The Third Official Train2Game webinar – LIVE BLOG

Hello and welcome to the Train2Game live webinar blog.  From 18:15 to 19:15 on October 20th, the panel of Clive Robert, Tony Bickley, Jon Hare and Dave Sharp are discussed the Train2Game Incubator scheme and various issues in the games industry.

Below are what were live updates during the webinar about what the panel were discussing.

19:16 And that’s it from the Train2Game webinar! Missed it? It’ll be online in the near future.

19:15 The panel close by saying skills learned from T2G courses are transferable to other careers too,

19:14 The panel are discussing how to manage your own team. Tony says you need to examine what your team is looking to deliver before attempting to deliver a project. Business plan,project needs, THEN a team in that order. Jon says an efficient developer team is best as small team in order to encourage communication and interest. Rollercoaster Tycoon was made by 3 people max.

19:12 Tony does say however, that working on your Train2Game course in order to get the raw materials and skills before producing games is hugely important! Dave says that you can produce a basic game, using your new skills as you go along. Keep building.

19:09 Jon says you can create an iPhone game with two people – an artist and a programmer. A good starter game needs to be simple. A small team could produce something in 4 months. Getting games complete is important for future employers. Even if you have to make things very simple. Jon jokes don’t design Call of Duty for the iPhone. Dave says great successful iPhone games like Angry Birds are well produced, well thought out software. Nice production is key.

19:07 Tony says programmers are highly sought after. Dave adds that this is because its a harder discipline to a a degree. Programmers have to adapt to new hardware! Jon says that there’s now a lack of skilled 2D artists since 3D has become important. Social media gaming is changing this…

19:03 Jon says understanding WHEN to apply is a good idea. There are good times and bad times to apply. May and June are usually when developers have money according to experienced designer Jon. Tony adds that finishing the course is going to be a very important aspect for a students chances.

19:02 The panel are discussing what a student will need in their CV and portfolio to apply for jobs. Tony says students should only really start applying for jobs once they’re onto Section 3 of the course and have a complete portfolio. The portfolio work, the proof of your ability is very important! Dave says games companies will only look at a CV if the Portfolio is good. CV is second, portfolio is first.

18:58 We’re now moving into broader questions about the games industry. Get your questions in on Skype.

18:56 DR Studios are looking for a student at the moment. Tony says the studio is well set up for working with work placement students. They’d have an induction fortnight then gradually brought into the project and assigned a DR Studios staff member as a mentor working Hand in Glove with them. (I now have that track by The Smiths in my head)

18:54 The panel have asked how long placements will be. Dave says they’ll generally last between 3-6 months but could be longer or shorter to suit student needs in some cases. Students could require 2 months of mentoring from the studio so Tony says anything less than 3 months may not be good for your placement employers! Jon adds that it could take a little time for students to ‘adapt’to working at the coal face. The Train2Game mentors will still be involved with the students during the placements and incubators.

18:52 Tony says that paying retailers for shelf space and marketing and PR are important nowadays. Look at how much Microsoft and Activision have to promote games for example. HOWEVER, if you’re a successful commercial developer, you could be given the opportunity to produce an original IP.

18:49 Jon says getting noticed is the key challenge nowadays, but you can do that by making a great quality product that’ll attract a publisher. Dave says the fundemental thing now is that students need to know different between a commercial game and a good game. Alas, being commercial is important nowadays. He adds that creating a new IP could be difficult at the first attempt. Even Jon says that he needs to publish his own games now. Things have changed since the mid 90s. But original games can be done, but its hard. Call of Duty and Final Fantasy will always pull retailers in, they’re less likely to risk IPs. BUT iPhones and iPads make excellent opportunities for IPs

18:45 Will the student be rewarded if a game they work on in a studio becomes successful be rewarded? Jon says its unlikely at student level but the experience will be worth it. Tony agrees, saying that students are unlikely to be rewarded with royalties. But at this stage its the experience that counts.

18:42 Dave says academic references for incubators will come from Train2Game, while Dave will also look at students ability and skill. DR Studios staff will be involved in looking at Portfolio work. Tony adds that each studio involved with placements will assess students too.

18:40 Ed via Skype asks how many people will be in an incubator scheme. Dave says its not about numbers but quality and what the game requires. But 2-5 will generally be the size.

18:37 The panel are discussing combining placements with a full-time job. Many students study around their jobs! There ARE opportunities for those in employment. Dave answers the question, will students get paid on placements…answer: Yes! Train2Game will fund placements. £400-£500 a month in a bursary to match costs.

18:34 Jon says co-operation is a huge aspect of being part of a studio. Students shouldn’t worry about competing ‘against’ each other by working for different studios. Tony and Dave agree. Dave adds the games industry is unique when it comes to working together. Look at E3 for example! The ‘community’comes together a lot. Jon says that games industry professionals however shouldn’t be afraid to brake away.

18:30 Dave says there has been a good response from studios about the work placement scheme. Studios should be named in January. The Internal DR Studios designer incubator is already being advertised on the Train2Game forum. External will be advertised in January.

18:27 The incubators and work placements are external to the course, but will be a big boost to employability says Tony. Dave adds that students should preferably be on the later TMA’s of their courses.

18:25 Jon says the student will need to find a role in the team. Though students shouldn’t expect be making final decisions about what games to make! But they will be involved in producing games. Dave says when he started his career, he spent time getting developers to trust in his skills.

18:24 Jon says work experience progammes will help students become an asset to the studio teams, while learning from experienced games developers. Students will need to adapt their skills for a work place environment.

18:22 Shadow from the Train2Game forum has asked what is required to get on the schemes. Dave says students need ability, maturity, and that students are doing well in their courses.

18:20 Dave says the incubator scheme is designed to help students launch their own studios, while the placements will give students experience in game studios. They are purpose built schemes.

18:18 Clive says the panel will be focusing on the incubator and work placement programmes. Ask questions via Skype!

18:16 Jon just mentioned how he’s working on Doctor Who for the Wii. Exciting! He has 25 years of industry experience.

18:15 And off we go! The webinar is starting with the panel introducing themselves.

18:10 Only 5 minutes ’til the webinar starts!

18:06 Remember, you can get involved with the webinar through Skype by adding train2gamewebinar as a contact.

18:03 Not long until the webinar starts now. You’ll know Clive Robert and Tony Bickley as Train2Game course directors from DR Studios, Dave Sharp is the Incubator Scheme co-ordinator, while Jon Hare has been behind many, many games including Sensible Soccer.

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