Mobile Mavens

Indian game developers reflect on NASSCOM Game Developer Conference 2016

Indian game developers reflect on NASSCOM Game Developer Conference 2016

On November 10th-12th, 1,800 delegates descended on the Hyderabad International Convention Centre for the NASSCOM Game Developer Conference 2016.

For PocketGamer.biz, it was an invaluable opportunity to learn more about India's burgeoning games industry and the people who make it.

It was also a great opportunity to catch up with several members of the Indian Mavens group who were also in attendance.

But now it's all over and we've shared our reflections on the event, we ask the Indian Mavens for theirs:

  • What was the best thing about NGDC 2016 for you personally, and what will you be taking away with you as you return to the daily dev grind?
Roby John CEO June Software

Seeing our fellow game devs in person was a pleasure, as was meeting a lot of folks after a year since we met last at NGDC 2015 in Pune.

The new venue, facilities and buzz around NGDC itself this time around was much more than last year.

Personally, the highlight for us was without doubt winning Studio Game of the Year 2016 for MaskGun.

Last year we were Runners-Up for Ninjump Dash, so going one better this time felt great and a validation of the mGaming Engine we are building on which all of our games are based.

Thanks for all your wishes and help in getting here. We have our fingers crossed for MaskGun's global launch which is coming up soon.

Seeing all the new games, dev tools and content ecosystem coming out of India and seeing lots and lots of talented game developers and new studios coming up makes us confident that game development is alive and well.

That was our biggest takeaway as we get to our daily grind.

Siddharth Sivaraman Co-founder Dastan Games

The conference was great, although my co-founder couldn't make it this time. As always, the best part was meeting fellow indies and looking at the things they've been working on.

As always, the best part was meeting fellow indies.
Siddharth Sivaraman

NGDC and the Pocket Gamer Connects conference are the few places where we get to meet a lot of indies and other professionals face to face, where get a chance to learn from each other and also discuss possibilities of collaboration in the future.

The conference was very fruitful in this regard, and I had a number of such discussions.

We're also extremely glad to have been the runners-up for the Indie Game Of The Year Award. This gives us a lot of encouragement to keep building the games that we want to build.

These were the highlights for us at NGDC 2016.

Vaibhav Chavan CEO and Founder underDOGS Gaming Studio

7+ years of experience in Gaming Industry. Currently spearheads underDOG Gaming as a Game Designer, Business and Product Guy.

It's kind of a yearly reunion for all of us in Indian gaming community to meet at NGDC, and I had a great time meeting all and checking out what everyone else is working on.

For us, the highlight was winning not one but two awards: Best Upcoming Game of the Year and First Runner-Up, Gamesbond for Ultimate Parking Simulator which is set to release in next two weeks.

Ultimate Parking Simulator wins the Upcoming Game of the Year award

This year's NGDC definitely turned out to be much bigger and better than it promised.

Everything from the quality of speakers and games, to the expo zone and workshops was great and gave a greater opportunity for every developer to learn and showcase their talent.

One of the fascinating things to me was the VR expo. It had some really great games, not just from Indian developers but also from around the world.

It was also very nice to see younger generation, the kids from school actively participating and showcasing their games.

This somewhat gave me a sense that the current situation in India for gaming as a career is really improving.

Chandan Mohanty CEO Leprechaun Games

Can I start with a little bit of history? Last year, I attended the conference but did not network much.

Mostly it was about attending talks. Towards the end of NGDC 2015 (day 2), I connected with Manish Agarwal from Nazara, which led me to Roby, and it led me to a rather productive year.

It was like I was in a RPG and everyone I met gave me amazing items for my quest.
Chandan Mohanty

He was kind enough to take me under his wing and give me a ringside view of what it takes to make a game.

He helped me do a lot of work with regards to design and also learn firsthand about production of high-quality stuff like MaskGun, Chhota Bheem and Ninjump Dash. Fantastic education.

NGDC 2016 was super awesome. This time, I was in networking mode. It was like I was in an RPG and everyone I met/talked to gave me a tonne of amazing items for my quest.

I made a lot of connections. Maybe even a few friends. For life.

I listened to some really smart and passionate people give great advice about how to go about our next stage.

I'll surely be coming back for year three. Hopefully, with a game in hand.

Cartic P Business Development Manager Juego Studio Private Limited

It’s great to meet fellow game developers, as well as workshops, VR insights (especially on mixed VR), serious games and new tactics on monetisation and soft launch.

The best takeaway from NGDC is from an economy design perspective.

We’ve been banging our head against it for some time now, and got some invaluable insights from successful producers (for the Indian Play Store) which we’re currently weighing up.

Hrishi Oberoi Founder Photon Tadpole

Wow! That was something, wasn’t it?

Being part of the organising committee of the NASSCOM Game Developer Conference for the last eight years, it’s a little difficult to have an unbiased opinion about the conference.

Having said that, this was definitely the biggest conference we’ve done yet.

Over 1,800 delegates (up from 1,300 last year), in a new city where we expected a dip in attendees due to a shift of location, and over 100 sessions and 110 speakers.

A busy registration stand on NGDC 2016 day one

As a curator, I was pretty busy running the Game Design track but I really wished I could’ve attended a few talks and workshops for myself.

The Applied Games track was new for us this year, as was the VR track, and the content seemed really compelling.

My personal highlights, from what all I did manage to catch, was Swery’s talk on building worlds and stories within games effectively.

He had quite a few valuable insights that would be relevant for all game developers regardless of what type of game they were working on or for what platform.

Swery had quite a few valuable insights that would be relevant for all game developers.
Hrishi Oberoi

The most fun session was the NGDC Evil Game Design Challenge, with the diabolically hilarious Anand Ramachandran making Super Mario into an Indian free-to-play game in the most hysterical way.

This is one to look out for on YouTube once the sessions are released.

This year, the expo floor was huge and definitely the highlight. In all our past conferences, as soon as the last session wraps up, everyone has already left.

But this year, people stuck around to continue interacting with the developers on the expo floor and playing their games. 

Every year the networking and catching up with fellow developers, talking about their games and the current state of the industry and the market is always a highlight, and this year was no exception.

What was really heartening to see was the growth of the number of developers and more importantly, the improvement in the quality of their games, especially this year.

Hitting all sorts of genres and platforms, which was further emphasised with Missing (a social cause game on the abduction of girls in India) winning the Indie Game of the Year prize, this year was probably the most diverse conference we’ve had yet.

Further emphasising that was the sessions highlighting serious topics such as "Women in Game Development" and "Diversity in Games”.

It is not easy to run a conference of this scale without any hiccups and we had plenty of them at our end.

A packed crowd at NGDC 2016

But issues aside, what I leave the conference with is hope.

With the enthusiasm of the crowd, the quality of their work and the maturity of the developers in the country, I can’t help but feel really positive about the direction in which we are heading, and we feel privileged to be a small part of that growth and contributing to this great industry that we so proud to be a part of.

Rituraj Behera Co-founder Cympl

My name is Rituraj Behera and I am Co-founder of Cympl, an Indie game studio started back in November 2012.

I had begun my career as an application developer but I always loved playing games which attracted me to the fast growing mobile games industry.

I had started the organization with a vision to create high quality mobile games and an attitude to learn & improve everyday.

First of all I would like to congratulate all fellow developers who won NASSCOM gaming award and hope that all their games do really well in the days to come!

Unfortunately I could not attend NASSCOM GDC 2016 completely, as I got invited for the Google Play Indie Game Developers Day and attended the NGDC Awards after that.

I had never seen so many people in my past years of attending the event in Pune.
Rituraj Behera

What was great to see this year at NGDC was the increase in the number of people attending the conference. I had never seen so many people in my past years of attending the event in Pune.

This clearly shows that our industry is growing at a fast pace year on year and the quality of games I got to see in the expo and NGDC Awards is getting even better.

Also, it was very encouraging to see Google Play team take the initiative to support and educate indie developers on how to find success on their platform.

They shared some of the key insights on market trends, mentioned how they define success metrics and what we need to do to acquire, engage, retain and monetise users.

This is very important for mobile game developers looking at India and Southeast Asia market as Google Play dominates approximately 90% of the download share in these markets.

Hrishi Oberoi Founder Photon Tadpole

Oh, and one of my most exhilarating encounter's that I forgot to mention, was a conversation about game design and mathematics with 88-year-old game developer, Chandru Arni.

Definitely a highlight I'm not likely to forget!

Ankush Madad Co-Founder and Creative Head Dropout Games

This year for me was all about catching up with existing friends and meeting new ones. Instead of fixing a lot of business meetings this year, I played a lot of games at the expo.

This time, I had a lot more design discussions than business discussions.

I even met with some hidden gems and provided them with feedback on their upcoming games. This year definitely felt different and more positive.

Looking forward to the next edition of the conference.

Abhinav Sarangi Co-Founder All in a Days Play

Echoing Ankush, this year was all about catching up with existing friends in the industry and meeting new people who hopefully will become friends going forward.

I spent most of my time in NGDC at the expo floor and was very pleased to see the games on display.

I got to play my first HTC Vive game (VR Paratrooper by Zabuza Labs) and it reminded me of the joy and excitement I felt when I played my first video game.

I was impressed by the quality of games at the expo and am really excited about the games Indian developers will release in 2017.

Felix Manojh CEO Flixy Games

It was encouraging to hear the commitment of Telangana government at NGDC to promoting the games industry, which should be beneficial to many.

It was wonderful to meet and network with a lot of people from the gaming industry.

Quite a few had heard about our startup and provided lots of valuable feedback for our game, Avatars Clash - Comet on Mahaar, which has been added to our roadmap.

Our takeaway was how the industry is evolving through the experiences shared by the current industry veterans in gaming and how we can prepare ourselves for a better future.

And the networking session with biryani was awesome! Looking forward to NGDC 2017.

Laxmi Desai-Khanolkar CEO and co-founder Apar Games

We showcased Scribbled Arena, our PC game - to be released in early 2017 on Steam.

I have seen a great growth in quality of work.
Laxmi Desai-Khanolkar

I was really happy to see the expo area and the arrangements. The conference's Pitch and Match feature was super helpful for me to find right people for partnership.

Since I was showcasing couldn’t attend any of the talks, but briefly attended the Women in Gaming meetup and exchanged thoughts on this subject.

I also played some good experiments in board games and gamification. I could not play much of VR, though, so can’t comment.

Overall, I have seen a great growth in quality of work, skills enhancements and opportunities to gaming industry in India and NGDC has been great facilitator of this. Kudos to team NGDC!

Features Editor

Matt is really bad at playing games, but hopefully a little better at writing about them. He's Features Editor for PocketGamer.biz, and has also written for lesser publications such as IGN, VICE, and Paste Magazine.

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