I thought 7:03pm was on time - early in fact, making my way up the stairs of a bar in an alleyway just of off of one of Glasgow’s busiest shopping streets. The plastic bags hanging from the telephone wires inspired little confidence in me to believe that anyone would find this place. Ye of little faith…
I was greeted, or more met by over fifty eyes sitting at tables. Turns out that Glasgow’s game developers and creatives aren’t only enthusiastic about their IGDA meets, but also incredibly punctual. No words were said, but you could feel everyone thinking “Yeah, we’ve run out of tables…”
I did managed to grab a chair, and sat in my own humility. scribbling down what is the beginning of this blog post. Indeed, we’ve been able to fill every venue so far (2) to it’s capacity, a sign that people are interested. The energy in the room just gets better and better.
Half an hour in and I got some words with Hazel McKendrick who had made it from Edinburgh.
It’ll be fine. This is probably a health and safety nightmare but we’ll get through it!
More seats were pulled out from the corner. There were a few familiar faces I recognized, Phil Harris was easily identifiable with his Square Go T-Shirt and I even bumped into a couple of my old student mentors from Abertay. Not being a native to Glasgow’s game scene, it was great to see so many fresh faces around.
On with the speakers! Glasgow kicks off our first meeting of talk-centric meetings, where a handful of speakers chat about what they do and what they want to bring to the sector.
Brian McDonald was first up, discussing the issue of Student Led Projects versus Game Jams. Whether you’re a games student or not, the debate is still relevant. What is the best way to stimulate learning and creativity in people. Brian showed off some of this years student work, which some of the audience turned out to be the creators of…
Firstly this is just great because this is on a Thursday night and we have a great excuse for having a drink. It’s even better for me because I get to drink on a school night as well!
As an Abertay student I was impressed with the visual quality of the first year work, and we all got a few laughs from the high-octane hollywood-esque iMovie presentation videos just made for clogging up the arteries of social networks and video sharing sites. Hint Hint…
Back to the idea of Game Jams: they work. Though my university hasn’t directly hosted its own yet, I did take part in one earlier this year for Learning and Teaching Scotland, where I attempted, emphasising on the attempted to create an education game for primary kids with the aid of a school teacher. It was an epic fail, but some of the code I produced in the 24 hours we had, and some of the ideas we tossed around were some of the best I’d ever done. So perhaps your team of friends, co-worker, even your entire workplace could have a shot at doing a Game Jam, or Creative Ideas Jam or similar over the course of a week, and see what projects and ideas you could take forward from it.
Second up we had Deep Pixel’s Simon Quig and Craig Stevenson, who satisfied my lifelong aspiration of sitting in a talk where someone tells me to “Buy Our Book”
Seriously though, Deep Pixel have done some great work in the Unity community, and have now released a new book that aims to teach Unity game development proper. Rather than making you create little demo boxes of spheres performing little physics acts and tricks, which are good on their own but give very little help in creating a proper game, Unity 3 Blueprints helps those wanting to learn Unity create fully functional games, while leaving their lids open for everyone to expand on them to their taste. I’ve fallen for a number of coding books that, yes, teach you how to do things, but in a very niche, sand boxed environment.
Needless to say Deep Pixel’s book is seriously worth looking for anyone wanting to learn how to take that step into Unity.
To top off the evening we had Axis Animation’s Creative Director Stu Aitken to talk about the companies’ origins and it’s relationship with the games industry as an animation studio. With every new slide I kept going “oh, I’ve seen that, that was awesome!” “I’ve got that!” and various other spontaneously thought up phrases. If you weren’t there, you missed out a very good in-depth look on the widely talked about Dead Island trailer, which made me cry (not the talk, the trailer…).
There was much discussion and banter to be had, and even if you weren’t able to attend, fear not! The next IGDA Scotland meeting in Edinburgh is only a month away!*
Brian was kind enough to send me links to some of the videos he showed off on Thursday night (great for folk at the back like me) :
Didn’t make the talk? View Brian’s slides on slideshare!
Scottish Game Jam Videos