AGDC 2007 – Day 2

9:30am Thursday – Fostering Open-Ended Play: Unleashing the Creative Community

Sulka Haro – Sulake

Sulka is the lead design behind Habbo Hotel, a casual non-game world popular among teens 13-16 all over the world. They get 11 million unique visitors per month and collect money with virtual item sales. By some measures (those that don’t involve revenue, but do involve users) they are “bigger than WoW.” That was a big theme at the conference. Everyone was talking about things that were bigger than WoW or as big as WoW, or whatever.

This keynote was excellent. Sulka talked about how Habbo Hotel came about and their experience expanding the game to add new hotels all over the world. He talked about the many features of Habbo Hotel; this is one seriously complex game. And, of course he talked a lot about the environments and forms of play that the users put together on their own. For someone, like me, who didn’t know anything about Habbo Hotel, this was a very educational talk.

11:00am Thursday – Web Client Development Issues – Best Practices

Michael Bayne – Three Rings
Michael Grundvig – ElectroTank

Three Rings is doing web development with their new game, Whirled. ElectroTank makes flash games and middleware. These two talked about the pitfalls of Flash, Java, and AJAX development for games that run in the browser. It was a pretty technical, but had a bunch of helpful tips on this sort of development.

1:30 Thursday – The Zen of Online Game Design

Damion Schubert – Bioware

Another talk that it’s worth buying the audio to. The slides are here, and Raph was live-blogging it. Lunch was a big rush to get to this one early so I could actually get in the door. :)

4:30pm Thursday – Startup Lessons from Recent Online Games

Raph Koster – Areae
Anthony Castoro – Heatwave Interactive
Joe Ybarra – Cheyenne Mountain Entertainment
Nabeel Hyatt – Conduit Labs
Daniel James – Three Things (Moderator)

This panel covered a wide variety of startup issues. To me the most interesting was funding: Each panelist had their own approach. Cheyenne Mountain is entirely funded by angel investors. They have more than a hundred of them. Heatwave is funded by a publisher in the traditional game studio route. In Areae’s case, Raph was approached with offers of funding from the day he announced he was leaving Sony and eventually settled on two different VCs to share the first round. Conduit is also VC funded and secured $5.5 million in funding over 6 weeks. Three Rings was self funded/bootstrapped, and launched Puzzle Pirates on relatively little funding, at least compared to the other panelists.

Gamasutra has a fairly complete writeup of the entire panel.


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