aMAZE 2015 - My first ever video game's festival!!
This week in April has been one of the greatest and most inspirational periods in my relatively short time of game development; I learned, laughed, was confused and enlightened, made friends and contacts and all in all just had such a blast just being there!
The amount of new information, the experience of being around so many cool people and learning from their stories was such a delight! I met so many interesting people from all over the world and everyone had something else to say/contribute to the event.
The mood was always positive, the people friendly and I bumped into an old school friend, whom I hadn't seen in about 5 years. Time was flying so fast because well, I was having so much fun....and there were so many new surprises...
So here abit about the venue and setting:
The festival took place at the Urban Spree - which is half way across town and it took me around 45 mins to get there with the Subway. The compound it was hosted on was a bit untypical for a conference of this scope but it actually felt more real that way!
Below you can see what the main exhibition hall looked like:
It got very full in the evenings and relatively stuffy because although the organisation and set-up was really on par, the air-condition system for the entire building was non-existent.
I was lucky enough to work on a game that Richard (raxterworks) and Evan (freelives) had entered into the festival and although we had to cut down on some particle effects (the computers the organisers offered weren't merely strong enough to play the games in full capacity) we got some very positive feedback. The players were also entirely immersed as you can see below (the Headphones and Oculus combination worked so well that some people felt so experienced motion sickness and had to take a break!)
During the day we had several talks and workshops that took place in a huge factory hall 500m away from the exhibition grounds (which meant that you did a fair bit of walking in between). I enjoyed these talks and we had some high-profile indie game-devs giving us insight on some interesting aspects such as marketing, creation and dismissal processes, prototyping, dealing with controversial themes & topics, technical programming advice etc.
The speakers all had very cool topics and each did their best to also actively engage with the audience which took place inform of a Q&A session that happend after the talk.
Besides having lots of software games to try out in the exhibition hall, there were a few hardware games that were super impressive! I personally had a lot more fun with these because apart from being mainly multiplayer games, these arcade-style games were a lot more engaging (in my opinion) and I felt a stronger connection towards the other players!
This game in the photo below is played on a long strip of LEDs and you need to wobble your way past the harmful lights to the top. (SPOILERS: "Linewobbler" managed to secure 2 out of the 5 awards)
We had some really abnormally crazy people (in a good way :D ) at the event and some corners were used for singing, dancing, jumping, jousting, face painting via Paint (photo below) and a lot more physical activities than what I had expected! People were so chilled and nobody cared about being judged - so rad!
The nightlife/music scene picked up from Day 1 and although I missed most of it (my legs gave in after spending most of the day walking around the grounds) I managed to soak in the general vibe of it! Everything was glowing/shining at night and the Urban Spree really came to life at night with a lot of people arriving just to dance and party...Some people even smuggled in some beer because the beer being sold at the bar was a bit pricy and I had the pleasure of meeting these innovative guys!
The party inside the club room was full of energy and the highlight of the dance scene came on the last night when acts like "Fucking Werewolf" and "Kozilek" performed. The dance floor was flooded and the room drowned in sweat fumes, pretty colours and dirty beats..
The 4 days spent at aMAZE have really changed the way I look at games and also at people. It was a huge learning experience and I would definitely recommend anyone that likes playing games and interacting with such awesome people to take part in it.
I regret not having taken more business cards with from SA but I made one or two really good friendships in that time and that is worth a lot as well...I guess