Tipperary Games Fleadh – Ireland’s GDC
So myself, Ciarán and James Kelly (who we’ll hope you’ll be seeing more of shortly) went to the Tipperary IT Games Fleadh yesterday. It started off as a small Robocode competition a few years ago, and has evolved into a three-day event, with representation from Irish game dev companies like Havok, DemonWare, and PlayFirst. Each of these companies gave a talk, as did many others. The full list of talks is available here.
We were intending to do a vlog-type thing, but we got there rather late and it’d have been disrespectful to talk into a camera while a speaker was onstage – which they were non-stop – so I’m writing this article instead.
A large number of the talks, in particular the talks from OpenEmotion, Playfirst, and NeverMind Games, were career-based talks – how to get hired, how to build a company, how to get funding, that kind of thing. Certainly as a student, this was extremely handy information to get.
One of the most important (and most easily-quoted) points on getting hired was simple. Be smart and get things done (Joel Spolsky). C++ proficiency was also heavily pushed. This is something I definitely took away from the talks – I need to finish things that I start. It’s a problem that I think is inherent in programmers, and humans in general. Things are very easy to start, and say “I’ll do this and this and this and it’ll be easy and I’ll be rich!” but finishing is the hardest part. It’s made the think that iterative development is really the best way of doing things, because you “finish” a project every couple of weeks, so it kind of mitigates the effect.
Another important point was that a demo of your skills is a great way to easily and quickly show that you know what you’re doing. One of the speakers even mentioned that he’d hired someone on the strength of a really well-implemented linked list. It made me roll my eyes at the time, but thinking about it later, it struck me that that’s exactly what you need. Code you know backwards and inside-out.
Talks from Havok and Demonware were largely a showcase of their technology, but that doesn’t mean that they were any less interesting! Damien Marshall’s talk, Designing for Scale, was especially interesting, as he was throwing around statistics like 60,000 requests being handled every second. His talk seemed to highlight Demonware’s casual atmosphere, too – it looked like their LiveOps teams are being powered by whisky.
I’d like to thank Phil Bourke for organising the entire event – starting with something as small as a one-day Robocode event and growing into a three-day event with talks and competitions is no small feat, and I certainly hope it really does turn out to be as large and popular as GDC. The games industry here is fledgeling, but with more people like Phil, it’ll be a powerhouse in no time – some would say it already is, with a fairly large number of high-profile companies (such as Activision and PopCap) and more coming in every day. James Daly of Tipperary IT deserves more than a nod, too.
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