DevCon Teaches the Ins and Outs of Making Games
Brooke Nicholson | Contributing Writer
In its second year, Pixelfest, Norfolk’s own gaming festival centered around the art of gaming and all its concepts, was held at the Slover Library from April 7-9. Fans and video gamers from around the area gathered to share their love and interest in everything gaming has to offer. Pixelfest offered amateurs and professionals alike some of gaming’s finest offerings. DevCon, a multitude of conferences hosted within Pixelfest, let gamers and tech developers see how their favorite games are made, along with giving a bit of insight as to how they can begin making their own. Speakers from ODU, Epic Made, NATO, and many more let game developers, fans and tech developers peer a bit into the world of how games are made, and what makes people come back for more.
One conference, “Level Up: Going from Zero to Alpha,” held by Anticia Macalou, gave a great overview and discussion about how to get your mobile game or app started on the basic level. She emphasized the importance of knowing where to start, sharing your idea with friends and family, building a good support system around your app and knowing exactly what you want to do with your mobile game or app. All of these concepts can give tech developers a great start to begin development. This gave game and tech developers an inside look into how someone who has developed their own app got started in the industry, managed their app and how it became successful. Her main advice was “think big but start small,” and don’t expect your app to become as big as Snapchat unless you want it to be.
Aside from the various professional conferences held at Pixelfest, some of the smaller classes from area-based game developers provided convention goers with ideas and information about where to start with story narrative, concept design and how to turn movies into possible video games. “Narrative in Games,” a class held by William Hart, Ph.D., a professor at Norfolk State University, gave fans a few background notions and concepts developed over the years to help people create stories for video games and how a certain formula can help any game succeed or fail.
Examples such as “Where the Wild Things Are” and “Die Hard,” were shown to present the idea of how a story can be adapted from one type of media (books, movies) into another (games). He emphasized the idea of having all stories or narratives follow the concept of having a beginning, middle and end, or simply, Act I, II and III. This can really help create a smooth flow to the story and helps players follow along or play much better.
Another class that revolved around these thoughts and ideas was held by two local tabletop startups from the company Epic Made, called Concept to Creation. Presenting some of their own designs and characters, they inspired students and tech developers about each aspect of what they were creating. The main part of the class talked about knowing exactly who your characters are, what their motives and goals were, how they looked and how every part of them had to mean something to the character. Drawings and early concept designs of their own work showed two main characters from two factions from their tabletop game, one being a huge tough brute while the other was a sly steampunk-styled assassin. Presenting fans with simple black and white drawings at first, colored drawings after and displaying the final product of the 3D design later gave everyone a good look as to how most video games or movies start out, and how they’ll end up looking.
DevCon touched on plenty of basic subjects about everything within the modern entertainment industry. From building your story into being a movie/video game, knowing what people are looking for when using your app or how to take your characters from being a simple drawing to the final product, DevCon provided the knowledge for creators to be ready to market and sell.