Helsinki Hub: May Gathering with PlayStack

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

The May IGDA Finland gathering at the Helsinki Hub was sponsored by PlayStack, a London-based publisher with a Finnish office since 2018.

Knowing how or why one should approach publishers is an issue that many new game developers have to tackle. The speakers answered those questions and many more as a parting gift to the attending developers before the Summer break.

The seminar was opened by PlayStack CEO Harvey Elliott, who in his presentation shared some insights on how to make games stand out from the masses and how to make it in the current market. A large portion of this is emphasizing the player experience through enabling self-expression and interaction. Allowing players to create their own stories and amplifying those player moments goes a long way. Go for the carrot, not the stick.

Speakers from left to right: Harvey Elliott, Ritesh Thadani and Juha Huhtakallio

Speakers from left to right: Harvey Elliott, Ritesh Thadani and Juha Huhtakallio

After Elliott, PlayStack Helsinki GM Juha Huhtakallio took the stage and explained how to get games signed by a publisher, and how to get the most out of that relationship. He also set straight some of the more common misconceptions regarding the developer-publisher relationship.

Finally, Ritesh Thadani, PlayStack COO and manager of PlayIgnite, a subsidiary company that provides financial solutions for game developers took the stage. His presentation delved into how to scale your game in terms of funding and marketing, how to avoid the most common pitfalls, and how to finance the scale you set.

After the presentations the speakers answered some questions from the audience. Some questions inquired about the submission pipeline that potential games need to go through in order to be published; a specific point brought up was that games too similar to existing popular titles are likely to be filtered out by the process. When asked how original a game would be original enough, Elliott gave a concise formula: “ about 30% familiar,  30% improvement from the familiar, and 30% new and weird.”

This time the demo corner was very diverse, featuring games of different genres and platforms.

RoboVirus - Stolen Shoes Entertainment

A top-down shooter played with up to four players. Players can choose between different characters, weapons and levels, while more features are to be implemented in the future. The game has been in development since January 2019 by a team of 4 and they are planning to release the game on Steam by next fall.

Mythic Madness - Stage Zero Technologies

A real time virtual collectible card game featuring figures and themes from various mythologies.  Both A.I. and online play are available while the players’s purpose is to gain maximum points instead of eliminating their opponents. The game has been in development for 3,5 years by a team of 5 and are planning to soft launch this quarter of the year.

Playtesting Mythic Madness

Playtesting Mythic Madness

Rehaboo! Squat - Rehaboo

A kinect based game in which the players have to squat in order to keep their minecart moving and they can use their arms to collect gems. Rehaboo’s purpose is to make rehabilitation fun, rewarding and measurable. The company is currently focusing on activation games in three segments; Hospitals, Care homes for the elderly and working adults at the offices.

A Giant Problem - Critical Charm

A VR tower defense game in which the player assumes the role of a giant, set to defend a castle under siege against trolls and other monsters. The game is slated to come out for the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and the Windows Mixed Reality Headset. The final features are still being determined as the game is in early alpha.

Don't Die

A (up to) 4 players colorful cooperative game in which each player is trying to die but their opponents are trying to prevent their death by protecting them. The game was developed as a collaborative effort between 7 students from Amiedu, Metropolia, Stadin and Sibelius-Akatemia in the time frame of 6 weeks.

Forbidden Factory - Twisted Ark

A beautiful 2.5D puzzle platformer in which the player assumes the role of a cogwheel and interacts with the environment, trying to solve the mystery of the factory. The game’s development started last summer by a team of 3 and is set to be ready on early 2020 for PC and consoles.

Children of the Eclipse - Nutfarm

A visually engaging top down story-driven shooter in which the player shoots their way through a dystopian yet teeming-with-life environment. The early demo was developed in 4 months by a team of 5 and will be released early next year for PC and consoles.

Bobsu! - DieNo Games

A casual arcade game in which the player can choose between 4 differently skilled teams of fluffy ball shaped characters that move vertically (from top to bottom) while busting blocks of 4 different colors. The development started last summer and the game is currently set to be released soon for mobile devices.

The Maiden - Blind Fox Studio

A story driven 2D platformer that revolves around Finnish and Estonian mythology. The player assumes the role of a Maiden who can use spells in order to overcome different obstacles and face different opponents. The development started at the beginning of 2019 and the current plans are to release it early in 2020.

The next IGDA gathering at Helsinki Hub will be in August.

Until then, have a great Summer!