I attended my first IGDA SF meeting last night at the Art Institute (I have a friend that works there too). The meeting centered on a discussion of the newly released whitepaper by the Online Games Committee. John Welch of Shockwave.com, Dave Rohrl of EA Online, Margaret Wallace of Skunk Studios, and Mark DeLoura of Sony formed the evenings panel with Jennifer Olsen (editor-in-chief of Game Developer Magazine) moderating.
I was very impressed by Dave, who I felt did an excellent job of presenting his perspective on online gaming and he was just a fun speaker. I finally met Liz Wakefield in person (after a few emails back and forth)–she chairs the chapter and serves as the operations manager for the IGDA. I spoke to her at Buzz9 afterwards and learned that she majored in English and sorta fell into the role through her job at CMP. But shes still a big gamer. :) She was there with Susan from the GDC–shes got her hands full preparing for GDC 2004 these days.
I had this great discussion with Bill Swartz, Simon (the audio guy…didnt catch his last name), and a couple others. We talked about what makes a good or a bad producer. Opinions differed by role (some people who havent worn the hat think a good one is hands off, for example), but Bill seemed to win everyone over with the idea that a good producer lays down the law when he needs to, is a strong leader, but gets out of the way when things are on track. Sounds like overlap between biz production and game production to me. :) Bill also made some good points on why EA is cool, and LucasArt (of which I’m a fan) has really not capitalized well on its opportunities. Once again I seem to have no problem bumping into EA fans.
But I havent told you much about the presentation yet, I’m already at the beer part of the evening. I’ll leave you with some tidbits:
- 60 minutes of game play seems to be the maximum it should take to entice a player to upgrade to a paying, enhanced version of the game
- But a web or downloaded game must be fun within the first 60 seconds of play because the player is not very invested (i.e. he didnt pay $50) and is unlikely to spend a lot of time trying to find the fun
- Sony has shipped 1 million online adapters for the PS/2, but its a cost-center right now. They havent tried to make money on it yet, its a blind investment–they are laying foundation.
- It costs between $50k and $150k to make your average web or downloadable (non-CD) game, so it affords greater experimentation. The budget is in some cases a reflection of bandwidth constraints on the size of the game–it just doesnt make sense to spend $2m on a 2mb game. The Torque engine is an up-and-comer. Its being sold for $100 by some rich dude who wants to give indies a better chance and hes got the money to sell this $50k tool for $100. It was the only game engine anyone mentioned without rolling their eyes.
- I’m told I will be bumping into IgnitedMinds a lot for some reason. Hmm.
Updated on October 6th, 2013
Some of the links were broken. I replaced them with working links to pages with the same or similar content as before.