Reboot Develop Blue 2019

Reboot Develop Blue is my yearly conference since last year in April. The lineup of speakers are always crazy and the costs are super cheap, adding that we are by the sea. It’s hard for any other conference to compare. This year, the main keynote was a discussion between Fumito Ueda and Hidetaki Miyazaki.

My colleagues and I took the plane from Geneva to Munich, ate a schnitzel, then from Munich to Dubrovnik. I had the chance to be seated next to George Krstic, the director of Story, Creative Development at Blizzard Ent. We discussed about various topics ranging from working conditions to their processes of creating stories for Overwatch, I guess I got the Thursday keynote spoiled.

Arriving at the hotel, I was a bit afraid for the weather, because it was raining a bit, but it went better during the week, with some sunny weather with sea wind to cool it down. Compare to last year where I wanted to relax, this year I went to the most talks possible and took a lot of notes to share with my students.

Some of my talks were by Croteam on terrain generation, Warren Spector on the definition of success, Andrew Parsons from Devolver about making decisions. The nice thing is te possibility to ask questions to speakers to deepen a bit the talk, unlike GDC where you have thousands of people running everywhere, Reboot is more relaxed.

There is a nice restaurant on the way to the conference, we could taste seafood and rosé from the region, even if the prices are quite comparable to Swiss prices. Anyway, that was Reboot 2019 and I am already looking forward for the next one next year.

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Nordic Game Jam

I took one week and half for the Nordic Game Jam and the Reboot: Develop conference. Switching from 10°C-15°C to 25°C-30°C was pretty brutal, but immensely needed. I was pretty down after the disease of the year after Polymanga and those trips were a nice opportunity to recover.

First stop, Copenhagen. We went there with Alexis and Anirul. The theme of the jam was Breaking Point. I wanted to try to do a city management game, but with the constraint of the 48 hours, it would been to create a really compelling game experience. Then Alexis had the brilliant idea to add Arcade mechanics, where you click on building to repair them or get taxes and then the setting unfolded. It would be an industrial siberian city. And then we had Novyzavod:

You have workers pouring into the city. They come at the city center and starts to complain. If you do nothing, they die, because they are political opponents. You realise you have to build them housing and then they go to sleep. After a while they come back from the building and starts to complain again. You have to build factories for them to work somewhere. Then everything is okay…

Except that buildings a fragile, meaning you have to repair them. And it costs you money. And your budget is tight. If you don’t repair the building, they fall apart and when they destroy, everybody inside of it die. But you can always fill it by taking taxes in a building, but… Workers that just arrived have no money, so they instantly die and you never know how many workers have money in their buildings.

The last twist is that political opponents cost you money when they die. Each person in a destroying building cost you money. But first-time worker that dies because of taxes does not. So the twist of the game is in the meta game, where you realise that you optimising actions (that are good actions) are morally wrong, because you contribute to a system that is killing people to optimise its production. It is a example of commodification of bodies in an industrial setting.

We went to the final presentation on stage and it was pretty funny. On Friday and Monday, there were really good presentation about game design and business. And then I had 12 hours back to Switzerland before going to Reboot Develop.

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Orbital Game Jam

Between Sat. March 17th to Sun. March 18th, Alexis and I went to the Orbital Game Jam, a small student game jam at the EPFL. Unlike most game jams, it only lasted 24 hours, so we needed to be quick and simple with our game. The themes were:

  • Et si ?
  • Plus loin que la nuit et le jour

We took the second one and turned it as travelling and finally train. We went for a second German empire setting with those lovely German soliders with spikes on top of them. We decide for a twist in term of mechanic by not having the player shoot but bounce.

So we did Orbital Express where you play as  Agent Herrington and you have to stop Docteur Heinrich Grüter’s train to save London. You have dog steam machinery trying to kill you. Your only weapon is your typical English gentleman stick that you use to bounce the projectile back. You can play it here: https://teamkwakwa.itch.io/orbital-express

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