April Main Event featuring Scott Drader from Metalhead Games

Scott Drader inventing new "-mortem" talks so you don't have to.

Scott Drader: inventing new “-mortem” talks so you don’t have to.

Hi everyone! Chris here. I want to take a minute to tell you about our next monthly meet-up at Swans. This month’s feature presenter is Scott Drader. Scott co-founded Metalhead Software, a local game and software development studio, in 2009. Last year he came out to give a “pre-mortem” talk about the game that Metalhead had been putting in long hours to finish, Super Mega Baseball (formerly known as Big Fly Baseball). Now, after the recent release of Super Mega Baseball, Scott is triumphantly returning to give a “mid-mortem” talk, where he will be talking about the stress, exhilaration, and lessons learned in shipping Metalhead’s first title. This will be an event that you won’t want to miss!

After the talk we will be holding the usual open stage and social time. We have a private room with a projector and a ton of space. Show off your current projects; do some play-testing; or just relax and enjoy the awesome local food and craft-brewed beer.

Schedule:

  • 4:30pm: Doors open (room is locked earlier)
  • 5:10pm: Opening announcements by group organizers
  • 5:15pm: Featured presentation
  • 5:45pm: Open stage for show-and-tell, networking and socializing
  • 7:30pm: Venue closes (We are free to move to the main bar if we wish)

See you there!

Details:

Monday, April 6th, 2015

Buckerfields aka The Collard Room – Swans Hotel and Brewpub

506 Pandora Avenue, Victoria, BC

Doors open at 4:30pm

Please RSVP via the Meetup event

Posted in Meetings, Presentations | Tagged , , , , , ,

The Main Event featuring Brian Dempsey & the Victoria GGJ team.

Hi folks! Hope your Xmas/Solstice/Hannukah/Festivus hols are chugging along pleasantly! Scott here, with a reminder that 2015 rapidly approaches, and that means our monthly meeting for the January. Our venue, Swan’s, is hosting another event on our usual Monday evening, so please be aware that we are moving the Main Event into the future by 24 hours! The January meetup will be taking place on Tuesday, January 6th.

BryanDempseyThis month’s feature presenter is Bryan Dempsey, whose background and interests include electronics, jazz vocals, rhythm guitar, MIDI music, motion-capture, adult education and 3D simulations. Bryan’s studied multimedia production and programming for Virtual Reality applications at NBCC-Miramichi; co-developed a 3D simulator to teach industrial equipment procedures for ID Group-Montreal; developed a 3D simulator to remotely-control smart-home devices for Horizon Technologies here in Victoria.

Bryan will be demonstrating a 3D Rhythm Guitar Trainer simulation that he’s developed. This simulation is designed to provide a rhythm guitar student with a 3D avatar teacher that can demonstrate how play a sequence of chords on a 3D guitar. Chords and rhythm styles are selected by the user and entered into a lead sheet, and the simulator then uses the chord information and rhythm style rules to play the chord sequence. Bryan will also be speaking about the next steps he’ll be taking into accurate, affordable motion capture for his trainer (using ControlVR) which will…

  • quickly and accurately determine the guitar chord hand shapes for the chord database
  • stream guitar lessons (real-time, 2-way, 3D guitar playing) to/with one or more, on-line guitar students
  • record guitar lessons (or stand-alone performances) with synchronized Mo-Cap, MIDI guitar, and voice data.

There will also be a short talk from Nathan Hessman of the UVic Game Development group. Nathan will be taking on the task of organizing the GGJ this year in partnership with IGDA Victoria.

We have a private room with a projector and a ton of space. Show off your current projects; do some play-testing; or just relax and enjoy the awesome local food and craft-brewed beer.

Schedule:

  • 4:30pm: Doors open (room is locked earlier)
  • 5:10pm: Opening announcements by group organizers
  • 5:15pm: Featured presentation
  • 5:45pm: Open stage for show-and-tell, networking and socializing
  • 7:30pm: Venue closes (We are free to move to the main bar if we wish)

See you there!

Details:

Tuesday, January 6th (Please note: this is not our regular meet-up night, but Swans is hosting another event on Monday)

Buckerfields aka The Collard Room – Swans Hotel and Brewpub

506 Pandora Avenue, Victoria, BC

Doors open at 4:30pm

Please RSVP via the Meetup event

Posted in Events, Meetings, Presentations | Tagged , , ,

LevelUp-IGDA Xmas Party… with Boardgames

Hello! Scott Jones here. Yes, I’m new. Hi. Chris has brought me on to help out a bit and I am completely chuffed to have as one of my first duties the announcement of our Christmas Party. I mean, that’s as fantastic a way to introduce myself as any! “Hello! There’s a party! I’m inviting you! You should totally come.”

YES. CHRISTMAS.

It’s coming. You think you can stop it? You can’t. Better grinches have tried, man. (There’s a documentary about it.) And, really, why would you? So, whether you enjoy a mild celebratory season of family reconnection and quiet reflection upon the passing year … or jingle-balls-out Saturnalian madness with fellow revelers, there is surely a place in your nog-soaked heart for that enjoyed-year-round activity that nevertheless takes on an extra sheen of awesome during the holidays… BOARD GAMES.

To that end, please join us for exactly that on Monday 1 December at Victoria’s only all-boardgames-alla-time cafe and Santa Approved Fun Zone*: the Interactivity Boardgame Cafe on Yates. We’ve reserved the back half of the cafe from 7pm til close: that’s an available 35 seats, so please RSVP at the Meetup Event (linked below) and should your plans change, do let us know in good time. Yes, there will be snacks provided, and you can of course wet your wassailin’ whistle by purchasing beverages from our gracious host. And it’s an all-ages event, so bring ankle-biters if you’ve got some to bring!

the Pertinent Deets

Monday, December 1

Interactivity Boardgames Cafe
in beautiful downtown YYJ
723 Yates Street (corner block of Yates & Douglas)

Doors open at 7:00pm and we can stay until closing

Please RSVP via the Meetup event: LevelUp-IGDA Non-Denominational Holiday Extravaganza

*NOTE: we know that Krampusnacht is a mere 5 days away from this party and of course that’s super-exciting for a lot of us, BUT we’ve been informed that the Cafe is in fact a Krampus-Free Zone during this week, sadly. (Yes, it’s a little discriminatory, but whaddaya gonna do?) So, please leave your willow switches and rough burlap sacks full of sinful children at home. Thank you and Happy Holidays! (Sorry, Krampus! Next year, dude!)

Krampus-5-675x400

Posted in Events, Meetings | Tagged , , , ,

October Monthly Meeting featuring Graham Stark from LoadingReadyRun

We're not here to judge.

Remember, we’re not here to judge.

This is a reminder of our monthly meeting for October taking place on Monday, October 6th. This month’s feature guest is Graham Stark from LoadingReadyRun!

Graham is the co-founder of LoadingReadyRun, one of the internet’s longest running and most beloved video content foundries. He has worked as a producer, director, writer and editor for clients including Penny Arcade, Cards Against Humanity, Wizards of the Coast and The Escapist. On top of all that, Graham is also one of the organizers of Desert Bus for Hope, one of the most successful online charity fundraisers in the world. In the two to three minutes of spare time he has a day, he enjoys sleeping, video games and his cats. He can be found on Twitter at @Graham_LRR and on Twitch. He’ll be joining us for a fireside chat and discussing his projects, the importance of public engagement and how to manage a businesses’ social profile, along with much fun and frivolity!

Also, we’re hoping that all you folks who made games at this year’s OrcaJam will bring them along to share with the rest of the group, especially those poor saps who weren’t able to make it to the game jam themselves.

We have a private room with a projector and a ton of space. Show off your current projects; do some play-testing; or just relax and enjoy the awesome local food and craft-brewed beer.

Schedule:

  • 4:30 pm: Doors open (room is locked earlier)
  • 5:10 pm: Opening announcements by group organizers
  • 5:15 pm: Featured presentation
  • 6:00 pm: Open stage for show-and-tell, networking and socializing
  • 7:30 pm: Venue closes (We are free to move to the main bar if we wish)

See you there!

Details:

Monday, October 6th

The Collard Room – Swans Hotel and Brewpub

506 Pandora Avenue, Victoria, BC

Doors open at 4:30pm

Please RSVP via the Meetup event: The Main Event

Posted in Meetings, Presentations | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Dylan’s Excellent IGDA E3 Scholarship Adventure

[Editor: This is a guest post from IGDA Victoria volunteer and UVic student Dylan Gedig who went to E3 in Los Angeles this past June as one of the winners of the IGDA E3 Scholarship. Way to go, Dylan!]

The IGDA E3 Scholarship trip was one of the coolest trips I have ever taken in my life, and certainly the most relevant to my career. I would highly recommend the IGDA Scholarship program to any students that want to get into the game industry. The application process was simple, and it was a great way to get involved with the IGDA on a more global scale.

For me, E3 started on Saturday, when I arrived in LA and got to meet some of the other scholars at the condo we would be sharing for a week. It was great having a group of like-minded people to hang out and travel to and from events with, and made the rest of the week that much better.

The event officially kicked off on Monday, where we had a lunch meeting with the scholars and the IGDA members that organized the event. We took care of official business and got to know everyone we would be spending the week with, all while watching the E3 press releases. That night we had the chance to attend an LA Video Game Supper Club event, which is a quarterly event organized by members of the LA game industry, for industry members to meet up in a casual environment. It was an excellent opportunity to meet everyone who was in LA for E3 and chatting over the course of a dinner was very enjoyable.E3-Titanfall

The next day we had a Q&A period with Justin Berenbaum, who has worked in the publishing side of the industry for many years. He had some great advice for the scholars, particularly about the specific things a publisher looks for when being approached with a game. His main advice for us was to finish several projects while we were in school, as the main thing he looks at as a publisher is previous completed projects. He also recommended to keep track of time and budget commitments for a game, saying that it looks good to have proof that you can stick to a budget, be it money or time. One quote that stuck with me particularly was “The hardest thing to do in this industry is finish a project.”

E3 Sign

After the Q&A, we were free to roam the show floor and check out whatever we wanted. I took this opportunity to meet my mentor, Alex Seropian, for the first time. He introduced me to some of his other team members and industry friends, and offered me advice on various things in the game industry, answering every question I thought to ask. We talked mainly about the differences between working at big companies and small, and what it takes to start your own studio. Alex provided an interesting point of view, saying that to start and run a studio took a wide range of skills and interests. He recommended that if someone just wanted to program then they should go work for a larger company where they would be able to program for 8 hours a day and leave the other responsibilities to other people.

EVOLVE

After parting ways with Alex, there were several booth tours on the show floor that had been set up for us. The first was the Disney tour, where we were taken around and got to play the new games that they were showing off. Afterwards was the Bungie booth tour. This one was especially neat because we were allowed on the show floor after hours, and got to hang around with the Bungie team for quite a while. It was an awesome opportunity to talk about specific aspects of the game and the techniques they used to create them. After that, most of the Scholars decided to attend one of the Pocket Gamer mixers, which was another great chance to chat with people in a casual setting.

Video Game History Museum

We started Wednesday with a series of tours, going from Sony to the Video Game History Museum to Oculus to Ubisoft. We got to see a bunch of cool stuff and had very helpful people showing us around at each booth. My favourite moment from these tours was getting to talk to the lead level designer of Far Cry 4, and discussing how to apply level design practices to an open world environment. He stressed that for Far Cry 3 and Far Cry 4 he put a lot of importance on making the side quests and collectibles tie in very closely with the game world and the story. This was to prevent it from being too jarring moving from the main story to side quests and back, and for maintaining a consistent atmosphere.
After the series of tours, we all VGHM-Pacmanheaded to the IGDA mixer, which was great for meeting people from around the world, and it was fun to meet IGDA members beyond our local Victoria chapter.

VGHM-Atari


On Thursday we had a Bethesda booth tour, where we got to play their upcoming new games. The team that was there to run the booth was incredibly friendly and very excited about the scholars program. They were awesome about discussing design decisions with the games and providing gameplay tips while we played. For the rest of the day we had free rein to check out whatever we wanted. I took this time to talk to the Star Citizen team, check out the Civilization: Beyond Earth Demo, and catch a Witcher 3 presentation. Near the show floor close time we were all summoned back to the IGDA booth, where we were to meet with Chris Jurney, who had worked with SuperGiant Games on both Bastion and Transistor. He talked to us candidly about how he got into the industry and about the different AI work and research he had done. One of the interesting parts of our talk was Chris was about how small the industry is, and how you can become one of the leading experts in a field if you dedicate yourself to it for a few years.

E3-Hallway

Friday brought studio tour day, starting with a trip to EALA. There we met devs from several different fields, who had prepared talks and took numerous questions. They demonstrated some of the tech they were working on, which was awesome seeing things both in and out of my field. After they gave us free rein in the EA store, we were on our way to Insomniac. While there, we had a round table discussion with several members of the Insomniac team. We had conversations about portfolios, engine architecture, project management, narrative design, and more.

Then it was time to return the van and say goodbye to the Scholars. By the end of the week, I had asked every question I could possibly think of. I had so many thoughtful conversations with so many people, that I was ready to just digest and think about everything. Some of the main topics that came up again and again were the fact that the industry is very small, and that working on and finishing side projects is incredibly important, especially for students.The event gave me a clear path forward and helped me get into the game development community at large. It was definitely life-changing, and I’m so glad I was given this opportunity.

I want to end this post with a thank you to all of the IGDA members who made this incredible experience possible, especially Luke Dicken and Molly Proffitt. It was an amazing week and I appreciate all the time and effort that went into making it everything it turned out to be.

Posted in Events, General | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Fundamental Game Launch Marketing with Clive Gorman

At LevelUp’s last Main Event meetup on June 2nd 2014, Clive Gorman came to talk to us about marketing for start-ups. Clive is a very experienced multi-disciplined video-games marketing and product management professional with more than 17 years working in the technology and video-games industry. He is currently the product marketing manager responsible for marketing strategy, implementation and product management at TinyMob Games.

Based on Clive’s talk, we’ve compiled these handy tips to assist with marketing your own games both before and after launch.

Core Metrics

The core metrics for any release are:

  • Acquisition – how many users are you acquiring  and how quickly?
  • Retention – how long do those users stick around?
  • Monetization – how much money are you making per user?

To achieve your goals in each of those metrics, research is key. Know your audience, know your competitors. Appeal to your audience and differentiate your game & company from your competitors. There are many free sources of data that can help you out, for example NewZoo and Quora.

The next step is to apply your research to your branding.

Branding

  • Discovery and differentiation – how do people find out about you, and what makes you different?
  • Brand interrogation – ask yourself the tough questions about your brand – does it express what you want it to?
  • Positioning – where does your company fit?
  • Vision, mission, values – how does your brand show these off?
  • Logo and identity – your logo needs to fit with what your brand is trying to express
  • Sound – an often underrated part of branding
  • Personality – all the parts of your brand need to express a coherent personality.

Part of what your branding needs to do is give journalists a reason to talk about your game.

App Store

  • Test your game name and icon. These need to grab attention as soon as you see them in the app store.
  • Crowd-source options for metric based optimization, include AdMob and CrowdPicker.
  • Optimize text length for a very small space. App Store description shown ‘above the fold’ is very short, you need to use it effectively.
  • Have screenshots with a consumer proposition.
  • First screenshot is key feature – on the iPhone you only see one by default so it *must* be good.

Website

  • Needs to be responsive on mobile – lots of traffic comes in that way
  • Talk about features in-depth – for example, TinyMob uses the website to explain their Warbands feature in-depth
  • Optimize loading times – don’t frustrate potential users
  • Gifs! Use sparingly but use them if motion will help explain a concept
  • Have a press page with assets – don’t make busy journalists hunt for these
  • Search engine optimization
  • If you can, hire an expert
  • Use your keywords in your website copy in a narrative way

PR

  • Do press-releases/announcements for milestones in your project – beginning of project, alpha, beta, full release, etc.
  • Focus on key media – If your game is a Pocket Gamer style game, don’t go to Engadget for coverage.
  • Use Twitter to generate leads – get to know people on Twitter in an organic way long before you have something to sell them. Then when you have a game to tell them about, you already have a relationship that gives them a reason to care about your game.
  • Leverage new media: YouTube, Twitch
  • Direct submission or games PR news-wire – many websites let you submit news directly.
  • Games Press – you can use the service for free but with no guarantee of getting on the page, or for around £90 a month (depending on this size of your company and the number of assets you want to submit) you can add your assets directly to their site and have a link to them in the daily digest email
  • Create a press kit – use Dropbox or Google Drive

Social media

  • Use Hootsuite or similar service to schedule tweets, g+ posts, Facebook posts.
  • Tweet every 20 minutes or so at most.
  • No more than 3 Facebook posts a day.
  • Images work better than text or video.
  • Use hash-tags to help people discover you – if you’re tweeting about Clash of Clans, use their hash-tag!
  • Blog on tumblr too

Email

  • Free marketing – MailChimp is free for up to 2000 subscribers.
  • Great way to build a community.
  • Monetizes really well – if someone has bothered to give you their email address, they’re really interested in your game.

Pricing

F2P vs premium

  • For small projects, premium is probably better. Many journalists and publications are turned off by free-to-play. Have a small upfront cost and potentially some DLC later.

Merchandising

  • Virtual product still needs to be appealing even it’s not a physical product. Think about how you’d present your game or service as if it were in a store.

Sales and promotions

  • More value for same price does better than discounts
  • Tie sales to your game’s theme – for example, tell players the trade caravans arrived early instead of a bland ‘bonus 50 widgets’ message.

Q & A

Q: Are trade shows worth it?

A: They can be pricey, be careful about how many you go to and how much you spend to get there.

Q: Do gifs or embedded YouTube videos perform better on a website?

A: Haven’t analyzed that, but it is hard to get views on your own video. If possible, get on a YouTube show that’s already popular.

Q: Is there anything similar to NewZoo that you recommend?

A: Google caches lots of research studies and papers, Gamasutra can also be helpful. Take any ARPDAU (average revenue per daily active user) and ARPPU (average revenue per paying user) numbers you find online and in news stories with a grain of salt. Clive has never worked for a company that gave away that data.

Q: What should you budget for marketing?

A: At EA, marketing was about 12% of the total production cost for a small project. You should really set aside 25%, but you need to spend that in a very targeted way to be efficient.

Q: How can you advertise a game for kids?

A: Can’t track people who are under 13 – you can advertise to them ‘above the line’ with things like online banner ads or TV media, but you can’t collect data on children for ‘below the line’ marketing such as emails. Try to partner with educational game publications. Kids TV is a great Trojan horse to get around restrictions on advertising to kids. Kids Google a lot – parents will say not to click a banner so they’ll Google it instead.

Q: Should we suck it up and spend 20% of our time doing our own marketing or just pay a reputable firm?

A: I wouldn’t recommend spending unless you have investors or significant revenue coming in. A lot of the time you can manage campaigns using automation.

Q: What are your thoughts on Vine?

A: Vine is a great way to limit how much you show if you’re early in development. TinyMob used it to show off their Warpath feature. Instagram videos may be too long depending on how much you have to show.

Thanks again to Clive for coming to speak with us. If you have any followup questions, Clive can be reached at contactme@clivegorman.com.

Posted in General

June Monthly Meeting with Clive Gorman

Clive Gorman

This is a reminder of our monthly meeting for June taking place on Monday, June 2nd. This month’s feature presenter is Clive Gorman from Tiny Mob Games

Clive is a very experienced multi-disciplined videogames marketing and product management professional with more than 17 years working in the technology and videogames industry. He is currently the product marketing manager responsible for marketing strategy, implementation and product management at TinyMob Games.

We have a private room with a projector and a ton of space. Show off your current projects; do some play-testing; or just relax and enjoy the awesome local food and craft-brewed beer.

Schedule:

  • 4:30pm: Doors open (room is locked earlier)
  • 5:10pm: Opening announcements by group organizers
  • 5:15pm: Featured presentation
  • 5:45pm: Open stage for show-and-tell, networking and socializing
  • 7:30pm: Venue closes (We are free to move to the main bar if we wish)

See you there!

Details:

Monday, June 2nd

The Collard Room – Swans Hotel and Brewpub

506 Pandora Avenue, Victoria, BC

Doors open at 4:30pm

Please RSVP via the Meetup event: The Main Event

Posted in General