EventsGame DesignNews

Casual Connect USA: Crafting Your Design

July 26, 2017 — by David Radd


EventsGame DesignNews

Casual Connect USA: Crafting Your Design

July 26, 2017 — by David Radd

Casual Connect USA 2017 is coming up in Seattle, Washington from August 1-3. The conference will cover a variety of subjects from developing, publishing, and marketing of games for all platforms. Taking place on Wednesday, August 2 and Thursday, August 3 will be the Design & Development track kicked off by morning EMCEE Chris Lefebvre, Head of Business Development at Tapdaq, and afternoon EMCEE Macy Mills, Head of Business Development at GameInfluencer GmbH, with second day EMCEE Jordan Blackman, Founder of Bright Black leading the track on August 3rd.

Keeping Your Studio Culture

The focus of many smaller developers is working on games until you secure one big hit; for many that never happens. Brandon Sheffield, Creative Director at Necrosoft Games, has a different approach, bringing a back catalog of titles to new platform; he’ll talk at length about using smaller titles to help an indie developer stay afloat.

Of course, even if developers get that one big game, it can be a situation of “be careful what you wish for.” Asa Dang, UI Programmer at Psyonix, had to deal with this when Rocket League blew up and became an international sensation. Asa will discuss how Psyonix keeps the indie spirit alive while still expanding in a talk about company culture. A panel with Lidi Giroux, Team and Culture Manager at East Side Games, Antti Ikalainen, Operations Manager for Traplight Games, Jillian Mood, CEO at Jillian Mood & Partners, Lisa Weeks, Chief Marketing Officer at Hashbang Games and Erin O’Brien, Culture Developer at Gram Games will further talk about the importance of a good studio culture, all moderated by Josh Nilson, Co-Founder and CEO of East Side Games.

The Maturing Indie Market

Flash is dying a slow death when it comes to game development, and it’s greatly affected smaller developers and most mobile focused developers. Doug Pearson, Co-Founder and CTO of FlowPlay will talk about how his company mitigated those risks by transitioning to Haxe and how it also benefited them for cross-platform development.

Troubles with flash are only part of the problem for indie developers as the market continues to mature. Daniel Cook, Chief Creative Officer at Spry Fox, Nels Anderson, Founder at Caledonia, and Robin Hunicke, Co-Founder of Funomena, will talk about the challenges in the market even for veteran developers in a panel moderated by Ed Fries, Former Vice President of Microsoft Game Studios.

Twitch can help make or break any modern game, so developing it with the platform in mind is key. Twitch Integration Success Engineer Jon Pulsipher will talk to developers about how they can make successful use of the platform. Community involvement can also enhance a game’s offering, and Mike Arkin, CEO of Big Boat Interactive, will talk about doing just that with the remake of Battlezone.

The Right Design

Finding the right game designers can be a hard task, and finding ones that fit a studio’s needs and culture can be even harder. Luna Javier, Creative Director and Co-Founder of Altitude Games, will talk about mistakes often made in hiring and teaching game designers and how to do it right for a developer.

While it can be difficult to find the proper game designers for a particular platform, making games appropriate for different platforms can be challenging and rewarding. Q-Games has looked to connect the worlds of console and mobile games with real life via their new game Eden Obscura, and Creative Producer Baiyon will talk about that vision of fusing the real and the digital while Daniel Walters, Director at Calvino Noir will discuss the trials and tribulations of making games for both mobile and console.

Crafting Metagames

Metagames are important components to most successful titles, regardless of genres. Sean Levatino, Principal Game Designer at NCsoft, will discuss making intricate strategy a component to your game for a healthy metagame.

Knowing your internal design processes can be as important as any strategy you might have, particularly when it comes to sequels. To this end, Mike Inglehart, Creative Director at Hothead Games will talk about best practices for follow-up titles on mobile. Of course, without revenue being generated it might all be for naught no matter how well designed a mobile game is. Josh Campbell, Product Director at Backflip Studios, Paul Brownlow, VP of Product at Blastworks and Jeferson Valadares, GM/VP of Product Development at Bandai Namco Entertainment America will talk about optimizing IAP in a session moderated by Ted Verani, working for Scientific Revenue’s Business Development department.

The alternatives to IAPs and ads is freemium, and that can be a tricky target to hit. Adrian Crook and Peter Knudson of Adrian Crook & Associates will talk about how they made freemium work for over 100 clients in a best practices talk. Being freemium probably also means being on Steam and Tom Giardino, who works at Valve for Business Development and Marketing, will update developers on the state of the platform and how developers can use it now or in the near future. Ultimately one needs to make an independent developer sustainable, so Chetan Surpur, Founder of HIGHKEY Games and Eric Rahman, Technical Founder of Titan Mobile will talk about the process of making sure you make enough money to eat.

Design Your Own Network

At Casual Connect USA there are tracks that cover everything from VR & AR, innovation, and social casino. There will be three official networking parties that thousands are expected to attend. To find out more about what Casual Connect USA 2017 can offer, please visit


David Radd

David Radd

David Radd is a staff writer for David loves playing video games about as much as he enjoys writing about them, martial arts and composing his own novels.