Games Conference 2018 Hamburg recap

Hey everyone,

today, I want to write a little bit about my impressions from the Games Conference 2018 in Hamburg, where I attended yesterday. There was a bunch of different talks and the topic of the Conference was “Play it – The future of games & films”. So I will go through the different talks and try to recap and summarize as best as possible 🙂 All talks are available on YouTube: GameCity

The opening

I was a bit late, so I missed half of the opening speak, but it was most likely about Hamburg. There are more games studios than ever before and more revenue was generated than the last year (somehow I do something wrong here, while I always hear of growing revenue in games and more studios I wasn’t able to get my slice of the cake yet). Also there were huge investments into faster internet speed on all schools in Hamburg and they plan to contract huge bunch of professors in technology universities to educate even more students.

Christian Fonnesbech (Nordisk Film Games) – “Less risk, more value: Create your IP for ALL media

This talk was really great. Christian seemed like a very cool person with a lot of experience in games and trans media. The talk was about creating your own IP and spread it everywhere, but he also said before creating any IP or think about a it of course a game should have a fun and cool core mechanic. This made him very personable for me, because it was more directed to create very cool games instead of focusing on an IP and make the most out of marketing.
Nevertheless what he said was, that if you have a good game, which performs quite well try to make an IP out of it. Take the world or the character and make another game of it and spread those things into other media like tv series, books, toys and so on. Another thing was to rely on your creations and don’t start from scratch for your next project. Always try to reuse as much as possible and tighten your IP.

Michael Geidel (Produzent für Film und Games, MiriquidiFilm Leipzig) – Case Study: Vom Album zum Buch, Film und Game und vom Film zum VR-Game – Erfahrungen aus Transmedia-Projekten

I actually was a bit reserved in this talk. It was about a Jazz band, who created an music album for kids and MiriquidiFilm Leipzig did some short films according to the tracks and presented them to an audience of kids. It was very well accepted and they also asked, if the kids would like to see a game out of those series. Actually it was a great example that one IP could spread through different medias, but as far as I understood: MiriquidFilms was just contracted to do the films, so it was kinda less interesting for me, since I want to create my own IP and not working for some one else as a studio. That said they also tried to make an VR-Game out of it and had some success with it.
My opinion to VR / AR and MR is something like: I like the idea in generell and it offers a lot of potential, but with all the different hardware and no standard its kinda too early to dig deeper into the topic right now. Also I often have the thought when I see some VR projects “Why not just making a normal game? Because I don’t see any advantage of the VR technology”

Case Study: Die Workflows von „Trüberbrook” – Was man aus der Filmproduktion für Games-Development lernen kann – Hans Böhme (btf GmbH)

That was actually a blast. Hans showed some scaled models and how they created a film out of it. Trüberbrook was a very successfull kickstarter and looks amazing. You can find the kickstarter campaign here:
Now they are trying to make a game out of it. They have a very unique workflow for that, since they work with scaled models. They often take pictures with real lightening and use them later as pre-baked textures for their environment. For this they try to get the same camera perspective in game as they have used to take the picture. Only the main character and some dynamic objects were designed fully digital and got dynamic lightening, which actually generated some problems they had to take care of. It was amazing for me to see those very different techniques and how awesome they worked in the end. 
Actually one of my problem for the most talks was: I can’t compare myself to these studios, since all of them had already bigger teams and much more opportunities with their creations, which made me kinda sad sometimes. Because I have the feeling I could never achieve such cool models or environments as a single person in a reasonable time. Anyhow, I could take something away in any talk and of course I respect their work a lot.

Short break and networking

After these three talks we had a short break to get some food, drinks and could talk to each other. There was a colorful audience from developers over producers, publishers, schools, media etc. I met an ex coworker from Innogames, who is now working for Amazon. Amazon had a small booth to show up their “game on” services, which are quite cool and I would like to use in future. Amazon was also one of the sponsors of the conference. Three more talks followed.

Case Study:AR-Game zur Graphic Novel „Der nasse Fisch” vom Carlsen Verlag
Bengt-Oliver Stellmann (Creative Director, Garlic Games Media GmbH)

AR-Game talk with a bit of a fresh concept. Oliver talked about a project, where they tried to create an AR-Game out of a comic. They pitched a first prototype to a publisher and the publisher answered something like: I am sure you are able to ship the game, but I don’t think you are able to create a comic and publish it. So they searched for another publisher and found the “Carlsen Verlag”, who had already published comics and some experience with AR-Games. They could take advantage of a comic, which was already in production and would be released within the next months and build up their game on that. The challenge was they wanted to create a new story for the game, which differ from the comic. So they had to talk and discuss with the author and designer of the comic. This is always a problem they mentioned, because you try to build up on their “baby” and this can lead to different opinions and emotions. In this case they had a very successful conversation and could get up with a story and a game for the comic. Their first prototype worked with a print. You had to scan it site by site with your camera and than you where able to play different levels as a standalone game. The game they are currently working on works with surface detection and no longer needs a print. You just download it from the App Store and scan your surroundings. So they rely on the rooms where you are actually in. This technology is quite nice, but also offers a lot of difficulties, especially if your room is much smaller or bigger than the level which should be presented virtually.

Case Study – Petra Monheim (Founder, Goodbye Kansas Germany)

Sorry, but for this “talk” I only got two words: Advertising show. The talk consisted of 5 or more high rendered trailers with very cool effects and of course awesome characters and models, but really there wasn’t any value in the talk. It was just a showcase of their awesome trailers and explaining their studio structure / construction. For me as single Indie Developer this was a bit frustrating, since I couldn’t really take anything and just thought yeah would love to have those visuals … It was actually really impressive, but for a budget I will never be able to spend. At least the trailer for Biomutant, was interesting for me as a gamer, because it looked very nice and I could like it.

Marktzahlen und Chancen bei transmedialen Produkten – Niklas Wilke (Partner, PriceWaterhouseCoopers)

The last talk was about the future of different markets from a business insider. It was a presentation with a lot of percentages and numbers and differed a lot to all those creative talks before. Nevertheless I found some trends quite interesting. The biggest growth for the next five years is expected to be in eSports, followed by video games. I am a huge eSports fan and really like this trend. There is also a discussion ongoing, that eSports should be treated as normal sports in Germany. This would allow to register legal eSport clubs etc. Another really good point for us as indie devs – Video games are predicted to grow even more within the next five years. Actually the biggest growth can be expected on casual mobile games, in between pc games and last but not least console games. Impressive fact: On consoles still 60% of games are bought in stores as boxed version and only 40% online as digital copy. Unlike pc games where a lot more games are bought as digital copies.

Buffet, networking and beer

After this we had some food again, beer and could talk to each other. I met a few people and talked to them. Unfortunately I had to leave early so I couldn’t attend very long. There were also some more talks in the evening I couldn’t attend.


As Indie developer there weren’t too much topics of interest or related to my daily business. Nevertheless most talks were quite exciting and educating. I won a free ticket, so the conference was actually free for me, which was quite nice. I think I wouldn’t pay the normal price for the conference due to the lack of interesting stuff for myself and I am very bad at networking.

Daily business as freelancer and further planing

Daily business at AboutYou

for about 2 weeks I am now working for AboutYou in Hamburg / Germany. Who not knows this company it is a fashion web store, which is quite popular in Germany. The workspaces are very modern, the team and its structure is really nice. Unfortunately it hasn’t that much to do with games, but anyhow it is a paid project job for at least 3 months and it allows me to get some distance from my projects. The income will help a lot to push my projects further and having more options such as paid artists etc. The downside is of course, that within the next three months I can’t update very much, since I am working as a full time freelancer.

Rainware – How does it continue?

Nevertheless, today I would love to share at least some ideas I came up with. So even if I can’t spend much time on my projects I have the possibility to rethink and plan the further course of Rainware. First of all I want to continue making games for at least one more project. With all the gathered experience within the last two years I need to make another one. The question is what kind of project will be the next one and when I can start with it.

New game project idea

A 3D remake of the game “Mega lo mania” or “Tyrants“, which was the game name in the US. It was actual the first strategy game I ever played, even before hits like Dune II completely got me, and for me it was the game, which made me loving RTS games. As a tribute and of course because the game was fucking awesome I would like to make a newer version out of it.
As a challenge and personal improvement I want to enter a new area: “3D”. I will stick to Unity as engine as far as I can tell you for now. The modelling will be done in Maya by myself. It won’t be an easy task at all, but I am very motivated and can’t wait to get started and keep you informed about the progress. 

Soon …

But first things first I have to finish the freelance job to refocus completely  on game development. This sets the start date for development to May, but there is actually already some work in progress. I am preparing the GDD and analyse the market, technologies etc. I will come up with more informations within the next blog post, which will focus around the new game project / idea.

5 Mistakes I made in the last years as Indie

Hello everyone,

today I want to write a bit about my mistakes in the last two years. Some things I know better today other things were known, but I ignored them somehow. At least I got a lot of experience in two years and I will try to improve in the future. So let’s start with my 5 biggest mistakes “by now”.

1. Timbertales was a way too big project to start with as Indie game developer

This one is very special. In general you will often read don’t start too big etc. I also read those lists before I started to become an Indie developer. Nevertheless my first project was too big. The reason for this is simple. I already had written the backend for Timbertales years ago. With those pieces of code and a whole working server my thoughts were “More than half of the project is already done” – It wasn’t. I didn’t even do proper project planing on my first title or estimations, because I wanted to start programming as soon as possible. Lots of the features were implemented while programming and without any planing. So today I would advice to everyone -> Do proper planing, have a game design document with all your features and stay focused!

2. I wanted to reach out for a too big audience

My reason to develop games with libGDX was to distribute my releases cross platform. Thats not a problem at all, but you should have in mind, that mobile players are different from pc gamers and the chances are very low, that you will create a game, which perfectly fits on both platforms. Also you shouldn’t underestimate the maintenance time for different versions, even if you are using cross platform frameworks. Especially things like Facebook Login or In App purchases working different on different platforms and you will have to implement them native or with a 3rd party lib. Then you have to build various release versions and maintain different store entries etc. I think you get the point as a single indie developer time is always a matter and waiting for reviews or upload 25 different screenshots with different resolutions (iPhone, iPad, android tablet 7″, 10″etc) will just cost you time without anything in return. For example on Timbertales I uploaded it to itch, Steam, Android, iOS and Amazon. I should have focused on 1 or 2 platforms, since the download numbers weren’t any good at Amazon for example.

3. Creating games with revenue in mind

After I realised Timbertales will not cover my development costs. I had the problem, that I will run out of money within the next months. So I came up with FlatFatCat. The problem with the concept of FlatFatCat was, that it was created with revenue in mind. I wanted to create a game, which would cover my development costs and so I lost the biggest motivation for us Indies – Passion. An Indie game without passion can’t be successful at all, thats what indie game stands for!

4. Shifting to a platform without the knowledge to market your game

Somehow with FlatFatCat and Space Unicorns I targeted the mobile market, but I am not at home at the mobile market. I dislike to play on my smartphone in my spare time. I am a core pc and console gamer. Unfortunately FlatFatCat and Space Unicorns directed into a wrong direction and to a market, where I don’t have much knowledge and experience. I liked the development for mobile, but thats not enough to market a game successful. As a pc core gamer I should have sticked to the pc / console market, since you are your best customer! If you wouldn’t buy your game, why should anyone else do it?

5. A way to generell marketing without reaching the right audience

My approach here was to reach out for the biggest audience possible without making any thoughts about, who would play my games. I just went for the masses, but what I missed was: There are a lot of other games, which will do better than mine and you can’t compete with them. So try to place yourself in a niche and do the best marketing there. Marketing is always a hassle for me, but I think it is a lot better to hype your product in the right audiences instead of trying to reach to big presses or reviewers, which will just ignore you.

Thank you for reading! I am looking forward to your comments, questions and feedback. I hope you can avoid some of the mistakes, but I also think that mistakes are needed for improvement.