Istanbul Tech Talks 2014

Stef and I have been invited by PeakGames and Istanbul Tech Talks to come to Istanbul, give a talk on libGDX, get to know the mighty awesome folks of Peak Games and enjoy the sights and food in Istanbul. We had an absolute blast and made many new friends. Here’s a funky picture of Niklas and David from SpamDrain and RoboVM and myself close to Hagia Sophia (Stef took the picture). We also tried getting to the grand bazar, but that was closed as it was sunday. A real bummer.

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We also got invited to Peak Games’ offices, which was rather impressive in terms of office culture and development practices. I had the chance to hang out with the Android team for a few hours. They showed me around their code base, infrastructure and games. I wished more software companies would have such a professional and skilled team. Everyone was super nice even though they use libGDX for their day job! Maybe we did some things right.

And of course there was Istanbul Tech talks with a total of 8 speakers. I couldn’t see all the talks, but the ones i saw were all extremely good. I got to know Eric Lafortune, the sole developer behind ProGuard and it’s commercial Android sibling DexGuard. He’s started Saikoa together with his lovely wife Heidi (who’s also an olympic medalist in Judo!). We went out with Eric, Heidi, Niklas, David, Erik Hellmann and Matt Brenner & son that night for sea food (actually just a massive plate of starters) and beers. We exchanged some nostalgia, talked about AI, path tracing (Eric invented bi-directional path tracing in his former life!) and life in general. It was one of those evenings you don’t want to end, and reason alone to come to Istanbul.

The conference itself was extremely well organized, thanks to the conference team. Special thanks to Ant and Bilgen, who treated us all like royalty. We’ve never been cared for so well at any conference, and i’ve been to a lot.

Sadly, my talk didn’t go to well. The auditorium was only half full (it was the last talk of the day) and not everybody seemed interested. I also did a live-coding thing of sorts, which may have been to much for a 45-minutes talk. The first and last time i’ll do that. It’s also the first time i rehearsed a talk. I guess i won’t do that again either, going with the flow and slides worked beautifully all other times i gave a talk.

Thanks to PeakGames and Istanbul Tech Talks, to all the people who made sure we didn’t have to care for a thing those 4 days, and the other speakers for an excellent time!

Apps World London 2013

Was invited again to give a talk on Android optimization thingamajings and did just that. I decided to give a quick tour of all the available tools for memory and performance analysis, and compiled a sizeable list of references for folks to consume for more detail. Slides:

Stef managed to sneakily record the video, in fake portrait mode. Just pretend there’s only audio and you’ll be good. Otherwise prepare for some serious neck pain:

I wished the Apps World organizers would record the free talks and put them up on the web.

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I also did another round of book signing at the Apress booth. It’s always awesome to get to the booth and see a huge queue. Thanks for everyone grabbing a free book!

On the second day i had the pleasure of listening to Steve Wozniak in a sort of keynote/interview hybrid for an hour. I was able to sneak into the press area, so first row directly in front of the Woz. An entertaining and insightful talk. It was also interesting to see how tech journalists work (it involves iPads, trying to type really really fast, eventually failing).

Meet a lot of old and new folks, which is always a blast. Special shout out to Badly Drawn Rod and our friends from Imagination Technologies which approached me after the talk. Thanks for Sixdegrees for inviting me again, always a pleasure.

Apps World 2012 Retrospective

I spent the last two days at Apps World in London. The nice guys and gals from SixDegrees invited me to give a talk on beginning Android games as well as participate in a panel discussion on HTML5 as a (mobile) gaming platform. What follows are a few memories from the event.

Day 1

I arrived at the venue in Earls Court at around noon. The exhibition center was packed with people, pretty much everyone who’s in the mobile space was there, from Samsung to RIM, Microsoft and so on.

The first talk i listened to was by AJ Grand-Scrutton, CCO of Dlala Studios. He previously worked at Bossa Studios. For their first game, Dlala Studios focuses on Windows 8 exclusively. AJ went to great lengths to tell us about how awesome Microsoft are for giving them all kinds of tools for free, and how they are not assholes. He assured us that they receive zero money from Microsoft. About 20 times. Coincidentially, they are also featured on the cover of the current edition of Develop magazine.

AJ told us the pretty cliche story about living at his mom’s, not having any money but wanting to realize his dream of making games. Sprinkled with references to games like SMB 3 or TV shows like Dexter’s laboratory. None of which i could discover when he demoed the actual game to us in private, after his talk. The game itself was barely mentioned in the talk, apart from showing the box art. He gave his speech a second time at the Microsoft booth later on.

It all felt very awkward and artificial to me. AJ ranted quite a bit about the (true) fact that many companies hire capable folks for cheap as interns, instead of employing them properly. This rant felt kinda strange, given that Microsoft got Dlala Studios for cheap to promote Windows 8, as according to AJ, they do not see a cent from Microsoft. They obviously get exposure through their Microsoft cooperation. To an outsider like me, it looked a lot like Microsoft wanted to attach the “indie” vibe to Windows 8, by hiring those guys to talk about how awesome everything is.

AJ seemed like a nice chap, and i wish him and his team the best of luck. Teaming up with Microsoft is probably a smart move, and there might be a real chance for them in case the Windows 8 market works out.

I also met Rod Hyde, who’s been involved with libgdx for quite some time. He contributed Very Angry Robots to our demo selection a while ago. We had a jolly good time talking about game programming and life in general.

Day 2

This day started with me meeting “The Batman” at the Apress booth. Didn’t dare to talk to him though, he’s the Batman after all. Apress asked me to sign a few books for folks passing by the Apress booth. To my surprise, a metric ton of people turned up, and i got to excersice my handwritting skills quite a bit. The most interesting observation was that most people come from an enterprisey background and want to get into games on the side. I had people from all walks of life coming by, even folks from the British Health Association. It was quite a blast. Big thanks to Brandon Levesque who organized this whole thing.

In the afternoon i had my talk about “Beginning Android Games”. Most of the folks that listened to the talk before me stayed, so the seats were filled pretty well. You can find the (non-informative) slides on SlideShare. Of course i couldn’t help pitching Nate and Shiu’s Spine as well as libgdx 🙂

After the talk a couple of folks came up to me, and we talked games, libgdx, Android and iOS. Good times! I got to know a couple of folks using libgdx and making quite a bit of money off of their games. Like Rich Woods from Exobyte. You’d be surprised how much money you can make off of Android games 🙂 I also meet with Laith from vserv, and ads company. They have a very interesting approach of adding ads to your application. I haven’t tested it yet, but check out their site, it’s really interesting. There’s a chance that we might collaborate with those guys at some point, stay tuned.

The rest of the day i spent with Tamas, who showed me around Bossa Studios an the Silicon Round-about. We spent the the night talking about a few ideas we have. Hopefully something comes of it.

Thanks to SixDegrees for inviting me, i had a real blast! And i’m so sorry for the Jano’s, poor folks let me sleep in their house. <3