Game Access Conference ’23 – Report

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Daniel Jaroki

A year later, the traditional Game Access developer conference again took us to the Brno exhibition center, where a series of lectures awaited visitors from developers and the professional community, which complemented the booths of leading Czech studios. This year also brought together a large number of independent developers who presented their new games and collected valuable feedback. The event remained true to the proven two-day format, dividing the program between Friday and Saturday.

The entry was marked by a concert by the string quartet Aristo Quartet, who performed music from the cult Heroes of Might and Magic III. The choice of music from this game had its justification, because immediately after that, game designer and producer David Mullich took the stage with an introductory lecture. This game industry veteran, who has been involved in the development of more than sixty games over the past four decades, shared his rich experience with the audience and showed that expectations and dreams can often differ significantly from the reality of game development.

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Of the large number of speakers, it is also worth highlighting a lecture by Troy Johnson, who helped shape the Hogwarts Legacy as a game designer. Also of great interest was a lecture by Will Shen, who works as the lead quest designer at Bethesda.

Ashborne Games has revealed its upcoming historical strategy.

Among the notable personalities appearing on Game Access this year are surely Sam Barlow (author of Her Story, Lies and Immortality), Sarah Beaulieu (writer and story designer at Ubisoft), Tymon Smektala (director of the Dying Light franchise) and And finally, Frank Klepacki, whose music you could hear in a number of games from the 90s and the beginning of the new millennium, led by the Command & Conquer series. The famous musician continued his lecture at the very end of the event with a separate concert.

The above list of people is only a small part of the total number of lectures that could be attended during the conference. After all, if last year the event managed with three audiences, then this year it took five halls. Two of them were located directly in the main hall of the exhibition center, and three more smaller ones – in the conference rooms on the upper floors. Thus, the entire conference safely occupied one of the large pavilions of the exhibition center.

Leading Czech studios and independent creators

Another important part of Game Access this year was the booths of individual domestic studios and independent developers. Of the larger studios, the development teams of Hangar 13, Bohemia Interactive, Madfinger Games, Ingame Studios, Grip Studios, or the Ashborne Games and Nine Rocks Games sister teams, which are owned by THQ Nordic, participated in the conference. It was Ashborne Games from Brno, led by Petr Kolář, who showed their upcoming historical strategy on Game Access, which you will learn more about soon.

Developers from Ostrava-based studio Perun Creative also beckoned the recently announced Kromlech game and the recently released Kvark game to their booth. But for the rest of the studios mentioned above, Game Access primarily served as a place to bring in potential new hires. The attached image above, with a recruitment board that was littered with current job offers, says a lot.

As usual, Game Access was visited by a large delegation from Slovakia.

As in previous years, the so-called Indie Showcase, which was designed to present playable demos of individual projects from independent developers, also became an integral part of the event. Although in terms of nationality, Czech creators were understandably dominated, Game Access traditionally also had a large delegation from Slovakia. Among independent projects, Scarlet Deer Inn by the two-man team Attu Games, Artificial by Ondrey Angelovic, or the ambitious Wind Rider by Watered Plants aroused great interest. You can learn more about selected indie projects in a separate article.

The area with retro consoles and vintage computers, where visitors could play many legendary old games, could be described as a kind of resting place with a touch of nostalgia. A pleasant surprise was the relatively large number of school and university stands, where students demonstrated their new game projects. It is the lack of graduates for certain positions in game development that is often cited as a problem for the Czech game industry. Therefore, it is nice to see more active participation of individual schools in such an event. In general, it can be seen that Game Access is gradually growing, as evidenced by the greater number of lectures, booths, independent developers and, of course, the guest lecturers themselves who decided to visit Brno.

Jan Urbanchik

A few days ago, the Game Access event took place again at the Brno Exhibition Center for the sixth time. Developers, journalists and other people from the region, as well as the general public, gathered at the site. As in previous years, dozens of independent publications, mostly by Czech and Slovak authors, were available on the site. The choice was varied, almost everyone found something of their own here, there were games from teams of several people, as well as small student solo projects. At the very end of the event, the best were awarded.

However, there were also booths of larger domestic studios such as Bohemia Interactive and Madfinger Games, and of course Hangar 13, an American studio but with branches in Prague and Brno. It must be said that the larger teams here have mostly recruited reinforcements in the form of new employees or have already released games available for play. One major Czech studio showed off their upcoming game at the event, Ashborne Games from Brno, but you’ll have to wait a few more days for details.

Lectures are an integral part of Game Access, and here too the choice was really great, both days were held in a total of five halls. While Czech and Slovak developers were presenting their games at the fairground, developers from all over the world were the hosts, so this part of the event was also conducted exclusively in English. For example, lead quest designer Will Shen from Bethesda came and talked about the development of Skyrim, the Adams brothers talked about their mega-hit Dwarf Fortress, veteran game developer Tom Hall, who stood at the birth of id Software and talked about the creative process when creating games, or Advanced Game Designer Troy Johnson of Avalanche Software who has focused on making games for the general public.

Personally, I really enjoyed the lecture by music composer Gareth Cocker, whom you may know from the soundtrack of both Ori works, as well as, for example, Halo Infinite, Ark: Survival Evolved or Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope. It was about why it is better if the composer is close to the developers, preferably from the very beginning of development, which Cocker then demonstrated with examples from his own practice. He also mentioned that he thinks composers should really play the game because it’s the only way to properly pair sound with visuals and take the gameplay to a whole new level.

Somewhat more technical but also extremely interesting lectures were given by two developers from the Nordic countries. Risto Jankkila from Finnish studio Housemarque spoke about the visual effects development for Returnal, especially the terrifying tentacles that are so characteristic of the game’s monsters. Christina Vega from the Danish company IO Interactive spoke about Glacier’s internal engine, which the studio has been using for almost 20 years, and during this time it has become a very effective tool that can be used between separate projects.

All in all, Game Access was a very enjoyable experience and I’ll happily return to it next year. This is a unique opportunity to meet people from the industry, learn a lot of interesting things and, of course, have fun.

You can get more information about the Game Access conference on the official website.

Source :Indian TV

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