their attribution team since their job is to protect them from cases like that”.

Futureplay is a studio that in their own words believes in playfulness and fast shipping instead of rigid processes, endless iterations, and burnout epidemics. They have released six games in the last three years, and show no signs of stopping.

Jami Laes, CEO and co-founder of Futureplay discussed soft launches and early access in his presentation “Creating a New Category of Multiplayer Games by Launching as Early as Possible”.

The presentation shared details on how the company’s “View-to-Play” monetization model has worked out so far, as well as their ambition of creating a new category of casual yet competitive multiplayer games. Multiplayer Online Casual Competitive Arena games, or MOCCA for short, combine elements of .io games, MOBAs, and battle royale games.

Laes also explained the importance of soft launching their games very early. The purpose of the so-called ‘minimum awesome product’ is to realize early on if the game works, and whether or not to develop it further. That way they can validate the direction, and updates are developed based on data and feedback from the community. “The biggest risk that we take by releasing early, is that a game won’t work. But that’s exactly the point of trying it!”, Laes said. When asked about the seemingly big transition from idle to MOCCA games, Laes answered: “If there is a good level of experience and a solid plan on the correct direction and technology to be used, the transition becomes a lot easier to make”.

“There had been a research period of six months before we started development,” he added

After the seminars ended, everybody had some time to relax, socialize and enjoy their evening. The speakers seemed to be very popular, so they were constantly trying to make space for everyone that wanted to talk with them.

Tristin Hightower, the Director of Operations of IGDA also attended the event. She is spending the month in Europe for personal reasons, but while abroad, she is doing outreach with IGDA Chapter and SIG leaders at various events, Her first trip aboard was to Finland in 2016, so it has a special place in her heart. She always enjoys being part of the IGDA community, and she has attended various events in Helsinki and Turku and has a fondness for Porvoo, which she visited in on her first trip.

Also visiting  Helsinki was Felicia Prehn. She is a manager and accessibility adviser at Nopia, as well as an active crewmember in IGDA Finland’s Satakunta Hub. Nopia is an animation and game company that has worked on ads for the likes of Mercedes Benz and Tactic, as well as games like HALO 5 and Wolfenstein II.

The day prior the gathering Prehn gave a presentation called “Looking Bright – the Current Landscape of Accessibility for Gamers with Disabilities” as a part of Aalto University’s Games Now! lecture series. The presentation focused on raising awareness for accessibility, and how it is an issue that touches everyone. She was on hand during the gathering ready to discuss accessibility issues in games with anyone interested. “Approaching accessibility only as a problem of the few who need it is a wrong way to think about it”, Prehn says, “Accessibility features can be beneficial also for those who do not need them.”

 Attendees absorbed in a session of LaserGrid. Photo by Casimir Kuusela.

Attendees absorbed in a session of LaserGrid. Photo by Casimir Kuusela.

The month’s demo corner was occupied by two titles. From Village to Empire, has been in development for 1.5 years by the one-man company Witch Laboratory. In this turn-based strategy game the player assumes control of a civilization and advances in a procedurally generated map in order to grow and take control of it. The game should be released on Steam in the coming months. LaserGrid is a multiplayer SHMUP where up to four players take on one another in a four-way fight to the death. It is being developed by a  five-person team of Metropolia students.

See you on May 15th.

Helsinki Hub: Non-Commerical March

By Giorgos Riskas and Roope Sorvo

The March IGDA Finland gathering at the Helsinki Hub was a non-commercial celebration. It was the first unsponsored Helsinki event in a number of years and opted to focus on other non-profit game initiatives taking place across Finland.

The seminar highlighted the work of industry wide game consortium that has been working together to address the upcoming General Data Protection Regulation. The talks were an introduction and warm up for a bigger GDPR event that will be held at the Supercell office on March 28th. Anyone working for a game development studio interested in joining the upcoming GDPR event, should send an email to gdpr (at) neogames (dot) fi.

Neogames Senior Policy Analyst Jari-Pekka Kaleva, presented six steps to prepare your company for the upcoming changes. He highlighted the practice of implementing “privacy by design”, which will require both big companies and indie developers have to adopt a new mindset when it comes to handling data and how the new rules  affect their revenue. “The fact is that this is a new situation and it is hard predict how exactly games industry will change ”, Kaleva said, “But we definitely have to start implementing the new rules now  and see where that leads on the long term.”

Petri Hyökyranta, CTO of Rovio Games, has recently been busy interpreting how to best implement the GDPR requirements into games. He shared how Rovio is approaching the upcoming changes. Over the course of last few years, Rovio has worked alongside several other Finnish game studios and policy analysts to create an industry wide GDPR task force where game developers can get info they need regarding the upcoming changes, exchange thoughts and seek opinions and views, all in one convenient space. Hyökyranta says that as of now there are no definitive right answers regarding the best plan going forward, but game teams  need to understand what data they are collecting, why it is being collected and how it is being processed. It is clear that the best approach to addressing the GDPR is working in a collaboration with and between  game developers all over Europe and new companies are joining the task force daily. Anyone interested to joining the task force, should contact J-P or Petri to get things started.

Kaisa Salakka, Product Director at Unity, talked about how GDPR will affect monetization in games, using Unity as an example. Like Hyökyranta, Salakka believes that at the moment everything is a bit blurry regarding the legislation, and that it might take a few years for companies to adjust to the changes. The procedure of getting there might have some revenue impact for both indie developers and bigger companies. She also believes that change of regulations in the European Union might be a disadvantage to those in competition with companies outside the EU.

The presentations sparked a lot of conversation and questions in the audience, which featured noticeably more top management participants than usual. The audience and speakers concurred that the regulation will impact student projects and educational institutions will need to adapt their curricula to adapt to the upcoming changes.

The serious tone of seminar was lifted, when Jonne Harja, board member of Finnish Game Jam Association and super jammer Samuli Jääskeläinen gave a lighter presentation about game jams the activities of the Finnish Game Jam (FGJ). The entertaining duo showcased many of the weird jams and stunts the association has organized jamming in a bus, in a remote cabin in the middle of wilderness (Survival Jam), and on back of a bike (JamBike).

Appropriately, the Demo Corner featured games from two events organized by FGJ, the Sami Game Jam in February, and this year’s Global Game Jam, featuring the theme of ‘transmission’. My Turn to Pew is a turn-based SHMUP where the player moves in 1-second bursts, and the world around the ship only moves during that same time. Incoming Transmission is a simple 2D game where the player pilots a ship with an increasing delay between the player inputs and the ship’s response, asking the player to be able to predict and calculate further and further ahead. Wasteland Trader is a post-apocalyptic exploration game where the player trades items with other entities they encounter in order to collect pieces required to repair a radio tower. Exploding Babies is a hectic 4-player battle arena game where the players try to win by detonating the babies of other players using sound waves.

Despite the lack of a sponsor, nearly 300 people turned out for event.

 

Helsinki Hub: Bravo, February, Bravo

By Giorgos Riskas and Roope Sorvo

IGDA’s first gathering in Helsinki in 2018 IGDA started with a blast.

London-based BRAVOCOMPANY, stepped in at the last moment to sponsor the February event and showed cased their tactical team combat game Forces of Freedom. The company have coin the term “Coffee Break eSports”, which they use to describe a competitive real time team multiplayer games that can be played in 4 minute sessions.

In his seminar “Forces of Freedom in Early Access: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly!”, Florian Stronk, the co-founder and CEO of BRAVOCOMPANY, openly discusses the development process of Forces of Freedom, the company's first game.

In his presentation he didn’t shy away from the things that went wrong in development; sharing anecdotes that serve as learning moments and advice for the future.

Much emphasis was given to the importance of the community. When BRAVOCOMPANY first started, the team was short on resources and experience but full of ambition and passion for what they were doing. Now they would like to let other people benefit from the experience they gave gained throughout their development process.

Heavy emphasis was also placed on communication between the developer and the players. According to Stronk, the most important aspect of this communication is honesty, admitting one’s mistakes and taking whatever action is required to handle issues at hand.

Forces of Freedom was also available for play in the traditional IGDA demo corner. The team-based third person shooter pits two 5-person teams against each other over multiple game modes, with matches clocking in around four minutes. The full version is planned to feature multiple classes from scout to sniper, with maps spanning around the globe and covering over 50 years of history.

Despite the game drawing from real life military history, the game’s purpose is to bring people together across national borders. The matchmaking system used puts people from several different countries in the same team.

The game has already attracted more than 10 million players in Google Play’s Early Access. Based on organic traction and reassuring metrics, the company is focused on evolving Forces of Freedom into an entertainment product to be enjoyed over the years.

 

Kajaani aiming for the stars with E-Sports!

It's gathering day 28th of March and Rock House Kulma is full of enthusiastic game industry veterans and students.

Kajaani is aiming to become the E-sports capital of Finland.
We are already famous for Critical Ops published by Critical Force Entertainment and a brand new Critical Force Academy starting next summer.
But it´s not all. Kajaani University of Applied Sciences in collaboration with Vuokatti
Ruka Sports Academy, is arranging the NORDIC eSports Academy Bootcamp
during the summer 2017.

We had a pleasure to have Touko Möttönen, former Kajaani University student and
Niklas Pehkonen to tell us more of this magnificent opportunity in our IGDA March
Gathering. Unfortunately our supposed guest Noel McAvennie couldn’t make it to the
event, but we took care of extra drinks for him.

 Touko enlightened us about upcoming bootcamp.

Touko enlightened us about upcoming bootcamp.

The Nordic eSports Academy is a new Finnish summer school and tournament,
which takes place in Kajaani from 12.6 to 6.7 and culminates in 3-day CS GO
tournament in Vuokatti at the end (7.7 – 9.7). The bootcamp includes a series of
lectures, workshops and coaching sessions on a full time basis at KAMK for 80 to
100 students. The total prize pool for the tournament is 10,000€ and we’ll be bringing
approximately 10 to 12 of the best of the bootcamp teams together with a selected 8
to 10 guest teams. We’re hoping to bring some international teams as well as some
top Finnish teams to create something special. The camp is targeted especially for
amateur players, who aim to become professionals.

The bootcamp will be broken down into 5 modules: Business coaching, Physical
coaching, Mental coaching, Gameplay coaching and Testing. The Testing feature is
a new system developed by KAMK that measures a range of performance indicators
for each gamer while playing in a team. The end result will be a radar chart, much
the same as other athletes in traditional sports have to monitor ongoing performance
changes. This Testing system will be developed and exported with the idea that it will
become an industry standard so this is an opportunity for bootcamp teams to be
involved right at the start.

The various lectures, workshops and hands-on coaching classes will be undertaken
by a mix of local experts and international “gurus”. Ville “CISU” Leppälä, the former
Counter Strike player will do the coaching, while Mia Stellberg, a psychologist of
CS:GO team Astralis will handle the opening week lectures.

This is only the beginning of a new surge in local support for eSports, with major
plans afoot to develop eSports as an official sporting discipline that will be coached
at the Vuokatti Ruka Sports Academy, so we expect to see significant national
interest in what we’re doing as we launch the first bootcamp and tournament this
summer.

 Samuli and Pauliina, after a hard evening of an IGDA Gathering

Samuli and Pauliina, after a hard evening of an IGDA Gathering

Written by:
Pauliina Lammi
IGDA Finland Kajaani Hub volunteer
 

April 11th IGDA Helsinki Hub gathering canceled, new gathering date April 18th

IMPORTANT NOTICE: Despite our best efforts we have not been able to secure a sponsor for the Helsinki Hub gathering tonight. We are working on a event for a later date this month, which we will inform more about as soon as we get the details figured out.

Our sincere apologies for the late notice, we were literally working to the last minute trying to make tonight happen!

UPDATE: The gathering has been moved forward by one week to Tuesday April 18th!

Women in Games - Summary!

WOMEN IN GAMES

IGDA Finland Turku Hub February Gathering - event summary!

 

The February gathering in Saaristobaari was record breaking! Turku got visitors from Helsinki, Tampere and Jyväskylä – in fact busloads of game developers. There was obviously something magnetic with this month’s theme: Women in Games. We had a stellar panel consisting of Eevi Korhonen from Remedy, Sonja Ängeslevä from Unity (and a spider in the web of the Finnish game industry), Karoliina Korppoo from Colossal Order and Agnieszka Besz from Redlynx.

 

What is it like for a woman to work in a male dominated industry?

KK: Korppoo has been dealing a lot with media. It is interesting that gender is something that media always brings up in their questions. In Colossal Order there are 50/50 males and females, and it became like this naturally, without effort. In the history of game development there has always been women, it is not as uncommon as many think.

SÄ: Ängeslevä hates the question. But there are still problems, in big conferences there needs to be more women in panels for example (even though we have an “all female panel” this time). How can we get more women to apply for jobs in the game industry? Women need to be more pushy to get a foot in.

EK: Korhonen says she never had any problems. She works in Remedy, a company with its roots in the demo scene, which meant that the company used to consist of “40 dudes”. But now they are 140, and about 10 % are women. EK thinks this is a matter of company age and what kind of games the company makes. Often we tend to hire people that look like ourselves. But there are a lot of talented women out there.

AB: Besz says there are clearly more male programmers. On the mobile side women are about 23 % and over all the percentage of women is 33 %.

 

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Audience question: How has the demo scene demographics affected the situation?

EK: Has not been a part of it.

SÄ: The demo scene is not what it used to be. Now there are game jams, and there are a lot of women there. Jams are a possible way into the industry. Assembly and making demos are no longer the only way to get in.

KK: Women play different games. Based on the player base there should be a lot of women coming into the industry. Colossal Ordes doesn’t have statistics on the gender of the players, but there are no job applications from female modders.

 

Do women work with different types of games? Are women mostly doing art?

SÄ: A hard question. In Finland most studios are tiny, and especially ones founded by women.

EK: Korhonen used to work for Wooga, and they had more women. The internal culture was welcoming, inclusive, which is attractive for women.

AB: In the console area the majority are men, in mobile there are much more women.

 

Audience question: How do we find the best talent? How do we attract the best female students? How do we get them to show more courage?

KK: Colossal Order wants the best people. We hire students too, but we are mostly concentrated on filling senior positions. Something has happened in the game industry, it is no more mostly young males. They are turning 30, getting kids, and then they quit the industry. In CO the rules are that we do no overtime, 7,5 hours a day. We very rarely need to break that rule. We just do what we promise on time. By allowing people to have a life outside of the job, we get more experienced people. Proper rest also makes us more creative. Working in CO is a job, but we also love it.

SÄ: You can bring in young trainees. Talk with teachers, to also encourage girls to come. Internships to get to know the industry. Parties for networking. In Unity we have recruitment parties, without any obligation to apply.

EK: Impostor syndrome is probably very common: do I actually have skills? It holds back young people, students. You don’t even try. Find people in the industry and talk about it. Have someone validate you. Find a mentor. Everyone feels the same.

AB: Be confident and just try. There are graduate programs, for example in Redlynx, these are opportunities to learn. We are all normal people who work in the game industry.

 

Audience question: Is it a recipe for destruction to aim for equality, rather than just letting it happen by itself? Can’t we just aim at being good?

KK: We did that, and got 50/50. But it is important to think of the ideas you have about people, they can affect you when you hire. Preconceived ideas might affect your decision.

SÄ: I was turned down by a company because I was the first woman applying, “You might not like it here”, they said. We need to push and we need networking.

EK: You easily hire people who look like you. Diversity also means we can make games for more people, which means more money. There was an example of a game that was accidentally racist (game mechanics based on skin colour), and it took someone with a darker skin tone to test the game until they noticed the mistake…

AB: I’m against forcing, skills are important, but diversity is also important.

 

Is gaming ruining your (family) life, or is life ruining your game career?

AB: I also do it for myself in my “free time”, it is a passion that affects my whole life.

KK: I haven’t had time to play at home, because of work.

SÄ: Work and life are not separate things. I do a lot of different things, both for my life and for my work.

EK: Gaming ruined my posture.

 

Audience question: Is not being a woman in the game industry also leverage? Is it really a problem to enter the industry? In the mobile side more women play, and a good CEO would hire more women.

EK: I never felt it, I often felt boxed in. In Wooga there was one instance where I was not a fit for the team.

SÄ: Experience is what matters.

KK: When doing interviews in the US, I had a guy with me, and all the media people talked to the man. In Finland I can sometimes be seen as just a companion to someone, that I’m not someone who “works here”. When it comes to mobile games, the diversity still needs to be there. What is a benefit to me is that people remember me, because I look different. But sometimes I need to explain that I’m not “a lady who only plays causal games” (although I like them too). I often need to explain my game preferences.

EK: All people get boxed in, for example there are dress codes: T-shirt and hoodie. If you put on something “girly” it stands out in a NOT positive way. You have a feeling you should not draw attention to yourself.

 

Audience question: Will women steal our jobs? Is there such a fear? In some industries there is much resistance to let women in (tech, sports etc). What annoys you the most about this? How could men help?

EK: Just treat us like professionals. I’m just a human.

KK: We’re all human. Ask questions, get to know us. We all have prejudices, then we get past them.

AB: We are not that scary.

EK: And don’t get drunk and tell us we are cute!

 

Audience question: I work in the car industry, which is also very male dominated. You know the idea of ladies posing next to cars, have you encountered uncomfortable sexualized stuff in games?

KK:  In games conferences there have been incidents with ladies in bikinis. In some countries this is more common, but in for example Sweden they are much more sensitive, never anything offensive.

SÄ: 15 years ago it was much worse. Boobs. Now not so much. The world is changing. There are many genres now, and also “boob games” for those who want that.

EK: All of the Internet… The most annoying thing is that the sexualized stuff excludes people who don’t enjoy that.

AB: A beautiful picture sells better, gender is not always the thing.

 

Audience question: People are often surprised at female members in E-sports teams. How will women be part of the game industry in the future?

EK: It is unstoppable progress. One day women, and all sexes, will be a normal thing in the industry. It is only a matter of time, but it is good that there are people who criticize the situation now. This normalizes the idea of women in the game industry.

KK: It is a matter of the amount of players growing. The industry needs to make more diverse games, for different players. In 10-20 years the problem will be over. There will be more people with skills that can enter the E-sport scene, they will have more training. There’s a lot of stuff around games, streaming and so on.

EK: This notion of the “gamer”, there is no such stereotype anymore. In the future games are no longer some precious guarded playhouses.

 

Audience question: A producer asks: do you always have to be either an artist or a programmer? What other jobs are there?

SÄ: There are many more roles now: monetization, analytical skills, producers don’t need to know programming. You don’t even need a certain kind of background, I know one designer who used to be a librarian. Get experience in order to grow into the role you wish to land.

EK: Data is huge. Communication – engaging the community, being a buffer between audience and developers. Producing videos…

AB: Games have become bigger and more interdisciplinary. Only a programmer cannot make games for a bigger audience. There is also a need for team managers, because teams are bigger.

 

Audience question: About genres, there are untouched markets in PC. A lot of the games are still marketed for a certain kind of male. So many genres are not explored at all! What genres could be more explored, are there some that are more easily targeted to women?

SÄ: As an investor, and knowing investors: they invest in less risky genres. It is hard to get funding for new stuff. New genres need entrepreneurs pushing new ideas. It takes a lot of time.

KK: Yes, it is difficult to get investments for totally new ideas. Some genres are insanely expensive. With a shoe string budget you make something small, and see if it sells. Simulations you can make with a small team, but they appeal to a wide audience. What do the players actually want? Money and hours go into investigating what appears to be “untapped areas”. Cities: Skylines filled such a segment.

AB: You need money to support the team, and you need to compromise – make small changes to existing genres. New genres are too risky.

EK: indies and hobbyists can push the envelope. There are new areas to explore in art installations using game mechanics for example. New tech, VR, big IP’s like Pokemon GO can bring in new things.

 

Audience question: about stories, and the cliché “the scruffy white guy”. Are you accused of pandering when you don’t use that cliché?

EK: Well, look at the Remedy office and the huge posters… We have had a discussion in the company, that maybe we are finished with telling the story of the “anguished white man”. I’d love to do something different…

KK: In teaching, when students use this cliché, I ask: is this the most interesting character? Would you get new players with another kind of character? Would something else be valuable? You get a tiny extra bit of attention with other characters…

 

Walid O. El Cheikh from Aalto University presenting Game Executive Program.

 

Sleepy Sentry showing their game at demo-corner.

Brace Yourself for Polar Bear Pitching

IGDA Finland Oulu Hub will be hosting a Polar Bear Pitching Pre-Party on February 14th at the Ilona Night Club.

The 4th annual Polar Bear Pitching event will take place in Oulu on February 15th and will attract hundreds of participants from around the world. Unlike in all other pitching competitions, Polar Bear Pitching doesn’t have a time limit. Entrepreneurs make their pitches while standing waist deep in an ice cold water on a stage carved in the frozen Baltic Sea and finalists require a special mix of focus and endurance.

The party follows a day of networking and keynote speeches at an Oulu Game Industry Meetup that will showcase the vibrant local gaming community of Oulu and Finland, as well as, connections from all over the world.

The sign-up links are coming soon, but check these links for more information: 

Oulu Game Industry Meet-up:
http://www.polarbearpitching.com/events/2017/2/14/gaming-event

Polar Bear Pitching Pre-Party with IGDA Finland Oulu Hub:
http://www.polarbearpitching.com/events/2017/2/14/igda-pre-party

IGDA Finland Summer Party with Supercell

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Who cares if it rains in July, when the biggest, sweetest, awesomest party of the year is coming in August.

That´s right! Our Summer Party with Supercell was such a blast last year, we decided to do it again!

Make sure to join us and bid the summer farewell with friends and fun times.

See you in a few weeks!

IGDA Finland Summer Party with Supercell
Time: 16.08.2016 at 18:00
Place: Maxine, Urho Kekkosen katu 1 A, 6th floor, 00100 Helsinki

Please note that you need to be at least 18 years old to attend.

IGDA Finland May Gathering with Yousician: The Aftermath

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The last gathering of the spring is behind us! If you couldn’t make it and want to know just how much you missed, or want to relive the fun, read on. The seminar reports can be found below!

Yousician did a tremendous job of- transforming the venue into a massive music party. Demo spots equipped with guitars, ukuleles and keyboards were very popular, some people trying out the instruments for the first time. The app worked incredibly well despite the noise from the crowd and the occasional guitar shredding.

Guitar shredding? Yes! Yousician had come with an arcade cabinet that featured a competitive rock guitar tournament version of their game, solo and in pairs. Although a real electric guitar is definitely more of a challenge than, say, a guitar hero controller, the songs available were simple yet fun enough to let even the casual guitar player enjoy rocking out.

The best players were rewarded with an actual acoustic guitar or a ukulele, depending on their preference. And some lucky participants got the same chance in the random raffle, including yours truly! Woop woop!

Yousician CEO Chris Thür gave an engaging presentation about the company. A question often apparently arises whether Yousician really is a game or rather educational software. According to Mr. Thür, since the app, in fact, fulfills several conditions of a game product – Voluntary participation, feedback system, rules, winning conditions – it is indeed a game. If the side product of the game is that people learn actual real life musical skills, then everyone wins!

And if this wasn’t enough, the Yousician house band stole the stage and blew the roof off the party. With great energy, experience, excellent musicianship and brilliant song choices (Megaman!), they had the audience crazy dancing by the end of their set.

Thanks everyone for making the last gathering of the spring such a blast! See you in August!

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IGDA Seminars, May 2016

Professional audio design for video games 101

Ari Pulkkinen from AriTunes kicked off the evening with a presentation about how to achieve the best audio design in video games. He stressed the importance of planning ahead, knowing your game’s tone and mood and communicating well with the audio team.

Keep the audio people in the loop from the beginning – that was Mr. Pulkkinen’s key point. Audio has a massive role in how a game communicates to the audience, and cannot simply be slapped onto an otherwise finished product in a week. His most recent work was Alienation for Housemarque; making the final mix took one and half months, but he worked alongside the team from early on to create music and audio effects.

In Alienation, he went from peppy '80s demoscene/arcade style towards a darker mood with some military, even apocalyptic notes with the idea of an “endless war, but not all hope is lost”. Judging by the before-after demo, letting go of the nostalgia really did enhance the mood and make the music better suited to a high sci-fi setting, but some elements of the first style still remained, consistent with Housemarque ideals.

Mr. Pulkkinen had some great tips for teams about working with audio contractors. Make playlists of music and videos that reflect the desired mood. Devs also need to think of lasting impressions. Music that works well in a trailer won’t necessarily work well in-game. The loop needs to be long enough, and not too intrusive, or it will distract and begin to annoy.

It’s also very important to keep well-organised, clearly named asset lists that are updated at least weekly so that the audio guy has access to them and can work consistently throughout the project, also when something is altered. If this isn’t done, there is going to be a massive explosion of assets at the end of the project when all of the audio is dumped in. Not fun!

At the end, Mr. Pulkkinen said he would love to get the chance to challenge himself as a composer, to make something more emotional, classical in style. Many games leave emotions out of the equation, but he mentioned new games such as Quantum Break and Uncharted 4 as great examples of how to evoke feelings with music.

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Role of Audio in F2P

Next up was Ilmari Hakkola talking about the role of audio in F2P, and whether there’s a chance it could be used to increase retention and revenue.

In a delightful in-depth introduction, Mr. Hakkola started from the very basics of his subject, from hearing as a sense and human reactions to different sounds. He explored the history of meaning in music, taking us through Plato’s thoughts of how music shapes societies, the Pythagorean ideas of perfect harmony through mathematical ratios, to Schöpenhauer’s theory of music as a direct manifestation of the metaphysical will. Musical information, stored on the right side of the brain, is very memorable. From ancient times when information was passed on through singing to children’s songs you still remember the lyrics to, it’s a source of incredible remembering power.

The different purposes of game audio

For games, audio can do so many jobs. From an aesthetic point of view, it not only sets the mood but can convey information about the game world, the characters or their emotional state. Even the situation of the game world can be told through music and audio.

The music can be very much in line with the game world, like in Braid, where the art style is very painterly, and the calm acoustic string instrumental music underlines it beautifully. In Fallout 4, the occasionally heard 50’s style music reminds you of happy days gone by, the pre-apocalyptic utopia. It creates a very cool contrast with the broken world of the game.

Audio also boosts immersion, gives shape, size and context to objects and materials, even ones that don’t exist in the current reality. And it certainly serves an indicative purpose, providing feedback about the game state and events to the player.

Branding is also not to be frowned upon. For instance, Angry Birds has very consistent audio throughout the different products, thanks to very comprehensive guidelines. Audio logos and theme songs are also very memorable and can instantly take our minds to certain products just by hearing them.

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Going beyond the traditional: audio in F2P

Mr. Hakkola postulated that audio can be used to boost game performance also in F2P games. To date, the vast majority of the effect of audio on customer behaviour has been made in the real world. Shops regularly work on providing pleasing audio experiences to boost sales, and the figures indisputably show that this works. According to Mr. Hakkola, a handful of supermarkets in Helsinki have begun experimenting with separate ambient sound environments for different parts of the shop, with great results.

Since F2P is all about monetization, devs really do need to start considering the chances of using audio as a sales booster. The first thing to look into is audio metrics, same as stores and other features. Do people play with sounds on or muted? Do the music and audio feedback boost purchases in the shop?

Anticipation points, according to Mr. Hakkola, are the points where players make decisions. Do they want to upgrade? Do they want to keep playing the level after failing, buy a booster? Audio can have an effect on this since after all, sounds can awaken primal reactions in us. A great example is Peggle blast, where the use of audio anticipation and actual human ‘audience’ reactions (Ode to joy when finishing a level, or a gasp when you miss) really add to the experience. Using voiceovers is a very good idea in any case since we are so used to human voices they immediately grasp our attention.

A fresh experience through new music

Mr. Hakkola also wanted to examine the way we currently ‘force’ the players to listen to the same music over and over again. It does get rather boring, but composers are expensive, not to mention how time-consuming the process of creating new musical content for games is.

He suggested that since there is more music available in the world than ever before, to the point where the music industry is struggling with visibility, it would be wise for everyone to take advantage of the extremely wide spread of the mobile platform. For a lower fee than exclusive compositions, games would be a great place to introduce music to different audiences, so mutually beneficial deals can certainly be worked out. Since casual games aren’t as immersion-critical, adding music as background playlists would work nicely particularly in that genre.

A radio player functionality would work best, says Mr. Hakkola. It gives the player the choice to select the music while in-game. There can even be customised personalised playlists, for individual players or even countries, since the servers tend to run separately for each country. So if getting huge international stars would be hard to achieve, local stars would be an option.

You can even use new music as an incentive to play further, by indicating in the level maps that playing ahead will unlock new music. In the end, Mr. Hakkola suggested doing A/B testing with different audio scenarios and seeing how it goes.

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Photos by David Jakob

IGDA Finland Seminars + May Gathering with Yousician

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Spring is in the air, and summer is around the corner. You know what that means: it´s time for the May gathering!

To wrap up the spring season, there´s something very special coming up. Sponsoring the gathering we have Yousician, a music education company with a relentless drive to make the world a more musical place by changing the way people learn to play musical instruments.

Yousician is the fastest growing music education company in the world with over 25 million users across their apps. They develop high-tech piano, guitar, bass and ukulele learning software that gives users real-time feedback on how they play. Yousician’s cutting edge audio technology can listen to any instrument without the use of additional equipment. Yousician combines the addictive features of computer games with music exercises to make the learning process easy, fun and motivating.

Yousician is providing us with with all the tools for an absolutely epic night: guitar and ukulele workshops, competitions with great prizes, a live rock show and an arcade cabinet - and a costume competition! So grab your swag, bring the bling, this is the time to shine: dress up as your favourite, or least favourite, or the coolest or the grooviest musician for a chance to win a guitar or a ukulele!

IGDA Finland Seminars, Sponsored by Yousician
Time: 17.05.2016 at 17:30 – 18:30 (Doors at 17.00)
Place: Maxine, Urho Kekkosen katu 1 A, 6th floor, 00100 Helsinki

IGDA Finland May Gathering with Yousician
Time: 17.05.2016 at 19:00
Place: Maxine, Urho Kekkosen katu 1 A, 6th floor, 00100 Helsinki

Please note that you need to be at least 18 years old to attend. The cloakroom service is offered free of charge.

Seminar agenda

Ari Pulkkinen

CEO and founder of AriTunes, Ari Pulkkinen is an award-winning composer and sound designer. With over 13 years of professional experience, his works include original music and audio for games such as Angry Birds, Resogun, Alienation, Super Stardust HD and Trine series. His record includes Hall of Fame in Pocket Gamer, Finnish Game Developer of the Year 2011 and Best PS4 Audio Award 2013 from Resogun by IGN and many others.

How to achieve the best audio design in video games

Audio and music branding is an important thing for any respectable project from mobile to console games. Audio can be neglected and hurried quite easily and it always affects the end result. Ari's speech will shed light on how to achieve the best results by designing and planning the project well before the actual work begins. How to create proper asset lists, reference and mood lists, and how to fit audio design to the overall game development cycle.

Ilmari Hakkola

Ilmari Hakkola is a game and media industry veteran, having started in mobile games back in 2000 as a graphic artist. Hakkola joined Rovio for the first time in 2005, expanding his area of work into music composing and video compositing. Hakkola is also the founder of Kombo, one of the biggest production companies in Finland, which was acquired by Rovio in 2011. After uniting with Rovio again, Hakkola has acted as Rovio's Head of Audio, leading a team of eight audio professionals creating unique audio content for Rovio's games and animations.

Audio's role in F2P

Free-to-play games are all about the service mentality. Games are constantly updated with new content and events, but audio is often built around old conventions. Sounds and music are one of the strongest tools of creating emotional engagement - can this property be used to boost the games performance?

IGDA Finland Turku Hub May Gathering Demo Corner

We are organizing demo corner at the Turku Hub May gathering. The demo corner is a place for developers to show their games and get some feedback. The space is intended for everyone: from teams continuing something they started at game jams to commercial studios. Space is limited to ten spots. People demoing will get a table and power outlet. If you have special needs please mention them in the form.

Demo corner is free and open for all. Collected information will be used for event organization only.

NOTE: Provide your own laptops, phones, tablets or other devices your game needs to run. If you need to plug more than one device to a power outlet, require a lot of space or need anything else we might have not thought about, let us know here. (Mobile devs might want to bring their own chargers.)

Sign up here!

IGDA Finland April Demo Corner Sign-up

We're organizing another demo corner at the April gathering. The demo corner is place for developers to show their games and get some feedback. The space is intended for everyone: from teams continuing something they started at game jams to commercial studios. Space is limited to eight spots. People demoing will get a table and power outlet. If you have special needs please mention them in the form.

Demo corner is free and open for all. Collected information will be used for event organization only.

NOTE: Provide your own laptops, phones, tablets or other devices your game needs to run. (Mobile devs might want to bring their own chargers.)

Sign up here!

IGDA Finland April Gathering with Electronic Arts

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Goodbye winter, hello spring!

Yep, you guessed right: It sure is time for another amazing night with IGDA! And we have with us no other than Electronic Arts and their mobile development studio tracktwenty.

Tracktwenty is EA’s mobile development studio based in Helsinki. The studio’s first title, SimCity BuildIt, has seen tens of millions of downloads since its December 2014 release and received multiple awards like the Best of Apple 2015. As well as continuing to develop and support SimCity BuildIt, tracktwenty’s experienced team of programmers, artists, designers and analysts are also working on new projects.

Come join us and let the good times roll!

IGDA Finland April Gathering with Electronic Arts

Time: 05.04.2016 at 19:00
Place: Maxine, Urho Kekkosen katu 1 A, 6th floor, 00100 Helsinki

Please note that you need to be at least 18 years old to attend. The cloakroom service is offered free of charge.

IGDA Finland March Gathering wth Reaktor Ventures: The Aftermath

Hello hello! Time to recap the Helsinki March gathering with Reaktor Ventures. This time there was no seminar so we got started a little later. The evening was more of a hands-on experience with a number of exciting Virtual Reality demos available. We also cheered and toasted Vesa Raudasoja for his success in the Board of Directors election! Vesa is the first Finn and only second European member of the Board, and his goal is to bring the “international” back to IGDA. To illustrate some of his ideas, Mr. Raudasoja described a collaboration between sites in different countries during the 2016 Global Game Jam. During the jam, the different locations posted progress updates, made video calls and cheered each other on over the weekend. What’s up for you in the next three years, Mr. Raudasoja? “I want to connect the dots in a large scale. The time is ripe for the European and International game developing communities to start working together more closely, in a natural way. I think all it needs is a little push in the right direction, and I wish to be there to put things in motion.” “Over the ten years I’ve been involved in building this community, I’ve made a lot of friends and connections, but it doesn’t end here. We are going to do this as a community, I couldn’t have made this alone.” Mr. Raudasoja also hopes that everyone would would offer him any insights or ideas about how to improve the international community and collaboration between the game developers of the world. You may contact him at vesa.raudasoja@igda.fi.  

 

Reaktor Ventures

The evening was sponsored by Reaktor Ventures, the Finnish seed stage investor. Mr. Ville Vesterinen, EIR of the company, talked to us about how Reaktor Ventures works.

“We like to be the first investor in the company, to add the most value. We invest from tens of thousands up to one million euro, and also offer the services of Reaktor’s 350 designers, coders & growth engineers to our portfolio companies free of charge. We have a strong interest in the Finnish game industry and want to work hard to make it succeed just as we want to work hard for the Finnish startup space in general.“

“So far at Reaktor Ventures we have invested in two very promising companies in the VR space. We have invested in both VR content as well as VR enabling technology, and intend to continue doing so in the future! Games are the obvious choice but VR has promise in many different sectors and we’d love to see companies across the board.”

Sólfar studios is an Icelandic gaming studio working on two titles: Everest VR experience (more on that later) and a game called Godling. Univrses is an early stage Swedish company developing the hottest central technology for all VR hardware - positional tracking.

What do you feel the future is going to be for VR technologies, Mr. Vesterinen?

“We believe that VR, and in due course AR will be among the central new growth markets of the coming decade and beyond. We have exceptionally deep understanding and competence in VR related technologies here in the Nordic countries, and we believe that wider Scandinavia, and especially Finland, is going to be home to many world leading VR and AR companies.”

Everest

Sólfar and Reaktor Ventures had erected a black box in the middle of the venue. Inside awaited a thrilling virtual reality experience on Mt. Everest, using the new HTC Vive system. Created from over 300,000 hi-res images, the environment also in fact allows you to physically move around, thanks to the Vive’s motion tracking tech. Cleverly using virtual step marks on the floor and a barely visible grid inside the VR world to mark the walls of the room, you can move around fairly safely inside the virtual experience without the fear of walking into a wall.

An exhilarating additional experience came from the handheld controllers. The handle-shaped controllers had great and very responsive grip, and the feedback felt surprisingly realistic - as if you were really dragging a gloved hand along the rope handles of a bridge! Also, being able to see your hands in virtual reality really adds to the immersion.

All in all, despite the shortness of the actual demo, the experience was very engaging, and doing what every responsible person should do to overcome their fear of heights – step over the edge into a bottomless icy gully –  was surprisingly terrifying, in spite of knowing there was solid floor under my feet!

Finnish Virtual Reality Association, FIVR, had a successful day hosting the grand opening of the Finnish VR Hub at YLE Iso Paja in Pasila earlier on Tuesday. The hub offers space and hardware for devs working on VR and AR projects, and contains currently powerful PCs, HTC Vive and Oculus Rifts. FIVR aims to bring together Finns interested in VR development. They currently have some 400 members, professionals and hobbyists alike, and joining is free of charge.

Their big day was rounded up by some very nice demos by FIVR members. The demos included a fun platformer called Lollihop, a VR comic episode game demo called Since They Left (Riidenpolusta Lähtien), a Samsung Gear VR space flight demo and another Vive demo, an exciting VR space painter called Tiltbrush. We got to try a couple of these demos, but due to very long queues, we simply couldn’t get through to all of them. Joonas Häll tried Lollihop, a game where you control an adorable platypus in a platformer world: “The game was really cool - you can control the camera through the headset, so by leaning forwards you can see things up very close, or take a peek behind a wall and see where you’re going to jump to. Very enjoyable!” I had a peek at Since They Left. It is going to be a five-episode game, combining features of comics, visual novel and adventure games. According to the game’s developer and main artist Kriina Rytkönen, the demo was an “episode 0”, proof of concept and a prequel to the main story. The story itself is going to feature the demo’s youths ten years later, meeting up in a forest with some supernatural elements. Sounds like fun! Maxine was again full to bursting with people having fun, trying out the demos and enjoying themselves. Until next time!  

 

Photos by: Janne Karvinen

IGDA Finland March Gathering with Reaktor Ventures

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Guess what, folks! February is almost over and it´s time to get ready for the March gathering. And we´ve got plenty of awesomeness in store.

This time our event is sponsored by the fantastic Reaktor Ventures. They want to invest in the best seed stage companies and help them become global leaders in their industry. In addition to investing venture capital, the company makes their 300 professionals available for their portfolio companies for free. Since February 2013, Reaktor Ventures has invested in 27 seed stage companies, including 5 gaming startups.

Also, we´ll have some VR setups, including HTC Vive, for you to try out! Pretty cool, right.

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For a full day of VR, remember to check out the The Finnish Virtual Reality Association Grand Opening with seminars and demos held at YLE Iso Paja, in Pasila. More info and registration: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/fivr-hub-grand-opening-tickets

This will be a night to remember, so make sure to join us in March!

IGDA Finland March Gathering with Reaktor Ventures
Time: 08.03.2016 at 19:00
Place: Maxine, Urho Kekkosen katu 1 A, 6th floor, 00100 Helsinki

Please note that you need to be at least 18 years old to attend. The cloakroom service is offered free of charge.

IGDA Finland Seminars + February Gathering with King: The Aftermath

Hello again! Time to recap the Helsinki February gathering! The atmosphere was very warm, with an impressive number of people having showed up to hear the pre-gathering seminar. We had King representatives talking about the company's new game engine Defold, as well as New Dawn and Housemarque to show us a teaser trailer of their upcoming documentary feature film, Name of the Game. While waiting for the Candy Crush Royalty to show up, we had a chance to set up a Pulla Crush of our own - King, our sponsor this month, had provided some delicious Shrove buns for the Almond team and the Jam team to battle over. ;)

 

The Defold Saga

Robert Käck, Mikael Säker, and Benjamin Glaser from King introduced us to King's brand new game engine, Defold. King acquired Defold, now a six-year-old company,  two years ago. So far, Defold has been used for the King title Blossom Blast Saga, and a number of indie games.

The core idea around Defold is to create a lightweight game engine that would cut down the time spent fiddling with tools, and help you spend more time actually creating awesome games. Since most of the Defold devs come from AAA backgrounds, they know the importance of performance and scale - not just that of the games, but of the tools as well. Moreover, they wanted a tool that the entire team can use, from programmers to artists.

The engine itself will be very customisable. Capable of 2D and some nice physics out of the box, at its core Defold is 3D. The main scripting language is Lua, and all the features support fast and easy workflow. When restructuring folders, for instance, the engine keeps track of references for you. You can even make changes in scripts while running the game in the editor and see them take effect immediately! This is really good news for testing small tweaks. The builds for different platforms are also very fast, thanks to Lua.

There are some limits, of course – 3D and requires a little bit more effort and tinkering, and Lua as scripting language means you basically need to go low-level to create AIs. Currently the devs are working on a new, better editor view and engine expandability.

 

Sharing is caring

King is releasing Defold to the open public for free. There will be no premium versions, the engine will be the same inside and outside the company. When asked why, the answer was "because we can". Openness also maintains positive pressure to keep up great quality and discourages trick solutions.

The engine is currently at invite phase, and there are invites available for IGDA people here. Defold will be officially published at around GDC this year.

 

Vote Finnish in IGDA elections!

Vesa Raudasoja was applauded to the stage to remind the audience of his nomination to IGDA Board of Directors. Mr. Raudasoja feels that while IGDA is the largest game developers' association in the world, it is very US-centric. Mr. Raudasoja would like to offer global perspective and unite the European game front. If you are a member of IGDA, exercise your right to vote!

 

Name of the Game

Last but not least, we got a teaser sample from Name of the Game. What started as a marketing video about Housemarque's still very hush-hush game project collaboration with the arcade game legend Eugene Jarvis has now turned into a full-length film production.

The New Dawn camera crew has been following the development process for 18 months now, and while Mikael Haveri, the Head of Self Publishing from Housemarque told us that at first they felt a bit shy and may have needed a beer to relax in front of the cameras, they have now become a natural part of the process. We can attest to that, having seen his butt in some epic ice swimming scenes!

The film will follow the key moments of the project, but it also dives into the lives of the devs outside the project. Release is expected after the game – still unnamed – is released, but we can't wait to see the result!

If you missed the presentation, you find the trailer and more info here.

Photos by Daniel Schildt

That's that for this time! Hope to see you in March!

 

IGDA Finland Seminars + February Gathering With King

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After a great start for the new year it's time to get ready for the February gathering!

The gathering will be sponsored by King, best known for launching several hugely popular titles like Candy Crush Saga, Pet Rescue Saga and Bubble Witch Saga. To get the evening started we'll have a seminar with presentations from three amazing gentlemen: Robert Käck, Mikael Säker and Benjamin Glaser.

Robert's main claim to fame was winning both gold and silver at the Swedish championships in NHLPA Hockey '93 and NHL '94 on Sega Mega Drive back in the day. Nowadays he makes sure that King is a great place to work and create games at, heading up the employer brand team. Mikael Säker has been working professionally in the videogames industry since 2002; as a writer, narrative designer, game designer and game director. He is currently working in King's Defold team as a technical writer, designer and developer and for DICE as a narrative director. Benjamin Glaser started out as a game artist in 2001. He has been responsible for a number of original titles from, among others, King and has worked both as artist and game designer, mainly in the mobile space. Lately he has focused on bringing digital products to market, working with companies such as Spotify and is currently responsible for the public launch of King's game engine Defold.

Also, a long time active IGDA Finland member and a Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Vesa Raudasoja, who was recently nominated for IGDA Board of Directors, will say a few words about his nomination.

And that's not all! On top of all that we'll be showing a clip of the upcoming documentary film The Name of the Game. The film covers the adventures and collaboration of the legendary game designer, Eugene Jarvis, and the Finnish game developer, Housemarque.

So come and escape the snow and cold for an evening of fun and friends!

IGDA Finland Seminars, Sponsored by King
Time:
09.02.2016 at 17:30 – 18:30
Place: Maxine, Urho Kekkosen katu 1 A, 6th floor, 00100 Helsinki

- Robert Käck, Mikael Säker and Benjamin Glaser

IGDA Finland February Gathering with King
Time:
09.02.2016 at 19:00
Place: Maxine, Urho Kekkosen katu 1 A, 6th floor, 00100 Helsinki

Please note that you need to be at least 18 years old to attend. The cloakroom service is offered free of charge.