Tag Archives: June

Scottish Post Mortems – June Meeting Recap

In this post, IGDA Scotland volunteer Finlay Thewlis recaps the chapter meeting held June 12th in the Hannah Maclure Centre, Dundee. Thanks as always to our excellent sponsors in Dundee – The University of Abertay Dundee, and of course to our excellent speakers without whom this event would not have been such a great success!

Opening the IGDA Dundee meeting was Luke Dicken who told us that we had SOLD OUT of spaces at the meeting! That certainly shows an appetite for all things IGDA. Various other aspects showed how the ball is really rolling with IGDA Scotland now, such as the Chapter’s progression and a number of special events which are coming up. We then moved onto the regular Open Mic part of the evening which contained a myriad of awesome job vacancies, networking opportunities and attendees with games they wanted to share with everyone. It was great example of the openness within Scotland’s developer community and appetite to contribute and share.

David Thomson of Ludometrics then gave the first talk in the ‘Post Mortem’ style which always gives fellow developers and games types the frank and honest assessment of what went well and where mistakes were made. Bips was what David coined as a ‘Dave-Wave’, although in this case he wasn’t referring to spark of a concept from himself but in fact one of the Godfathers of the Scottish Games Industry, Dave Jones. The project came with an additional aim where the ever-unique Denki wanted to try out some new production/design processes and this was an ideal opportunity to do it.


The main aspect of the insightful post-mortem was that you need to tailor your development processes to your team and your project, square shapes won’t fit into a circular gap so don’t feel forced into having to accept a process or development method that you aren’t convinced is right for your respective project/team.

Yann Seznec from Lucky Frame was next up and he gave a session mainly deconstructing their iOS game Bad Hotel. There was a distinction right from the off from Yann that “we’re a ‘Creative Studio’ not just a games studio”, I think underlining the idea of ‘what makes a game a game?’ and that developers shouldn’t rule themselves out of doing certain work if they don’t feel it qualifies in their pre-conceptions of what they understand a game to be.


Overall Yann delivered a really bright and confident talk on the issues encountered in the development of Bad Hotel even going as far as to show us the game’s sales, revenues and background to the company’s operation. All these aspects constituted a talk that sheda lot of light on subjects many developers are instinctively quiet about and that was a major victory for the evening. It begs the question will there be a trend of developers becoming more increasingly open with aspects such as sales and their shortcomings?

Finally we had Sandy Duncan from YoYo Games who gave a decidedly more informal talk than the first two, refusing to give in to the oppression of PowerPoint having a worked at Microsoft in his past! Sandy took us through the background of YoYo and the origins of their GameMaker engine. Overall Sandy communicated how important he considers HTML5 as a platform and showed the strength of how timing of when a developer come into a market can be almost direction-changing when a platform or market opportunity is met with a prepared and able team there to take an idea forward. This can secure funding for projects that might not be considered by the masses of the games industry as not having any viability, at least yet.


The IGDA Scotland meeting in Dundee was a window into what makes the games industry in Scotland such a special place, the inclusiveness, warm, relaxed nature of the night and anyone hesitating to attend any IGDA meetings in any of the three locations we visit (Dundee, Glasgow & Edinburgh) should really get involved, it’s never too late to learn something helpful, meet someone new or find someone for that job vacancy you’ve been wanting to fill.

Don’t just watch this space, fill it!

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