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IGDA Interview Series!

Posted By Jillian Mood, Saturday, October 17, 2015

Hello IGDA Community!

This is my first posting which I am excited about! I will aim to get exciting news posted on here frequently. I wanted to share news on the Interview series, if you didn’t check it out in the newsletter this past week here it is below! I am planning out the schedule and awesome people’s stories and advice to share, if you would like to propose a topic or nominate someone for the series reach out to me anytime at Jillian -AT- IGDA -DOT- org!

 

IGDA Interview Series: Ben Kane - 14 October 2015

We are thrilled the first interview in the series is starting with a fantastic indie success story!

Ben Kane is a independent "jack-of-most-trades" game developer and co-founder of Steel Crate Games. Ben is known for creating minor hit "DLC Quest" and more recently for his work co-creating the virtual reality bomb-defusing game "Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes". Ben is a software engineer by training but has balanced all aspects of running an independent business for the past five years, sharing much of that experience in a year-long series on YouTube called Indie Chatter. These days, Ben is focused on wrapping up development on "Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes" and keeping up with the wild ride of virtual reality technology.

I recommend watching this video first to check out this intensely suspenseful game!

And now, onto the interview...

 


 

Jillian Mood, IGDA: Hello Ben!

Keep Talking and Nobody ExplodesFirst, I want to congratulation you on your success with your career and the recent explosion (excuse the pun) of interest and industry attention with "Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes"!

Ben Kane, Steel Crate Games: Thank you!

JM: You have had such an interesting career path, could you describe how it led you to co-founding Steel Crate Games?

BK: I've been a game developer for a little over six years now. I cut my teeth in the AAA industry with Electronic Arts before throwing caution to the wind and becoming a full-time, solo game developer. There were a few years of learning the ropes as an "indie" but I eventually hit my stride with a game called "DLC Quest". I had intended on sticking with my own solo projects, so starting up Steel Crate Games was never something I had considered. When our team came up with the idea for Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes at the Global Game Jam however, it seemed like the logical choice was to drop everything else and see how far we could run with it. That turned out to be a pretty significant event in my career path to say the least.

JM: It's so exciting that KTANE came from the Global Game Jam in Ottawa! What was the game jam theme and describe the brainstorming process leading to developing a game about defusing a bomb in VR?

BK: The theme of the jam was, "We don't see things as they are. We see them as we are." It was a difficult one to wrap our heads around. The only thing we knew for sure was that we were going to make a virtual reality game. At the jam, we had other developers come up to us and ask to try out the VR headsets we had brought with us. We obliged, and pretty soon there was a crowd of people watching one person wearing a headset, looking around on a virtual roller coaster that only they could see. We looked at the absurdity of the scene and decided to make a game where all of the passive onlookers could instead be involved in the same game as the person in VR. From there, it was just a case of coming up with a scenario where different views, different sets of information, could be fun. Bomb defusing seemed like a simple enough thing to tackle in the 48 hour jam.

JM: Tell us about the fantastic team working with you. What is the team dynamic like? What are you plans for the studio's future and will you stay focused on VR?

BK: The core team is made up of Brian Fetter, Allen Pestaluky, and myself (with fantastic music and art provided by Liam Sauve and Chris Taylor respectively). The three of us are all programmers, so it's not an ideal spread of skills, but we managed to identify our weaknesses and find help to fill those gaps. Functionally, we're all pretty good at splitting up the work and maintaining an even allocation of responsibility. If we had a hierarchy, it would be totally flat. Our studio's future is a conversation we'll be having over the coming weeks. For a while now, it's all been about preparing for Keep Talking's launch. Now that it's out the door and being well received, any plans we had might need to be revised a bit. We certainly have lots of hopes and ideas for VR, but Keep Talking might occupy a bit more of our time yet.

JM: There is so much attention and press on VR now in the industry. Do you see it continue to grow rapidly?

BK: Virtual Reality is fantastic tech with some never-before-seen-experiences and some very hefty barriers to entry to go along with it. Much of the hype right now is around the potential of VR and while we've seen a lot of promise, it's getting close to the point where VR will need to deliver more than just demos. It's exciting to know that they're just around the corner. I just hope that expectations haven't become, pardon the term, unrealistic.

JM: Congratulations on speaking at the Montreal International Game Summit (MIGS) in November. Your talk title looks very interesting "Making a game nobody can play for a market that doesn't exist (yet): Lessons from Virtual Reality."

What do you think the audience will learn from your session and what do you hope to convey to keen developers?

BK: It's been a fascinating and challenging ride over the past year and half trying to develop a virtual reality game. I hope to be able to share some of what we learned making a VR game when nobody knows how to properly use VR yet, and how we demoed it to an audience that has wildly varying expectations of the technology. Hopefully it'll be an inspirational talk about how we managed to stay afloat during the early days of virtual reality gaming.

JM: You've successfully started a studio and created a game for a market that doesn't exist. Do you have any advice for indie developers looking to start their own studio for a market that clearly now exists?

BK: Staying flexible has been key to our development. Our initial schedule, and even some plans for launching on VR hardware, are laughable now in retrospect but we made them with the best information we had at the time. Try to be aware of anything you are completely banking on, and then ask yourself what you would do if that aspect suddenly didn't work out the way you need it to.

JM: Lastly, you were married last month, so congratulations! Do you and your wife play video games together?

BK: Thank you! We're actually still working our way through New Super Mario Bros. on Wii, so we've got a bit of a backlog. We tend to play board games more often however, and those are some of the biggest influences on Keep Talking's design.

 


 

Join the interview series!

If you would like to send a proposal on a subject you would like to hear about, be interviewed yourself, or nominate someone, we’d love to hear from you! Send thoughts to Jillian -AT- IGDA -DOT- org.

Tags:  2015  ben kane  dlc quest  ggj  global game jam  interview  jillian mood  keep talking and nobody explodes  migs  montreal international game summit  steel crate games 

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Leading by Example: IGDA Melbourne Chapter Lead Giselle Rosman Wins Woman of the Year

Posted By IGDA, Saturday, June 20, 2015

 

Woman of the Year Award

Giselle RosmanIn a world where heroes are few and far between, and promises are plentiful, it can be easy to lose faith. And yet, even in the most difficult of times, there are always a few guardian angels floating around, reminding us to hold on to hope. One such person is Giselle Rosman, IGDA Melbourne Chapter Leader and the winner of this year's MCV Pacific Woman of the Year award.

Earlier in the year MCV Pacific had unveiled a list of fifty Women in Games, highlighting the most influential females in the industry throughout New Zealand and Australia. There was so much enthusiasm for the venture, however, that the games media publisher opted to expand its list of award nominees to seventy-five. What's more, the nominees for this prize also chose its recipient. When asked, Rosman expressed that the peer-reviewed aspect of the award was particularly meaningful to her. Rosman also commented that she'd never expected to win: "I thought I would be the bridesmaid before the whole thing," she said. In addition to winning Woman of the Year, Rosman was notably a finalist in all four of the award categories.

Having broken into the industry by working in video game education, public service and community relations have always been near and dear to Rosman's heart. "I do the people aspect of things," she said. When the Australian games industry took a turn for the worst back in 2009, a lot of studios had to close up shop, and as a result many local developers found themselves suddenly out of work. It was in this atmosphere that Rosman decided to start really getting involved, feeling that "at the very least people needed to get together at a pub and have a bit of a moan." Thus IGDA Melbourne was reforged, and has since grown to be one of the largest and most active chapters to date, predominantly populated by indie developers.

Crossy Road

Rosman has also been heavily involved in Global Game Jam, and is currently a member of its board. What's really keeping her busy lately, though, is her work as Business Administrator for the indie studio Hipster Whale, creators of the hit mobile game Crossy Road. Much like Rosman's other pursuits, Crossy Road is a free-to-play game that was designed around the concepts of share-worthiness and word-of-mouth promotion. And the strategy seems to be working, too: Crossy Road has been downloaded more than 80 million times since it was first released, and has gone on to win numerous honors throughout the industry as well, including a 2015 Apple Developer Award.

When asked what wisdom she might share with aspiring, new developers, Rosman noted that the business of game production required three essential elements: "To make a game you need the idea, the skill, and the money. If you can't bring any two of those three things to the table then your game isn't likely to get made." In the end, Rosman's advice was simple: Make games, and finish them. "It's easy to start a game" she noted, "but finishing them is the real trick. Even if they're tiny little experiences, if the game is well made and polished then it will get you where you need to go."

If you're interested in keeping up with Rosman's new and exciting exploits then follow her on Twitter @jazzrozz.

About the Author
Author: Ma'idah LashaniPrior to attending law school at UNC Chapel Hill, Ma'idah Lashani spent nearly three years working as Community Manager at The Escapist. Since then, she has worked as a legal intern at both Epic Games and The Law Offices of Ryan P. Morrison. When she's not gallivanting around with her Irish Wolfhound, Onix, Ma'idah also moonlights as the IGDA's Community Liaison.

Tags:  2015  crossy road  giselle  giselle rosman  global game jam  hipster whale  melbourne  rosman 

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