So today were the talks at VJ15, for those of you who don’t know about it, the VJ15 is an argentinian event in which developers from all over the world give talks about the game development trade. Some industry professionals also give workshops. It’s super cool, even if the workshops are always during working hours and I never manage to go.

I did go to 90 percent of the talks today, so I tought about making a tiny review.

Daniel Cook, Spry Fox

For those of you who don’t know Daniel, he is the guy who made Alphabear, Real of the mad god and creator of Lost Garden, yes, that place where we all stumble upon when we are trying to get assets for our games that don’t look like a turd on a plate, I have used his assets a lot in jams and lost prototypes, so for me this guy is like a hero. I also didn’t figure out that the guy who made Alphabear and the guy from Lost Garden were the same guy until the talk got started, cue deep sense of embarrassment.

Anyhow, his talk was a fleshed out version of his post about Minimum Sustainable Success. He added more strategies to actually break even in the making of games for money, for instance, making games as a service aimed at hobbyist communities that you have researched and know are in need of a breadth of fresh air. He also recommended trying out your game in multiple platforms and adviced making tons of prototypes and filtering based on how fun the game looks like and refining in stages.

Alex Hutchinson, Ubisoft

He is a game designer from ubisoft who worked at Far Cry 4 and other open world games. What he recommends is to choose a setting, add in the mechanics so that they are coherent with the setting, trim content when it’s not accurate, not fun or too expensive. Once you have all those elements, you get out of the player’s way and let him do his thing, which most likely won’t have anything to do with what you expected.

Alex also advised to ground your games in reality as much as possible and explained that storytelling is hard to combine with open world games, because the player wants to explore and blow shit up, things which might not be compatible with your narrative themes.

Andrés Chilkowski, NGD

Well, it turns out that NGD, the guys who did Regnum Online, that fantasy MMO where you buy tiny boxes filled with random stuff and that most of us tried out once because it runs on linux, is doing a remake of Masters of Orion, that old 4X game with spaceships and quirky alien races and it made the room soar with pride, because it’s awesome, look, here is a trailer.

Guys, look at all that money. This is the first non-horror, AAA quality game in the country that has AAA levels of financing, thanks to WG Labs. They are being super respectful of the original IP and have the original designers as advisors, most of the animation team is the same people who did Metegol. What’s not to love?

Daniel Gray, UsTwo

UsTwo is the company that gave us Monument Valley, a love letter to excellent design packed in a video game. Daniel presented us the new game UsTwo is about to release: Land’s End. Another well designed experience tailored for mobile VR devices.

He explained that they wish Land’s End to be the point of reference for all things VR, he also confessed that it took the team a lot of time to design an interface that didn’t make people sick, that VR was harder to playtest in house than other platforms, but it being a mobile game makes it easy for them to take it anywhere and see how people react to it. It seems Daniel is making a hobby out of photographing people having their first VR experience.

Land’s End is beautiful and keeps all of UsTwo core aesthetics, while still being innovative and accesible. Gosh, this people are so dreamy.

Jens Bergensten - Shoghi Cervantes - Daniel Wustenhoff, Mojang

So the guys from Minecraft explained they design workflow and lot’s of technical things about working with people on the other side of world. What I took out of it is that this are true geeks doing things because they find it fun and who take several measures to stop the joy from leaking out of their work. Which is laudable, because Minecraft is this huge insane thing, and this people are like “Yeah, I make most of the graphics because most of the developers are color blind” and reference flame wars at the office about which language and IDE are best in public, as if making games was no biggie.

So I had a great day, this people are awesome, every single one of them and I’m glad they came and shared their knowledge with us.