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Updates from Winter to Spring

Hi! It’s been fairly quiet here since the New Year because I’ve been working on one of the most challenging and busy contract projects by far, by doing a lot of fundamental in-game engine work. Whenever I can, I have tried to make some spare time for adding to game design concepts, aesthetics and writing fiction. Additionally, I was able to be part of two 48-hr game jams during this time, Toronto Global Game Jam and TOJam, which were both fascinating experiments with some great talents.

Starting late May and early June, I will create more content for this website, including blogging about Canadian game dev projects, events, and communities. I will also talk about international game development, but I will aim to shed light on more Canadian content because we have quite a unique talent pool and very engaging voices that are sometimes not explored by enough people who know about indie games. To that end, I will also redesign the layout of this website so that it is much more comprehensive and content is much easier to find. Ah, maybe even bring my Twitch.tv channel back to life more frequently (though this is the most difficult to schedule in)!

One of the first things that I will cover will be Bit Bazaar Spring Fair at Bento Miso, which showcases Games, Crafts, Zines and good food in conjunction with TCAF. It runs all day Saturday, May 10. Because I am expecting a lot of fantastic content – video, pictures, and lots of excited words – I will update gradually about the cool things from the Fair over the course of this month and early June.  Also because I am, as of writing, in crunch mode.

Line-up for Bit Bazaar on May 10! So excited.

Line-up for Bit Bazaar on May 10! So excited.

I won’t claim that I am an impartial observer in game development. I think that it is hard to, from a practical standpoint, because I am embedded on the production and content creation end. Additionally, I come from a background of cinema studies, and I think it would be a strange thing to not attest any sort of cinphile or mediaphile. I can claim formalism when I commit to it, certainly. But in a blog, I cannot say that I do not love the field of games and new media, and, as such, I think my coverage will be more accurately understood as Editorials. Succinctly, I am of the belief that, when I love something and it is presented as such (ie not under academic rigour), there are emotions involved, and therefore there cannot be an impartiality.

Okay I don't have that many pictures lately, hence the picture from December's massive ice storm at the top. But this one is from February! With lots of the VR Jam participants hanging out at Bento Miso. It's just such fun working with these talents.

Okay I don’t have that many pictures lately, hence the picture from December’s massive ice storm at the top. But this one is from February, when our Oculus VR Jam shirts arrived! With lots of the VR Jam participants hanging out at Bento Miso. It’s just such fun working with these talented and cool folks.

What I can say is that I want to meet friends, new and old, and share good works with a broader audience. I want to give back to the Toronto game dev community that has been so vibrant the past year for me. I want to do that in writing and in vlogs. I want to share some of my joys and the joys of fellow devs, who may or may not have gone on a similar journey as the one that I’m embarking on. With great friendship comes great learning experiences, and so, I hope that it’ll be a positive learning experience, not just for myself, but for everyone: Readers, writers, creators, all.

A Conversation with Will O’Neill, developer of “Actual Sunlight”

An engaging storyteller, Will O’Neill from Toronto, has launched his critically acclaimed game, Actual Sunlight, on Steam. Actual Sunlight stares unflinchingly into the heart and mind of a man, Evan Winters, on the throes of his greatest struggle: Of depression, work, and love. Torontonians will find some recognizable and timely allusions to our city that pepper the game. Regularly priced at $4.99, this game is a steal, and a great exploration into indie games that push boundaries and barriers.

Will O’Neill is an invaluable friend of mine, who is full of wisdom in offering prescient advice and support for indie game-making. Although I have not reviewed Actual Sunlight directly, as my biases will show having play-tested the game and being a fan of his work, I will say that it is a game that holds a special place in my heart and needs to reach a wider audience. While his conversation with me focuses on the process of game-making, writing and life (so to not spoil anyone of the game’s narrative), a near-concurrent Twitch live-stream Q&A focuses on the content of depression and hope within the game itself.

Click here to read the transcripts between Will O’Neill and I, published on Indie Game Reviewer!

IGDA Toronto: Class Warfare Panel published on IGR

As post-secondary students are in the midst of completing another year of gruelling finals, the International Game Developer’s Association, Toronto Chapter (IGDA Toronto) sought to question and challenge the value of higher education when it comes to game development. The key question for their April panel is whether vocational colleges and/or universities can equip the next generation with the right tools to succeed in the games industry.

The five panellists hail from very diverse backgrounds and experience within their given specialties. It would appear to not be an easy panel to prepare for, as even the majority of the audience come with strong opinions and analysis of their own in this topic.

To read the rest of my article, please visit Indie Game Reviewer here!