lunes, 15 de julio de 2013

Gamepolis: Friday

Hi all!

As I told you, this weekend I attended Gamepolis, a videogames event organized in Malaga, and I want to share my experiences during my presence there. In this post, I'll share my impression during the first day: Friday the 12th.

 Figure 1. As soon as I arrived, I lined up to participate in a XBox 360 raffle

Even though the first presentations took place during the Friday morning, due to work I could only attend from 4.00 p.m. The first presentation was named 'Proprietary vs. Commercial Engines' by Gonzalo de Santos from Bravo Games Studio. The talk was basically an analysis of the pros and cons of using a proprietary, in-house made engine vs. using a commercial engine (e.g. Unity3D or UDK). This is an interesting issue and has to do with some stuff I already discussed in one of my first posts: how much abstraction do you need? I'll always advocate to use a high abstraction for those who are beginning or has a poor programming background. In these cases, going for a commercial, already-built engine seems to be the most reasonable approach. Creating a game engine from scratch is a daunting task that can keep people away from trying to make their first games, which is a very bad scenario. It can be a rich experience in terms of learning, but in general, I'd never suggest anyone to try it if there's no prior experience in making several games. Also, the level of abstraction that you may feel comfortable with might be different from the level of abstraction I feel comfortable with. You have to find the adequate balance. As I already commented in my case, I feel confident enough to go for a C++ programming environment even though I prefer to abstract away from lower-level technologies for the moment, such as OpenGL. This is why I use a multimedia library such as SFML. However, if you don't have programming experience, GameMaker will be a better (and as valid) idea for you to start off.

Coming back to the talk, a proprietary engine boosts the machine you're developing for, achieving the maximum possible optimization and performance for that specific platform. Also, you're in control as you don't depend on another company to fix bugs or to add new features. On the downside, as I just mentioned, it is a complex task where testing and debugging are specially hard, as you must make sure that any new feature added doesn't interfere with existing features. Also, one advantage of commercial engines is that they're usually well documented and have a community that supports it and willing to help you out.

The next talk was given by Paco Pérez, an experienced person in the industry, and the name of it was 'Games industry: present and future'. This talk was really nice, because the speaker yielded many objective and crossed numbers which provide insight on the workings of this industry. Among other issues, we saw with numbers that the biggest markets (with a huge difference) are EE.UU and Japan, and within the European ones, the UK. Also, the speaker envisions that the next-gen battle will be won by XBox One, as Microsoft has been growing faster than Sony in the console world thanks to XBox360, and also because Microsoft is a bigger and more consolidated company than Sony.

Figure 2. Games market data for different countries. C'mon Spain, you have to rise up!

More interesting data. The net income for every sold game for a company is around 18 € (out of 65 € that costs that game) if we subtract taxes, distributor discounts, platform royalties (what you have to pay to develop for a platform like PS4), and marketing costs. In his opinion, the business model is too expensive and must be changed.

Figure 3. More nice data about the evolution of each platform. XBox has been a great winner as it has grown really fast compared to PS3

The average player is 35 years old and can afford between two and three games a year. 55% of gamers are men, and there has been (especially thanks to Wii and NintendoDS) a growing market around women. In Europe, the countries where people play the most are UK, Sweden and Finland, whereas Spain and Portugal lead the countries with less players.

Relating this talk with previous one, Paco Pérez firmly stated how important is for a company to have a product, a technology (e.g. an engine), because this provides an added value that is highly appreciated, specially outside Spain.

The last talk I attended was called: 'Express Game Development', by two guys from Melee Studios (one of them is called Juan Francisco Campo; the other one I don't remember right now, sorry). They basically showed how quickly you can create a full-fledged 3D game using Unity3D, a game engine that provides support for most of the phases in the game creation: level editing, physics, audio and music, etc. Coming back to our initial discussion, it seems to be a promising option for those who are starting. However, if you want to create more interesting effects and gameplay, coding is still required. However, as I could see, the coding is made simple by means of scripts that are attached to each object in the screen. Basically, each object has an associated script with several methods you have to override, such as start() or update() methods that are called when the object is created and when is updated respectively.

The outcome of the talk, as you can see in Figure 4, was a quite fun 2 players war tank game.

Figure 4. A 2-players war tank game made in 1 hour more or less (yes, the assets such as the tank or the terrain were already built)

In this post I have summarized the first day in Gamepolis. I don't have more time right now, but in the next post I'll cover the rest of days of the event with more nice pictures.

See you!

Edit: in this post, you can check the summary of Saturday at Gamepolis.

2 comentarios:

  1. Post muy interesante :). Yo no fui el viernes pero si lo hice el sábado y estuve en un conferencia sobre IA que me gustó bastante. Ah, soy Andrés, el novio de Isa.

  2. Me alegro de que te haya gustado :) Sí, yo también estuve en la de IA (incluso hice una preguntilla sobre algoritmos evolutivos y machine learning). Las conferencias en general me gustaron, y seguiré contando más sobre ellas en futuras entradas. ¡Un saludo y otro para Isa! :)