Friday, January 15, 2010

Go With the Flow

In yesterday's session on "Cutting the Cord : Strategies and Challenges of Independent Video Game Development," the emphasis was on practical business strategies rather than theoretical design issues at the Center for Games and Virtual Worlds at UC Irvine. For example, Tim Campbell, Co-founder and President of SuperVillain Studios talked about how working on Jenova Chen's critically acclaimed FlOw paid off for his company in developing new technologies that could be valuable as proprietary software rather than in customer sales. With CTO and fellow co-founder Steve Ganem, Campbell explained how the company had developed its own game engine using Ganem's skils in programming as well as his knowledge of linear algebra and 3D geometry first developed in coursework at UCI. Cambell also emphasized the tensions between the interests of publishers and developers and how more mature companies shift from focusing on logistics to focusing on morale. He also noted how game makers had become cynical about cranking out certain forms of reliable IP in three categories: zombies, space marines, and battles from World War II.

Mark Lowe, CEO of Zero G Games followed up with his own narrative about moving from tech support to quality assurance to programming and how skills learned making tax software ultimately paid off as a creater and musical composer for videogames.

Although the panel was very positive about the regional benefits of starting companies in Orange County, they were skeptical about whether there was really a viable market in serious games.

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