Something you might not know is the Canada is amongst the top 3 video game producing countries (along with the U.S. and Japan) in the world. The computer and gaming industry is one that is continuously evolving and Montreal is a city that is very involved. The video game industry is a major employer in the city with over 10,000 jobs and as such there is plenty of design, developing and programing talent here. For its 12th year the Montreal International Gaming Summit sees all the major players and independent designers gathered together over three jam packed days in town.
I headed over to the summit on the afternoon of day two of the Summit. Once at Palais to Congrès there was a veritable buzz surrounding the large area occupied by MIGS15. No matter what your interest is in video gaming there was something for you. The mandate of the event is to educate and share information.
First there were the master classes that are offered in partnership with TECHNOCompétences. Numbering 10 in total over the 3 days, they target those working in the gaming industry and offer intensive learning experiences on different subjects. The goal is to teach new skills which can be used on a day to day basis on the job. Divided into four themes, the master classes attack issues surrounding new marketing realities, art design and programming, engaging games, and production and human resources.
While I was there three master classes were taking place. The one I attended was led by David Santiago the Principal Technical Artist at Insomniac Games. He dealt with churning out high quality games under increasingly difficult circumstances. Deadlines are becoming tighter and teams are now composed of fewer people. As a result technology has taken over and computers are now used to design large parts of games. Santiago was educating those taking in the master class on how to deal with procedural systems within the world of game designing. Things were gone into over the 3 hours of the class with a question period towards the end.
One whole wing is dedicated to different workshops that ran pretty much continuously all day long. Topics found here were varied and numerous. Examples of those happening on this afternoon include: Indies Versus Evil, Value Creation in the Games Industry, The Casual Player is Dead Long Live Hardcore, and You Can’t Fix it If You Can’t Find What is Broken. The one that peaked my interest and I attended was led by Senior Technical Account Manager at Sony, SCEA, Vernon Harmon and called Embrace Virtual Reality with PlayStation VR.
PlayStation has for many years now been a major player in the video game system world. The power of Sony is behind it and they have recognized that virtual reality is where the gaming industry is going. PlayStation is jumping on board with both feet. They have developed PlayStation VR, previously called Project Morpheus, and have developed things that they claim are only available with their system. The virtual reality headset will work with PlayStation 4 and Vita games. They are shooting for a release of this somewhere in the first few months of 2016 and the price would be somewhere around the same as a new system meaning $350-$450.
Despite what you might think about something that involves the player putting on something that covers their eyes and immerses them into another world or reality, Sony does not want this to be seen an isolating game. What is seen in the headset will also been seen on the television screen that others can watch. It allows for an interactive, 360 degree gaming experience.
After sitting in on this hour long workshop it was fantastic that you were able to go right into the Expo Zone and try out this new entrant into the gaming industry. Once you put the headset, which kind of looks like something out of the film Tron, you are completely immersed into the world of the game. If you look down you can see the limbs of your character and whatever body movement you make so does your character making the experience an immersive one. At times you had to remind yourself this was not real life. At this point Sony says they have about 20 games so far that are compatible with the VR.
From a practical perspective the headset is rather light and easy to put on. The way it is made there is very little pressure on your head or face. Maybe just a little around the nose. The LED display is almost 6 inches wide giving you a fairly large viewing area. It also boasts 3D audio with HDMI capabilities.
This was the cool aspect of the large Expo Zone. You could walk around to all the different companies’ booths and try out their latest gear and games. All the biggies were there like Ubisoft, Microsoft, EA, and WB Games as well as others like Ludia, Playtika, Frima, and Unity.
The final thing I took in was the For Honor Tournament. This was super cool. Ubisoft’s For Honor is a third-person fighting game. It involves multi-player action and close quarter combat. Teams of four players went up against each other with the goal of defending their honor in combat. It is a mixture of strategy and team play. You can choose to be a Knight, a Viking or a Samurai. The players were in total control of their characters and their unique weapons. An Ubisoft coach worked with each team in preparation for the tournament. The players trying out the game seemed to be really enjoying themselves and said it was quite involving and easy to get into. A realistic looking game it also looks like every blow is felt by the player. The final for tournament would happen on Tuesday.
To cap off a great day there was a VIP Cocktail and Official Party happening at the Belvedere Hall at the Centres des Sciences de Montreal.