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Highlights from India Game Developer Conference 2019, Hyderabad : Unreal Engine, e-sports competitions, and more

Red Bull River Runes contest set-up

Red Bull River Runes contest set-up   | Photo Credit: Divya Kala Bhavani

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The massive event had gamers salivating over the high of e-sports, emerging technologies, as well as new avenues of entertainment

As one nears Hyderabad International Convention Centre, the ground throbs with excitement and the flags peppering the lanes leading to India Game Developer Conference (IGDC), ripple in the wind. Inside the convention hall are behemoth screens, shifting light shows and hundreds of smiling people bustling around.

IGDC was formerly known as NASSCOM Game Developers Conference; it went under a re-branding given the international pull of the conference. Much like the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco and ChinaJoy in Shanghai, there are exclusive opportunities for gamers, whatever the scale of their interest.

Industry savvy

The conference provided meet-cues between investors and gaming developers across the country and most of them took the form of immersive panels which included ‘Strategies for finding and vetting good partners for your company’ with Jay Powell and ‘Indian Market - Status Quo’ which featured Shubh Malhotra of MPL Gaming, Shalu Jhunjhunwala of Google and Vikash Jaiswal of Gametion, among others.

Pencils & Pixels’ Traditional C Digital Art Competition

Pencils & Pixels’ Traditional C Digital Art Competition   | Photo Credit: Divya Kala Bhavani

One of the attendees, Vijay K N, a future game designer, says he found the Indian Market - Status Quo panel quite riveting. “I wanted to know the realistic hurdles coming my way. In the creative industry, it is more important to know the business side of things so that you don’t get taken advantage of. There are still cases where game designers or studios have unwittingly handed over their property without seeing the legal side of it properly. ” Talks such as this also lay the foundation for jargon and help the creatives stay in tune with the headlines in their industry without feeling overwhelmed.

A particularly packed seminar was a fireside chat with Vishnu Cherikkandi of Tencent Games. One of the platform’s creations — a little thing called PUBG — created quite a stir this year with its continual antagonism with India’s courts and concerned parents alike.

Eye-catching tech

Not many people realise India is a major centre for the performance capture and motion capture we see in major games including Hitman, Control and Borderlands 3. Companies such as Hyderabad-based Firebolt Entertainment and Mumbai-based Centroid Motion Capture drew quite a few young hopefuls around career goals and even just inside knowledge on their favourite experiences. Centroid director Parth Shah is excited to bring the studio from London and Belgium to India finally where thousands of talented people can get in on the back-end development of gaming. “It’s time the world knows India is where it’s at!”

Two attendees play Red Dead Redemption 2

Two attendees play Red Dead Redemption 2   | Photo Credit: Divya Kala Bhavani

Clearly, democracy in the access to gaming tools was very much on the agenda at IGDC 2019, and much in agreement with this is Quentin Staes-Polet of Epic Games, the studio behind the well-known Unreal Engine and games such as Fortnite and Paragon. Having worked in the gaming industry for almost 10 years, he is all about creating new connections between the Indian market and Unreal Engine, a suite of integrated tools for game developers to design and build games. “It’s time to start supporting this big group of Indian gaming developers. Unreal will also make up a big part of Epic Games’ education scheme. Because of Fortnite’s global growth, we are ready to find the many developers out there, who are ready to work with AI and Machine Learning. We’ve seen so many developers with other approaches to design. Yes, it’s a competitive market and access to distribution is unequal. We want to make it less expensive for those who have ideas to develop their ideas at a low cost but still get a good result.”

League Of Legends fanatics leaned into Jayson Keyser’s talk ‘From VFX to Creation’ which details the exhaustive world of designing open-world games with precision and skill. “VFX comprises an evolving formula and you keep building on it. The quality of the developers makes the quality of the final result; League Of Legends has had a four-year working cycle. But I’ve got to say, one of my pet peeves in game design is when the frame rate drops.” Jayson heads up California-based VFX Apprentice where he’s an educator and artist.

Gruelling competitions

It is worth noting that IGDC did not have many people posed with their phones in the air for selfies. Unlike Comic Con India, there is no cosplay; here, people mean business — especially in competitive e-sports. NODWIN Esports Arena held one corner of the colourful room where the ESL India Premiership – Fall Finale was taking place. Were it not for the powerful air conditioning, everyone, including spectators, would be drenched in stress-sweat. Out of the end of this gruelling competition came four winners: Samith for Clash Royale – 8Bit Smoke, SynerGE Retribution for Brawl Stars, Global Esports for DOTA 2, Orgless5ive for CSGO.

One of the players at the Red Bull River Runes contest

One of the players at the Red Bull River Runes contest   | Photo Credit: Divya Kala Bhavani

One of the most popular games in the industry, Tom Clancy’s Rainbow 6 Siege India Series, had a competition too, and the winner was Vector Sports. But no one in the premises could miss the huge Red Bull River Runes contest which saw G.E. Micro (Sahil Kishor Viradia) take the trophy home.

The set-up for the e-sports session for Tom Clancy’s Rainbow 6 Siege India Series,

The set-up for the e-sports session for Tom Clancy’s Rainbow 6 Siege India Series,   | Photo Credit: Divya Kala Bhavani

Pencils & Pixels also had young graphic designers and animators competing in Traditional C Digital Art while there were also opportunities for offline competitions such as plasticine-moulding or even with popular board games.

One of the offline competitions saw a participant creating The Last Stag from Hollow Knight

One of the offline competitions saw a participant creating The Last Stag from Hollow Knight   | Photo Credit: Divya Kala Bhavani

Rajesh Rao is the mastermind behind NGDC and IGDC. Having been chairperson at NASSCOM Gaming Forum for 11 years as well as founder at Dhruva Interactive, it is fair to say Rajesh is on the pulse of what people want in regards to gaming, not just what’s hot in the industry. In an interview ahead of the conference, he shares, “Hyderabad is a great location because the Government of Telangana is really supportive in their recognition of gaming and visual effects as real industries. Seeing the build-up, I just wish I were 25 and starting now! Being an entrepreneur in this space is exciting; back in my day, we struggled and there was no business cases to it, it was purely passion-driven. Everything is lining up now; there are more resources and newer technologies.” This year’s IGDC saw over 3000 people in attendance and more than 200 industry speakers. From here on, as Rajesh says, it is only upwards.

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Printable version | Dec 6, 2019 3:22:59 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/technology/highlights-from-india-game-developer-conference-2019/article30095659.ece

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