The everyday blog of Richard Bartle.
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3:39pm on Tuesday, 15th April, 2014:
My talk at Gamefounders seemed to go well, but at 90 minutes I think I rambled on too much — it needed to be tighter. I'll upload it onto my web site once I'm back in the UK.
The talk was in the morning; the afternoon was spent "mentoring".
So, GameFounders is basically an organisation that takes teams of game developers and turns them into teams of game producers. External speakers come along and talk to them for half an hour or so per team, a process known as mentoring. I soon realised that the teams already know how to make games; GameFounders helps them make game development companies. Because I was mentoring, I got to speak to the teams; they showed me their wares and I told them what I thought.
Pretty well all of the teams do indeed know how to make games. They have some bona fide designers among them, too. Although I was able to suggest some ideas they could consider for improving their games, or point out some problem areas (mini games that say something different to the main game, for example), on the whole I wasn't going to be able to help them transition to becoming designers as they already were designers. Their problems were almost all to do with how to get people to play their games and, having done so, how to get money from them. Most of the designers (there were exceptions) weren't keen on compromising their gameplay for free-to-play, but recognised that if they didn't they wouldn't make any money from their efforts. This was the source of much angst, and I couldn't really help them: in today's climate, they would probably have to charge for things they really didn't want to charge for. Deciding which to charge for was therefore mainly an exercise in damage limitation.
Some of the games I saw were definitely of professional quality and they did have genuinely interesting gameplay.The team members were enthusiastic and knowledgeable, and many of them had worked in the games industry. If they get the breaks (quite possibly because they've made the breaks for themselves) then they deserve to go far. I don't think any of the teams were weak, and at least three were very, very strong.
This is why I like speaking to new game designers — I get to talk design with people who have something to say.
Maybe I should teach game design in a game design module to game design students on a game design course at a university.
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