Galway Games GatheringThe Irish indie gaming community came together for the first Galway Games Gathering. Katie Lalwani went along to check it out. The Irish indie gaming scene may not be so widely known. However, the small yet highly active community of game developers were out in full force at the Galway Games Gathering. It was a weekend jam packed with informative talks as well as lots to see and play, all while celebrating the creativity and innovation of indie gaming in Ireland and Europe.
“They’re really good for connecting with the community and meeting other developers. You learn so much from other people.”The inaugural event took place on the 16th and 17th of September in GMIT Galway and saw a host of industry experts and indie game developers gather together. The event provided a unique opportunity for smaller game developers and those just starting out in gaming to hear from the industry’s top experts while also meet others in the industry. It also offered a glimpse into the extraordinary amount of time and effort that goes into even the simplest of games.Unlike standard games, independent games or ‘indie games’ are those created without the backing of a publisher. This often means they have smaller budgets and teams, yet with a unique sense of charm, these games can often stand out in their own right.Attending the event to both give a talk and showcase her latest mobile game, Simteractive’s Elaine Reynolds explained why events such as the Galway Games Gathering are so important.“A chance to see lots of other games and to see what else is going on.”“They’re really good for connecting with the community and meeting other developers. You learn so much from other people.”Elaine was one of around 20 developers showcasing their games. The Games Expo exhibited a host of Irish gaming talent. There was everything from point and click adventures to virtual reality games, mobile games, and 2-D platformers and all in various stages of development. With such a great variety on display, there was truly something for everyone.Elaine was there to showcase Eden Isle: a mobile simulation game which sees players build and manage their own luxury holiday resort. A unique take on a familiar genre, Eden Isle starts from the ground up catering to the needs of a variety of guests including ‘tree huggers’ and ‘glampers’ with the goal of creating their own “little piece of Eden.”
"There was everything from point and click adventures to virtual reality games, mobile games, and 2-D platformers and all in various stages of development. With such a great variety on display, there was truly something for everyone."Explaining how the game changed since the beginning of development, Elaine went on to say how “lots of stuff is still really similar. I didn’t know what the artstyle was going to be. I didn’t know starting off it was going to end up looking like this. Lots of small changes that we’ve added based on what players have said.”Also in attendance promoting their game Jennifer Wilde was Stephen Downey from Outsider Games. A black and white comic book adapted to a point and click adventure, the game is set in the 1920s. The game follows arts student Jennifer Chevalier whose power to summon spirits leads to her accidently calling back the ghost of Oscar Wilde. Together Jennifer and Wilde set off across Paris, London, and Dublin in order to solve the mystery of the death of Jennifer’s father.Stephen spoke about how he found working on a small team working together to bring the game to life. “Development time takes longer [but you can] all be in one room which is nice and you’re all working together to build something.” He also talked about the experience of having people come and play the game in a gathering like this. “It’s definitely brilliant for feedback for getting what works and what doesn’t work.”Darkside Detective was another original indie game on showcase. The game was concepted during a Galway Game Jam. It’s a humorous point and click adventure with a retro pixel art style. You play as Detective Francis McQueen, investigating a series of bizarre and supernatural cases.One of the game’s developers Tracey McCabe described how working on such a small team “can be terrifying” as there’s no one to turn to when you get stuck. However, such an experience can “stretch you as a person to help you get better”. “You’ve got a lot more artistic licence and a lot more artistic input. I know how to make a game now rather than how to program.”Tracey had some key advice for aspiring game creators struggling to find motivation.“Get people to play your game. When you’re actually making games and you can bring them and let people play them you can see the fun they’re having. She also added “Learn your tools and figure out what you’re doing early. If you leave them ‘til the end they become a massive pain in the bum. Trust the people around you.”Along with the games showcase, the event also saw a number of industry professionals take to the stage during a number of talks. Industry experts included John Romero, creator of Doom, renowned composer Eimear Noone who composed music for World of Warcraft and lead programmer of Skyrim and Fallout 4 Brett Douville. Speakers from Xbox, Sony, and Unity were also on hand to advise on how best to break into the highly competitive industry. All aspects of the games industry were covered through the talks including how to fund your game, getting games from prototype to finished piece and advice on overcoming developmental hurdles.With a great amount of energy and passion on show, it is clear the Irish indie gaming scene can only grow stronger from here.