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Meet the Indie Prize Serbia Entries from Eastern Europe

September 18, 2018 — by Catherine Quinton

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The entries for Casual Connect‘s Indie Prize coming from Eastern Europe will challenge players in many different ways. A game may explore fighting with weapons that include ladles, chimney brushes and hair dryers, while another requires players to cooperate in teams to reach their objective. A more serious game explores the stages of grief as a different game explores a network of universes and another leads players to rely on their sense of hearing to explore. Players will need to use quick reflexes, logical thinking, puzzle solving skills and more in these games.

Game Title: Cube
Developer: ColdCoffee
Platform: Android
Country: Turkey

In this game, you are trying to reach the key with Cube while avoiding the tricks and overcoming the traps. To do so, you must keep your head, remain calm and don’t rush. But eventually this won’t be enough; the path ahead will only be revealed when Cube rotates on its axis.

EventsNews

The 22nd Indie Prize Winners at Casual Connect Europe 2018

June 1, 2018 — by Catherine Quinton

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Indie Prize London 2018 featured many exciting games that we will enjoy playing. The judging is now complete and Casual Connect Europe is happy to announce the winners and nominees in each category.

Best Game Audio award was given to Zebrainy ABCs, created by Zebrainy Limited

The winner of Best Game Audio is Zebrainy ABCs, created by Zebrainy Limited from Ukraine. This is an alphabet learning game for young children that takes them on a journey where they learn to construct each letter and then to know animals, objects and characters that begin with that letter.

Nominees for Best Game Audio were: LUNA the Shadow Dust, developed by Lantern Studio from the United Kingdom, a point-and-click puzzle adventure set in a fantasy world; Nishan Shaman by Next Studio from China, inspired by ancient Chinese Manchu mythology; and Hyperforma by Nord Unit of Russia, an arcade puzzle in a steampunk setting.

The winner of Best Game Design was EnigmBox by Benoit Freslom from France. EnigmBox is a puzzle game that requires you to use all the functionalities of your smartphone to solve the puzzles, including things like the location service, plug-in accessories and much more.

EventsNews

Casual Connect Europe 2018 Indie Prize Finalists from Eastern Europe

May 18, 2018 — by Catherine Quinton

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Indie Prize London at Casual Connect Europe 2018 has attracted an outstanding variety of games from Eastern Europe. Role playing is featured in many games, and is perhaps taken to new heights in a game where the player literally chooses a role to play on stage. Many also combine role playing with different types of adventure, such as surviving on a sinking island or digging through caves or being lost in a desert. There are games that challenge the brain with puzzles, multiplayer games, beautiful learning games for children, and even games that take players into accurate representations of history. There is something in this group of games that will attract everyone.

Game Title: Theatre VR
Developer: Misterine
Platform: VR desktop/console
Country: Czech Republic

Theatre VR is the perfect game for aspiring actors and anyone who would like to experience what it would be like to be on stage. It allows you to choose a play and a role, then act that character. You say the lines while making gestures and moving around the stage. But you are not alone on stage; there are other characters driven by the computer. You can also create your own productions and share them with others and enjoy the play with your friends.

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Hyperforma: A Way From Web Design to Our First Game

April 19, 2018 — by Industry Contributions

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As winners at GTP Indie Cup which is an Indie Prize Partner event, the Nord Unit team were given the opportunity to compete at Indie Prize London at Casual Connect Europe 2018.


Our team is called Nord Unit and there are 3 of us: Fedor, Denis and Dmitry. We are true indie developers and Hyperforma is our totally first experience in developing and releasing a game.

Fedor Danilov creates art, game design, interfaces, writes a story and does CEO stuff.
Denis Dorokhov does UI, creates animations and scenes, makes sounds and works with freelancers.
Dmitry Konarev does programming, creates levels, compiles the game in Unity3D. So he deals with the technical side of the game.

And of course, we discuss game balance and mechanics together, so it’s a constant game-design-team-work.

How We Met Each Other

Kyiv 2017Video Coverage

Alexander Shlygin: Unity Goes Beyond | Casual Connect Video

April 2, 2018 — by Industry Contributions

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Among the key pillars is democratizing game developments and solving hard problems. - Alexander…Click To Tweet

By Arno Copley

Solution Consultant Alexander Shlygin for Unity spoke at Casual Connect Kyiv 2017 about Timeline and Cinemachine by Unity. These features include: post processing stack, analytis event tracker, totally new features for artists, numerous improvements in animation and more! In the talk entitled Unity 2017 and Beyond, Alexander provided an overview of all key features and improvements of the current Unity version. Get insights on what’s next with Unity by tuning in to the full session below.

EventsNews

Indie Prize Participants During Casual Connect USA from Europe and Asia Part 2

December 31, 2017 — by Catherine Quinton

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Europe and India are bringing a fascinating variety of games to Indie Prize during Casual Connect USA at Disneyland® Hotel. This group of games include beautiful puzzle games, games requiring skills, learning fairy tales for children, games of suspense and, of course, games of competition. Indie Prize is seeing amazing innovation and diversity in these new games.

Game Title: Stack & Crack
Developer: Jambav
Platform: iOS
Country: India

Stack & Crack is a 3D puzzle game with beautiful levels. There is no tutorial; the levels are designed in a way that makes a tutorial unnecessary. But it is not an easy game. Each chapter introduces a different creative element that makes cracking the game a challenge to the brain.

Stack & Crack was shortlisted in the “Upcoming Game of the Year” section of NGDC 2017, Hyderabad, India.

EventsNews

Winners of the 20th Indie Prize at Casual Connect Kyiv 2017

October 30, 2017 — by Catherine Quinton

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Casual Connect Kyiv 2017 has been going strong in beautiful Kyiv, a city known for its history, creativity and culture, October 24, 25 and 26. And now we have the results of the exciting 20th Indie Prize competition.

Best Game Audio

Best Game Audio was awarded to Kenshō developed by FIFTYTWO, a Russian game studio. Kenshō is a mysterious game that takes place within a ruined room with doors opening onto beautiful landscapes. It is an addictive puzzle game with the player matching blocks and overcoming challenges to unfold the narrative.

Best Game Audio Kenshō developed by Fiftytwo was awarded by Natalie Portier and provided with prizes from Amazon and Appodeal at the 20th Indie Prize Awards during Casual Connect Kyiv 2017

Nominated for Best Game Audio were Melody Streaks by Beeble Games of India, a game where the player creates music with every move the character makes; Talking ABC by Hey-Clay of Ukraine, which uses animal characters to make learning fun; and Guns ‘n’ Stories: Bulletproof VR by Mirowin of Ukraine, bringing VR to the Wild West Era.

EventsNews

Finalists from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Belarus, Russia and Moldova Coming to Indie Prize Kyiv

October 10, 2017 — by Catherine Quinton

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Indie Prize and Casual Connect are returning to Kyiv in Ukraine this month! Here are a few of the finalists that will compete in Indie Prize from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Belarus, Russia and Moldova.

The participant in Indie Prize at Casual Connect Kyiv 2017 from Bosnia and Herzegovina is a puzzle adventure in a collapsing world. The player must face the worst things that can happen and still bring order to the world.

Game Title: The Enchanted World
Developer: AI Interactive
Platform: Android
Website: www.ai-interactive.net

The Enchanted World is a world torn asunder. The player, the hero of the game, is searching for his lost love. As he searches, he brings order back to the world, one puzzle piece at a time. The characters he meets along his way have all been impacted by the collapse of the world and represent the five stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance). The characters help him overcome the obstacles he meets and he helps them find their place in the world.

Asia 2017Video Coverage

Stanislav Sychenkov: Monetization in Emerging Markets | Casual Connect Video

September 22, 2017 — by Catherine Quinton

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Stanislav is Head of Publisher Development at myTarget (Mail.Ru Group)

If you are a developer of mobile games, monetization is your constant concern; it is critical to your success. And it will be harder for you to monetize in some markets than in others. Emerging markets may be a particular struggle for you. So, what do you need to do to be successful in these markets?

Stanislav Sychenkov, Head of Publisher Development at myTarget, is someone who knows these problems and can give you valuable information. Mail.ru launched myTarget, a mobile monetization platform. It is now a main traffic source for advertisers in Russia. Before coming to Mail.ru, Stanislav was responsible for ad monetization in Zeptolab, the creators of highly successful games such as Cut the Rope and King of Thieves.

At Casual Connect Asia Stanislav used the example of Russia to provide insights into successful monetization in the more challenging markets. From their experience they developed several principles that they and their partners all over the world are using. By doing these things differently they are enabled to increase their profitability. If you would like to learn more about what you can do to use these same principles be sure to watch the video of Stanislav’s full session.

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To read more about Stanislav’s career and views, see this exclusive article and presentation from Casual Connect Europe 2016.

Europe 2017Video Coverage

Vera Velichko: Succeeding with the Visual Novel | Casual Connect Video

September 19, 2017 — by Catherine Quinton

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I make something beautiful and teach my team to do it. It makes me happy every day. - Vera VelichkoClick To Tweet

User Interface is the connection between the customer and your code. The CEO and Art Director of Owl Studio has a passion about what makes User Interface good or bad. In her lecture at Casual Connect Europe 2017 discussed this and how to build effective interfaces as well as how to direct the user’s attention to the right place at the right time. This presentation will help you whether you are an artist or not to design better layouts that help increase user engagement and retention.
One tip Vera shared was: “Passive and active colors for user interface UI needs a good balance, using gentle shades that won’t tire the eyes.” To learn more, see the full lecture and slides below.

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Vera Velichko is CEO and Art Director of Owl Studio

Vera Velichko, CEO and Art Director of Owl Studio, has always been determined to have a company of her own, but for many years it seemed like a distant dream as she continued working as an employee. But finally, two years ago, the time was right. “I realized that there is no time like the present, and if I wanted to achieve my dream, I had to do it there and then.” So, with some friends, she began working on her first project, a visual novel called One Day in London. The company has developed into a team of twelve and they still work with this visual novel (an episodic project) as well as doing outsource artwork. During the past year they have completed seven projects together.

Doing Something that Really Matters

Today Vera firmly believes that the work she is doing means something; it really matters. This year Owl Studio’s online school for artists begins. Each day brings interesting tasks; each new project brings new challenges for Vera and the team. She revealed, “I can make something beautiful and teach my team to do it. It makes me happy every day.”

Almost all her life Vera has been working as an artist. While studying fine arts, she started accepting what it would be like to live on the salary a painter could make. But then Vera discovered that the game industry offered a brilliant opportunity to make real money doing what she loves. So she made a portfolio of her work and began doing freelance work as a game artist. At first she were working for almost nothing, but the work allowed them to continue improving the portfolio. And as the portfolio became better and better, the more opportunities it generated.

A pelf portrait by Vera

Building a Business

With the creation of Owl Studio, Vera entered a new stage of her career. Suddenly she must be involved in business development, networking, team building, setting up process, and many other aspects of building a business that she had never done before. Their motivation to succeed comes through seeing a goal and moving toward it. When she looks to the future and see there is something still needed, Vera just keeps moving on.

The biggest challenges she has faced recently is making decisions for the company. Vera reveals, “How can I find out that my decision is right? How can I be sure it doesn’t hurt my team?” She has realized that, although there is no way to be sure something is the right decision, it is still her responsibility as the leader. This continues to be the most complicated aspect of running the company.

Building the Team

For the members of the team Vera searches for those who can combine creative talent with responsibility, but it is a rare combination. This is because the art that Owl Studio makes is much more than a job or a way to make money. She explains, “We are trying to make a graphic with soul and spirit, that will take a user to a new world. It’s impossible without talent. And we work with customers and abide by deadlines, and this would not be possible without responsibility.”

The most difficult positions to fill are the team leads. This employee must have the very unusual ability to be a leader while also being a team player. And next most difficult to find are the UI designers.

Vera has discovered that there are no standard methods of how to work with the team members because everyone is unique; an individual approach is necessary. So she tries to find a way to connect with every employee, but recognize that is also important to know the moment to let them go.

Her commitment to team members is evident when Vera relates the proudest moment of her career. It was when she realized what an apprentice had accomplished, something more than Vera could do alone.

Developing and Testing a Visual Novel

Owl Studio’s first project: One Day in London

When Owl Studio began working on their own project, they used play tests of their first demo to form the final vision of the project. They were testing UI, storytelling, sounds and perception of the image, and as a result of these tests they made changes and adjustments. As they tested this visual novel, the most interesting results came from seeing the differences in feedback from the different story lines. The choices the users made changed their perceptions of the entire story. It was a very important discovery.

Now there are no longer significant changes to the project mechanic from episode to episode, so Owl Studio is no longer doing play tests. However, they do get feedback from users on a daily basis and use this information to constantly improve the project.

The monetization method Owl Studio uses for One Day in London is premium. This is simply a result of the visual novel genre; there is no opportunity to monetize within it for using the free-to-play principle.

Vera has seen dynamic growth in mobile games, as well as hearing many colleagues talking about new trends in this sector of the game industry, and expects this to continue over the next few years. In response, she is teaching the team and students to understand the specifics of mobile art.

The Essential Skills and Attributes of Good Interface Design

There are two essential skills to the basis of good interface design. The first is understanding the features of the project and the target devices. The designer must be able to imagine how the user will use this. The second is understanding the topography and visual design. As Vera points out, not every artist can understand how to work with texts and infographics.

Vera describes the difference between UX and UI design this way: “UX design is the process of establishing the logic system that controls the application. UI design is the process of making this system beautiful.”

Casual Heroes by Owl Studio

The software to design good graphical user interface will vary depending on the artist’s habits and preferences. Some possibilities include Photoshop, Illustrator or Animate. The only essential is providing a portable network graphics set.

For someone who is considering UI design as a career, Vera emphasizes the importance of playing games while thinking about how you do it. Also, study the topography design. These are the two most significant steps toward becoming a UI designer.

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