Heading to M+ DEV on Feburary 14, 2020
Braving the -10 degree weather, I travelled to the Alliant Entergy Center in Madison Wisconsin for M+DEV, a convention of game developers on its 3rd year.
Being a native and a figure in the game industry for over a decade, this applealed to me for the fact, Wisconsin is usually not what you think about when you think ‘game development hub’.
After the initial opening remarks, the first keynote speaker was Felix Kramer, a Canadian native who is a freelance producer. Her talks about what a producer does and why they are needed on many projects was interesting and informative (In a nutshell, someone who can get the team on the same page while keeping them on schedule truly is something most teams should have).
The next session I attended was, ‘How to SEEM like a great Game Designer’ given by Bobby Lockheart (Important Little Games). The first half was a very tongue in cheek look at game designers and, if you have been in the industry for a while, you have encountered many of these types. Very hilarious stuff. The second half was filled with more serious and useful information.
Next was Robert Howard’s topic, “Finding Theory in Fun: Teaching Level Design as a Discipline”. One can tell that Mr. Howard is a teacher at Purdue for his presentation was fantastic. I am sure he won’t enjoy me saying this, but I’d like to have him speak for a few hours next year. From tales of projects he worked on, to discussing how to design with verisimilitude, I hope he returns next year.
Next, I attended, “Hack Your Career Growth” with Ashley Quinto Powell (Ashley Powell Consulting). Even if you are not looking for a career move, this is a session everyone should attend. As someone who is not the most socially adept, she gives a lot of very helpful times on how to network. In this industry, everyone should learn how to network at least a little bit.
When most people think of game development, they think about the creative side. But there is a whole other side to the industry – The business side. This is something that most people’s eyes glaze over when mentioned. But without the business side, the creative side wouldn’t happen. This is one of the many great things I learned from the very informative, “Starting & Scaling: A Q&A with Economic Experts – Michael Gay and Craig Kettleson” (MADRep). If you are starting an indie studio, this session was a gold mine of knowledge on all the things that would need to get done to start. A lot of the sessions I attended had a myriad of useful things, I easily took the most notes during this session.
The last session I attended, was, “Writing for Video Games” by Matt Forbeck (Full Moon Enterprises). As someone who writes for video games, hearing from the kind of ups and downs Mr. Forbeck has gone through throughout his career was enlightening to say the least.
All in all, I am looking forward to attending M+DEV next year. I met a lot of great people and learned quite a bit. If there was one complaint I would have is there are so many interesting topics, I had to make some hard choices on what to attend. If I had a time machine and could g back, I would go to, “The Secret Life of Games: Intro to Game Hacking Moddability and Scripting” with Austin Yarger (Arbor Interactive) and “How we Hire: Insights from Four Local Game Studios”. If anyone recorded those sessions please contact me!
If you get a chance to attend next year, I cannot recommend braving the below zero temperatures of Wisconsin to attend!
You can learn more about it here: