Tag Archives: 2011

IGDA Scotland: Edinburgh Meeting Roundup

It’s difficult to describe the most recent IGDA Scotland meeting in Edinburgh without making it sound like some sort of Nordic  house party. There was booze (of course there was booze…)  There were Vikings searching for Peanut Butter (who would have thought) as well as some guy bawling “WHO THE F*** ARE YOU???!!” at everyone in the room…

Needless to say this was one of the best IGDA Scotland meetings so far.

It was also quite a momentous occasion, as this completes our first lap of Scotland’s key gaming cities, and we’re not showing any signs of stopping, responding to feedback and ideas from everyone as the chapter evolves and grows. The sheer amount of community spirit around the chapter is beautiful. At one point it occurred that the venues’ projector had broken down with only a few hours before the meeting, yet within a couple of Twitter and Facebook conversations, the problem had been remedied with people coming along with their own AV gear.

We kicked off the speakers with Phil Harris from SquareGo!, talking about the elements of a good story in games, and where things have gone a bit wrong in some of today’s big money franchises. To top off the talk was a round of creating 5 noun game games, that have spawned the next generation of Triple-A Viking and Pizza Ninja based genres with a little dash of good improv.

We also had a speaker who nearly didn’t make it, thanks to our reliable public rail network that we all treasure so dearly. Luke Dicken took to the floor after he bought a train ticket to get a replacement bus service to Edinburgh after a derailment. It was dubbed “The Talk That Not Even Scotrail Couldn’t Hold Off” and I think it’s another fine testament to the dedicated community we have developing around our meetings. Luke is an AI Researcher with the Strathclyde AI & Games Group at the University of Strathclyde, and like another person I know, went to E3 as an IGDA student scholar. I don’t know what your E3 activities were this year. Mine involved hooking the laptop up to the TV and watching the press conferences in full screen, if a little blurry at times, streaming video. Well, I was doing that, as well as drooling over a certain competitive word-based  puzzle game that’s been long overdue, and had questions as to whether getting to go to E3 in person was actually anything better than watching it online.

Queue jumping, schmoozing with some of the industry’s brightest, as well as front row seats to everywhere that’s worth going; when the IGDA give you a free ticket, it’s not just a free ticket: it’s a banner of awesome, with those flaming roman candle things that never go out no matter how hard you try.

Almost as awesome as watching an member of Rockstar North eat an entire double kangaroo burger from the Walkabout in the space of 3 minutes. It Happened!

Lastly to conclude the night of talks was the one and only Colin Riley from Codeplay. Now I’ll admit, when you think of the idea of having a technical talk about programming to top of a night heavily subdued in summer heat and alcohol, it doesn’t sound like the most interesting thing to be listening to. However, I think everyone was pleasantly surprised about the elegance and entertainment value found in learning about something better than Object Oriented Programming. Plus he did some awesome diagrams.

In between all of the talks there was time for much banter and conversation between everyone. The chapter is rapidly accomplishing one of it’s main goals to give Scotland’s Game’s sector a place mix with one another. In a time where there has been much doom and gloom surrounding the UK’s game sector, it’s great to see people in the industry themselves getting together and having a good time if anything else.

Before we close things off here we’ like to give a big shout out to a worthy cause. Sick Kids Save Point is a videogames marathon organised on behalf of the Sick Kids Friends Foundation in Edinburgh.Looking at their Twitter it seems they’re already making waves, raising money for the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh with intake of over 100,000 injured and sick children each year. The funds raised by the charity help to pay for a variety items including high tech surgical equipment that saves lives. We here at the IGDA would love to see them raise as much cash as possible, so if you have some disposable income you’d like to put to work, or fancy holding your own 24 hour charity game marathon, make sure to check them out.

We’ll be back on the wire letting you know about future events soon. Didn’t make it to the event? Don’t worry! Our speakers have been kind enough to share their power-points with you, and we’re working on posting video recordings of the talks up very soon. Until next time, why not get in touch with us via Twitter, Facebook or our Google mailing list group and let us know what you think we should be doing.

Phil Harris

Luke Dicken
Colin Riley

Glasgow IGDA Scotland Meeting Roundup

I thought 7:03pm was on time – early in fact, making my way up the stairs of a bar in an alleyway just of off of one of Glasgow’s busiest shopping streets. The plastic bags hanging from the telephone wires inspired little confidence in me to believe that anyone would find this place. Ye of little faith…

I was greeted, or more met by over fifty eyes sitting at tables. Turns out that Glasgow’s game developers and creatives aren’t only enthusiastic about their IGDA meets, but also incredibly punctual. No words were said, but you could feel everyone thinking “Yeah, we’ve run out of tables…”

I did managed to grab a chair, and sat in my own humility. scribbling down what is the beginning of this blog post. Indeed, we’ve been able to fill every venue so far (2) to it’s capacity, a sign that people are interested. The energy in the room just gets better and better.

Half an hour in and I got some words with Hazel McKendrick who had made it from Edinburgh.

It’ll be fine. This is probably a health and safety nightmare but we’ll get through it!

More seats were pulled out from the corner. There were a few familiar faces I recognized, Phil Harris was easily identifiable with his Square Go T-Shirt and I even bumped into a couple of my old student mentors from Abertay. Not being a native to Glasgow’s game scene, it was great to see so many fresh faces around.

On with the speakers! Glasgow kicks off our first meeting of talk-centric meetings, where a handful of speakers chat about what they do and what they want to bring to the sector.

Brian McDonald was first up, discussing the issue of Student Led Projects versus Game Jams. Whether you’re a games student or not, the debate is still relevant. What is the best way to stimulate learning and creativity in people. Brian showed off some of this years student work, which some of the audience turned out to be the creators of…

Firstly this is just great because this is on a Thursday night and we have a great excuse for having a drink. It’s even better for me because I get to drink on a school night as well!

As an Abertay student I was impressed with the visual quality of the first year work, and we all got a few laughs from the high-octane hollywood-esque iMovie presentation videos just made for clogging up the arteries of social networks and video sharing sites. Hint Hint…

Back to the idea of Game Jams: they work. Though my university hasn’t directly hosted its own yet, I did take part in one earlier this year for Learning and Teaching Scotland, where I attempted, emphasising on the attempted to create an education game for primary kids with the aid of a school teacher. It was an epic fail, but some of the code I produced in the 24 hours we had, and some of the ideas we tossed around were some of the best I’d ever done. So perhaps your team of friends, co-worker, even your entire workplace could have a shot at doing a Game Jam, or Creative Ideas Jam or similar over the course of a week, and see what projects and ideas you could take forward from it.

Second up we had Deep Pixel’s Simon Quig and Craig Stevenson, who satisfied my lifelong aspiration of sitting in a talk where someone tells me to “Buy Our Book”

Seriously though, Deep Pixel have done some great work in the Unity community, and have now released a new book that aims to teach Unity game development proper. Rather than making you create little demo boxes of spheres performing little physics acts and tricks, which are good on their own but give very little help in creating a proper game, Unity 3 Blueprints helps those wanting to learn Unity create fully functional games, while leaving their lids open for everyone to expand on them to their taste. I’ve fallen for a number of coding books that, yes, teach you how to do things, but in a very niche, sand boxed environment.

Needless to say Deep Pixel’s book is seriously worth looking for anyone wanting to learn how to take that step into Unity.

To top off the evening we had Axis Animation’s Creative Director Stu Aitken to talk about the companies’ origins and it’s relationship with the games industry as an animation studio. With every new slide I kept going “oh, I’ve seen that, that was awesome!” “I’ve got that!” and various other spontaneously thought up phrases. If you weren’t there, you missed out a very good in-depth look on the widely talked about Dead Island trailer, which made me cry (not the talk, the trailer…).

There was much discussion and banter to be had, and even if you weren’t able to attend, fear not! The next IGDA Scotland meeting in Edinburgh is only a month away!*


Brian was kind enough to send me links to some of the videos he showed off on Thursday night (great for folk at the back like me) :

Didn’t make the talk? View Brian’s slides on slideshare!

Scottish Game Jam Videos