Frequent Conference visitor, newbie at PAX…


I thought I pretty much knew what to expect at my first PAX. After all, I’ve been visiting game conferences for almost 10 years by now. How different could this one be? Well, let’s start at the beginning.

PAX Dev.
Two days of lectures and panels from developers for developers. I expected the usual kind of talks about app store ranking, monetisation, etc etc. Boy was I wrong. PAX Dev is a blackbox-event. This means that everyone agrees that no one will tweet or post or publish any lecture content in any way. Do we sign an NDA for this? No. It’s all based on trust. And here’s where the event starts to feel different already.

A few hundred of us gather in the big lecture room to listen in awe to Elan Lee’s kickoff keynote about Exploding Kittens and their rocky ride of becoming the most backed Kickstarter project ever. An incredibly inspirational talk to start the conference.

In between 2 packed days of lectures there are short coffee breaks where at first it feels hard to network. Usually I see plenty of familiar faces at conferences, but I don’t know anyone here. How do I start talking to people? And then someone walks up to me and says “Hi! How are you?” Oh, right. That’s how you start a conversation. I get reminded that everyone here is attending to learn, to be inspired, to share knowledge, and to share the passion for our industry. I don’t feel like an outsider anymore.

The rest of the days I attend talks from the people over at Kickstarter, Amazon and Google Play. Where else do you find people from these massively important platforms willing to share their data? Not many take-aways from a black-box event that I can share, but I can share one.

Ty Taylor, the creator of Tumblestone, talked about his automated level generator and how he designed it. He pointed out specifically that all this info is ok to share.

We conclude PAX Dev with a closing keynote by Raph Koster about Game Grammer. This is not a good time to zone out after a long day full of lectures. Raph drills down to the core of game design within a 1-hour talk. My head is spinning and I feel like I have to rethink all my game ideas. By the way, I highly recommend his book “A Theory of Fun”.

Next day. The real deal. PAX Prime!
A 4-day consumer event for gamers. With a few years of Gamescom experience I feel like I know what to expect. Big crowds of gamers, long lines for the most exciting upcoming releases, a loud show floor, and standing in line for lunch behind Link and Zelda.

A few points where PAX turned out to be different:
  1. Not just computer games. The event offers a nice balance between online and offline. The popularity of card games, tabletop RPG’s and board games is on the rise again. Magic: The Gathering had it’s own dedicated conference hall across the street, Pathfinder was being played by hundreds of people at the same time, and there were plenty of opportunities to just sit down and with strangers and play even stranger board games together. The new definition of social gaming, perhaps? ;)
  2. Lectures are well attended. Spread out over different lectures halls in the building, and even at different locations in the city. Developers talked about the process of how their game was made, professional gamers shared their experience, introduction talks to the game industry, the history of games, the future of games, games, games, games! Indeed, no lack of love for our industry here!
  3. Big publishers don’t rule the show. At Gamescom it’s quite normal to see 8-hour lines of people who hope to get a 10-minute gameplay demo of the next upcoming blockbuster. At PAX, those lines were relatively short. Also, at Gamescom the indie area always seems quite abandoned in a corner. At PAX, the Indie MEGAbooth and the PAX 10 were buzzing!

My personal favourites?
Well, I just downloaded Armello on Steam; a stunningly beautiful RPG/boardgame game by the Australian developer League of Geeks. For someone who grew up loving the Redwall books, this game ticks all the right boxes for me.

On a more realistic note is ECO, developed by StrangeLoopGames. A complex world builder based on community driven rules. I’m not only looking forward to this as a game but also as a social experiment, since users have to vote on laws and restrictions regarding hunting and building expansion for example. Will we treat this virtual world better than our real one? Their Kickstarter is still running!

Unfortunately I had to leave PAX Prime early. Too little time to play all those amazing games. At least I will still be able to check them out online!

It was time to go to the airport. Or wherever I would end up in one of those bad-ass Mad Max Ubers….

FGL game jam #31 with CASH prizes. Enhance™ LIVE gave away $100 today at 11AM Pacific – August FGL Developer Newsletter

Win $100+ in the next FGL Game Jam, thanks to the generous donation by a friend of indie game developers! Help pick a theme and come join the fun this Friday, August 28th.

Is it possible to put high quality ads into your mobile game in <1 min? Watch us prove it every Wed at 11AM Pacific!

This month on Twitter we held a $100 drawing, talked about mobile monetization with Adam, and more!

We sent a big thank you out on Twitter for July’s Community Leaders, and we just wanted to say it here as well:

THANK YOU!

Congratulations to the Game Jam #30 winners! We had some awesome entries this time based on the ‘Endless’ theme that you selected!

FGL will be at Casual Connect 2015 in San Francisco. Let’s meet! FGL July 2015 Publisher Newsletter

The FGL team will be at Casual Connect in San Francisco on August 11-13. Send us an email at info@fgl.com if you’d like to setup a meeting, or just grab a pint!

Would you be interested in a more viral distribution system? Join the conversation!

We’re still seeing awesome things from our web display ads. Want to improve your revenue? Contact us!

Great prototypes can be made in a weekend. We prove it monthly! Check out our 29th Game Jam winners.

Did you hear about the Game Audio Jam event that we hosted? Check out an awesome interview with the winner!

FGL’s 30th Game Jam starts this Friday. You pick the theme! – FGL July Developer Newsletter

Join us for our 30th Game Jam that runs July 31st – Aug 3rd! This is the first time that we’re letting you pick the themes, so be sure to choose your favorites!

Have you seen our new HTML5 Chat? It’s pretty awesome. Be sure to let us know if you have any trouble!

Congratulations to June’s Community Leaders! Jam winners, forum posters, and game reviewers Join in the fun.

Did you hear about the Game Audio Jam event that we hosted? Check out an awesome interview with the winner!

FGL’s website ad service could triple your ad revenue – FGL June 2015 Publisher Newsletter

 

FGL’s website ad mediation service is off to a great start, sometimes tripling ad revenues for game portals. Learn more about our web ad service, and how to try it on your website.

Great new games are available for license in the marketplace. Check out ZombidleCall of Sword, & BLOCnog.

Did you know we host fun community events every month? Join us June 29th to vote on the best Game Jam entries!

Did you miss out on the lectures at GDC this year? Well no more! Watch them now on our YouTube Channel.

Keep up to date on everything FGL, as well as industry findings. Follow us on Twitter!

 

Game Jam Tutorial – Welcome, New Users!

A lot of new users are visiting FGL to participate in the Game Jam, so FGL_Porter put together a great step-by-step guide to entering your game into the contest.

FGL Game Jam Guide

Step 1 – Create An Account

The first thing you’ll need to do to submit an entry to the jam, is create an FGL account. Signing up for an account will give you access to our marketplace, community forums, chat, and more. The signup process is as simple (essentially just username, email, password), and only takes a few seconds.

 

Step 2 – Upload Your Game

Once you’ve created your account, you can now upload your game. Using the navigation bar, go to My Games > Add New Game, as seen below:

 

 

Complete the basic information (game name, description, etc), and continue on until you see the following screen:

 

 

This is where you’ll determine what exactly it is you’re uploading, be it a .swf, .unity3d file, external HTML5 file, or a native mobile .apk file. Double check you’ve selected the proper file type, and continue onward to the next screen, where you’ll upload your game (or point to an external source if using HTML5):

On the next screen, you’ll be required to upload a thumbnail, which must be 100×100 pixels in size; if you aren’t a great artist, simply take a screenshot of your game and crop something that looks decent! You’ll also have the opportunity to upload screenshots, and a preview video, but these aren’t required.

The next part is important – make sure other developers can play your game!  Your settings might look similar to those below:

 

By default, FGL may try to place your game up for “regular bidding”.  Please make sure to change your game to “My game shouldn’t be for sale at this time” – failure to correctly change this setting may result in disqualification!

 

You’ll see a quick screen that mentions “pre-reviews” – this is a free service FGL offers for new games, and if you’re looking for some in-depth feedback from our staff on any future games, definitely check this out! For now, you can simply leave these settings as they are, and continue onward.

Save your data and you’re all done! You can go back and change your data if needed, otherwise press the beautiful “Save and Finish” button! Congratulations, your game is now in our system!

 

Step 3 – Submit Your Game

Now that you’ve uploaded your game, be sure to actually submit it to the jam!

Visit the jam’s “Entries Thread”, and follow the posting format instructions on how to post your submission (most users simply copy / paste the example text and change the details).

That’s it, you’re in! Be sure to talk about your experience in the jam’s original thread, or stop into our chat to show off and chat about your game to other developers! We hope this guide has helped you find your way around FGL’s game jams, and most of all, we hope you had fun!

 

Website ad mediation service by FGL

If you run a content website, display ads are what keeps your site churning. FGL has made some significant advances in mobile advertising over the last year, specifically with mediating ad networks to get the best possible eCPM; so we’ve recently put similar approaches to work on display ads for websites. What we’ve found is that our ad service is a game changer in most cases, doubling and sometimes tripling ad revenues!

Ad mediation might not be innovative in itself, but our shiny new ad management system, relationships with ad networks, and motivated ad operations team give us the power to streamline this once arduous process. We monitor CPMs, adjust waterfalls and try different ad networks constantly, leaving website owners to focus on content. It’s definitely a big advantage over doing it yourself, especially if you’re making more money!

Without good reporting, you can’t know how well your ads are doing, and since we built this system from the ground up, our reporting displays only the most important data in an easy to understand format. We give the power to quickly monitor revenue, eCPM and impressions on each individual ad tag, for any custom date range. Easily compare us to your previous ad system by giving our ads a try, even on a single ad slot.

How to sign up
In order to offer the very best care of your ads, we’re currently only able to onboard sites that have a minimum of 1MM monthly viewers. We plan to grow out of this restriction, but for now it will allow us to focus on higher quality traffic that our ad networks require. To submit your site for review, please send an email to Adops@fgl.com and please share your domain(s) name, along with any relevant traffic information.

Community Spotlight – MusicIs – Game Audio Winner

FGL Community Spotlight – MusicIs

 

Ariel S. Guez (aka MusicIs) has the singular distinction of being the winner of the first ever FGL Game Audio Jam. He’s produced audio for games the past 5 years as well as being a working multi-instrument performer. His game credits include; Cyber Chaser, Battle of Heroes and Kurechii’s Chicky Duo.

FGL_John had a quick chat about the FGL Game Audio Jam, audio and All things Ariel related, which resulted in this awesome interview. Enjoy!

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Q: First off, congrats on winning the first ever FGL Game Audio Jam!

M: Thanks! I have to admit, I was tensed. Even though I compete almost always with other composers, I can never get the tension out, who got the better fixation according to the clients, or artistically-wise, so I’m happy that was me!

Q: Was it a fun experience overall? Do you like working with tight time parameters and no direction given?

M: Well, I like working in a reasonable deadline. Which in this competition was more than reasonable. In general, I can appreciate the pressure on creativity, but not on the insane level. Sometimes I need a lot of research before I can find what works best and that takes its time.

Overall, definitely had fun with it. The game reminded me a bit of the old Amiga game classic zool2, which is where I also drew my inspiration. So it was going back to the good old days a bit.

It needed a kind of bright music, with a wink toward candy and something that is out-wordly and turning in cycles, that was what was going in mind when i thought about the music

Q: So, is your background in performance? engineering? production? composition? a little of everything?

M: well i’ve been a self taught guitarist at first, doing all sorts of rock-metal stuff, the usual teenager. Later after discovering improvisation I went to study at a jazz school for 3 years, and i’ve been doing jazz gigs ever since. I’m actually a full time musician.

I played with tons of bands in different styles along the years. like pop, rock, bossa nova, funk, punk, indie rock. Just about anything you can come up with.

I also do music for improvisational theater, playing all sorts of instruments. mandolin, percussion, piano, and guitars of course. Performance wise, this experience is the closest thing to real time composing for a certain “feeling” which also really helped me advance in the craft.

Q: So being mostly a performer, do you find it rough to switch hats to producer, engineer, mixer, etc. as all of us indie game audio guys have to do?

M: First, I’m mostly a musician, not a performer. I can be a full time composer for a few months or part time arranger the next, or just the jazz guitarist the next. so there are these hats also!

But those hats you’ve mentioned, oh yes of course. It’s always a challenge. When you are composing you are in a different zone, you have to think about all the aspects of the game and how to materialize them musically, elements, arch-types that works for a theme etc.

Then there is the performance of the composition, which encompasses how you well you can play the composition and choosing templates of different instruments, which is part composing and part performance, and then there is the engineering/mixing part. Which means you have to let your ears rest, before you take decisions about what to strengthen or filter, and most importantly maintain a neutral and fresh perspective over the outcome. when you work on electronic music its much more simpler-performance-wise. but on real acoustic VI(virtual instruments) you really have to know how to play each one, so they would sound good.

What works for me is to try and keep an open mind all time and be criticizing all the time, until you can’t anymore, well that is optimal, but you know what i mean..

Q: haha, yeah, it’s tightrope. Listening to the track, it sounds like all VIs. What gear did you use? (DAW, plug-ins, etc.)

M: You’re right, that is what i like using the most in games. I think it was some of the stronger synths of Kontakt, like Massive and Absynth. I also used an old cubase synth, i think its Monologe. Halion 1 also i believe.

Q: What about the sfx, any particular libraries?

M: Well it is hard to remember, since i use modifications from other projects, and modify them also. But my raw pool is a lot from free-sound.org, and other free resources or my own recordings, very rarely I buy libraries.

Although there was a modification i did to some part of SoundMorph free libraries. they have some cool futuristic sounds there. but my usual process is taking something raw and start adding layers, stretching, filtering etc. I usually have to sketch a few instances, just to warm up before I get something good.

Q: So you mostly work from a custom set of sounds that you created from a preexisting set of sounds?

M: Basically. it goes back a few reincarnations from the original sound. But as a rule I never use the same sfx for the same project, at least not knowingly.

Q: Were there any particular mixing or mastering treatments or tricks you used?

M: Actually there is a known trick perhaps, after you export the track of music. Because of the out-wordly feel of the game, I felt it would be nice to have a really small amount of delay on the whole export. that way, you have everything kind of floating, but really on the back of your head.

Q: So running a delay over the entire mix? That’s interesting.

M: You could do that on all kind of music tracks, I’ve noticed it does wonders, it really smoothens things.

Q: Do you think you bring a certain style to your game audio or do you try to be a chameleon?

M: Hah! That is a Good question

Q: Is having a definable style even important to you?

M: That is a great question. Do you want to be a joker of all trades or master of one?

In film scoring, I already have a more definitive sound that is i think, unique to myself and also in some projects, where i’m requested to really come up with something that has no real reference, that is usually coming up with my own kind of style for that particular game.

I always try to find my own voice, however difficult it is when you have a “too clear” frame of musical context. It really depends on how much time you have to research it. Of course sometimes you can be lucky and come up with something amazing from scratch. but that’s rare.

So, my bottom line is, definitely. That is something i strive for, and I think everyone should, otherwise what’s the point? To be another performer of a cover? Or a clone, etc?

Q: What’s your go-to music to listen to for enjoyment?

M: I enjoy a good deal of avant-garde music, like John Zorn, Frank Zappa, Captain Beef Heart. The usual jazz crusaders, Eric Dolphy, Parker, Bill Evans…

And as much as I can take from classical. love the impressionist period- Stravinsky, Ravel, Debussy and of course Beethoven if you want to be more down to earth.

Film scores are also great, but its more like “how did he go there” instead of really enjoyable listening music.

Q: Any particular genre you enjoy creating more than others for game music?

M: Yes! I love the power of orchestral. It can be less precise when it comes to casual gaming, but it has immense impact when done correctly. I also love the possibilities of orchestration and the textures and all the wonderful stuff you can do with classical music, it also makes room for some powerful melodies.

What i mean by less precise is that in casual games, the more “toy’ish” sound works best.. so if you compose for an orchestra in casual games, you would have a harder time making it cute and cuddly. well at least to me.

Q: How has FGL helped you out?

M: Lots! I think i’ve met here more developers than the usual marketing i do I also enjoy the game feedback forum, tons of new stuff ALL the time.

I’ve worked here with quite a few fgl developers, they were all friendly and communicative, and very responsive in terms of payments etc.

Q: If you could change the audio jam, in any way, how would you change it?

M: Hmm. Perhaps if a developer without audio could hook up with the audio jam, that way the winner could also get a nice gig from it.

As it is, it really can show a wide array of ideas, once more composers will be aware of it.

Q: Will you be entering in the next audio jam?

M: No, I think i will be off the next one, just to see what people can come up with. I think i will be on the one after though.

The audio jam is a very good idea, and I think once the word is spread it will shake us all!

Q: OK, that about does it! Anything else you want to throw in here? Shout-outs, plugs, this is your time!

M: Well, you can hook me up on my website at http://arielguez.com. I’d love to hear about any project you got there. My goal is to make something better of what’s already there. We are all in it together, musicians, developers, publishers, consumers, to make something the best we can do, to justify that we can make something unique, special, and most importantly, fun!

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The next Game Audio Jam is scheduled to start this July 17th, with a couple interesting changes. Hope to see you all then!

Thanks to Ariel for taking the time for this. You can check out more about him and his work at;

https://soundcloud.com/the-j, https://www.facebook.com/ArielGuezComposer or http://arielguez.com


fgl/Playcrafting Game Jam, Twitter, Winners! – June 2015 fgl Newsletter

Spotlighting 2D Heroes

The May Game Jam shares a bit about his efforts as a dev and his winning entry; Speed Dotting!

Learn More…

 

Weekly Twitter Polls

Answer our Twitter poll every Wed for fun and points. Share what you know with the world!

Learn More…

GDC 2015 Now Online

Did you miss out on the lectures at GDC this year? Well no more! Which video do you recommend?

Learn More…

FGL Game Jam FGL Game Audio Jam

 

FGL Community Spotlight – Game Jam winner 2D Heroes!

FGL Community Spotlight – 2D Heroes

In preparation for our big Game Jam with Playcrafting at the end of June, the Community Spotlight returns with the winner of May’s FGL Game Jam, 2D Heroes’ Andrew C Sandifer.  A veteran of the gamedev community, Andrew shared his insight and talked shop with us in a one-on-one interview this week.

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Q: Welcome to the Spotlight, sir!  Introduce yourself for the people watching at home.

2D: My name is Andrew C Sandifer. I run a studio called 2D Heroes.

Q: Tell us a little bit about 2D Heroes.  How many people are in your studio?  Where are you based out of?

2D: It’s myself and my managing partner, Luke. We’re based near Seattle, WA.

Q: First off, congratulations on winning the May Game Jam!  Your game (Speed Dotting) was really impressive, especially considering the time crunch you were under.  Do you have much experience building games in such a short amount of development time?

2D: Thanks! Most of my games are actually built under constraints posed by either a game jam or myself. I really like seeing what I can do with limited resources in a short time frame.

I think the longest I’ve spent on a finished game is still under 3 weeks.

Q: Despite the short dev time you give yourself per game, you’re one of the top earners (and current record holder for number of account renames) on FGL.  You’ve traditionally done well with Flash, but your game entry was made in Unity and I understand you’ve explored other formats as well.  As the earning potential of other markets expand, what formats do you see excelling in the near- and long-term for indie developers?

2D: I’m actually dipping my toes back into Flash after having been away for awhile. I’ve been working on a long-term PC game project for a while now, but I’ve been missing the rush of creating something from start to finish in under a week. I think mobile is and always will be strong for the people who can get their foot in the door, something I’ve been neglecting for far too long.

Q: Let’s talk about your highly addictive 1st place entry “Speed Dotting” for a bit.  What’s next for this game?  What’s your high score, and what’s the highest score you’ve seen anyone get?


2D: I’m actually working on polishing this game up as we speak. We’re going to release on Android early next month to see what happens. My highest score is 21, just shy of Luke’s 22 that he keeps bragging about every chance he gets.

Q: Bah! And here I was proud that I even got to 15!

Got any advice for newer game developers out there?

2D: The best advice I can give is to try to get your game on as many platforms as possible. Most of the new consoles have programs for getting indie developers involved, and with modern engines like Unity, doing so is easier than ever.

 

Q: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us today, Andrew.  How can your legions of new fans contact / support you?

2D: Our website can be found at 2dheroes.com, twitter.com/2dheroes, facebook.com/2DHeroes, twitch.tv/2dheroes, you get the idea. Smile

Q: Easy to remember!  Any shout-outs / thank-you’s before we wrap up?

2D: A quick shout-out to my roommate and fellow independent developer, Robert Busey, for giving me the initial idea for Speed Dotting. The concept I was about to run with was far less addicting. Follow the progress of his Zelda-like, Sword ‘N’ Board, at facebook.com/SwordNBoardGame

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I’d like to thank 2D Heroes for answering our questions and sharing these stories with us. If you have any other questions for Andrew, you can follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/2DHeroes, ‘Like’ him on Facebook at facebook.com/2DHeroes, check out his website at 2dheroes.com or post in the comments below! If you know someone who would be a good candidate for the Community Spotlight, comment below, send a PM to FGL_Brian or send us an email at info@fgl.com.