NASSCOM Game Developer Conference 2014 – A Summary

NGDC

After a weekend at the NGDC, what I came away with more than anything else was a sense of hope for games in India. Sure, the event did have a lot of panels and stalls about monetisation and squeezing of money from pockets…

Juice Out The Dollahs

Don’t get me wrong, an understanding of how to make your game financially viable is important, but when this is the first thing that you see when you walk into the hall you can’t help but feel like something sinister is going on.

…but at the same time there were also signs of solid steps that we are taking forwards when it comes to actually producing thought-provoking, interesting and polished games.

There were a lot of great panels from developers who shared their experience at both success and failure. Here are some of the ones that we managed to attend:

  • Josué Monchan (nominated twice for Excellency in Storytelling at IMGA) gave a talk on the dissonance between the narrative a player creates and the game’s embedded narrative. He spoke about the power of the medium to do what books and movies fail to – give us a nameless, faceless character that we can project ourselves or anyone else onto.
  • Karin Ryding explored the idea of giving players the reigns to creativity. As she put it, “By making room for creativity we can open the doors for them to possibly be transformed by the experience.” She went into the things that inspired her to make Ozma’s upcoming game Words of Oz – a game that encourages players to be creative by presenting them with a set of random words and allowing them to craft poetry from them.
  • Apoorva Joshi and Shailesh Prabhu of Yellow Monkey Studios carried out what they termed an ‘undead post mortem’ of their soon-to-release game Socioball – they did a great job of describing the way they went about developing the game from beginning to end, the tools they used, and the challenges they faced along the way.
  • Joel Johnson (digiKhel) and Santosh Chowgule (3 Quavers) discussed their experiences at getting indie collaborations to work, and listed out the benefits, issues involved, and dangers that could arise during such an undertaking.
  • Asar Dhandala of Seven Summits Studio talked about his game Petite and the inspiration that led to trying to address real-world issues through game narrative.
  • Oliver Jones shared his findings from his time spent handcrafting games for the Indian audience and tapping into the Indian mobile game market at his incredibly successful company, Moonfrog.
  • Rami Ismail of Vlambeer shared a lot of great advice on low-cost, effective marketing and good PR practices.

There were also a lot of great games on display, with the regional winners of the Game Jam Titans, the top 10 games from the BYOG Jam, and the nominees of the NGF Awards all getting stalls to show off their talent.

Sagittarius

One of the highlights of the weekend was Sagittarius, a game from the students of DSK Supinfocom that utilised the Oculus Rift Virtual Reality headset.

The winners of the BYOG Jam and NGF Awards were also announced at the event – find out who won here.

The conference was a great chance to get to meet the people behind the games, but what was even better was getting to see developers building off each other and pooling their collective experience for the benefit of everyone present. A common issue I heard brought up over and over again was that there aren’t enough local developer meet-ups, but hopefully with the connections and friendships made over the weekend these will start being more prevalent.

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