I vaguely recall a conversation Eric Zimmerman and I had with Stephanie Barish (the queen of IndieCade) years ago about her crazy idea to start an indie focused festival. The event started in California and only recently has added an East Coast edition in NYC.

As this was my first time at the East version, was super happy to see that it encapsulates the same level of indie awesomeness and variety. Lots of cool games, and deep thoughts on independent creation. That said, was cool that some of the big corps (eg, Sony, Nintendo, Facebook), were on hand to support and participate.


NY, NY!


Execution Labs’ cofounder Keith Katz with pitch advice during the PlayCrafting event.


The design debate. Was intense!


Devs discuss Kickstarter strategies.


Keith reaching for the stars…


Interesting game experiments as part of the exhibition.


The Sony+indies+love panel.


The ever luscious Lovers in a Dangerous Space Time on display.


The event was hosted at the Museum of the Moving Image, which meant you could check out the permanent exhibits.


Post event fun in the big city… Secret entrance to Please Don’t Tell. Shhhh….

 

This was my first time over for a European edition of Casual Connect, which mostly ran the same as the American version. Amsterdam played host to a bustling event, with a massive 120+ game indie showcase. I was one of the IndiePrize jury members, making for a nice excuse to “force” myself to play many of the games.

The Netherlands in particular, has a rich pedigree of indie development, not least of which is due to the success of small shops like Vlambeer, and the efforts of the Dutch Game Garden.  But interestingly, given how siloed the education system is, you tend to get startups comprised of a single discipline: a bunch of engineering school buddies start a team, a bunch of art school buddies start a team, and so on. Not surprisingly, there are no business school buddy teams!


Lovely view from my AirBnB along the Singel canal.


Inspiring art-in-progress at the amazing THISISAROBOT imagination studio.


Mega organ at the opening reception.


The bustling indie showcase area… hmm, arena?


An actually good/fun industry party.


The IndiePrize jury in heated debate.


Blindflug Studios wins Best Mobile Game for First Strike HD.


Yes yes, we stumbled upon the red light district… meh…

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.

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