IGDA Finland May Gathering with Yousician: The Aftermath


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!


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.


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.


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.


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 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


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
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
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.

IGDA Finland seminars + January Gathering with Metropolia: The Aftermath

Happy New Year, folks! Time for the recap of the year’s first gathering, sponsored by Metropolia. Held in Maxine for the second time, the event was kicked off with a seminar on storytelling. A respectable number of people had braved the weather and knee-deep snow to tap into the knowledge of Mika JD Sorvari of Rival Games and Adam Mayes, Game Designer and subject responsible for the Uppsala University Game Design programme in Visby. The Devil in The Detail

Mr. Sorvari talked about the practical side of publishing their neo-noir crime adventure The Detail. The team’s goal was to create a five-episode season, and they decided to focus on the story instead of gameplay and puzzles. Their format, inspired by Telltale games and Dontnod’s Life is Strange, hasn’t really been overdone in the market, so they wanted to join the race and even do better! The game has been quite successful with 80/100 average rating on Steam, selling over 100,000 copies.

The presentation provided delightful insight into a game writer’s job and some of the choices they face when writing a modular story. Mr. Sorvari described to us several ways to structure such writing, from the relatively simple “String of pearls”, where storylines come together every so often in the same place, through the “Diverging Paths”, which can be more fun for the player with its multiple independent story streaks, to the “Full Octopus”, which appeared to be a mix of both. Some choices may skip some parts of the plot entirely, for instance, but there would still be an abundance of possible outcomes. All structures need to balance meaningful choices with available resources.

Mr. Sorvari emphasised the importance of “mid-level choices”. Often you may be faced with the fact that your choices are often either completely trivial or absolutely life and death. Giving the player choices from the middle ground can be very satisfying, especially if they lead to concrete outcomes – possibly even later in the game.

For keeping all of this together, Mr. Sorvari introduced us briefly to his most important tool, articy:draft. It’s a professional game design software, especially powerful in organising modular writing. Beat the dead horse until it stops spitting out money, or, You’re doing stories wrong Mr. Mayes took us on a (at times absolutely hilarious) whirlwind tour of good storytelling principles. He started with “cussing out lazy, feckless narratives and the people who buy them” (his words, not ours!). But there was more to it. According to Mr. Mayes, since we have this massive new storytelling media with millions of consumers, we should make something other than Michael Bay movies with it. So how? Taking storytelling apart, we have the narrative: a simple telling of events. ”The floating hands and gun flew into a room. The floating hands and gun killed some people.”

A plot then, is a sequence of events with a causal link. “The king died, and then the queen died of grief.” And then, of course, you have your characters. Mr. Mayes showed us a quote from Matt Burnett, the creator of the Steven Universe cartoon; he was asked whether his show was a character driven or a plot driven story or a bit of both. His answer: “Character driven. Plot means nothing without characters.” Alright, so what makes a good character? In short, Desire, and goals. What do they want? Why do they want it? Plot can’t be isolated from characters, because they are the ones creating the causal links that make up the plot! And if you link your player’s goals with your character’s goals, you’ll not only be telling a story through an interactive medium, but you actually engage the player and make them drive their own interactive story.

It doesn’t even need to be tedious. The adorable Steven Universe video (available in the slides) showed us that you can introduce characters and their motivation, lay down the backstory and push them towards the future in only a few minutes if you’re clever about it.

So what’s the problem? Why aren’t we already doing this? According to Mr. Mayes, the industry consensus seems to be that an interesting lead would make it harder for people to relate to the protagonist. Or that the players need to be able to see themselves as the protagonist, which clearly, as you can see, is usually the case.

Sure, the protagonist might be a supersoldier. And a cyborg. You’re also assassins. From the future. But it’s a blank character, immediately relatable to anyone!

And here came perhaps the most poignant words of the evening: since games are an interactive medium that can be the complex bearers of ideas, designers should not only be capable as designers. They should also be competent and responsible authors, who can express meaningfully through interactive systems.

One thing that games are brilliant at, according to Mr. Mayes, is character development: levelling up, getting more powers, getting more powerful equipment and so on. If you tie this mechanic to the player’s progression in the story, you let the player truly play through the story and not just sit back and watch the it unfold. All in all, these two very inspiring and educating presentations launched an excellent evening with many excited groups of people teaming up to discuss the themes among themselves and the speakers.


  • Mr. Mayes’ presentation slides are available here!


Demo Corner Report

This month’s demo corner hosted games made by students and affiliates of Metropolia. By the time I got there, there were still six games to try out! Ilkka Räsänen from Mubik Entertainment was there to show off their company’s and Metropolia students’ collaboration, a musical snake game based on Mubik’s original musical quiz game. The goal of the game is to keep the snake alive by tapping on buttons, keeping to the rhythm of the song playing in the background. The company also make pure learning games with similar mechanics to be used in teaching children and treatment of memory patients. The game will be out for Android in February. Panu Siitonen, who currently works at the Metropolia Game studio, presented a 2D flying game called Al’s New Wings. Al is an albatross who has lost his wings, so he’s learned to fly a helicopter and found himself a new career saving people, animals, crates and ships that are in trouble at sea. Adorable! The game isn’t out yet, but iOS and Android releases are planned.

Trash Diver started out as a school project in Metropolia. It’s a post-apocalyptic underwater platformer inspired by the alarming trash situation of the Pacific Ocean. In a world where sea levels have risen critically, most resources are now trash in the bottom of the sea. The game features some puzzles and enemies, and the goal is to get resources to the surface. The demo version has three levels and is available on Playfield and IndieDB. Vulpine Games had brought their social space game, Last Planets. It’s a tactical mobile MMO in the spirit of Clash of Clans, set in space. Every player has their own planet, and you can team up with your friends. Rashad Hasanzade told us that they really aim to make it fun to play with friends, and that the social aspect comes first. There is an evil AI power called B.O.TS.  you’re meant to stop from invading the galaxy destroying your home planet. The game looks really colourful and delicious and will be released for iOS.

Next up was Taphold Games with two games. Lead designer Konsta Kesälä told us about the Metropolia game design project their company formed around, the as of yet unreleased Buglantic Football. Refreshingly, the game is in fact a two-player hotseat game for mobile platforms! The idea is to bring people together over mobile devices, in the manner of board games. The teams move on a hex grid and attempt to score goals kicking around a wilful little bug who also moves if it has the space to do so. I was pleasantly reminded of old Heroes of Might and Magic mechanics, but the game requires some chess-like tactical thinking as well.  The game will be published later for iOS, Android and PC, but the company is currently focusing on their recently published mobile puzzle game, SumTowerElias Rantanen was there to introduce us to SumTower. The game has some match-three qualities, but the guys at Taphold wanted to do something different. In a 6x4 grid, you start with a screen full of blocks. Removing blocks makes the blocks fall down and similar colours combine, but as an extra twist, the blocks have numbers on them! When the blocks combine, the numbers on them are summed together. The game combines the incredibly addictive features of Candy Crush and 2048 while being quite original. I was instantly hooked! SumTower is available on Android, iOS release is pending.

What a fantastic gathering once again!  See you all in February!



Photos by Daniel Schildt

Gamedu 2016 connects devs and educators in January


January has an interesting opportunity for everyone interested in games and education: Gamedu 2016 is a seminar focused on gamification and interactive cooperation between game-related businesses and schools. The two-day event is organized by Kouvola Region Vocational College, KSAO. The goal is to enhance game industry education by connecting educators and industry talent, and reinforcing the dialogue between different operators.

IGDA members will get 10% off of the seminar price. To claim your price reduction state your membership status in the billing information section of the registration form.

Note that the main language of the seminar is Finnish.


Thursday 9:30 – 16:00


Coffee & registration


Opening words – principal Timo Olli (KSAO)


Building successful game education – game industry veteran and pedagog Juha Huhtakallio (Metropolia)



Case KSAO/Keuda: BioSampo game – lecturer Jukka Harju (KSAO)


Business-Akatemia – team leader Tiia Lappalainen (KSAO)




Game development education in Leeds and in the UK – Abu Berat (Leeds City College)


Coffee break


Peliteollisuuden tulevaisuuden osaamistarpeet – education councillor Ulla Taipale-Lehto (Opetushallitus)




Wrapping up the first day


Evening programme starts

Friday 9:00 – 14:00


Helping start-ups – teacher Patricia Toledo (Oulu Game Lab/OAMK)


Pelialan koulutus yritysten näkökulmasta – CEO Jussi Tähtinen (Nitro Games Ltd)


Coffee break


Oppimisen pelillistämisen tarpeet – game pedagog Mauri Laakso (Meillä on leikki kesken)


Pelit opetuksessa – learning developer Mikael Uusi-Mäkelä (TeacherGaming)


Wrapping up and closing the seminar


There will also be an open forum and pitching workshop, for entrepreneurs and talent to meet.

Event details

Date: 14.-15.1.2016
Venue: KSAO Liiketalous / auditorium, Salpausselänkatu 57, 45100 Kouvola
Price: 45 € (incl. 24% VAT), includes seminar and catering for both days

RSVP by 31.12.2015 at https://bit.ly/gamedu2016

More info: Susanna Rintala, KSAO Aikuisopisto, 020 61 56290, susanna.rintala@ksao.fi

Seminar attendees have a room quota reserved at two local hotels, Cumulus Kouvola and Sokos Hotel Vaakuna. Mention “GAMEDU” while making your reservations.



IGDA Finland Seminars + December Gathering with InMobi: The Aftermath

This year was wrapped up in our December gathering last week. Not only did we have traditional Christmas caps for everyone, provided by our sponsor InMobi, but a seminar to kick off the evening and a demo corner featuring local devs as well. What a night! The first presentation was by Jami Laes, CEO and co-founder of Futureplay Games. Instead of the traditional free-to-play monetization model with IAP, his company has opted for a different approach: view-to-play. Laes showed us why video ads are a more profitable option – with few companies using this opportunity right now.

Continuing the theme, Mitchell Smallman from Next Games gave us some insight as to why ads have monetized remarkably well with Compass Point West. He listed some key points they had learned from other successful games on the market as well as the things they had done differently.

Seminar slides available for download here:

After the seminar it was time to gear up for the party. The revival of demo corner was a huge success, with eleven teams and developers showing off their games to peers.

Thank you for another great gathering – happy holidays and see you in January!

Photos by Daniel Schildt.

IGDA Finland Seminars + December Gathering with InMobi

It’s pre-Christmas party season, folks! And we know it wouldn’t be the same without IGDA Finland December gathering, so worry not: ‘tis the time to get festive, end the fall season in style and prepare for a well-earned rest over the holidays.

This year’s pre-Christmas celebration is sponsored by InMobi, a global mobile advertising platform that reaches over 1 billion mobile devices every month. InMobi recently launched Miip, their user first discovery platform. Because users come first to them and they obsess about delivering the right user experience, we’re confident you’ll not be disappointed by the special treats and speeches they have prepared for the event. And not only are you in for epic fun times, there is also a seminar before the party.

The seminar this time is all about strategies for monetizing with ads and how to implement ads in a non-intrusive way. Our speakers come from Futureplay and Next Games, both studios that have succeeded in pulling off this “impossible” feat.

After all the special events this season and hopping all over Helsinki we’re also finally ready to announce our new gathering venue: IGDA Finland will be settling in at Maxine. Judging by the general feedback after our last invasion to this venue, we think quite many of you will approve of this.

Besides the seminar and party goodies, we have yet another special little something planned for the event: devs will have a chance to showcase their games during the evening. Read more here and sign up if you want your chance in the spotlight!

So prepare your party gear and join us on Dec 8 – it’ll be a blast!

IGDA Finland Seminars presents: Ad Monetization Strategies, Sponsored by InMobi
8.12.2015 at 17:30 – 18:30
Place: Maxine, Urho Kekkosen katu 1 A, 6th floor, 00100 Helsinki

- Jami Laes (Futureplay): View To Play Games - The Next $100B Market - Mitchell Smallman (Next Games): Rewarded Video Ads in Midcore Mobile: Blazing Trails Where We Were Told Not To Tread

IGDA Finland December Gathering with InMobi
8.12.2015 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

Jami Laes was previously in charge of Angry Birds and everything else in games as the Executive Vice-President of Games at Rovio Entertainment. He has been leading global game studios at EA, Playfish and Digital Chocolate over the past 10 years. Laes first started in mobile games in 2000 as a game designer at Riot-E and his first games he developed on his Amiga 500 in 1988. He is currently the CEO and co-founder of Futureplay Games.

View To Play Games - The Next $100B Market The mobile ads market is estimated to top $100B in 2016. And no developers are focused on it. While everyone is still staring at the TOP-grossing chart, Futureplay Games is building a new generation of View-to-Play games. Jami will talk about Free-to-Play & View-to-Play and how in their debut game Farm Away! they have successfully leveraged ads in a rewarding, fun and non-intrusive way that make our games more fun, faster and cheaper for the players to play and the players love it.

Mitchell Smallman is a Senior Product Manager at Next Games. A six year Free to Play veteran (yes, including MySpace) has worked as Story Writer, Game Designer, Consultant, Pro Wrestling Referee and Product Manager throughout his career. He is a passionate advocate of free to play and casual gaming.

Rewarded Video Ads in Midcore Mobile: Blazing Trails Where We Were Told Not To Tread Rewarded ads have not been widely used as a central feature in mid-core titles due to fears of effecting IAP conversion and audience engagement. Mitchell will share lessons learned from Next Games' mid-core title Compass Point: West, along with practical examples from other developers. He will include how to tie rewarded ads into your core gameplay mechanic in a meaningful way, how rewarded ads can be regarded as a feature instead of an interruption, A/B testing to get the right value for advertisers vs IAP spending, balancing a game economy with heavy ad value, and analyzing player behavior to understand ad watching players.

Umbra Ignite & IGDA Finland September Gathering with Umbra

The September seminar and gathering were sponsored by Umbra, and what a day it was! We had an amazing seminar for the whole day with mind-blowing presentations about some of the latest ideas, trends, research and innovations in the industry. Here we want to share a few moments from that day with you:

It was morning and the seminar space was almost ready.

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Finally the doors were open!

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The seminar space was full and it was time for words of welcome from Umbra.

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The seminar started with a presentation by Rulon Raymond, Sr. Engine Programmer from Infinity Ward.

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Raymond talked about skinning and the evolution of the hardware of consoles, and how skinning should or should not be technically implemented. He identified problems in skinning such as “candy wrapper effect” (means that a joint is bending when animating) and "flat ass syndrome". Raymond then presented different technical solutions for the problem, such as GPU friendly Dual Quaternion Blend skinning. At the end Raymond reminded the audience that “Skinning is not a solved problem”.

Next on stage was Graham Wihlidal, Sr. Rendering Engineer from Frostbite.

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Wihlidal presented Frostbite engine and the challenges that different usage, platforms and genres produce and how the team found solutions. Wihlidal told that at Frostbite each team can decide what features will be implemented and how this customizability keeps the performance good because only important parts are kept. Frostbite’s solution is to have the engine close to the hardware which makes it easier to work with and increases the quality.

Next in the spotlight were Remy Chinchilla and Kevin Cerdà from Tequila Works.

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Chinchilla and Cerdà presented AAA production tips and solutions for indie studios. They talked about combining creativity with business. The freedom of creativity is the most important thing, but the producer has to be able to recognize the important features for the project and prioritize the implementation. Creative chaos in organization doesn’t make a game and Chinchilla and Cerdà told it’s important to move to production and to learn to close things. They talked also about how recognizing the abilities that each member of the team has and how letting them use their skills leads to a better working environment. And they reminded how a studio should always plan ahead their problems.

Then Jérémy Virga from Arkane Studios came on stage.

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Virga presented Dishonored 2 rendering and engine architecture. He told about their rendering pipeline and that they wanted to move towards multithreaded game logic and rendering. Virga explained how pipeline changes to multitasking makes the organizing of the data more difficult, but they found many benefits for the change. They split the render loop which saved duration time and gave good results and they still continue to evolve their engine.

Next up on stage were Thor Gunnarsson and S. Reynir Hardarson from Sólfar studios.

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Gunnarsson and Hardarson presented their virtual reality AAA game studio. They talked about VR challenges and their design principles for a good virtual reality game. Virtual reality performance requirements need resources that will easily lead to major compromises in implementation and that is when a strong artistic and technical knowledge are very necessary skills. Gunnarsson and Hardarson endorsed the future of small agile teams that have no room for egoism, but many responsibilities and strong participation which all creates greater work satisfaction.

Then it was time for the presentation by Balázs Török, Lead Engine Programmer from CDProjekt RED.

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Török talked about memory management in open world games and the challenges and what solutions they found while making Witcher 3. Török talked about GPU pool defragmenting and how they made three iterations to the engine. First they tested CPU memcopy but decided they can do better. The second iteration was a compute shader, but they still weren’t satisfied and made the third iteration: DMA engine.

The last presentation was by Alex Evans from Media Molecule.

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Evans talked about their journey and technical challenges when they were developing a new game engine for their new game Dreams on Sony PlayStation. Media Molecule presented Dreams engine at Siggraph this year. They made four versions that evolved from polygons to voxels and then to froxels and finally to splashes in cooperation with art director and artists to test and find the final visual style. Creative minds put together resulted in an amazing outcome.

After the mind-blowing seminar the attendees got some special treats and drinks before the doors were opened for the monthly gathering. Umbra sponsored also the gathering which continued until the late night...

Thank you Umbra for the exciting day! And thank you Circus for the good service! Stay cool and awesome and see You in October!


Photos by Janne Karvinen.

IGDA Finland April Seminar and Gathering, sponsored by Google


The spring has finally arrived to this northern city far, far away. The hot Finnish gaming industry threw away its padded winter clothing and gathered at El Jefe again in April. This time we had a seminar before the monthly gathering event, and guess what… the seminar tickets were actually sold out. The seminar Evolving into the Future was sponsored by Google.

We had three very talented speakers: Noah Falstein, Robert Nyman and Mandy Waite.

Noah Falstein is the chief game designer at Google and a true veteran in the game industry. Falstein spoke about the transmogrified reality, meaning the amazing possibilities that the recent technological developments raise, such as the magical opportunities with virtual reality. Falstein also gave a surfing lesson to the Finnish audience, just like he had promised.


After Falstein the stage was occupied by Robert Nyman, who talked about the tools and options that Google offers for game developers. In his presentation Level up your game with Google Nyman presented interesting numbers about business drivers, retention and player progression. The presentation slides can be found here.

Next there was Mandy Waite from Google Cloud Platform’s team. She talked about Firebase, which is a solution that helps developers focus on the applications rather than backend programming and servers.

After the seminar the doors were opened to the monthly gathering. We had once again over 200 game industry people at El Jefe.

Thanks to our sponsor Google!

Thank you El Jefe!

Keep on rocking everyone and see you again at May!

IGDA Finland Seminars Presents: Evolving into the Future (Sponsored by Google)

googleseminar The event is headlined by veteran game designer and producer Noah Falstein, who will speak about the opportunities in rapidly developing technologies that promise to soon provide us with the ability to seamlessly blend the real and the virtual, and why this is an ideal time to get involved.  He will also provide some surfing lessons.

Robert Nyman will follow with a presentation about how Google works together with game developers, wants to help them and options for products, services & startups.

Mandy Waite will close with a look at what's required to provide real-time updates between users and players and the various options for implementing them, all the way from building your own backends to client side coding with Firebase's real-time database.

17.00 Welcoming words by IGDA/Google (5 min) 17.05 Noah Falstein - A Wave of Transmogrification (45 min) 17.50 Robert Nyman - Developers in the Nordics & how Google thinks (15 min) 18.05 Mandy Waite - Taking the pain out of real-time backend development (40 min) 18.45 Closing words & transition to gathering (15 min)

IGDA Finland Seminars are continuing education events for IGDA visitors and offer a chance to network with industry leaders and veterans.

Registration: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/igda-finland-seminars-evolving-into-the-future-sponsored-by-google-tickets-16413743950