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Monday, November 18, 2013

Chp 478. Game Conference at Marriott, Pune.

What a busy weekend this had been. We, as in FITH Media, took part in our first ever Game Developers Conference, and man was it exciting and awesome as hell!

Since none of us had been to such a conference before, we didn’t know what to expect. We’re not even a year old Gaming Company, unlike many of the popular gaming studios who were taking part in the conference… would we be sidelined, would be we just a shadow in a sea of experienced players?

But we’ve come a long way in this short span of just 10 months. Two of our games, “Nikal Padi” and “Where’s My Cat?” were nominated for “Best Indie Game of the Year” Award!!!

And so we booked our tickets for NASSCOM Game Developers Conference (NGDC) two weeks ago. Since our games were nominated for an award, we could even avail of a 1000 rupees discount on our NGDC passes too! :D

As the agenda for the 2-day NGDC event was released, we looked at the extremely packed schedule happening simultaneously…

So many good talks by prominent people in the gaming industry were taking place at the same time, ranging from fund raising techniques, In-App Purchases, Tech workshops, Design workshops, Legal consultation, Mentorships, Indie game practice etc etc., and so we planned our participations carefully …

“Sumeet is attending this and this, Satish will attend this because it is important for him while Abhilash will attend this, then Shrey will join him for this, I will attend this and this, and then Jordan will attend this with me and then we will all meet up to attend this together…” and so on….


Since we were one of the finalists for “Best Indie Game of the Year” award, we were given a “stall space” to showcase our game to the public. Even though our stall was right at the end, it was truly an honor to be given that space at such an important event. We decided to utilize that to promote our other games as well. We made posters of “Where’s My Cat?” and personalized cards of all our games, so that people could easily download our games directly using a QR Code reader.

FITH = Fire In The Hole

Initially we thought any of us who were not attending a seminar would man the stall. We’ve never been that mistaken, lolz! The amount of people who came to our stall was so overwhelming that all of us had to be present continuously the entire time! All of us spent at least 80% of our time showcasing our games and explaining who we were, how we started the company, the type of games we’re developing, our offices, our future plans etc etc instead of attending the seminars. Man, that was crazy! :) But it was sooooo worth it, having met so many people we could network with to enhance our growth and quality of upcoming games.

I know, I know. It was our first time. We didn’t expect that at all, and it was so much fun.

Another thing we didn’t expect at the NGDC was the CosPlay! I’m a CosPlay fan, but there is a difference between a “Game DEVELOPERS Conference” and a “GamiCon/CosPlay” event. The latter is where you’ll find the CosPlays, the former is where you’ll find all the nerds and geeks discussing about programming languages and game engines/platforms.

But lo and behold, there was this really cute CosPlay girl on Day 1.

At first I thought her friends must have played a mean prank on her by telling her this was a Game Cosplay event and not a Game Developers Conference. But again I saw her on Day 2, mingling with the people and CosPlaying as cute as ever.

Eventually I took a pic with her :)

Turned out, she’s a huge CosPlay fan, a professional CosPlay model, and she was hired by NASSCOM for the event! Man, such an awesome profession. She goes by the name Niha Novacaine professionally, and here are a few photos from her FB page (posted here with her permission of course).

Yeah she definitely did make the NGDC more glamorous. Do like her FB page! ^___^

So how did we end up here and how was our entire Game Developers Conference experience starting from the very beginning? Here’s how it went -

We left Mumbai on Thursday evening around 6 PM. We took turns driving the Grand Vitara, as the distance was more than 150 KM. Got stuck in traffic IN Mumbai, as the day happened to be Muharram Ashura, so there were traffic jams everywhere, and by the time we finally got out of Mumbai, it was almost 9 PM!

Stopped at a Mc Donald’s in Panvel for dinner, and came across a type of burger that didn’t exist back in Mumbai McDee outlets – a burger called “Smoked Chicken Supreme”, which had two chicken cutlets and two slices of salami, and the bread was very different too.

Our verdict – Too bland.

Finally after a long drive (and two near-death experiences!) zig-zagging in and out of lanes at 140 kmph on the long Mumbai Pune Expressway, completely guided by Google Maps GPS, we finally reached Pune. Stayed at a friend’s house, where we were welcomed by Laphroaig and other really awesome single malts.

Slept peacefully by around 3 AM.

The next day, we made our way to the Conference venue: JW Marriott’s.

The place was packed! People everywhere, interacting, networking, socializing, setting up stalls etc etc.

We set up our stall too, by putting up a large banner Where’s My Cat and our FITH Media logo as well.

Jordan kept our visitors well entertained too, though he would only showcase our games to the fairer sex! If any important CEO or game producer of a reputed gaming company came to our stall asking for a demo and if that person happened to be male, then Jordan would quietly walk the opposite direction. Bastard :)

We measured our stall’s success with the number of new business cards we got. Jordan measured his with the number of new phone numbers he got. Kids…

Lunch and tea/coffee intervals were always packed. Well, with more than 1000 delegates not just from different parts of the country but from overseas as well taking part in the conference, this was not surprising.

At the Award ceremony, we didn’t win :( HUEBRIX by Noodlecake Studios deservingly won the Best Indie Game of the Year Award.

But we weren’t that disappointed, considering the number of people we met and exchanged cards with – Consultants, Co-founders, CEOs, Art directors, Tech heads, freelancers, students looking for internships, Publishers, Marketing managers, Business developers and Investors, including people from renowned companies like Disney, EA Sports, Reliance, Amazon, Microsoft and Ubisoft, not to forget all the Who’s Who of the Indian Gaming Industry.

On a personal basis I got to interact both online and offline with many people and even became Facebook friends with Founders/Co-Founders and other prominent people in the Indian gaming industry like Kinshuk Sunil, Yadu Rajiv, Manas Gajare, Anup Sarode, Swapnil Kadhav, Abhinav Sarangi, Jikku Benn, Asar Dhandala, Ravi Korukonda etc etc… including the ahemz... CosPlay model Niha Novacaine! :D

We ended that night with Beer, Biryani, and some random DJ :)

On Day 2, we skipped the awesome lunch served at the conference and saved our appetite for Burger King’s delicious beef burgers! We continued manning our stall, and attended 2-3 seminars individually.

Before leaving, we also tried out many of the new gadgets and game devices people brought to the venue. I didn’t take any photos of those as I was too engrossed in the games, but here’s one set Jordan took of me. This interactive game was really fun and cute, and it had this totally catchy beat too!

We left the Conference after that. Next year, we’ll be back :)

At Burger King, they were out of Beef Steak burgers when we got there, so we had the next best thing - their King Beef Burger Supreme burgers. Definitely the best beef burger joint in India! :) And the quantity was not only HUMONGOUS, it was really affordable too, at just 60 bucks a piece! Why aren’t they opening a chain in Mumbai, why why why????? :(

We left for Mumbai after that. We stopped on the Expressway to enjoy the beautiful idyllic sunset in the distant horizon…

More photos of the beautiful romantic sunset… *sigh*

Sumeet drove on the way back, and we were doing extremely good, hoping to reach Mumbai by 8PM.

And then the tragedy happened.

After passing the second Toll gate after Lonavala, our car broke down!!!!!

Turned out, we were out of engine oil, and so some of the guys walked back 2 KM to the nearest auto service shop, bought engine oil and hitched a ride in a delivery van back to our location.

But even after filling it up with 2 liters of engine oil, there was still something wrong with the car, making a loud TAK TAK TAK noise continuously. Some of us called up people we knew who were auto experts and finally it turned out that one of the pistons was broken because we were running without engine oil for quite a distance!

We had no other option but to call for a Tow Truck. It took more than an hour for the tow truck to reach us.

We travelled at 20-30 kmph after that, and this was what I was staring at for 5 straight hours. Arrgghhh so much torture.

The total cost of towing came to 5000 bucks. Finally reached home at 3 in the morning. Dayymmmm what an adventure it had been! :)

Other than the misfortune towards the end, I am really looking forward to doing this again, taking part in other Game Conferences and networking with others. What a weekend!


1 comment:

Sharmi said...

Congratulations guys for the wonderful opportunity of participating in the game development conference!