lunes, 28 de julio de 2014

Gamepolis 2014: An Overview

Hi all!

As promised, I'm eager to share with you my experience during Gamepolis 2014, the second edition of this videogames festival held in Malaga from last Friday to Sunday. 

As last year, I arrived on Friday afternoon due to work, so I missed some of the morning talks. As I set foot on the entrance, I saw some Disney Princesses around (ok, not so videogames oriented, but quite of a surprise anyway).

Disney princesses; probably colluding against their princes... or no 

Then I walked around the stands in order to cover myself with the spirit of the festival. Graphics cards brands were presenting their last products, people gathered around games, like FIFA 2014 and Mario Kart 8, and shops were showcasing some very interesting and geeky products. 

People walking around the place. The surface of the event was bigger and clearer than in the previous edition. This allowed for a a clearer space. 

Gigabyte and Nvidia presenting their last products.

People gathered to play FIFA 2014 and Mario Kart 8. 
Tournaments for these and other games were also organized.

Geeky T-Shirts and videogames products were sold in the shops.

The first afternoon session was about legal issues to take into account before and after developing a game, including raising funds and protecting the product. I couldn't attend this one though because I arrived later (thanks Oliver for your notes).

The first session I actually attended was about the importance of music in videogames, where the speaker pointed out that the audio must adapt itself to the player, and that it should know its place in the game as a whole, not wanting to show off over the rest of the game. 

 While the session about music in videogames started, Pong was exhibited

After this talk, I decided I would walk around a bit more, and that's when I found a magical corner where all wishes come true: the retro area. There, old tiles would bring joy to all types of players: from the oldest ones to the youngest kids. 

The retro area was fantastic, as in the previous edition. 
Do you recognize the games in this pictures?

Then, I went back to the auditorium to enjoy the talk "Indie: origins and revolution", where the speaker provided an overview of some of the most relevant games in the indie scenario. The author also pointed out the importance of addressing game reviews rigorously and with actual insight, as it is done in his high quality magazine Deus Ex Machina.  

As examples of relevant indie games we find World of Goo and The Binding of Isaac.

Saturday morning started with tons of people lining up to buy their tickets. Fortunately, I had already bought a 3-days pass by Internet. 

Long queue on Saturday morning. 

I also took advantage of this great audience to advertise Chubby Buddy. For this purpose, Manuela designed an eye-catching flyer and we handed them out.

Yeahh! Our dear chubby friend was also in the conference. Some people (including bloggers and press staff) were actually interested and asked us about it

People tried to get pictures with their favorite game characters, including Altair or the scary Slenderman. 

As in the previous edition, people have made a great effort to look like their games counterparts. 
Do you recognize them all?

The first session in the morning presented a game that is being developed by Brainside, a Spanish game company based in Sevilla. The game is Embrion, which was already in last year edition. Last year, the developers presented a sensor that could be attached to the player in order to measure heartbeat and change the gameplay accordingly. This idea by its own is fantastic, but now they also revealed that they're using Oculus Rift to gain a bigger immersion. I didn't have the chance to try it, but I presume that the experience must be really frightening (actually, as a curiosity, the team mentioned that one person who was trying the game didn't have the courage to go beyond the first room of the game). 

By the stand of Brainside, people would line up to try Oculus Rift in Embrion

The next talk was about the presentation of a book and a new publisher: "Ediciones Arcade", which promises to bring from abroad and translate the best books on videogames. As as first notice, they announced that they would publish "La Legende Final Fantasy VII", a special edition for collector book that was not available in Spanish. 

Presention of Embrion

Next session I attended was "From videogames to gamification", where the speakers discussed the foundations of gamification and how it can boost productivity in boring tasks and at the workplace. They showed how big companies such as Coca-cola have understood the importance of gamification  as as marketing strategy.

Speakers during the gamification talk

Next session was: "Hidden treasures of MSX". The speaker, Gaby López, who was also in the last edition, revealed lost of curious games for MSX and MSX2. A funny part of this talk covered some erotic games that, contrary to what one may think, had a great quality.

MSX had lots of curious titles, but the erotic ones deserve a special mention... 

The first talk of the last day (Sunday) was a presentation of Bitton, a game-making company. In addition to presenting their last products, the speaker also reflected on marketing issues important to gain some audience in a competitive market such as the mobile one. 

Bitton presentation. Note the second picture: we employ around 3000 millions of hours per week playing online games... Awesome!

The name of the next talk was: "Metal Gear Solid: When Hideo Kojima met the movie industry". The speaker showed some of the films that inspired Kojima while creating this super mega saga. The speaker also presented his book: "Metal Gear Solid: The Legacy of Big Boss", which of course I bought :)

Me in the possession of this amazing book. Preparing myself for MGS5...

Next talk was about artificial intelligence in videogames, and the speakers, researches at University of Malaga, provided an overview on procedural contents generation and on the need for "artificial stupidity". This last term refers to human-like (error-prone) behaviour for bots, which is necessary in order to provide a more engaging and realistic experience.

Researches from University of Malaga talking about artificial intelligence

The final presentation was actually very special, and probably the most original presentation I've ever seen, because the flow of the presentation was driven by a game itself. The speaker, Locomalito, was playing a side- and top-down perspective game he had developed (very much like the first 8-bit Zelda adventures), and the issues on game development that he was discussing were intertwined with events in the game. For example, typical stumbling blocks (like lack of skills at the beginning) were represented like final bosses. 

A game-based presentation. Yes... I'll have to do this at some point :)

As a conclusion, my experience in Gamepolis has been rewarding: not only the atmosphere was great, but I also met people with the same interests. Last year, I suggested some improvements that can still be implemented for next year, so I'll copy-paste them: 

"There should be some more technical workshops or meetings where developers and artists could interact in order to open the possibilities of forming potential development teams. [...]. Please, free WiFi! I would've loved to comment the talks on this blog with my laptop while being there, but I could only do it by Twitter using my data plan".

I would like to specially suggest the organization committee to make an effort and try to bring some important international celebrity in the area of indie game development. I think designers and developers would love to be able to talk to Jonathan Blow, Derek Yu, Edmund McMillen and the like.

That's all, see you soon!

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