Closed up the 2007 Indie MMO Game Development Conference today. It was a very enlightening experience for me, realizing how much I have been looking at games from a developer’s viewpoint instead of a gamer’s viewpoint. The people attending this conference are extremely passionate about making MMOs. Not only that, they are willing and able to take the risks the big companies cannot and try something radically different. The next revolution in MMOs will almost certainly come from the Indie MMO arena.
The keynote speech this morning was given by Dr. Richard Bartle. It was a fantastic talk about the history of independent game development and how the time is ripe for Indie MMOs to really make a difference in the next few years. I could probably sit and listen to him talk for a whole weekend. It was a pity that we only had a few hours.
The first discussion of the day was moderated by Robert “Nicodemus” Rice and the topic was “In-Game Advertising: Gold Mine or Fool’s Gold”. No punches were thrown and the discussion tended towards possible ways to add advertising to a game without it being intrusive. It seemed that many of the designers planned on using advertising of some form in their games. Not too many wanted to talk about the possibility of it being a bad thing.
After a lunch break, the next discussion I attended, “Slaughtering Sacred Cows: Elements of the Current Virtual World Paradigm That Don’t Need to be There”, was moderated by Dr. Richard Bartle. The conversations focused on the many basic systems in an MMO and being able to question if they are needed in new games. Realizing that many systems in today’s MMOs are there simply because they were in previous games, it was interesting to be able to talk about the possibility that they may not be important or required. I began to see how past games have directed future games and be able to wonder how much of it is taken for granted as “how things are done”.
Then I moved over to the class put on by Josh Ritter of Prairie Games, called “Scalability and It’s Affects on Business and Design”. Much of this talk revolved around the development of their game, “Minions of Mirth”. The emphasis was on scalability and planning for the future.
Finally, the last talk I attended was “Designing Games and Game Companies” by Eric “Malevolent” Rhea from RheaSTUDIOS and ESC Games. Eric talked about getting a game company started and understanding how the business of making games affects the game itself. Eric was a very good speaker and I enjoyed listening to his points.
I have to say, this was a great experience for me and if you get a chance to attend something like this you really should do it. I hope to attend future game conferences as I think the information and advice you can get is priceless, not to mention all the networking. I met a lot of great people at this event and I look forward to the next one.