Wednesday, Mar 30, 2016 Niina Pesonen , ,

We’re organizing another demo corner at the April gathering. The demo corner is place for developers to show their games and get some feedback. The space is intended for everyone: from teams continuing something they started at game jams to commercial studios.

Space is limited to eight spots. People demoing will get a table and power outlet. If you have special needs please mention them in the form.

Demo corner is free and open for all. Collected information will be used for event organization only.

NOTE: Provide your own laptops, phones, tablets or other devices your game needs to run. (Mobile devs might want to bring their own chargers.)

Sign up here!

Thursday, Mar 24, 2016 Tuuli Tammenkoski , ,

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Goodbye winter, hello spring!

Yep, you guessed right: It sure is time for another amazing night with IGDA! And we have with us no other than Electronic Arts and their mobile development studio tracktwenty.

Tracktwenty is EA’s mobile development studio based in Helsinki. The studio’s first title, SimCity BuildIt, has seen tens of millions of downloads since its December 2014 release and received multiple awards like the Best of Apple 2015. As well as continuing to develop and support SimCity BuildIt, tracktwenty’s experienced team of programmers, artists, designers and analysts are also working on new projects.

Come join us and let the good times roll!

IGDA Finland April Gathering with Electronic Arts

Time: 05.04.2016 at 19:00
Place: Maxine, Urho Kekkosen katu 1 A, 6th floor, 00100 Helsinki

Please note that you need to be at least 18 years old to attend. The cloakroom service is offered free of charge.

Tuesday, Mar 15, 2016 Anna Maria Parkkinen , ,

Hello hello! Time to recap the Helsinki March gathering with Reaktor Ventures. This time there was no seminar so we got started a little later. The evening was more of a hands-on experience with a number of exciting Virtual Reality demos available.

We also cheered and toasted Vesa Raudasoja for his success in the Board of Directors election! Vesa is the first Finn and only second European member of the Board, and his goal is to bring the “international” back to IGDA. To illustrate some of his ideas, Mr. Raudasoja described a collaboration between sites in different countries during the 2016 Global Game Jam. During the jam, the different locations posted progress updates, made video calls and cheered each other on over the weekend.

What’s up for you in the next three years, Mr. Raudasoja?

“I want to connect the dots in a large scale. The time is ripe for the European and International game developing communities to start working together more closely, in a natural way. I think all it needs is a little push in the right direction, and I wish to be there to put things in motion.”

“Over the ten years I’ve been involved in building this community, I’ve made a lot of friends and connections, but it doesn’t end here. We are going to do this as a community, I couldn’t have made this alone.”

Mr. Raudasoja also hopes that everyone would would offer him any insights or ideas about how to improve the international community and collaboration between the game developers of the world. You may contact him at vesa.raudasoja@igda.fi.  

 

Reaktor Ventures

The evening was sponsored by Reaktor Ventures, the Finnish seed stage investor. Mr. Ville Vesterinen, EIR of the company, talked to us about how Reaktor Ventures works.

“We like to be the first investor in the company, to add the most value. We invest from tens of thousands up to one million euro, and also offer the services of Reaktor’s 350 designers, coders & growth engineers to our portfolio companies free of charge. We have a strong interest in the Finnish game industry and want to work hard to make it succeed just as we want to work hard for the Finnish startup space in general.“

“So far at Reaktor Ventures we have invested in two very promising companies in the VR space. We have invested in both VR content as well as VR enabling technology, and intend to continue doing so in the future! Games are the obvious choice but VR has promise in many different sectors and we’d love to see companies across the board.”

Sólfar studios is an Icelandic gaming studio working on two titles: Everest VR experience (more on that later) and a game called Godling. Univrses is an early stage Swedish company developing the hottest central technology for all VR hardware – positional tracking.

What do you feel the future is going to be for VR technologies, Mr. Vesterinen?

“We believe that VR, and in due course AR will be among the central new growth markets of the coming decade and beyond. We have exceptionally deep understanding and competence in VR related technologies here in the Nordic countries, and we believe that wider Scandinavia, and especially Finland, is going to be home to many world leading VR and AR companies.”

Everest

Sólfar and Reaktor Ventures had erected a black box in the middle of the venue. Inside awaited a thrilling virtual reality experience on Mt. Everest, using the new HTC Vive system. Created from over 300,000 hi-res images, the environment also in fact allows you to physically move around, thanks to the Vive’s motion tracking tech. Cleverly using virtual step marks on the floor and a barely visible grid inside the VR world to mark the walls of the room, you can move around fairly safely inside the virtual experience without the fear of walking into a wall.

An exhilarating additional experience came from the handheld controllers. The handle-shaped controllers had great and very responsive grip, and the feedback felt surprisingly realistic – as if you were really dragging a gloved hand along the rope handles of a bridge! Also, being able to see your hands in virtual reality really adds to the immersion.

All in all, despite the shortness of the actual demo, the experience was very engaging, and doing what every responsible person should do to overcome their fear of heights – step over the edge into a bottomless icy gully –  was surprisingly terrifying, in spite of knowing there was solid floor under my feet!

Finnish Virtual Reality Association, FIVR, had a successful day hosting the grand opening of the Finnish VR Hub at YLE Iso Paja in Pasila earlier on Tuesday. The hub offers space and hardware for devs working on VR and AR projects, and contains currently powerful PCs, HTC Vive and Oculus Rifts. FIVR aims to bring together Finns interested in VR development. They currently have some 400 members, professionals and hobbyists alike, and joining is free of charge.

Their big day was rounded up by some very nice demos by FIVR members. The demos included a fun platformer called Lollihop, a VR comic episode game demo called Since They Left (Riidenpolusta Lähtien), a Samsung Gear VR space flight demo and another Vive demo, an exciting VR space painter called Tiltbrush.

We got to try a couple of these demos, but due to very long queues, we simply couldn’t get through to all of them. Joonas Häll tried Lollihop, a game where you control an adorable platypus in a platformer world: “The game was really cool – you can control the camera through the headset, so by leaning forwards you can see things up very close, or take a peek behind a wall and see where you’re going to jump to. Very enjoyable!”

I had a peek at Since They Left. It is going to be a five-episode game, combining features of comics, visual novel and adventure games. According to the game’s developer and main artist Kriina Rytkönen, the demo was an “episode 0”, proof of concept and a prequel to the main story. The story itself is going to feature the demo’s youths ten years later, meeting up in a forest with some supernatural elements. Sounds like fun!

Maxine was again full to bursting with people having fun, trying out the demos and enjoying themselves. Until next time!  

 

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Photos by: Janne Karvinen

Tuesday, Feb 23, 2016 Tuuli Tammenkoski , ,

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Guess what, folks! February is almost over and it´s time to get ready for the March gathering. And we´ve got plenty of awesomeness in store.

This time our event is sponsored by the fantastic Reaktor Ventures. They want to invest in the best seed stage companies and help them become global leaders in their industry. In addition to investing venture capital, the company makes their 300 professionals available for their portfolio companies for free. Since February 2013, Reaktor Ventures has invested in 27 seed stage companies, including 5 gaming startups.

Also, we´ll have some VR setups, including HTC Vive, for you to try out! Pretty cool, right.

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For a full day of VR, remember to check out the The Finnish Virtual Reality Association Grand Opening with seminars and demos held at YLE Iso Paja, in Pasila. More info and registration: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/fivr-hub-grand-opening-tickets

This will be a night to remember, so make sure to join us in March!

IGDA Finland March Gathering with Reaktor Ventures

Time: 08.03.2016 at 19:00
Place: Maxine, Urho Kekkosen katu 1 A, 6th floor, 00100 Helsinki

Please note that you need to be at least 18 years old to attend. The cloakroom service is offered free of charge.

Sunday, Feb 14, 2016 Anna Maria Parkkinen , , ,

Hello again! Time to recap the Helsinki February gathering! The atmosphere was very warm, with an impressive number of people having showed up to hear the pre-gathering seminar. We had King representatives talking about the company’s new game engine Defold, as well as New Dawn and Housemarque to show us a teaser trailer of their upcoming documentary feature film, Name of the Game.

While waiting for the Candy Crush Royalty to show up, we had a chance to set up a Pulla Crush of our own – King, our sponsor this month, had provided some delicious Shrove buns for the Almond team and the Jam team to battle over. 😉

 

The Defold Saga

Robert Käck, Mikael Säker, and Benjamin Glaser from King introduced us to King’s brand new game engine, Defold. King acquired Defold, now a six-year-old company,  two years ago. So far, Defold has been used for the King title Blossom Blast Saga, and a number of indie games.

The core idea around Defold is to create a lightweight game engine that would cut down the time spent fiddling with tools, and help you spend more time actually creating awesome games. Since most of the Defold devs come from AAA backgrounds, they know the importance of performance and scale – not just that of the games, but of the tools as well. Moreover, they wanted a tool that the entire team can use, from programmers to artists.

The engine itself will be very customisable. Capable of 2D and some nice physics out of the box, at its core Defold is 3D. The main scripting language is Lua, and all the features support fast and easy workflow. When restructuring folders, for instance, the engine keeps track of references for you. You can even make changes in scripts while running the game in the editor and see them take effect immediately! This is really good news for testing small tweaks. The builds for different platforms are also very fast, thanks to Lua.

There are some limits, of course – 3D and requires a little bit more effort and tinkering, and Lua as scripting language means you basically need to go low-level to create AIs. Currently the devs are working on a new, better editor view and engine expandability.

 

Sharing is caring

King is releasing Defold to the open public for free. There will be no premium versions, the engine will be the same inside and outside the company. When asked why, the answer was “because we can”. Openness also maintains positive pressure to keep up great quality and discourages trick solutions.

The engine is currently at invite phase, and there are invites available for IGDA people here. Defold will be officially published at around GDC this year.

 

Vote Finnish in IGDA elections!

Vesa Raudasoja was applauded to the stage to remind the audience of his nomination to IGDA Board of Directors. Mr. Raudasoja feels that while IGDA is the largest game developers’ association in the world, it is very US-centric. Mr. Raudasoja would like to offer global perspective and unite the European game front. If you are a member of IGDA, exercise your right to vote!

 

Name of the Game

Last but not least, we got a teaser sample from Name of the Game. What started as a marketing video about Housemarque’s still very hush-hush game project collaboration with the arcade game legend Eugene Jarvis has now turned into a full-length film production.

The New Dawn camera crew has been following the development process for 18 months now, and while Mikael Haveri, the Head of Self Publishing from Housemarque told us that at first they felt a bit shy and may have needed a beer to relax in front of the cameras, they have now become a natural part of the process. We can attest to that, having seen his butt in some epic ice swimming scenes!

The film will follow the key moments of the project, but it also dives into the lives of the devs outside the project. Release is expected after the game – still unnamed – is released, but we can’t wait to see the result!

If you missed the presentation, you find the trailer and more info here.

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Photos by Daniel Schildt

That’s that for this time! Hope to see you in March!

 

What is IGDA Finland?

IGDA Finland promotes the development of careers and professional skills of individual game developers based in Finland, and develops further the international recognition of the Finnish game developer community.

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