Mike Acton is Director, Core at Insomniac Games. He has been with the company since Tools of Destruction, heading up the Insomniac Engine team. Core Dump is a two-day event where we will be sharing in-depth stories from the game-dev front lines along with tangible lessons learned and practical solutions for some of today’s toughest challenges.
Why a Core Dump conference?
Last year I had the pleasure of being part of HandmadeCon and I was impressed by how much useful (or at least interesting) information we were able to share just through a casual conversation. There is a place for the more formal talks at other conferences. But the idea of creating something where our team could share their thoughts on real issues without the constraints of trying to present a “novel” solution (sometimes things are just complicated, not necessarily new), fancy slides or an hour-long lecture format has been percolating in the back of my mind since then.
The fundamental question we’ve been asking is “if someone else was doing this, what would we want to ask them?” I know that if some of the other studios in our area were putting on a similar conference of interviews and panels, we’d definitely be interested. I assumed that’d be true for us as well. The opportunity to ask questions like “How do you divide up your team?” or “How do you review code?” or even “How do you branch and release changes within the studio among different games teams?” is usually limited to the moments we can gather together between lectures at other conferences. And often that’s where the most interesting conversations happen.
On top of that, the barrier to entry in doing a full hour-long presentation at another conference is quite high. For some that might represent between 40-80 hours of preparation through the year in advance. There are people on the team that just aren’t going to be able to make that kind of commitment year after year. And certainly the whole team is never going to be able to do it on any given year. But if we could capture some interesting answers to questions on topics I know the individuals can speak about without preparation (in the same way we all do in those casual meetups), we could create an opportunity for our team to share thoughts that simply would not have been shared otherwise.
It’s not at all obvious that this will work. I’m going to interview everyone on the team. I’m going to moderate panels on subjects where we have something interesting to share. Maybe we fail to come up with good questions. Maybe we can’t direct the discussion toward something that could be a useful takeaway for the audience. But I’m betting on the team. Everyone on the team is a genius and extremely knowledgeable in their areas – I have very little doubt that something interesting will be said by everyone. I am constantly impressed and surprised by the team, so this is my chance to share that particular experience too.
We also take our responsibility to give back and share with the community seriously, and when it’s obvious that The Way Things Are Done get in the way of our ability to do that, we will work around it. Hence, Core Dump.
If you are passionate about game development, specifically engine tech and tools, and love solving meaty problems, please join us at our Burbank studios on August 5-6. All the fine details are linked here. We are capping attendance around 100 and have around 20 seats left.