Home > Uncategorized > The Joy of Schex: Part 2…p.s.it’s really a love story!

The Joy of Schex: Part 2…p.s.it’s really a love story!

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Saturday’s exploration of #schexytech at TransIP’s Inspiration Centraal technology festival in Shoreditch was devoted to the world of online gaming.

One part art, one part tech, one part magic… what a world it is. Or more accurately – a galaxy of worlds… and kingdoms, castles, empires, plagues, playdots, zombies, war zones, monsters and mind candy of every confection.

Trans IP’s second speaker day had a bit of everything and kicked off with superlative advice and other worldly perspectives from the Grand Wizard of gaming, Ian Livingstone, CBE, author and the founder of the online giant Games Workshop. In a tour de force opening, we learned a lifetime of gaming ‘how to’ and ‘know how’ insight in the very first session. The sheer financial success of iconic games, where a new release can gross hundreds of millions of pounds in sales, show that games are not just bigger than Hollywood, but are now a powerful meta skill for life.

Mechanics – Dynamics – Aestheticsor MDA, are the three pillars of successful development and a critical feature for success is ‘gameplay’. The user experience of the game in real-time, and striking the right balance of immediacy, learnability and difficulty are fundamental and interlocking ingredients of success.Ian then led a very lively panel discussion, which shone a bright light into the process of successful game development. Meet the panelists : –

Mitu Khandaker

Mitu is a one woman, independent game developer, who made a successful game called Red Shirts on PC, Mac and iPad. This was social networking simulator game, in outer space, and heavily Star Trek influenced. She is now the inventor behind the Tiniest Shark.

Mitu’s experience was that she regained her development money back within three days of launch and £200,000 gross revenue so far from Red Shirts game. She then spent five solid months supporting the game after release.

Game releases are now in constant beta mode. We can now think of ‘Games as a service’ or GAAS, where continuous development and slow release of features helps keep fans and super-fans actively engaged in the development process. We learned that minimum viable product or MVP has to be good enough from first release though to give people a really good experience that will bring them back for more. The emphasis has to be on refining the gameplay elements until you are left with the best possible experience. This can mean omitting features, so that more focus is on the core gameplay, especially when you first engage the game.

Then getting the game played by the public as soon as possible, so that the user feedback will steer the enhancements towards the creation of an amazing game. This may not necessarily be the full and finished game as there are several ways to get your game tested at an early stage.

Tom Hegarty, founder of Roll 7, told us that no matter who the target audience might be, every game needs to be made with sincerity and love. Authenticity in intention and execution helps engage super-fans. Even when things go wrong we learned that being honest often means that fans will come to the rescue and will often try to help remedy a game breaking issue. Twitter is perhaps the best medium to engage with fans on live issues with new or developing releases.

The task of developing new games is not for the faint-hearted and for every Moshi Monster, the broken debris of hundreds of other game concepts lie scattered along the path to nirvana.

Roll 7 are a typical ‘Indie’ developer where they seek partnerships to help ease the burden of bringing new games to market. The role of publishers has changed and they can bring a good audience to a new release from Day 1. Finding the right publisher can take a lot of the administration away and allow focus on the issue at hand – successful game development.

Margaret Robinson, Journalist and inventor of Play Dots, and now Two Dots, gave terrific insight on ‘free to play’, mobile games. Based in New York City, we learned that the US market approach is a very different and perhaps more commercially focused than in the UK. In the US the market is very metrics driven which allow newly released games to continue being enhanced by providing feedback to what gamers are actually enjoying and what are not. Analysis of data helps drive creativity and guide successful user acquisition.

With an eye to the future the panel agreed that crowd funding is a great way to validate the idea and pre primes the market to taking up and popularising your idea.

Margaret’s advice was to get to ‘playable’ as soon as feasible. Encouraging gamers to playtest the game could be invaluable as full launch approaches. If playtesters can’t do it in beta then you’ve failed. Early releasing of games helps build audiences but watch out for cloning. Engagement with your community is very important and this is where video blogs are helping build communities. This needs to be joined up with creative development process.

Margaret’s tip for success? – ‘Have a high tolerance for humiliation’

So there you have it. The Joy Of Schex is really born of blood, sweat and tears… and the never ending call to adventure for millions of gamers and developers alike. This is not just Schex or #schexytech for that matter, although that helps. This is a true love story.

Man the consoles!

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