Greetings from Melbourne! It's been about a week since Martin and I officially announced Funomena - and we wanted to take a moment and say thank you to everyone who wrote, called and sent encouraging messages. It's always a bit nerve-wracking to start a new project, and doing it as an indie adds that extra tablespoon of unknown to the mix. So we've really appreciated all your support and well wishes. We love you, too!
We definitely soaked up a ton of inspiration at IndieCade, and the trend has continued for me here at Games Connect here in Melbourne. I flew in on Saturday, to give the opening keynote at the conference on Monday. This year's GCAP theme is Inspire, and my talk focused on how independent developers here have a unique opportunity to create personally meaningful, passionately developed games. That's because in the 5 years since my last visit here, many of the folks here who used to be employed at larger, work-for-hire studios have decided to form small indie ventures of their own!
So you can imagine how positive and exciting the vibe has been here - from creative conversations about project ideas to practical advice about the day-to-day realities of running your own company. I have had some *incredibly* moving and inspiring talks with developers here - particularly students, and a crop of professional developers who are just getting off the ground with new, experimental work. That includes David and Ian of Pachinko Pictures, Yossi & Paul of Current Circus, and the wonderful League of Geeks - who recently announced their new game Armello.
Last night was the opening party for the festival - held at the Australian Center for the Moving Image, where I will be speaking on Wednesday night as part of the Game Masters exhibit series. David collaborated with the museum to put together this amazing collection of games, source material and interviews - which features many talented developers and many of my favorite games. The cabinet section of the show is fantastic (Tempest, Rip Off, Robotron OH MY!), and it was especially lovely to see Journey alongside flOw and Flower in the "Indie" section of the exhibit.
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Being at a conference fills my mind with ideas, which I need time and space to process. So this morning, after a quick check-in with Martin (several hours ahead in San Francisco time) I took a walk down the river from the Convention Center to the Melbourne Aquarium. I'm a pretty avid fish nut, and try to see the aquarium in every new major city I visit. And it was worth it!
My talk here was very optimistic - and at one point I asked Yossi if it came across as naive. "No," he said. "It strikes me that we are always encouraging kids to be optimistic - but then, when you get older, somehow that's not ok." Walking through the aquarium today I realized that this is something that goes much deeper for me than just an outlook on development.
I have a strong, child-like belief that everything is connected, in a deep and good way. I feel compelled to get very close to the surface of the fish tanks, crawl into the crowded, kid-sized view ports, and giggle with them at the strange and creepy life forms we see there. I gasp when a shark swims by, caress the case where the octopus suckers splay out, reach out on tip-toe to see if I can "catch" a passing manta-ray. The adult me knows that we are separated by thick walls of plexiglass - but the child in me believes that somehow, we can still feel each other.
In some way, I think it's this belief that inspires me to make games.