Getting game-y at Glitchcon 2016

Kyle Weik

Today’s piece is by Kyle Weik, Fargo local and indie game maker. He’s the co-creator of popular woodland survival game On My Own, which reached 100,000 users in under a month after launch. On My Own will hit XBox One by the end of this year.

 

On April 29-30, the On My Own team was invited to the third annual Glitchcon, a two day event in Minneapolis that showcases game development in the upper midwest region. Glitchcon is put on by GLITCH, a non-profit group based in Minneapolis that serves to cultivate the digital games community.

The first night of Glitchcon was focused on the Minnecade expo, where from 7pm-1am attendees could explore the beautiful McNamara Alumni Center at the University of Minnesota, and play over 20 different games from around the region. The show floor was darkened, with the flashing of each game being projected onto a screen being the main source of light, making for a rich sensory experience.

I was posted in the corner of the expo, stickers and business cards in hand, as attendees slowly made their way over to check out what the Fargo scene had to offer in our game On My Own (OMO). It was my first experience being at a large event showcasing OMO, so it was quite surreal as I observed groups of people watch while players attempt to survive the world of OMO.

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I unfortunately was bound to manning my post as the only steward of the OMO project at Glitchcon most of the time, but was grateful when other game makers made their way over to introduce themselves and chat.  It was a highlight to meet other creatives and discuss the art and design that went into the game.

I did eventually get the chance to make a sweep across the Minnecade show floor. Virtual reality, multiplayer action, puzzle, and adventure games were some of the genres represented. I ended up having a great conversation with a 3D artist working on Everend, a game about an owl exploring a sprawling cave, solving puzzles in order to navigate the stalactite labyrinth. At 1 am, we finally cleaned up and headed out to prepare for the next day.

Day two of Glitchcon was focused on event sessions, that ran from the morning into the afternoon. Attendees were able to choose which sessions they’d be interested in from a list that included interactive classes on creating retro pixel art, utilizing the physics in the Unity game engine, discussions on gender in game dev culture, and even entrepreneurial sessions like how to work on a small team, SEO, marketing and pitching your project.The keynote speaker was Bill Heinemann, a programmer who worked on the original Oregon Trail.

On My Own

Gamers play On My Own

Upon entering the McNamara center for my first session, I ran into Fargo transplant and champion of the game maker scene, Corey Cliett of NerdQ. He had just arrived on the scene that morning, so I linked him up with the founder of the Midwest Game Developers, a Facebook group connecting developers in the region.

Most of the sessions I attended focused on marketing, as that’s where we are with the OMO project, but I did attend an interesting panel discussion called Parallels: a Conversation Between Creative Mediums. The panelists were all creatives coming from different mediums but all involved in digital games, whether it be the music, or creating interactive experiences to be played in art galleries. Discussion tread into topics about digital games influence on culture, and it’s place in the art world.

Glitchcon ended late in the afternoon, with some awards given out to developers, and some inspiring talks from speakers pulled from the game maker scene. This being only the third year of Glitchcon, I was impressed and inspired by the team at GLITCH for being regional visionaries in the game maker community. They bring an air of professionalism and legitimacy to the scene, rallying together game makers and providing opportunities to strengthen those relationships.

 

Learn more about On My Own here.

Join the game-makers here in Fargo at monthly Fargo Game-Maker’s meet-up! The next meet-up is on May 18, 6:00 PM at the Prairie Den.

Marisa Jackels

Marisa Jackels

, Tech