Latest Podcast: Episode 181 – Inside Outriders
An Interview with Tom Killen of The Voxel Agents
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IGDA Melbourne organised the 2011 GGJ at La Trobe University

DBG: Were you surprised by the numbers of entrants?

TK: Greatly! Melbourne is such an active hub of development and interest in indie games. We always knew the local community was strong, but to get such a massive showing for our very first event is remarkable. Massive props to everyone involved, it was a huge success.

DBG: For you, is it finding hidden talent and new ideas or directions of game development, or is it more the networking and end products that spark your interest?

TK: The real passion of game development comes in discovering new mechanics and techniques. Networking and polishing products is of course very important and rewarding, but really the passion springs from the new and the novel.

There’s nothing like the feeling of creating something new. This isn’t always a dramatic change or paradigm shift, but often occurs in an incremental fashion. One of the games at the Melbourne GGJ demonstrated this brilliantly. On the surface the game appeared to be a fairly standard SHMUP (Shoot ’em Up), but introduced a great risk-reward mechanic that twisted the SHMUP genre to reward staying still at great risk of being shot. It was brilliant.

DBG: In past years have many teams gone on to create dev companies? Do you think any of the teams from this year will?

Ultra Happy Death Virus HD won Best Game at the Melbourne GGJ

TK: Certainly! My own company (The Voxel Agents) started from the Brisbane 48 Hour Game Making Challenge, also known as the Fab48hr, which is a very similar event. After we met with some success at the Fab48hr, we were encouraged to strike out on our own and form our own studio.

The talent at the Melbourne GGJ was very impressive. I’m certain that we’ll see some of those teams moving forward in the future to start their own indie studios at some point in the future. Without doubt they represent the next wave of great Australian game developers.

DBG: Is there a grand champion team, do teams move up into National or global Jams?

TK: There is no international competition. In fact, not all events are judged at all. The feel of the event is more one of friendly rivalry rather than intense competition. We’re more interested in everyone making great games rather than finding out who is “the best”.

DBG: How did the IGDA Melbourne participate in the other Jams going on in Australia?

TK: There was some very strong rivalry between the Melbourne and Sydney Jams. We set up a Skype link between the two competing jams and traded insults. Just quietly, I think the Melbourne jammers got the best of that battle ;-).


The Last Flight of the Bumblebee won Best Graphics and tied for the Participant's Choice award at the Melbourne GGJ

DBG: What filled your time on the day as the teams sweat it out?

TK: La Trobe has a fantastic security system which meant that a great deal of my time was spent swiping people in and out of the various labs. It was great exercise.

When I wasn’t operating the doors, we were busy handing out lollies, cooking sausages, and building GIANT towers of instant noodle cups. It was pretty impressive and at one stage was over a metre high.

DBG: Does the IDGA assist in post-event facilitating? i.e. sales or marketing of the games created at the Jam, setting up teams in formal development?

TK: The Melbourne IGDA hosts monthly meetups which involve informal talks, networking, and a few drinks. The next meetup is at Cho Gao in Melbourne Central on Tuesday the 8th of February. Typically we have these meetups on the first Tuesday of every month, but we delayed it this month due to the GGJ.

The local IGDA community is a great resource for local developers. It’s not a formal organisation nor do we provide any formal assistance, but the informal network of friends and advice is invaluable. Anyone who works in the games industry or who is studying games would be remiss not to attend. It’s also great fun and the local community is very welcoming.

Want to read more about the Global Game Jam? Check out the official site at http://www.globalgamejam.org
To find out more about IGDA Melbourne and their meetup’s visit their site or follow them at @IGDAMelbourne on Twitter
You can check out a list of all the teams that participated at the Melbourne Global Game Jam, and the games they created, on the IGDA Melbourne blog here.
You can find out more about Tom Killen and The Voxel Agents at http://www.thevoxelagents.com and on Twitter @TheVoxelAgents

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