As I mentioned in my Day One article covering the Montreal International Game Summit, this is not your typical games conference. In this conference there are many learning opportunities, partnerships to be made, and resources to be found. I attended a few panels, but also spent a lot of time visiting some of the more collaborative booths in the expo hall.
Vanilla had a large presence, with a focus on creating user forums for sites and developing online communities. They had a passionate crew that was eager to chat with prospective clients and even potential new additions to their team.
Canada Media Fund had a team on hand to describe what is available. It’s pretty amazing that this group gives out $352 million in funding annually to support the Canadian television and digital media industries. This includes the video game industry, and many smaller developers have leveraged this fund to get their games started. The booth had a lot of traffic from most of the studios and partner groups at MIGS.
Xsolla: I know about middleware but generally think in the terms of game engines, physics, and audio. Xsolla talked to me about their systems to help monetize and grow platforms. They have anti-fraud, payment systems, and cart systems to plug into a gaming ecosystem. It was pretty interesting to hear about the depth of their services, which also include site builders and chat engines.
GenVid: E-sports and livestreaming sites like Twitch paved the way for Genvid’s platform. They told me about their systems, which are incredibly cool: streaming from a cloud instance, setting up virtual stadiums, crazy levels of interactivity with viewers. It’s pretty amazing what can be done now as a streamer, and the team was very eager to talk to many people about building their brands through enhanced streaming.
Dolby Atmos: I talked to the Dolby rep for quite a while, as audio in games is so interesting to me. He mentioned how Dolby is adding a ton of functionality via its Atmos software to virtualize surround sound for PC and Console gaming. He gave me a code to install it on my PC and I really could tell the difference. There’s much more immersion in games with this software turned on.
Game Connection: This was a little meta. This group runs an event in San Francisco called Game Connection: The Deal Making Event where developers and publishers meet to work out deals and partnerships. It’s a compressed gathering of many small and major players to get connections made and develop new partnerships. I had to stop and chat, as they were at a similar event discussing their similar event with participants.
Along with all the booths where I stopped to chat, I attended a few more panels, which were incredibly interesting. MIGS really brings in true experts that don’t sugarcoat the process for the audience; the lessons are real and the content is amazing.
Adventures in Video Game Writing was a terrific panel with Ann Lemay (WB Games Montreal), Elize Morgan (Ubisoft), Jill Murray (Discoglobe Interactive), Kim Belair (Ubisoft), and Lisa Hunter (Compulsion Games) as speakers. In this terrific roundtable, writers from both the Indie and AAA spaces covered techniques, failed concepts, what works well in games, and what doesn’t work so well. It was a great round of dialogue from a really talented group, fleshing out the writing process in videogames.
With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility: The Character Art of Marvel’s Spider-Man: This panel was hosted by Gavin Goulden, Lead Character Artist for Insomniac Games. It was a terrific deep dive into the love that went into creating the characters in the recent PS4 Spider-Man game. He explored how texturing worked and how layers were used to make clothes seem like clothes. He looked not only at Spidey himself but at the main villains and side characters. It was really interesting to see how they developed the organic textures that made the game so striking.
Music For Games: Under The Hood: This talk was interesting but a little too in-depth for a layman like me. Matthew Carl Earl (Hexany Audio), Michel April, Mike Raznick, Richard Ludlow (Hexany Audio), and Samuel Laflamme each talked about how they put together a selected piece from their portfolio. They discussed layering, where they got the audio, and how they iterated between versions and put the pieces together. I got lost as I did not understand the core concepts. This very cool chat was definitely geared to people working in the field already.
In between wanderings and checking out panels I also interviewed a few people. Of note were Chris Bourassa (Creative Director, Red Hook Studios) and Anne-Sophie Mongeau, Sound Designer Eidos Montréal. Both were great sources of information about their games and work environments.
In the end, the Montreal International Game Summit is a very specific experience where deep dives into the industry are possible. Specific partner paths can be explored, true learning can be obtained from the panels, and experts are around every corner It may not have the flash and style of a PAX or E3 but it is a really strong industry experience that has a lot to offer to insiders and fans of the video game industry.