Indietopia Sessions: a retrospective

In 2018 we organised five Indietopia Sessions with talks by professionals from the game industry.  These seminars are part of our Accelerator program. The most important goal of our sessions is to give students and other interested parties the chance to pick up tips and tricks from game industry professionals. The audience can ask questions and do some networking in an informal environment. They also get the opportunity to show the guest speakers the project/game they’re working on and get feedback.

This retrospective shows facts and figures about the sessions, and it includes quotes by both the guest speakers and audience, that were retrieved by a questionnaire.

Through social media, dedicated newsletters to members of the Noordelijke Game Industrie network, emails and word of mouth we attracted an interested audience for the sessions. Some guests attended multiple sessions, which we truly appreciate and which we also strive for. Students make up 70% of the audience, and companies  form the other 30%. All northern game design schools were represented: Alfa College, Hanzehogeschool, NHL Stenden and the Noorderpoort College.

Our first four sessions covered various topics, of which the following is a summary.

Indietopia Session I: Partner up & start developing
Date: 15 October 2018
Guest speaker: Merijn de Boer (Director at Indietopia)
Attending: 14

This talk focussed on getting concepts ready to be pitched to relevant partners and investors. Merijn zoomed in on a concept that was submitted to an entrepreneurs challenge in Groningen.

We asked Merijn for a quote on his session:
“It’s great that we can offer a bridge between students and the work field. Our talks are aimed at bringing developers together and show them part of their possible future professions.”

And what did the audience think of this talk?:
“This was an eye-opening session because I had not really thought about the subject of looking for funding partners before. One of the strongest points of this talk was that Merijn included practical information about useful tools (BMC, pitch decks, etc..) and about potential sources of funding.

“Exceptionally useful practical advice, especially concerning the funding of projects in The Netherlands. Specifics on which funds to apply to and which events to attend.”

“It was very interesting, though it was kind of hard to hear at times, so a microphone would be great, as well as making the presentations accessible to visitors afterwards (uploading them on the website, make them private by using a code or something else).”

Indietopia Session 2: Setting up a studio – and surviving
Date: 16 October 2018
Guest speaker: Oscar Sahun (Program Manager at GameBCN)
Attending: 15

How do you stand out in comparison with your competitors? The game industry is the biggest ‘player’ within the entertainment industry but only a few well-established giants remain at the top. Sometimes blending in before trying to stand out is a wise course of action. Oscar Sahun added valuable insights due to his experience with running his own studio, and as a Program Manager for GameBCN.

Oscar gave us this quote:
“It’s a pleasure to collaborate in initiatives such as Indietopia, sharing my experience and knowledge with indie teams trying to succeed in the video game industry.”

The audience gave us their thoughts too:
“Oscar’s talk gave me a greater awareness of the way Game BCN, and similar operations elsewhere, work. There were some insights about what he looks for in teams that apply to Game BCN, the main deficiencies he sees in teams, and the advice he gives them. Oscar also had advice about using social media in marketing and about deciding what games to make.”

“To sum it up in one word: Controversial. A look at some of the sad truths of struggling indie development. Tips possibly aimed at surviving but not necessarily thriving (e.g: copy something that works then add value). Solid portfolio tips. Highlighted the importance of marketing (and starting it ASAP). “Don’t be a developer, be a businessman”. Key importance of a good pitch, preferably with video.”

Indietopia Session 3: PR and event management
Date: 22 November 2018
Guest speaker: Jesús Fabre  (Marketing & Business Consultant)
Attending: 22

Jesús showed us how to integrate communication/marketing of a game along with its development. How do you identify a target audience for your game and design a communication strategy that suits it best? Which indie pitches, challenges, events and conferences are important to attend while developing your game? And how can you attract partners? Jesús also focussed on using social networks and social media tools, with examples of the game Horizon Chase.

What did Jesús take away from his experience?:
“I really enjoyed my time at Indietopia, I believe the project is a fundamental piece to create a solid gamedev community in Groningen and thus, build a true videogame entrepreneurial ecosystem in the region. Thanks for letting me be part of it.”

Some thoughts by members of the audience:
“This session made me think about the importance of social media, and Jesus had some firm opinions about how to approach social media ethically and about adding to the development community by sharing. The talk could have been more concise – I had to leave before the end.”

“Very positive outlook on cooperation and community within indie game development, highlighting important people and the importance of finding your own voice. “You provide value to others, they return the favour.” Useful practical marketing tips. (e.g: routines and habits for posts). “Don’t blame the market, blame yourself for not finding your piece of the cake.” More philosophical/moral insights, what is the “right” thing to do in the long run.”

Indietopia Session 4: Small teams, big results
Date: 3 December 2018
Guest speaker: Wessel van der Es (Technical artist/programmer)
Attending: 34

Wessel talked about how to work in small teams, whilst keeping tabs on the big picture. Sometimes generalists work better in smaller teams and specialists in bigger teams. He gave us insight in working for several kinds of studios.

From the large audience that attended this talk, this is some of the feedback we received:
“Pretty, well done left time to interact with the audience. Know about the subject based upon personal opinion.”

“It was interesting to hear Wessel’s comparisons of his personal experiences working in small teams and for large companies. I felt the actual presentation could have benefited from having more content (perhaps some practical tips on how to get the most productivity from a small team), and some parts were repetitive, but I liked the theme of the session and it gave me some extra insight into the industry (which has been one of the best things about all four of these sessions).”

“Wasn’t able to take away any specific advice or tips for working in small teams. It sounded more like he was trying to defend small team development and didn’t really know how to present. He seemed to have more specific tips to solving coding problems for one of the teams.”

We appreciate all the feedback by the audience members. We are looking into better sound and recording equipment. The request of making the presentations available on our website is also something we aim to achieve for coming sessions. We would like to thank the guest speakers for the time and effort they put into their talks. Our audience and our team members have picked up valuable tips and tricks. We will keep you updated on future sessions on our website and on social media, so stay tuned.


Adriaan de Jongh session





Bonus session: Adriaan de Jongh

On 13 March 2018 game designer Adriaan de Jongh visited our HQ for a private session with our accelerator teams and interns. 
He gave great insight in his game hit Hidden Folks, as well as marketing tips and advice on how to obtain valuable contacts in the game industry.
We found out how one e-mail accelerated the success of Hidden Folks, which shows the importance of networking and building relationships with people that can pull strings for developers. Adriaan also took the time to give our teams feedback on their games: Fringe Planet, TerraGardens and Crimson Resonance.


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