Connection is an event designed to build relationships between game
developers and game publishers in an intimate, quiet environment. It is
put together by Lyon Game, and takes place twice per year: once in
December in Lyon France, and once in March, to coincide with the Game
many attendees, Game Connection is viewed as the antithesis of E3.
Rather than struggling for meetings amidst the booming audio and
flashing lights of the sales-driven event, Game Connection is a
relaxed, intimate environment that allows attendees to have intimate
meetings with potential partners they may not normally have access to.
American game publisher Mastiff's Bill Swartz described it, Game
Connection's basic premise is "a lot like speed dating, except they
look at your checkbooks and technology instead of your jewels and
curves." Game developers taking part in the event reserve a modest
meeting room, and request meetings with publishers via a simple online
interface. The Game Connection staff then schedules the appointments
accordingly, in thirty minute increments.
Game Connection that coincided with Game Developers Conference 2006 saw
increased attendance for both developers and publishers over previous
years. Developers the world over came to show off their wares,
introduce themselves to the world, or to simply touch base with
prospective clients from the past.
concludes its coverage of the 2006 Game Connection at Game Developers
Conference with a look at four of the more off-beat developers in
attendance this year, including a game developer that owns the
intellectual property rights to a major British comic franchise, secret
"ninja developers" who have managed to remain anonymous through over
1,000 developed games, former Sony Computer Entertainment staffers who
left their comfy offices to develop games in a co-worker's living room,
and a self-starting punk rock studio in Santa Cruz pitching games about
monkeys on tricycles and little girls with chainsaws.
developer Rebellion returned to Game Connection this year to pitch
their quick-turnaround development services. "It's useful," said CTO
and co-founder Chris Kingsley. "You come here to meet publishers and
find out what they're looking for. Sometimes they come to us with
ideas, like EA with From Russia with Love."
developed the Sony PSP version of the James Bond-themed game, from the
ground up, in just five months. "Actually, we did Dead to Rights
in just three and a half months," said CEO & Creative Director
Jason Kingsley, the second half of the two brothers who founded
Rebellion in 1991. "The key thing is, our tools and technology allow us
to do that. We had the first demo of From Russia With Love
running in 24 hours. The baseline that we start from is really
sophisticated. It's all about the tools and technology," he continued,
referring to Rebellion's proprietary middleware, Asura.
In addition to quick PSP ports, Rebellion have also just completed Rogue Trooper,
a third person adventure, starring the character introduced in the
pages of the Rebellion-owned 2000 A.D. comic book property, perhaps
most recognizable to those outside of the UK as the imprint responsible
for Judge Dredd. The game is being published worldwide by Eidos
Interactive, and launches this week in Europe.
Rogue Trooper; developed and intellectually owned by Rebellion
duo are at Game Connection to find new work but, like most at the
event, aren't expecting to build an instant relationship on the show
floor. "Nobody's going to sign a deal today," said Jason. "It's an
opportunity to continue building relationships. Besides, we don't want
to work with someone who doesn't know who we are and what we're all
about. We're not a factory. We're a creative studio, and we're proud of
what we do."
in 1979, Tose Software is a global game developer, operating in China,
Japan, and the United States. Employing over one thousand people, Tose
has developed quite a few portable games as of late, including nineteen
Sony PSP and seventeen Nintendo DS titles. In fact, Tose's entire back
catalogue has surpassed 1,100 games, developed either in part or, in
most cases, in full, with hardware ranging from arcade cabinets to
classic consoles such as the Nintendo Entertainment System, to the
Japanese MSX computer, to mobile phones, and even relatively obscure
portable devices, such as the Wonderswan Color. Tose is almost
unarguably the largest company in the world dedicated specifically to
video game developmet.
What, you've never heard of Tose? There's a good reason for that. They don't want you to.
always behind the scenes," said Masa Agarida, Vice President of Tose's
U.S. division. "Our policy is not to have a vision. Instead, we follow
our customers' visions. Most of the time we refuse to put our name on
the games, not even staff names."
"We're ninja developers!" he joked.
With only a handful of exceptions, Tose's name has never appeared in a game it has developed. One such exception is the Starfi
franchise, an exclusively Japanese, Nintendo-published platform series
originally for the Game Boy Advance, with a Nintendo DS sequel recently
"Starfi is the first game where we own the IP, we share it with Nintendo," said Agarida. "We worked together to create Starfi, and that's why we're credited."
Tose and Nintendo's Legend of Starfi IV for the Nintendo DS
Other than the four Legend of Starfi games, the Nintendo DS title Sega Casino, and the Game Boy Advance version of Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas,
Tose refused to officially acknowledge any other developed titles to
Gamasutra, leaving approximately 1,094 Tose titles left unaccounted
for, including titles published by such high profile corporations as
Atlus, Bandai, Capcom, Electronic Arts, Koei, Namco, Sony, Square Enix
Tose obviously has strong publisher relationships in China and Japan,
where it is a well known company in the eastern game development
spectrum, Tose's presence at Game Connection is aimed to establish
relationships with western companies.
want to have more exposure for our U.S. office, that's why we're here,"
said Koichi Sawada, Tose's Director of China Sales. "And also, more
exposure in France."
the halls of Game Connection with a duffle bag full of attractive
promotional T-shirts, and seducing passersby into his meeting room with
wine and crackers, was Geoff Houston, General Manager of a brand new
start-up developer called Machine. The company employs eight people,
all of them former employes of Sony Computer Entertainment America.
Machine is located just outside of San Diego, in an office converted
from a home. Houston's home.
"We converted my house into an office space, we love it. We're happy," said Houston, with no sign of sarcasm.
was present at GDC to show off their proprietary next-gen game engine,
Machinder, which uses Ageia’s PhysX for its low level physics, along
with a prototypical game concept with an original IP that they're not
yet ready to announce to the world.
An image taken from Machine's web site.
big fans of the game connection. We brought wine, you don't bring wine
to something you're not going to enjoy," joked Houston. "We really like
the response we've gotten, the people we've met, and the connections
we've made. For a young game developer, there's no better way to spend
Game Connection marks Machine's second appearance, with the first being
at last year's Lyon, France event. "In Lyon we showed a small tech
demo, with just a small portion of the basic game mechanic," said
Houston. "Now we have a much larger demonstration."
Connection] is not a place to sign a deal," said Houston. "You want to
come here and tell everybody everything you can about yourself, and
find out about them. It's about gathering research and getting yourself
into the spotlight. We've gotten tons of office visits based on our Game Connection experience."
Santa Cruz Games
the soldier monkeys have bombs, and the elephant shoots peanuts like a
machine gun and stuff," explained Alex Neuse, Project Manager for Santa
Cruz Games. "The idea is that you're stacking, and as you stack your
teeter tower is toppling. This is just a tech demo, but if we could
really devote some time and money into it, it could be really awesome."
Neuse was demonstrating Pickles, a game demo of Santa Cruz's own IP. While Neuse would love nothing more than to flesh Pickles
out into a full game, he's not specifically pitching it to publishers.
"All this is is a tech demo of us running our engine," he explained.
"It also runs on Xbox, PSP, PS2, PC, and even the DS."
Santa Cruz's Pickles demo
joined Santa Cruz six or seven months ago, and I've been so impressed
with their tools," explained Neuse. "I've used proprietary tools in the
past, but these tools that this small dev studio has are so awesome."
we really want to do is make great games. The reason that we're here is
we're wrapping up our current project, and looking for the next thing."
current project is an as-of-yet unannounced movie tie-in game for the
PSP, Nintendo DS, and Game Boy Advance, to be published by Electronic
Cruz also had a handful of other playable demos to show, including a
PSP game starring a fly-themed superhero buzzing around an open-ended
city, a fishing game for the Nintendo DS that utilizes the touch screen
for just about every aspect, from boat motor control to hooking a worm
to casting a line, and perhaps their most ambitious demo, a game
starring a little girl named Joanne taking down zombies with a
chainsaw, the codename of which is How I Spent My Summer Vacation.
"It's like a survival horror game for kids," said Neuse. "This
is the one we usually show when we're pitching new game ideas. I think
it's every developer's dream to eventually be doing our own ideas. It's
certainly ours. But we've done tons of licensed games. We know how to
deal with licensors."
"I feel like we're about to really take off and become what we've always dreamed."
[04-26-2006 Addendum: Corrected PhysX implementation info for Machinder]