The Coordinator’s take on EGX 2016

Note: I’m not going to talk about the games in this post. For information on those see this previous post.

NFTS Games gang EGX 2016

(Clockwise) Laura Dodds, Jameela Khan, Blaise Imiolczyk, John Lau, Manos Agianniotakis, Naomi Kotler and Cladio Pollina.

“These are too creative for me!”

Overheard on the NFTS Games stand.

EGX is very much a milestone in the second year student’s diary. It’s perhaps the most important event, more so even than their grad show because it’s the point where you guys, the general public, the press, the industry see for the first time, the games that the students have been pouring their heart and soul into for the last six months.

They’ve gone through early starts and late finishes.  They overcame crashes and rebuilds, redesigns and start overs to arrive at this point. To show their games at EGX. And… these students, these developers were FANTASTIC!

NFTS Games in Rezzed Zone EGX 2016

The stand was consistently busy

It’s quite the journey to EGX for the students. Of the seven that demo-ed their games only two of them had any prior game making experience and of those two only one had any technical know-how. Seeing how they’ve all grown in confidence and ability, how they’ve experimented and evolved as developers over the past twenty months or so is extremely gratifying.

This year we were thrilled to be included in the Rezzed Zone as opposed to the Education and Careers section that we’ve showcased in in the past. I think what this did was immediately elevate each project into the ‘indie game’ category as opposed to ‘a student project’. We were right next to the awesome ‘Tokyo 42’ and ‘Unbox’!

It was quite big step up for us, a risk I suppose but we made the decision to let the projects stand on their own. Apart from a NFTS Games banner and me wearing a shirt with our logo on it, it was all about the games! In retrospect, I think it was a very good idea!

Tony NFTS Games coordinator

Case in point. Perfecting the ‘pensive’ look.

I think we benefited from a very well designed set of eye catching posters printed one again by Print Sign Design in Acton. The overall game playing experience was also enhanced by the noise cancelling headphones that we rented from Place Over Ears They were of such exceptional quality that the students were loath to give them back! Finally, of course, we used some truly excellent PC’s supplied by HP that were able to handle every technical challenge thrown at it.

Manos talks to Pikachu

This sort of image is what EGX is all about!

Personally, I was so happy to be able to simply linger at the side the stand with graduate, and more importantly, my good friend Jon Hatton and simply watch the students do their thing. In previous years I felt that part of my role on the stand has been to engage with the public on behalf of the students in order to get them to play their games. Not this year. The students were professional, welcoming, friendly and good natured over the four days. They even managed to keep their energy levels up when people on other stands were noticeably flagging. I know what you are thinking – all those free energy drinks. Nope. I banned them on day one. Not on my stand!

NFTS Games - John Lau

John Lau makes notes on an ‘Uncanny Valerie’ play.

I was also thrilled to see so many people I’ve wanted to see our projects venture over to the stand. In particular, the Eurogamer guys.

I subscribe to four YouTube channels – two of them are about Disney World (I like Disney World. What?), one is about comic books and the other one is Eurogamer!

I have wanted Aoife Wilson to see what we do for years. I didn’t get to say “hello!” but it was so damn cool to see her interact with ‘Uncanny Valerie’ and ‘Night Bizarre’ in particular. I’m also a big fan of Johnny Chiodini’s work and knew that he would ‘get’ what we are trying to do on the course with these projects. Was extremely happy that he spent so much time with the projects. A lovely guy. Plus, as someone who is writing a game about beards (or not) in his spare time, I can appreciate an awesome example when I see one!

Johnny Chiodini plays 'Into the Black'

Johnny Chiodini plays ‘Into the Black’

Another shout out, if you will, to Jupiter Hadley, Kevin Kutlesa, Emma Spalding and Des Gayle who so graciously toured the stand playing all that they could and being all together incredibly kind, interested and engaged. Hearing Kevin tell me that he thought that our projects were “the most ingenious and ambitious I saw during the entire event,” made my day.

Claudio Pollina

Claudio Pollina gives an interview.

Sure there were some technical issues but nowhere near the catastrophe that occurred at Develop earlier this year. This time around we managed to fix it simply swapping some rifts and computers around. Losing maybe an hour. I call that a win.

Did you know too that, to the best of my knowledge, we were the only ones using the Oculus Touch controllers? Yep.

Polyphonia

Polyphonia uses the HTC Vive

The only aspect that disappointed me was that the wheelchair we brought as a prop for Manos’ ‘The Circle’ ‘disappeared’ and never did ‘reappear’. Hopefully we’ll hear some good news about that soon because it’s affected some school film productions! That’s not cool. Oh, and getting the wrong train and ending up in Milton Keynes was not an adventure I had planned for. Sorry Jameela!

Jameela Khan - NFTS Games EGX 2016

Jameela watches over a playthrough of ‘Aaliyah’

Yeah, the role I play in all this can sometimes be a strange one. I’m the Games course coordinator. On the one hand, I have a very important job to do at the school. I arrange, I organise, I try to ensure that curriculum wise everything runs according to plan for the students.

On the other hand, I love these guys. They’re my second family and I’m the big brother that plays jokes on them, gives them a cwtch (it means hug – I’m Welsh) when they need it and generally looks after them with hand sanitiser or Toffeepops. It’s this brotherly side of me that is so damn proud of them!

Manos, Laura, John, Blaise, Jameela, Claudio and Naomi are a joy to be around. They do all that you ask of them and beyond. They respond to feedback, they don’t complain when things go wrong (and sometimes thing DO go wrong! – <cough> Develop) but the thing I’m most proud of is that these guys have each other’s back. They look after each other. They’re tight, they’re a crew. They’re a family!

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Talking of family (that’s how I always refer to NFTS Games grads and students btw) it was great to see all the current first years travel up to Birmingham to support the second years. It’s also a very useful eye-opener for them because in twelve months’ time, it will be them showcasing their projects in front of eighty thousand people! Hopefully it will inspire rather than terrify! I think it will. If the projects they’ve submitted already this year are anything to go by, we’ll be back with projects just as strong next year.

“There’s too much thought going on here. I need to blow some shit up to restore my balance.”

Overheard on the NFTS Games stand.

The second years have all taken time off now. A couple of them have suffered the EGX flu but for the most part, today, they are back in the lab working on the feedback they received at EGX.

Next week I’ll post the Students take on EGX. Keep an eye open for that.

So, what’s next? Well, the students have a dissertation to write but there’s also GameCity is in October… Hope to see you there!

If you are press or a YouTuber, maybe a streamer on Twitch and are interested in writing about or playing any of these titles please get in touch via the ‘contact’ section.

egx-gang

EGX 2016. Done.