Digital Dragons is the largest annual game conference in Poland and we attended the 2022 edition. So during the two main days of the conference we got a taste of our very first conference with some of the core Frying Jelly team and it’s probably fair to say we managed to give quite a few people a taste of us too! In this post we’ll briefly mention some of our favorite moments, talks and cover the experience.
Note: we’ll update these posts with the videos of the talks once they’re available online, we’ve been told!
Overall we enjoyed the conference quite a bit and had fun messing about, talking to people and pitching. A few talks were a bit of a letdown or confusingly off-course for what the title implied, but most were fun and informative. As said, we had some favorites! Here are five of them, in no particular order, as ranking them would be a bit silly.
Leszek Krupiński of CD Projekt RED
Multi-Cloud hosting of dedicated servers
We liked Leszek’s talk and I did especially as it was at least truly on a technical topic at some level unlike some and as he progressed, he closely followed my own conclusions and journey when I worked as a CTO for two years before founding Frying Jelly and investigated solutions for an online building management game. With each and every slide I just wanted to ask why not combine x and y, why not go hybrid, only to discover on the following slide that that’s what he did. It was nice to see this kindred-spirited approach and I think for certain types of games this certainly a viable solution. Perfectly simple approach to redundancy and homogeneity you need for a gaming massive online activity and potential spikes you need to scale rapidly for. We’re tacking on some peer-to-peer magic sauce to our solution for our future multiplayer project MagicaMoria, but will certainly follow a similar basis. Also, Leszek is a nice guy who we hope to call our friend now. 🙂
Maciej Kulesza of Kulesza Music
The endless joy of creating
As you might or might not know, art and music are extremely important here at Frying Jelly. To the point where we create music videos that go a tiny bit viral on TikTok. So it was an absolute joy to hear Maciej speak about the music he created for Shadow Warrior 3. Maciej incorporated a lot of silly humor and presented his experimental and intuition-driven in a spontaneous way that was disarming. The music mixes intruments and genres, sound scapes and sound design together that just pull you in and keep even transfix at some moments. Maciej made clear how he follows his joy and as such he dubbed his talk “The endless joy of creating” and this really came through in how he spoke about it, what he said and the final product – the music. You can just tell when someone had a lot of fun making something. We felt we vibed (a bit of a terrible term, isn’t it?) so much with him that we’re keeping in touch for work on our games! A friendly and hilarious guy.
Lou Kramer & Daniel Isheden of AMD and Avalance Studios Group
This was a pleasantly technical talk by two speakers, Lou Kramer of AMD and Daniel Isheden of the Avalance Studios group. Lou succinctly and clearly explained some of the abstraction and organization layers one has to deal with when it comes to graphics programming after covering some basics. Clear charts and even color coding DirectX green and Vulcan in red was pretty awesome. After Lou, Daniel Isheden came in and covered the actual issues they grapple with making their engine, which mainly perpetually streams a large world to the player and therefore runs into all sorts of issues like fragmentation in memory and eternal battles of video memory to ram off-loading, as well as the joys of limited APIs. For us software engineers at times quite frustrating to listen to, the opposite of schadenfreude (pleasure derived from someone’s misfortune), one can say. Schadetraurigkeit (sadness instead of pleasure), I guess? I asked them what their wishlist hardware/software was for the main issues they faced, and unsurprisingly Daniel would love to be able to get more info out of the abstractions layers outside of the application he’s running, like the OS, to manage memory better. While those walls exist for good reasons, we think and hope we’ll be able to query certain in the future with respect to memory shenanigans!
Öznur Özdal of BoomBit
Breaking the fourth wall in Video Games: New Terminology and Methodology
Well, this was simply a great way to start day two at Digital Dragons. She forewarned the potentially hungover audience that her talk would be theoretical and info-heavy, but it didn’t turn out so bad. The talk introduced us to the history of breaking the fourth wall in media overall, the earliest quotes in art, what preceded all of that, and then segued deftly into her own terminology, explaining why “breaking the fourth wall” is a bit of a misnomer when it comes the “circuit” that any human de facto forms when its interfacing with a machine, like when we’re playing games. So she then laid out the theory for magic circle and a taxonomy of subtypes, like when it’s being perforated and what rules can be broken in what ways, with different results. A great talk with great examples, from Undertale to the Stanley Parable. This was a topic dear to our heart as Neebota: 99 Fails has its very own magic circle that we play with in various ways innovative ways!
Sylwester Zaluga from Third Kind Games
From 9 to 99: growing an independent studio from the ground up
It was just too obvious for us to go to this talk. Not only are we also a young independent game studio being built from the ground up, we have a thing with number “99”. This talk was generally very down to earth and informative. Third Kind Games, as did we, considered doing client work also, but for us it didn’t make sense. For them it did, with a very large (9!) founding team of seniors with lots of experience. It was also surprising to hear that this Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, is the heart of the UK games industry. A sort of gaming silicon valley in the UK! They started out doing their own IP and client work 50/50 and years later are still at that ratio, but then they do have very cool clients. From Amazon to Microsoft to the recently one listed on their website, Blizzard. Not too shabby!
With big sponsors there was definitely a recruiting spree going on, but lots of valuable talks, fun people, and big players like Intel, AMD and Google were there. We met all those and more, and even got to sit in on our very own investor Diana Koziarska of SMOK VENTURES, who broke down how they look at pitch decks of gaming studios, or the Polish Youtuber “tvgry” Pan Mateusz & crew!
Other notable mentions: the panel about the future of concept art was quite a lot of fun. I asked a question making a statement about A.I. and art generation, inquiring about their awareness of OpenAI‘s Dall-E 2 and other such projects, and it opened up a bit of a back and forth where I ended up demoing the latter! For the record, I am not affiliated with any of them. 🙂
We’re quite likely to be at Digital Dragons next year, perhaps with a stand, and wouldn’t mind speaking there too! See you next year!