By xd_adminsummit | News

XDS20 Adapt Table-Topics, Presented by Room 8 Group

Each year attendees at XDS events enjoy vibrant presentations and panels, but they are always left wanting more. For the second year we bring back the XDS Table-Topics, an interactive learning format in which small groups of participants gather around (virtual) tables to deep-dive on relevant and important topics. Each table is moderated by a host who is knowledgeable on the given topic and facilitates an engaging discussion with their group.

This year’s session are comprised of highly relevant topics which we expect will contribute to the long-term advancement of external development for our industry.

Build Effective Partnerships – Take your Outsource Vendor with You! Presented by Room 8 Group

Hosted by: Brian Waddle, President Sales & Marketing, Room 8 Group

Growing demand on external studios is higher than ever to deliver more content better and faster.  The surge of higher fidelity new consoles and new platforms will continue to increase complexity.  The industry is asking for expanding distributed development and content creation.  Driving cost down is a factor but not always.  As an industry we must have the ability to turn our external partners from capable to extraordinary. We need to transform our vendors to partners across the world. Outsource partners that operate, produce, and grow as an extension of the overall project will deliver better results with less friction.

In this session we will discuss the obstacles and challenges that get in our way of achieving our mutual objectives and supporting healthy, growing external partners.  Main areas of discussion will focus on; methods to know your teams on both sides, understanding different working styles, and how to allow your vendor to grow with you.

This Table-Topic will reference points addressed in the earlier presentation from Ryan Faraji on “Revolutionize Vendor Growth & Opportunities”

Recommended attendees: All are welcome

And Then There Were Two…’ – Stories from Opening a Second Studio, presented by Room 8 Group

Hosted by: Tim Wilson, Managing Director, Atomhawk

Overseas expansion is a common step on the journey of businesses working with international clients. UK-based visual development studio Atomhawk made this jump by opening a second studio in Vancouver in mid-2017. 

This session will provide an honest insight into Atomhawk’s story of expansion into a new continent, including advice on practical challenges and cultural considerations. The table discussion will focus on sharing insights between those in the external development community who have expanded or are looking to do so.

Recommended attendees: Service Providers

Transitioning Work-From-Home, From Crisis to Long Term Strategy, presented by Room 8 Group

Hosted by: Owen Hurley, Head of Studio, Technicolor Animation & Games

An exploration of our industry as we catch our breath for a moment, having successfully deployed work-from-home during the lockdown crisis; as we now start to look at how we re-imagine our business in the long term.  What does company culture look like with a remote work force, and what best practices can we put in place to ensure retention and high morale? What successes and failures can we learn from?

Recommended attendees: All are welcome

Putting Words into Action: Respectful Representation in Narrative, presented by Room 8 Group

Hosted by: Julia Bianco Schoeffling, COO & Casting Director, The Halp Network

#RepresentationMatters now more than ever. This table topic is designed to give development teams clear and actionable ways to increase representation–both behind the scenes and on-screen. 

This is not a discussion on why we SHOULD be more inclusive or why we NEED more representation, those times have passed. The IGDA found in the 2019 edition of its annual survey that among game developers worldwide:

81% identify as “”white/Caucasian/European””
7% identify as “”Hispanic/Latinx””
2% identify as “”Black/African-American/African/Afro-Caribbean””

We only have NOW to take action and to elevate underrepresented voices.

A few of the actionable items we’ll be covering include:

Get Specific!
Allow BIPOC & LGBTQ+ folx to lead
Engage Partners
Equity in Rates
Create with Intention
Think Globally
Create Safe Communities for your Community

Recommended attendees: All are welcome

How Could International KPI Collection Make an Impact on the Industry? Presented by Room 8 Group

Hosted by: Carla Rylance, External Development Manager, Electronic Arts

A Developer/Publisher and Supplier friendly panel for attendees interested in data collection on an international scale. In this roundtable we will discuss whether multi-studio worldwide anonymous data collection could help inform decisions, gain greater visibility on the industry, and evolve our processes. We’ll brainstorm questions such as:

– Areas of decreased visibility that could be enlightened with new data
– What data can be collected, no matter the focus, location or size of the studio
– How the industry could evolve and improve with the collection of new data

By the end of the discussion we will come to consensus on the most impactful outcomes for international industry KPI collection and put actions into place for potential implementation.

Recommended attendees: All are welcome

Crunchlife – Finding Balance Amidst the WFH Reality, presented by Room 8 Group

Hosted by: Mikael Frithiof, CEO, Red Pipe Sound Co

How do you find balance in life while working in the games industry in our new reality of WFH? A year ago Mikael moved to LA and started Red Pipe Sound Co, branching out from Stockholm, Sweden. He has five kids and burned out five years ago. He never thought it could happen to him.

What is work life balance and is it possible to find with family, crunch times and a burning passion for what we do in our day to day? As employers and leaders, what can we do to ensure teams and individuals feel appreciated and in balance? What can you do to make the daily lives of these people as good as possible?

Whatever business you work in, these questions are relevant and will be explored in this session.

Recommended attendees: All are welcome

Managing Expectation with Japanese Developers, presented by Room 8 Group

Hosted by: Miguel Corti, Senior Manager, Global Production, Capcom
Troy Smith, Lead Manager, Global Management, Capcom

Japan is a major contributor to the games industry, but working with Japanese developers and publishers remains elusive to many service providers. This table topic will focus on tools and communication advice, as well as ways to manage your expectations when working with Japanese game developers. Those with experience are welcome to join and share their strategies.

Recommended attendees: All are welcome

Exploring the “Why, What, And How” of Technical Art Services, presented by Room 8 Group

Hosted by: Robbert-Jan Brems, Senior Product Designer, Unity Technologies

The demand for Technical Art resources has only increased in recent years. Especially now with the wide adoption of realtime solutions across industries, and the increased complexity of technical content required for certain projects. Having a way to centralize knowledge sharing and innovation is needed to address the growing needs in the industry. But this comes with certain challenges…

This goal of this session is to explore all of the different aspects of possible offerings to provide technical art services, and discuss what is already happening today.

Recommended attendees: All are welcome

Managing Client Expectations – A Vendor Focused Working Session, presented by Room 8 Group

Hosted by: Joe Santos, Director of Sales, BOSi Art Studios

For this vendor focused Table-Topic, we will discuss the challenges that we experience as service providers, potential pitfalls to avoid, and share successful tools + techniques which will make us more effective at achieving the creative goals of our projects and expectations of our partners.   

Together, we’ll cover topics such as:  How to maintain schedules against the world clock, Managing multiple channels of communications, Managing upwards – how to help organize projects which may not have a set of established processes, and Collaborating with your client through feedback loops.

Having managed small conference roundtables in the past, we’ll have a selection of pre-seeded questions to keep dialogue moving, but, as a working session, topics may shift organically during the hour. Participants will be expected to share experiences and be active.  As a follow-up, a summary of points will be published for the XDS community.

 Recommended attendees: Service Providers

Distributed, Global Wokforces, presented by Room 8 Group

Hosted by: Jake DiGennaro, Director, North America, Virtuos

For the first time ever genuine remote game development isn’t just for indies and freelancers, but  studios of all shapes and sizes as well.  The question is no longer if remote development outside the office is possible, but if developers are ever actually going to go back? ?  What started out as a fire drill full of technical and communication hurdles has swiftly become the “new norm”, with reports indicating the vast majority of developers want to maintain an in-studio/remote time split even after it is safe to return to an office setting.  

So then, what does it mean to be a truly distributed workforce? We’re not talking about Studio A in Seattle, Partner A in Malaysia, and Partner B in Belarus – we’re talking 100-500+ people comprised of both internal and external teams around the world all working remotely long-term (post Covid).  What are the concerns/risks?  How do we collectively overcome them and adapt production pipelines?  What are the benefits?  How does breaking down the need for punching in/out of a physical location un-gate talent utilization, efficiency gains, and work/life balance for everyone involved shipping a product? 

It’s time to stop thinking about things in terms of “what we do now” and start talking about how we all embrace the next chapter in how games are developed.

Recommended attendees: All are welcome