So it’s been about 7 months since I’ve done a Tass Tips (shocking, right?). The reason is 2-fold… apathy / laziness is one, obviously. But the major reason is that I just don’t know what to talk about. I was originally considering doing genre-based tips (Rhythm, Point and Click, Phuzzle, etc)… but I feel that’s kinda lame. I’m not sure I can provide any generalized tips for a genre without contradicting some other game in the same genre. That’s a good thing, really, as it shows how diversified flash games are.
Input is needed. I need topics to talk about. I also need to know how you all feel about genre-specific episodes.
I want to preface this by saying that I’m not upset or angry at my panel not being chosen. I also have no clue how any other conference selects its speakers… whether FGS is doing what they all do or is doing its own thing.
So now that the speakers have been announced, I see a bit of good and a lot of stuff I’d like to see changed. There are now 2 rooms of speakers for the day, instead of just 1. That’s good. The large room seems to be focused on monetization and panels about making money. That’s expected. The small room looks to be about flash development and ways developers can make better games or make games easier. This is a start.
The major problem I have is that there is a clear conflict of interest with the advisory board. The board was made up of 6 people… and 3 of them were selected to speak, with a co-worker of a 4th speaking. The people making the choices of who speaks should not have any self-interest biasing them in their role. Going forward, anyone who accepts the task of picking the speakers should be disqualified from speaking. Frankly, this seems like obvious common sense to me… and I wrongly assumed it to be true for this year’s summit.
Another issue I have is in the submissions of panels. Granted, this year only has 3 panels (vs 9 solo-speakers), but that wasn’t the case last year. I have 2 issues. First, people should be limited to 1 (maybe 2) proposed speaking topics/panels and they must be on their own panel. I heard second-hand that someone submitted 10+ different topics, and that just seems silly. It’s a monopolization of the selection group’s time, and it shows that you aren’t focused on any one specific thing. Really, it says to me that you desperately want to speak, and by submitting a crapton of proposals… hopefully 1 will be selected. For being on your own panel, it’s the same basic thing… people shouldn’t be submitting random stuff that they want other people to talk about; they should be submitting something that they themselves can benefit others with. Second, any panel submission must include all the panel members. I know for a fact that 1 panel topic that is in this year’s FGS did not get its panel members until this past week. Greg and I worked hard coming up with members for our panel proposal. The people on your panel is a crucial aspect of the panel itself… how can a topic be selected without knowing who is going to be speaking about it. You also can’t submit someone else’s name for your panel without speaking to them about it ahead of time; again, I heard of a situation where this happened.
One more issue is that there are multiple speakers at this year’s FGS who also spoke last year. 3, specifically. Granted, they’re speaking about different things this year than last year… but let’s be realistic; they’ll likely say very similar things to what we’ve already heard. No speaker should be allowed to speak in two consecutive years. We’ve got a large enough industry where we can hear from new people on a year-to-year basis and still fill 2 rooms of speakers. Greg and I specifically made sure that everyone we considered for our panel was someone who didn’t speak at last year’s event. By re-using people who already spoke, the audience is being neglected the opportunity to hear more and different opinions/advice.
Also, can someone explain to me why we need 2 different panels on “Monetizing Your Game Outside of Sponsorship” and “Monetizing Flash Games Through Virtual Goods Model”? Aren’t they going to be saying identical things? The monetization models are, what? Sponsorship. MTs. Ads. We all know ads pay almost nothing for the majority of devs. That leaves sponsorship and MTs. And casual gamers are not likely to open their wallets for MTs unless it’s on a game that gets updates after release… which is basically MMOs. Which is virtual goods. Also, the 3 speakers for the virtual goods panel are all owners of MT platforms… GamerSafe, MochiCoins, and Kreds. Why no love for a developer who creates MMOs? Oh… because the non-sponsorship panel is 4 developers. Why was this not combined into 1, with 2 developers and 2 MT people? This could have also eliminated at least 2 (possibly all 3 if they brought on HeyZap as a 2nd MT person, or just used 1 MT person) of the speakers from last year. It also would have opened up another hour for another topic.
Finally, I’d have liked to see some panels in the developer room. The dev room will have 6 topics, and a total of 7 speakers (the Annal brothers are co-speaking for their topic). I get bored hearing 1 person speak for 30 or 60 minutes. I like to hear multiple and different opinions on a topic. Panels give this. 3 of the topics are about flash technology (haXe, pushbutton engine, and papervision3d)… so it makes sense that these are solo speakers. The other 3 are basically storytime with 3 different developers. While I’m sure it will be interesting to hear what the Annals, Sean Cooper, and AdamAtomic have to say… I’d rather have gotten at least 1 panel, so we could have gotten 3 or 4 people’s stories instead of just 1. Not to mention, no offense to Adam… but how on earth is he going to keep us interested for 30 minutes about Canabalt. It’s a fun game… it’s done very well… but it’s still just a 1-button action avoider game; it’s a wee-bit lacking in content.
I’m still excited about FGS. I can’t wait to meet all kinds of people. I’m just not so thrilled about all the on-stage discussion that will be going on.