Gaming gets down to business at Digital Dragons 2015
This was the fourth edition of Digital Dragons so far, and it was attended by over one thousand people, including almost a hundred speakers, representatives of four hundred companies from all of the world and tons of developers, whose main contributions were presentations of over 60 indie games and apps as well as over 60 hours of lectures and gamedev workshop sessions dedicated to graphic design, programming, publishing and marketing
Digital Dragons, an event organized by the Krakow Technology Park, took place on May 21-22 in Stara Zajezdnia and the Museum of Municipal Engineering in Krakow. Like every year, Digital Dragon trophys were awarded in various categories such as Best Polish Game (This War of Mine), Best Mobile Game (Sky Force), Best Artistic Setting (The Vanishing of Ethan Carter) and Best Game of the Year (South Park: The Stick of Truth). There was also, for the first time in Digital Dragons history, a University Talent Show where students were presenting their game projects.
In addition to gamedev folks, guests of the conference included venture capitalists and start-up founders, for whom there was a VC speed networking session prepared (a speed dating-like event where start-up founders sought out funding). Twelve capital funds had an occasion to take a closer look to nearly 40 start-up projects. This reflects Digital Dragons’ main scope, as the event is focused on establishing B2B and B2C relations.
In comparison to the Poznan Game Arena and Intel Extreme Masters in Katowice, Digital Dragons was almost entirely about business, enterprising and networking, which created a vibrant atmosphere of a lively event, full of new technologies and cooperation opportunities - and, most of all, new ideas.
Over the two days of Digital Dragons 2015, 90 speakers shared their knowledge on various topics. Four conference halls housed hundreds of attendees. This year's keynote speakers included Brian Fargo (inXile Entertainment), Marcin Iwiński and Michał Nowakowski (CD Projekt RED) and Matt MacLean (Obsidian Entertainment).
Brian Fargo, former the founder of Interplay Entertainment, talked a lot about facing the harsh reality of a publisher-driven market. "I can empathize with people dealing with publishers, as I was there too;" he described how his newly founded studio, InExile, used Kickstarter to create Wasteland 2, a game that both developers and gamers praised. He also presented his new, enthusiastically acclaimed project, the Tides of Numenera. When asked about all the differences between a classical approach to development and working on a project that had been crowd-funded, he revealed the core of his philosophy: "[fund raising] more money is for making more games!"
What makes Polish gaming Polish?
The Polish Game Industry panel discussion hovered over the topic of the "Polishness" of Polish-made games and how the way of creating them is different from their western counterparts. Aside of discussing the history of gamedev in Poland, there was mentioned tendency to include more and more Polish culture tropes into stories and overall design, such as various folk legends and fables in The Witcher or a famous song Zegarmistrz Swiatla Purpurowy of Tadeusz Wozniak used as a main theme in This War of Mine.
Marcin Iwiński and Michał Nowakowski (CD Projekt RED), Paweł Marchewka (Techland), Przemysław Marszał (11 bit studios) and Paul D. Robinson (CI Games) shared their insights, throwing in from time to time some fun facts about their best known productions such as The Witcher 3, Dying Light and This War of Mine, being a great example of how Polish games have evolved over the years. Their success is not an accident, as The Witcher series was continuously improved since the release of the first game in 2007, gaining popularity to finally reach its peak at the moment of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt release, when the game literally disappeared from shelves in the stores. Also production of Techland's Dying Light was a process during which was used all the experience gained from working on their previous survival-horror-style game: Dead Island. Although boom for Polish games and their skyrocketing popularity may seem as a revolution, this is a result of a clever evolution and persistent refining of successful brands quality over the years,
Bartosz Józefowski, administrator of the Technological Incubator in Krakow, pointed out: "Digital Dragons is strictly a gamedev conference, however, it is of great importance for the entire IT ecosystem. There is a lot to learn from game developers, especially in terms of monetization (B2C products), smart design according to customers' preferences and gathered data, building user involvement, targeting a proper niche (kids, seniors, serious games, therapeutic games, etc.), not to mention taking cultural diversity into account and encouraging creative cooperation between art, tech and business teams. Gamedevs have a lot of insights and experience in all of these. That is why I am following every edition of Digital Dragons with great attention".
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