Meet up, Look Sharp
Hey everyone, this week's blog is talking about gamedev meetups and why they're a very good thing. This goes double for if you're an indie developer... and add some sauce on top of that if you've left a large studio to become one!
We periodically go to a number of different gamedev meetups, I'm not talking about conferences, just monthly meetups where devs are welcome to pop along, unwind, shoot the breeze and hang out.
The ones we tend to show our ugly mugs at are; the Cambridge Indies meetup (orgnised by the awesome Katy Marshall), the Essex Gamedev meetup (which we were invited to by our good friend & Little Wolf Honcho Lilly) and also the BAFTA Crew meetups, which are usually (but not always) down in London.
As well as the more regular events there are also random one-off events that pop up. For example only last week I saw on Twitter that there was a UKIE event at the JagEx studio, which happens to be just around the corner from where I live in Cambridge so I decided to pop along. It's good to keep an eye out for these!
So what's the big deal, why is it good to go to these events? Well hold my drink, I'll tell you...
When you work in a large studio, or heck (yes, I dropped a heck), even a medium sized one, you get feedback from a bunch of different people on your work and what your doing. There is a whole raft of expertise to draw upon for advice, assistance or even just someone to grab a cuppa with. When you're part of a micro indie studio, in our case a grand total of two (now three with Danny) people, you simply don't have the same amount of people knocking around to bounce ideas. So yeah, meet-ups are a good step towards fixing this.
Change of Scenery
I spend a lot of time in my study. Seriously. I've done it up real nice to make sure it's a fun creative space, but it's still not good for a person to spend so much time in what is effectively a box with a couple of holes in it. Also working from home means I have no commute. This is great in one aspect; if it's peeing it down I don't get a drenching, plus I can use the time that I used to take to cycle across Cambridge to my previous studio to get a head start on the day rather than almost getting mowed down by angry Cambridge motorists.
The down-side is that if I'm not careful I can spend the entire day without leaving the house. This might be OK for one isolated day but it's not great for you if you chain a few of these together.
Bearing that in mind it's good to take advantage of any excuse to get out and about and meet new peeps. Which brings me neatly onto...
I've met a buttload of cool people who are really passionate about making games through going to gamedev meetups.
It's always good to expand your social circle and make new friends (its good for the soul) and also you never know if you might need to get someone else involved with your project at some point, whether that's a writer, sound designer or artist.
We've been pretty lucky
The Picking of the Brains
We're learning a lot of new stuff all the time making Röki. Seriously, LOTS of stuff. Some things to do with gamedev but also some business-y type stuff as well. Whilst we've both been making game a long time making indie games with a team of two and running a new business is a whole new ball game.
If we get a bit flummoxed on something then it's great to be able to chat with other devs to get their advice. They've probably solved the same problem or tackled similar situations before so why not hit them up for advice.
We've found that the people who go to meetups are a pretty friendly bunch (probably why they go right!) and very generous with their advice and happy to help you out.
You also sometimes get a sneaky peek at what people are working on which is pretty neat!
Worth a special mention is BAFTA Crew. It's a yearly program (in the UK) you can join in you have over 2 years experience in games development give you access to all kinds of events including networking events (chatting in a room), round table discussions (chatting around a table), talks from top games industry peeps (listening to people chatting) and livestreams (listening to people chat over the internet).
I've attended talks (both in the real world and via livestream) from Ubisoft, Creative Assembly, Stoic Studios, Creative England, Foam Sword Games to name but a few.
Anyhow, it's pretty great, run by some very hard working people who do a fantastic job. I'd definitely recommend it, you can read more about it here and if you wanted to see some of the talk you can see a few of themof the BAFTA Twitch channel here.
Anyway, I think it's probably clear that we really enjoy and get a lot out of these events, so if you were on the fence about checking one out, I'd go for it. In fact, if you wanted to try the Cambridge one then the deets are in the image at the top of the post!
Right, until next time,
Alex & Tom