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Indian Mavens reflect on their highlights from NGDC 2015

What happened in Pune

Indian Mavens reflect on their highlights from NGDC 2015 was in attendance at the NASSCOM Game Developer Conference 2015 from 5 - 7 November, which should be abundantly clear from our coverage of the event.

However, while we've already shared our perspective on the conference and its significance, we wanted to hear what those within the Indian games industry will be taking away from the event.

And so, reaching out to our now-expanded Indian Mavens group, we asked the following:

  • What was the best thing about the conference for you personally, and what will you be taking away with you as you return to the daily dev grind?


Chirag Chopra Founder Lucid Labs

Personally, I would say this was the best NGDC so far because of several reasons.

The talks were great, as always, but this time, I got to meet a lot of international press - including - which helped me better understand how things work in the western market and how our games are lacking behind.

Since members of the press play tons of games daily, nobody better could have provided such feedback. And thanks to this, I have a better idea about what type of games to build in the future.

Also, there were some interesting meetups this time like Publisher Meetup where I was able to extend the reach of my business contacts and got feedback on our games from some of the most amazing publishers in our country.

We might even strike a deal with a publisher for our upcoming game, so kudos to NASSCOM for organizing it!

Ankush Madad Co-Founder and Creative Head Dropout Games

Being the co-founder of an indie studio, my one and only request to the organizers was to bring in international journalists.

Living in a country where not a lot of gamedev-related events take place, its very hard to get the right coverage for our games.

By bringing you folks to India, NASSCOM solved a very big problem for small sized studios that lack the resources to travel abroad frequently.

So, meeting journalists was my biggest takeaway from this conference.

Siddharth Sivaraman Co-founder Dastan Games

This was our first time showcasing a game at NGDC and the response was quite phenomenal.

The feedback, and encouragement, from other game developers as well as members of the press was incredible.

The experience of having so many different people with a wide range of perspectives looking and playing our game was the best thing for me about the conference.

As I get back to my daily game dev work, I'm motivated to continue pursuing my initial goal of making games that are new, ambitious and deep, because at the very least I know that games like these are appreciated by the game dev community in India.

Deepak Madathil Founder Pixel Ape Studios

What's more inspiring than seeing those little kids showcasing some interesting games with everything they've got?
Deepak Madathil

Being indie and brand new to game industry, this was actually the first time I was under the same roof with a floor (or two?) full of like-minded individuals who talk and walk gamedev.

The quality of feedback, suggestions and tips I was able to take back with me from the conference and post-conference catch-up, was top of the line.

While ignoring the obvious "money talks" suggestions with barely any consideration for gameplay, mechanics and experience, that is - someone even suggested a very original chicken character!

So in brief, getting to run my upcoming games through fellow indies and international press was definitely the key takeaway from the conference.

And of course, what really is more inspiring and motivating than seeing those little kids developing and showcasing some interesting games with everything they've got? A big reminder to us devs why we love and make games.

Shailesh Prabhu Founder Yellow Monkey Studios

Shailesh Prabhu is an Indie Game Designer from India who has been designing games for over ten years. Seven years ago he founded Yellow Monkey Studios and is the recipient of numerous game design and entrepreneurship awards around the world. Socioball, HUEBRIX, It’s Just a Thought are some of his recent games. Shailesh is also an excellent cook, loves playing tennis, gardening and DIY projects apart from sporting facial hair.

Ste Curran's beautiful talk on Love and Violence was by far the highlight of the show for me.

Anila Andrade Producer 99Games Online Private Ltd.

It was wonderful to network with so many developers during this NGDC. Just shows how much the community has grown in India.

It’s one of the first few times where we’ve had some international press and this has certainly opened up avenues for the indie community to reach out to.

The highlight of the event for me, however, was to see the little geniuses demonstrate their creations with so much of passion! I’m truly impressed and inspired!

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.

This year's NGDC had lot to offer compared to the previous years and it definitely benefited a lot.

Connecting and sharing thoughts with international developers and press regarding the games and industry was one among the other most useful things.

Introducing investor meetups for the first time, and bringing a mix of publishers for the games was another.

And, agreeing with lot of others, the school and college kids displaying their games with a huge passion was definitely inspiring.

Poornima Seetharaman Director of Design Zynga

Poornima has been part of the gaming industry for over 15 years and undertaken roles varying from Game Designer to Producer to Studio head and Entrepreneur.

She has been part of companies like Indiagames (Disney India), Jumpstart, GSN Games etc.

She is currently a Director of Design at Zynga.

She has worked on franchises like BioShock Mobile, How to Train your Dragons, Neopets, and FarmVille 2: Country Escape to name a few.

She is a Women in Games Ambassador and also a Hall of Fame Inductee at the Global WIG Awards 2020, making her the first Indian game developer to receive such an honour.

Have to agree with Shailesh on Ste Curran's Keynote. It has been the best keynote (for me) in the 7 years of NGDC.

Ste Curran gains the plaudits

Besides the press, investor and publisher meetups, it is great to meet and interact with international game developers.

Not everyone gets to travel to GDC and Casual Connect. This then becomes a platform to understand their point of view and learn from them.

It also serves as a platform to connect with local game developers and keep ourselves updated on what everyone is up to. And yes, as Anila and Vaibhav mentioned, it is always a pleasure to see young minds at work.

Shailesh Prabhu Founder Yellow Monkey Studios

Shailesh Prabhu is an Indie Game Designer from India who has been designing games for over ten years. Seven years ago he founded Yellow Monkey Studios and is the recipient of numerous game design and entrepreneurship awards around the world. Socioball, HUEBRIX, It’s Just a Thought are some of his recent games. Shailesh is also an excellent cook, loves playing tennis, gardening and DIY projects apart from sporting facial hair.

Yes! Ste's talk was something, I feel, India really needs at this stage.

Something that talks about more than just monetization loops and genres, something that speaks of games as a medium and implores people to think and do more with it.

It was very powerful and moving, and humorous at the same time.

Roby John CEO SuperGaming

For me, these were the highlights of the conference

  • 1. Great Keynote Talks

I thought that the keynotes were the best talks at the conference.

Ste Curran on "Love and Violence" and Henry LaBounta on “Learning to See” were insightful and inspiring, going above the usual monetization rigmarole.

At a games conference, talking about games should be the focus.

  • 2. Great Progress on the Indie Dev Scene

Great talks were not limited to just the keynotes, and it was great to see some talks at NGDC being really helpful for everyone around.

These included, but were not limited to, Aditya Chari and Dattaraj Kamat's "Understanding Character Design" and Shilpa Bhatt's "Zero to Million dollar a month: Marketing post-mortem of Star Chef."

I felt that the latter in particular was important to tell everyone that its possible to make enough money without having to build the usual Teen Patti type games.

  • 3. The Real Passion for Games

I interacted with several young 10-15 year olds who blew me away with their passion and their boldness for game development.

One of them came up to me and we had the following interaction:

Kid: How long did you take to make this game (MaskGun and Ninjump Dash)
Me: About a year
Kid: Oh! [with a "you must be slow" kind of look], I took only 4 days to make my game


Kid: What can you do for me?
Me: What do you want me to do for you?
Kid: (After some thought) Give me your card, I'll write to you on what I want.

From this, I can say the new Indian indie developer is going to be bold - brave enough to go get help and make the world listen when they talk about their new game.

Imbibing and learning from this new bold and fearless approach is what my team and I took away from this NGDC most of all.

Raoul Nanavati CEO BYOF Studios

The feedback we received was definitely the most valuable thing we got out of NGDC.
Raoul Nanavati

Our casual card game, Bluff Party, is currently in soft launch and we exhibited the game at NGDC to game devs, students and anyone who was willing to check it out.

The feedback we received was definitely the most valuable thing we got out of NGDC. Game devs, industry vets and students all engaged deeply with us, offering valuable thoughts and advice on the game.

I think one of the most insightful talks for the Indian gaming industry was Hrishi Oberoi's talk where he dissected the sources of revenue in Indian and cleared out the 'mystery' behind where the money lies in the games industry.

Shilpa Bhat Senior Producer 99Games Online Private Ltd.

Joined Robosoft Technologies in 2002 as software engineer and worked on Mac platform with focus on graphics and OpenGL. From 2006, worked on reengineering over 10 AAA PC titles to Mac and managed client coordination, internal team and product development. Since 2011, leading the productions of casual games in 99Games. Building and managing creative, development and design teams at 99Games, product conceptualisation and design, reviewing technical designs, coordinations with vendors/publishers/distributors, game release plans, marketing and monetizations.

It was great participating in NGDC this year. While I had attended events like Casual Connect and Pocket Gamer Connects, it was my first time to NGDC!

The content was good, some great sessions and nothing more encouraging to see than those talented kids trying their hands at game development!

I personally felt there was more interest among audience towards design tracks than for marketing/UA/monetisation models.

99Games gave a talk about the success of Star Chef

A balance is something the Indian gaming ecosystem should work towards, as ultimately a commercially successful game is a good combination of all these.

The best takeaway for team 99Games, apart from the networking opportunities, was the compliments that we received after our presentation on our title Star Chef’s global commercial success.

Some of the studios/devs in the audience appreciated us for having attempted and succeeded at a non-Teen Patti game globally.

All in all, it felt like there was this strong sentiment among Indian devs to break away from the stereotype that Indian studios can commercially succeed only in Teen Patti games.

Yadu Rajiv Game Designer and Developer

I've wanted to make games since I was in school and I've tried to learn and do as much as I could ever since. I studied English literature in college ( to free up my time for games) and then went on to do graduate studies in Design for Digital Experience at National Institute of Design. In between, I taught design, worked as a ux guy, and co founded a start up - called Hashstash ( where I made games. I left Hashstash some time ago and is currently teaching Game design, development and UX at Srishti Institute of Design, Bangalore. I also help with the IGDA Bangalore chapter and other community initiatives across India.

This was the fourth time I've been to the NGDC (2011 ~ 2015, skipping 2014) and it was always a very personal thing.

This is pretty much the only time of the year that all the friends who I know, who make games, come together at one place, which is usually a very difficult thing to do.

A lot of times we are just playing each others' games and giving feedback, or just playing Counter Strike or Catan or whatnot - stay up talking till we all drop and miss that morning session.

There were a lot of games this year, and the quality of the jam games has increased tremendously even compared to last year.
Yadu Rajiv

The first time I came to the conference was as a co-organizer - not of the conference, but the BYOG (Build Your Own Game) jam. I've been doing that since, except for 2014.

There were a lot of games this year, and the quality of the jam games has increased tremendously even compared to last year.

We are trying to streamline the jam and are looking to get more benefits in for those who participate - this is still being discussed as part of our postmortem. Please do check out the finalists here.

But all in all, I was just happy to see a lot of games on the floor and it did feel a lot better than last time.

I think the only problem - if indeed it is - would be that NGDC is a conference that is trying to cater to everyone - from indies to big publishers. That means it may fall short at one end when it tries to balance the other.

I think the biggest takeaway for me was meeting all those people, old and new (of which there were a LOT!), all that talking and playing so many games! Especially the ones that are still in production.

I hope my note adds a different perspective to your experience.

Features Editor

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