I spoke with Ada Chen from MochiMedia on the phone before the conference. She was interested to hear what I had to say about improving FGS after I posted my rants in February. That meant a lot to me… it shows that she feels the same way I do, that the conference should try to be the best it can and help the most people possible. We chatted for about 30 minutes, during which time I brainstromed probably a half dozen potential ideas that I felt would improve the event. Sadly, I did not write them all down, but I’ll do my best to re-state my ideas here.
After 2 events, we’ve really driven home all there is to say about monetization. At this point, everyone is an expert on MTs, Sponsorships, Social Games, etc. We know what needs to be done to make money with flash games. However, money begets money… so it’s highly unlikely that we’ll ever really stop talking about monetization. The goal is to limit it; downplay its focus and instead help people make, produce, and distribute better games.
I liked the 2-room setup, and at no point during FGS10 did I feel like I was missing out in 1 room by being in the other. As such, unless FGS11 becomes massively larger than FGS10, the 2-room setup should stay. But to quickly address… if we had a 3-room setup, I think a good breakdown would be Game Design for a main room, Monetization for a 2nd, and then Misc for a 3rd that would cover stuff like distribution or contracted work and could cover extra overflow from room 1. But for 2 rooms, Game Design as a main room and Other as the other.
The games are the focus. It is Flash GAMING Summit, after all. Topics about the games need to be the center of attention. I mentioned my Game Polish topic to many developers and sponsors, and every single one said they’d love to hear a panel on it. Beyond that, we need topics on music, collaborations, and sequels/games as a brand. These are all core aspects of game design and merit discussion.
I really liked that some talks were only 30 minutes and feel that more of them should only be 30 minutes. As I mentioned in my Reflections, some of the panels were extremely repetitive after 5-10 minutes and it was clear that it was a stretch to get an hour of content from them. Most (if not all) of the ideas from the previous paragraph would work well in a half hour segment.
One suggestion that I gave Ada that I really like is to break free from panels and instead hold more free-form sessions. Maybe invite 8 people up to speak in a roundtable discussion, share stories, and interact heavily with the audience. I feel that this would be a perfect environment for “Storytime With Developers”. I’d love to watch a bunch of top devs shootin’ the shit with each other, sharing horror stories and advice. No moderator needed. Maybe have 2 45 minute groups, or 3 30 minute ones, spread throughout the day. Maybe give them a topic to start with, maybe not.
We should also have topics that cover some lesser discussed issues, as they’re probably going to be more useful. I mentioned above distribution and contracted work as examples of these. My guess is that many people could benefit from a topic about distribution, as most people I speak with seem to always want to know how they can get their games on more portals. As far as contracted work, it’s accepted that it’s hard to land, but extremely profitable. I’m sure many devs would want tips/advice on how to get contracted jobs, what to charge, and how to properly conduct themselves through the project.
Finally, some logistical suggestions, born out of what I saw at last week’s event. The booths were in a horrible location (as they were last year). Hundreds of people trying to navigate a tiny hallway is not a good idea, especially when others are attempting to get into or out of the main lecture hall. There was plenty of open space down in the lobby, near registration… why were the booths not there? Next year, let’s try and place the booths in a more accessible location. Same goes with the after party. I’ll reiterate that an FGS after party should be an FGS after party solely, and not a joint-event with GDC (which many of us didn’t attend and don’t give a crap about). Beyond that, please plan for the amount of people that will want to attend and book a location that can accommodate us all without feeling like we’re on a cattle car heading for Buchenwald. And, of course, remember that the purpose of the after party is not to party… it’s to network; music needs to at least be quieter than a jet engine.
Hopefully at least some of these suggestions will be considered for next year. As I’ve said, I am highly critical of this event… but I really do love it. I want it to be the best. And I’ll continue to attend it for as long as I have the honor of working in this industry.