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independent games summit

February 18 & 19
(Monday & Tuesday)
Room 2024, West Hall

The Independent Games Summit features lectures, postmortems and roundtables from some of the most notable independent game creators around, including many former and current Independent Games Festival finalists. The 2008 Independent Games Summit seeks to highlight the brightest and the best of indie development, with discussions ranging from indie game distribution methods through game design topics, guerrilla marketing concepts, student indie game discussions, and much more.

[See Independent Games Summit sessions]

Independent Games Summit Advisors

Steve SwinkSteve Swink
Game Designer
Flashbang Studios

Steve is an independent game designer and lecturer. Currently: Flashbang Studios, The Art Institute of Phoenix, Game Feel: A Game Designer's Guide to Virtual Sensation. Formerly: Neversoft, Tremor Entertainment.


Matthew WegnerMatthew Wegner
Founder & CEO
Flashbang Studios

Matthew is CEO and founder of Flashbang Studios. Most recently he did mechanic design for Flashbang's OFF-ROAD VELOCIRAPTOR SAFARI. Matthew also edits Fun-Motion, a site about physics games, and will be unicycling across the whole of Vietnam in March.

Independent Games Summit Sessions

Day 1: Monday (February 18, 2008)   10:00am — 6:00pm

Scattershots of Play - The Potential of Indie Games
Speaker(s): Kellee Santiago (ThatGameCompany), Jon Mak (Queasy Games), Pekko Koskinen (LudoCraft)
Time: 10 - 11am
Session description: This unique keynote sees dialogue between three major game designers, where the makers of EVERYDAY SHOOTER and FL0W meet Scandinavian reality games. Each brings to the table their personal, different vision on gameplay.

When we stop at the words "good" or "better" or "fun" we don't even scratch the surface of what games are... or could be. Looking for "better" games seeks uniformity of value. Yet we need to understand the variety, potentiality of games first, to know where we are going... or could be going.

Coffee Break 11 - 11:15am

Evolving AQUARIA
Speaker(s):Alec Holowka & Derek Yu (Bit Blot)
Time: 11:15am - 12pm
Session description: Indie game creators Alec Holowka and Derek Yu discuss their journey developing the IGF grand prize winning game AQUARIA. From first prototype to final release, team Bit Blot share old builds and prototypes, mistakes and successes, design decisions and lessons learned demonstrating how AQUARIA was grown, not planned.

The Game Attorney: Indie Edition
Speaker(s): Tom Buscaglia (The Game Attorney, Dev Biz, Inc.)
Time: 12 - 12:30pm
Session description: Tom Buscaglia, "The Game Attorney," provides a legal foundation for indies. Independent game studios and developers need to know the basics of business and legal issues to be addressed before negotiating and signing contracts: how you look for a deal, how to negotiate your best deal, and how to manage the development process to assure the ongoing viability of your studio. This is not just about making games, it is about learning how to succeed in making a living making games by creating a company that stands the test of time.

Lunch 12:30 - 2pm

Unique Knobs for Indie Games
Speaker(s): Raigan Burns (Metanet Software)
Time: 2 - 2:30pm
Session description: With so many options for middleware and freeware, isn’t writing your own physics or graphics engine just technological masturbation? Raigin Burns of Metanet Software makes the case that creating your own unique technologies from scratch allows freedom of expression impossible with middleware and canned solutions. If Metanet's hit game N is "just a regular platformer with novel collision detection," could creating unique technology lead to innovation?

Spreading Your Message as an Indie Developer
Speaker(s): Thomas Arundel, Vicky Arundel, Mark Morris (Introversion)
Time: 2:30 - 3:15pm
Session description: UK-based Introversion, the creators of DEFCON and the multiple IGF award-winning DARWINIA, are notable in their use of effective branding and positioning to become one of the few indie developers making inroads towards entering mainstream gamer consciousness. But how? Explanations will ensue!

The Web Game Renaissance
Speaker(s): Chris Hughes (, Chris Pasley (Kongregate), Joseph Lieberman (Arcadetown), Josh Williams (GarageGames)
Time: 3:15 - 4pm
Session description: Small web games have become a viable creative form and business model, with sites like Kongregate, Newgrounds, Instant Action, and Arcadetown pulling down huge monthly incomes and attracting millions of visitors per year. Including representatives from the major players in this emerging game space, this panel will candidly discuss the eye-popping financials behind today’s most successful web games. From DESKTOP TOWER DEFENSE to a host of others, see how tiny in-browser games can be innovative, lucrative, and indie.

Coffee Break 4 - 4:15pm

Contracting Vs. Indie: The Showdown
Speaker(s): Brent Fox, Steve Taylor (Ninjabee/Wahoo)
Time: 4:15 - 5pm
Session description: Brent 'Indie Core' Fox and Steve 'We Need Money to Eat' Taylor square off in a battle of wits and whimsy over a question facing many indies: to contract or not to contract? If your company can't survive, you can't make the games you want. If you can't make the games you want, why make games at all? Find out how Wahoo/Ninja Bee strike a balance between OUTPOST KALOKI, BAND OF BUGS, and Disney's TRIVIA TIME in this battle of contracting vs. indie.

Postmortem: PIXELJUNK Series
Speaker(s): Dylan Cuthbert (Q Games)
Time: 5 - 5:45pm
Session description: Kyoto's Q Games was founded in 2001 by Dylan Cuthbert, a veteran developer who worked with Nintendo on the original version of STARFOX. The company is now self-funding and creating PlayStation 3 titles in the PIXELJUNK series, with PIXELJUNK RACERS completed and PIXELJUNK MONSTERS due out soon. Cuthbert will discuss the process and reality of creating this 'small game' series, inspired by classic '80s Commodore 64 and Spectrum games.


Day 2: Tuesday (February 19, 2008)   10:00am — 6:00pm

A Tale of Two Kyles
Speaker(s): Kyle Gabler (2D Boy) & Kyle Gray (Electronic Arts)
Time: 10 - 11am
Session description: Ever wanted to quit your corporate gig and make your own game? What about pitch your game to the head of the company and have it made? Two alumni from the Experimental Gameplay Project compare their experiences in the indie and corporate scene. Kyle Gabler left EA in May 2006 to start his own company (currently creating WORLD OF GOO), while Kyle Gray stayed behind to pitch his own title. Both made their own game. It’s unlimited resources vs. unlimited freedom in this, 'A Tale of Two Kyles.'

Coffee Break 11 - 11:15am

Ninja Ways: An N+ Postmortem
Speaker(s): Mare Sheppard (Metanet Software), Nick Waanders (Slick Entertainment)
Time: 11:15am - 12pm
Session description: Following the success of addictive ninja-themed platform action title IGF Audience Award-winner N, which is debuting both on Xbox Live Arcade and on the Nintendo DS/Sony PSP as N+, the creators of the original title explain how they moved their property onto consoles, with details on financials, technical issues and solutions, and a plethora of other specifics for indies aspiring to console/handheld.

Students to Professionals: The Indies of Tomorrow
Speaker(s): Tracy Fullerton (USC Interactive Media)
Time: 12 - 12:30pm
Session description: Game studies programs are rapidly becoming hotbeds of indie game development, a place for both students and researchers to innovate and take risks in low budget, high impact projects that explore strange new worlds of game design. The director of the USC Game Innovation Lab, the research unit behind projects like CLOUD, FL0W and THE NIGHT JOURNEY, talks about how to create a culture of rampant experimentation and innovation, and make the games you can’t make anywhere else.

Lunch 12:30 - 2pm

An Indie Reality Check
Speaker(s) N'Gai Croal (Newsweek), Stephen Totilo (MTV News)
Time: 2 - 2:30pm
Session description: How does the world at large really sees indies? Prominent game critics Stephen Totilo of MTV and N’Gai Croal of Newsweek take an objective look at the current state of indie games from the perspective of news, media, and entertainment in general. How are independent games doing in terms of mindshare relative to games as a whole, how could we be doing better, and what can we do today to make indie games more prominent? N’Gai and Stephen debate the answers.

Postmortem: Torpex's SCHIZOID
Speaker(s): Bill Dugan (Torpex)
Time: 2:30 - 3:15pm
Session description: As the first Xbox Live Arcade game to use Microsoft's XNA Game Studio framework, and the first title from independent startup Torpex Games, SCHIZOID is interesting from a multitude of perspectives. In addition to the postmortem standards of what went right and what went wrong during the development of this console downloadable game, and practical tips and specifics on the creation of the game, Torpex's Dugan drills deeply into the pros and cons of XNA, and into making a console game as a bootstrapped startup without publisher funding.

Innovating in the Casual Market
Speaker(s): Arthur Humphrey (Last Day Of Work)
Time: 3:15 - 4pm
Session description: To some independent developers, "casual" can be a bad word - connoting gameplay roteness, perhaps. But why does financial success, being on a certain portal, or the arbitrarily assigned label "casual" make you a sellout? Humphrey (VIRTUAL VILLAGERS) has created sophisticated independently-developed titles that are hits in the casual market, and explains his views on the surprisingly large indie/casual intersection.

Coffee Break 4 - 4:15pm

From CONTRA to SHANTAE: a Study in Contrasts
Speaker(s): John Beck (WayForward Technologies), Matt Bozon (WayForward Technologies)
Time: 4:15 - 5pm
Session description: How do you make the game great, especially when working on a licensed game, while also keeping the lights on? What are the realities of working as a long-time independent developer? WayForward (CONTRA 4, SHANTAE) has weathered the storm for longer than many, making acclaimed licensed and original games alike, and the business and creative minds behind the cult favorite company explain how to juggle priorities smartly.

The State of Indie Games
Speaker(s): Noel Llopis (Powerof2Games), Jacob Van Wingen (Gastronaut Studios), Jamie Cheng (Klei Entertainment), Matt Bozon (Wayforward Technologies), Jon Mak (Queasy Games), Ryan Clark (Grubby Games)
Time: 5 - 6pm
Session description: Hear from full-time indies. How do they manage their time, their projects, and their lives? This in-depth panel presents practical tips on working from home, with teams of friends, remote teams, motivation, and everything else indies typically have to face.

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