My first visit to Romania was an intense one. Flight delays meant that I barely had three days in Bucharest. I was invited to speak at the annual tech/startup summit, How To Web. But really, I was there to scout for awesome indie game studios.

Interestingly, Romania has a similar game industry ecosystem as Montreal. There are several very large publisher-owned studios (like Ubisoft, Gameloft, EA, King, etc) that dominate the landscape and hold most of the headcount. Then there are small studios and indies popping up in the cracks. More interesting still, is the post-communist culture that is wrestling within a new-world entrepreneurial/meritocracy context — rather than just keeping your head down and staying in line.

Aside from the fact that everyone smokes and there are no anti-smoking laws (my luggage smelled like cigar trunk when I got home), it was warm and interesting introduction to Romania.


The welcoming nightlife in the historic section of Bucharest.


Canadian trade commissioner Neil Swain delivers a diplomatic introduction.


How To Web main track in session.


How To Web game track action with Unity’s Mathieu Muller discussing buttons.


Sand Sailor’s Cristian Diaconescu presents their amazing indie project, Black The Fall.


Mingling with indies at the Nexus Gaming Pub.


At the historic Caru’ Cu Bere restaurant for an epic dinner.


Andrei Istrate (RGDA) is not impressed by the half-pig on my plate!

Another year, another awesome Montreal Game Summit. The 11th edition of MIGS did not disappoint! With a stellar line up of speakers, over 2000 attendees, and great meetings/activities/etc… it was an intense couple of days in Montreal for the game industry.

Brandon Beck’s opening keynote about his talent first strategy at Riot was quite inspiring. Sadly, I only got to see a few sessions as I was stuck in meetings most of the show. My guess is that timing the Execution Labs $6million funding announcement with the start of the conference didn’t help ;)

We celebrated with another unofficial afterparty at XL (now an official tradition). Sadly, we got a lot of hate mail the next morning, cursing us for many a hangover.


Is it coincidence that all the women huddled together during the Epic pre-dinner?: Leah Hoyer (ArenaNet), Marguerite Dibble (Game Theory), Jenna Hoffstein (Little Worlds), Tanya Short (Kitfox).


Brandon Beck discusses Riot’s secret sauce: people.


Winning art work from the gallery showcase.


Playing Mario Kart during the party.


Justin Bailey (Double Fine) covers alternate forms of financing.


Tanya Short (Kitfox) on procedural generation.


Leah Hoyer (ArenaNet) on strategies to restart your career (and have your previous employer pay for the margaritas during you wallowing and venting stages).


Full house at the Execution Labs afterparty.


Busy bar action at the Execution Labs afterparty.


The after afterparty at Big in Japan.

Was great to head down to Mexico City for the first time to present at DevHR, the country’s longest running game developer conference.  The passion for game development was evident as the week-long event was full for every session and activity. While several amazing speakers were “imported”, the bulk of the content - and knowledge sharing - came from the local community.

Luckily, I had a bit of extra time to be tourist on the closing Saturday (and take in local treats like mezcal and fried grasshoppers). And, as luck would have it, the Mexican incarnation of the Mutek electronic music and digital arts festival was going on the same week. So I was sure to pop in for a bit of that event too!


View from my hotel in the Benito Suarez neighborhood.


Dance group practicing next to the 500+ year old church in the jardins of Coyoacan.


Mmmm…. mezcal. After a couple of these, your mouth goes numb. Seriously.


Ricardo Rocha presents GamesStarter, his new incubator based in Monterrey.


Crispy grasshoppers!


Speakers’ dinner/drinks.


Renaud Bedard (Capy Games) talks about creativity and electronics and music.


VIP party at gardens of local art gallery.


Paolo Pedercini (Molleindustria) discusses the Military Entertainment Complex.


Dead cute.


DevHR director Jacinto Quesnel ensures that Auriea Harvey and Michaël Samyn (Tale of Tales) and Paolo get loaded up on hot chocolate with chili!


Amazing DJ performances at the Mutek festival.


The Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral.


Historical dance ritual nearby the Zocalo plaza.


Super stylish open-air restaurant near Zocalo.


Opulent church action.


Streets near Zocalo were jammed!


Serpent on facade of ancient Templo Mayor.


Ruins of Templo Mayor.


More dead. Not so cute.

To say that Gamescom is a big event is an understatement. This year’s flood into Cologne, Germany, clocked in at a whopping 335,000 attendees. While I was there more so for the collocated conferences (GDC Europe, Respawn, Congress) and meetings, it was hard not to get swept away in the chaos.

It is all quite a blur. Well, except for getting to play the entire demo of the Borderlands pre-sequel (big thanks to Dave Eddings for the VIP access)! Embarrassingly enough, during my interview with the Wall Street Journal, I could not come up with a cogent response to what the main trends of the show were.

Side note, was a real treat to discover Spirits, the best cocktail bar in the Germany.

The boys from Digital Dreams discuss the creation of Metrico at GDC Europe’s awesome Innovative Games Showcase.

Meeting of the (somewhat) secret German game society.Yes, they are wearing hooded robes. Shhhh….

The Respawn indie conference had an interesting format with 4 speakers/stages in the same space (with everyone wearing headsets).

Cool riverside venue for Respawn.

Impressive Borderlands cosplay!

Wow, even the tractor game drew a crowd ;)

Big showing for Blizzard’s new moba game, Heroes of the Storm.

Was something of a zen moment witnessing these cosplay girls so mesmerized by Journey.

All hail the mighty and powerful Twitch!!

In addition to the impressive IndieMegaBooth, there was the German driven Indie Arena.

The annual Casual Connect conference in San Francisco is a wonderful event to keep abreast of everything casual/mobile/social…. and now casino and real-money gaming as well. That being said, if you walked the show floor, you would assume it was an event focused half on up-and-coming indies, and half on ad-networks. Makes for an interesting contrast!

I was on hand to moderate a lively panel on indie entrepreneurship, a rarely explored topic. Sadly, I didn’t get to take in more than a handful of sessions due to an intense meeting schedule. Good thing most stuff gets posted on video!

For more insightful/thorough thoughts on the show, check out Margaret Wallace’s observations.


XL alum Elin Jonsson (Imaginary Games) with a lovely Afterland painting/gallery set up in the IDEA showcase.


The bustling IndiePrize showcase zone.


Beware the t-rex lurking in the shadows of the new Chartboost offices!


XL’s very own Keith Katz (far right) drops biz wisdom on the crowd. Christine Lee (Chartboost), Mario Wynands (PikPok) and Shmuel Tennenhaus (Big Fish) say smart things too.


More XL alums, Dan Menard and Eric Angelillo of Double Stallion Games show off their IndiePrize trophy for Best Audio in Big Action Mega Fight!


My entrepreneurship panel, as captured via Twitter, covered wide ranging topics like funding, cashflow, founders, marketing, bizdev, etc.

 

Nordic folks know how to run a good conference! It was a pleasure to participate in the 10th anniversary edition of the Nordic Game Conference. It included a dinner with the mayor, an awesome indie night, awards and champagne, and the SuperHot guys. I did a lecture on startup funding/incubator models and was on an entrepreneurship panel.

As usual, there is a nice balance between the passion driven side of game creation, and the business elements (ie, investors summit in one room, and indies showcase in the next). And this is well reflected in the choice of speakers. In particular, ex Bungie frontman Marty O’Donnell’s talk on staying creative and being good to the “goose” (as opposed to just focusing on the golden egg) was especially inspiring!

Was also nice to have an extra day to wander around Copenhagen, and check into the Shayla Games indie conference.

The mayor of Malmo welcomes us to the historic city hall.

VIP dinner in city hall.

Hustle and bustle in the expo area.

Marty O’Donnell on staying creative.

Leah Hoyer (Microsoft) on innovative approaches to narrative design.

Massimo Guarini (Ovosonico) explores the emotion driven design of Murasaki Baby.

Indies extraordinaire Simogo win several awards.

Ilari Kuittinen and the Housemarque team win Game of the Year for Resogun.

Post awards dinner… for a thousand :)

Funky graffiti in Copenhagen’s meat packing district.

Best. Title. Ever.

Johan Toresson explains the incubation model of Gameport in Sweden.

Pop-up bar/cafe/club along Copenhagen waterfront.

Mandatory Nyhavn tourist shot.

Wasn’t expecting to come across an arc!

The famous little mermaid statue.

Entrance to the bastion area of Kastelet.

Spiffy lights and water in the Tivoli Gardens.

Fireworks at Tivoli Gardens.

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