November '09 Presentation: Demo Techniques and Game Jamming

Word from another event in the series of IGDA Finland Presentations was well received and altogether 112 people visited the Kino K-13 and listened to Remedy Entertainmen's Jay Ranki and Sam Lake, followed by Gorm Lai from Nordic Game Jam. The atmosphere was anxious in the lobby of Kino K-13 when people were waiting to get in the auditorium. First up was Remedy and their presentation about techniques they use in their demo presentations. They started with a short playthrough demo of Alan Wake where Jay was playing and Sam explaining different techniques used in the presentation along the way.

Al says: "No questions during demo!"

The main point binding together a demo presentation is control. You need to keep the reigns on the show from the get-go and all the way up to people leaving the room. Below is a list of the key points in the presentation by Remedy Entertainment:

Prepare well, spend several weeks at minimum for preparations

  • Write everything down beforehand and practice it until it feels natural and spontaneous
  • Keep everything relatively short and to the point
  • Highlight key features - show less, polish more
  • Play for 15 minutes
  • Plan jokes and funny moments beforehand to engage the audience

You're not only showing a game - you're giving a 15min entertainment rollercoaster

  • Don't change the routine for any reason
  • No questions during the demo
  • Minimize randomness, do not improvise
  • Place staff at the door getting instant feedback from audience and to spot VIPs

About the content to present the audience with

  • Prepare the audience with a short introductions of people, characters and the setting
  • Avoid spoilers. You can lie and show different content than what is really going to be in the game
  • Try to finish with the biggest bang possible - you have to get at least two "holy shit" moments from the audience
  • If necessary, modify existing content to achieve this
  • After the demo, have a short QA session

Useful tips to keep in mind

  • Bring-your-own: machines, cables - something always goes wrong, so you need backup equipment too
  • Point out when to applaud - awkward applauses are very uncomfortable for the audience as well
  • Business cards for demo team
  • Give out extra swag, something physical to take home as a reminder

The second presentation was given by Gorm Lai from Nordic Game Jam which is a part of a global phenomenon called Global Game Jam. Game Jams are events where game industry people and people who like making games as a hobby gather to form random groups and create small yet innovative games in a short timeframe.

Game Jams are all about creativity. There are no 'real world' constraints like money or marketing audiences. Professionals, students and enthusiasts will all benefit from participating in the event. The exposure and new contacts gained during such a hectic event like this will surely be helpful for an aspiring game developer.

Nordic Game Jam 2009

This year there were once again a large number of excellent titles popping up from different Game Jam events around the world. A few of these were shown on the screen at the presentation, but the best way to familiarize oneself is to browse the archives on NGJ'09 site. At the end of each event, awards are handed out to best games of two categories.