SaskGameDev Newsletter – April 2021

Howdy Gamedevs!

So another absolute banger of a month for SaskGameDev! So many great things happening! We’ve got MAJOR awards news, tons of news coverage, new opportunities for promotion and collaboration, news from multiple devs and some helpful tips. We’ve had a great response to the rename to SaskGameDev, lots of new members, which has been rare during the pandemic. Of course we’re always looking for more members, so please keep spreading the word, the more of us there are, the more successful the whole community can be getting attention, building teams, lobbying government and growing the success stories we need in Saskatchewan!

1. Award Nomination – Groove Gunner has been nominated for the Best VR/AR Game at the 2021 Canadian Game Awards! These are the premier awards for game development in Canada, so it’s an amazing honour and a huge achievement just to get nominated. They’re in for a tough fight against Slugterra VR, Star Wars: Squadrons, Transformers VR Battle Arena, and Vetrix. Frankly I’ve always been more of a Trekkie, so go get ’em Bitcutter! It’ll be like shooting womp-rats! You can check out the awards and find out how to watch them (on Friday April 9th) here: Boreal Tenebrae, from Snot Bubbles Productions led by a former Saskatchewanian now in BC, is also nominated for Best Art Direction and Best Narrative.

2. Weekly News Segment – CTV Saskatoon is now running a weekly segment on the news about the game industry. Called Game Time, reporter Matt Young is covering news from across the gaming world, but has kindly agreed to try to give lots of coverage for local industry news. We’ve had a great start to the segment with four straight weeks of great local industry coverage including pieces on Foolish Mortal’s Kaiju Wars, new superstar studio Winterpixel, Bitwad’s work towards a Xero Hour expansion, and Bitcutter’s CGA nomination for Groove Gunner. You can check them out here:

3. News Coverage – Global Regina’s Connor O’Donovan did a piece on the SaskGameDev rename: I didn’t think the old ReginaGameDev name was holding people back from joining, but apparently I was wrong, we had about 15 people join in the few days after the piece ran. So great to get some help spreading the word, we’ve been province-wide for quite a while, but hopefully the new name will not hold anyone back from joining no matter where they are in the province.

4. Documentary – An amazing documentary was just made about the Sask game development scene by Alise McNair in Saskatoon. She reached out to a number of gamedevs across Saskatchewan asking them about their experiences, what they’re working on and advice they’d give. It is amazing to see so many of our great members getting some recognition and to see someone care about our community enough to give it this voice. Hugenormous thank you to Alise for making such a tribute, time capsule and banner for our community. You can check it out here:

5. Website Expansion – With the new SaskGameDev website, we’re looking to add another page and need your help. We’ll be adding a Contractor/Freelance/Services page. If you do work in the gamedev or adjacent fields and want to advertise your services, let us know! This means you musicians, voice actors, artists, etc… If you want people to know they can hire you, tell us about it! You can add yourself to the list here:

6. Newsletter – Cheekynauts the stellar studio behind upcoming games Moonshell Island and Santria have launched a newsletter. You can sign up here: to stay up to date on their progress and find out what’s happening with their two beautiful action rpg games in development.

7. Showcase – The Mackenzie Art Galleries DAIR (Digital Artist in Residence) version 1 cohort have posted all their art game projects. You can check them out here: What’s the worst that could happen? It’s not like the sky is gonna fall on your head!

8. Accolades – Years ago former Saskatchewanian Julian Beutel composed music for a short film called An Object At Rest. He found out last month that it was aired at the Ghibli Museum in Japan as part of their International Animation Festival. You can check out the film here:

9. Coverage – Canadian Game Devs included GammaFoxTBG’s Necromancy Overload in their Wishlist This segment in Episode 180 of their podcast. “You are a necromancer attempting to perform the ritual of the damned at the royal graveyard. Heroes have arrived to stop you, so hold out as long as you can! Your power has become so great that if you destroy a weakened enemy with a powerful spell, the excess damage will cause an explosion! Use these to your advantage and destroy the incoming hordes!” You can check out the podcast here:

10. Tips & Tricks – The pandemic has meant a big change for worklife in every industry. The Game Arts International Network (GAIN) ran a project to check in with gamedev studios across Canada during the pandemic to see how they were adapting and what best practices they’ve found. Three SaskGameDev members helped contribute to the survey. You can read the Isolation Nation report here for some good tips and tricks for remote working and distributed teams:

11. Collab Opportunity – The Saskatoon Museum of Military History is looking for volunteers for a Unity VR project using Tilt Brush. This could be a good way for folks to get more experience and put their 3D dev skills to good use helping preserve our heritage.

“We are looking for individuals or a small team to help us work on a Unity VR project that is currently set up to use Oculus headsets (although can be used in others too).

The app is a version of the recently open source Google Tilt Brush. We have made some modifications to allow painters to do ‘paint by numbers’ in VR.
We have created multiple VR paint by number images appropriate for the Saskatoon Museum of Military History of which I am a board member and for which initially this project hopes to provide funding.

What we hope to achieve in the near future:
The upload of the app to the Oculus App Lab and later the Oculus Store, this will be a free app. (App Lab upload will be attempted in the coming days but we have little understanding of Unity so may not achieve success).
The creation of addon painting packages to sell in the Oculus store with profits going to the Museum. All this content is ready to go.
The ability to export VR painted images to email or other locations.

Research suggests this project could become very popular. We are excited to work with individuals or a team that share our support for Veterans and the Museum.
If interested, please reach out at [REDACTED – contact us if you’d like to be put in touch]
I look forward to hearing from you.
Kind regards
John Davis”

12. Meetup – Our monthly virtual meetup will be on Monday April 5th at 7pm in the #Community_Meetings channel on the SaskGameDev Discord. If you’re not already on the discord you can join here: [REDACTED – Join our Newsletter to get an invite!]

13. 5 Questions – This month’s five questions are:
    >Do you keep separate gamedev / personal profiles/accounts?
    >What’s slowing you down right now?
    >What’s something you’re celebrating right now?
    >How often do you listen to game music when you’re not gaming?
    >What social media/communication platforms are you using to reach out to other gamedevs and gamers/the market?
You can send us the answers here:
Filling in member surveys really helps keep us in the loop with what the community is thinking and needs as well it helps us plan future activities and support, so please contribute!

14. One Action – Here’s one thing you can do this month to help grow the gamedev scene in Saskatchewan – Media coverage really helps get the word out during the pandemic when all our usual recruiting methods aren’t available, plus it helps grow awareness and SEO for our members, helping build a more successful future for us all. Be sure to Like, subscribe, comment, and share on all the news articles, so they get maximum impact and the media know that people want this so they keep doing it. Helping spread the word and engaging will help us keep getting news coverage! Also share your ideas for local gamedev news stories. Post your ideas in the discord, or email me with some leads, we’d love to hear your ideas!

So more great news. I thought the last newsletter would be hard to top, but here we are: Weekly mainstream news coverage, a documentary, and a national award nomination! We’ve got great momentum. Hopefully things are going great for your projects too! Let us know what you’re up to on the discord, or by email!

Kai Hutchence

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