November 7th 2019 was the second day of Level Up Biz KL 2019, and the first day of media access to the event, which was held at Connexion Conference & Events Centre in Bangsar South, Kuala Lumpur.
Level Up Biz KL is the biggest game developers convention in Malaysia and organized by the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), with the mandate to spearhead the digital economy in Malaysia.
Their main goal is to create a platform for gamers, public, game developers, corporate and esports to leverage on the biggest entertainment market as the key economic growth for the region. And it is certainly showing that promise with a bright future.
The Opening Ceremony
We started the day with the opening speech from MDEC CEO Surina Shukri as she envisioned the future of digital space in the next few years. Right after her speech, we entered into our first keynote with the Founder & CEO of Larian Studios, Swen Vincke.
With his topic, Making Lasting IP Content, he talked about the trials and tribulations of sticking to his Divinity IP over the past two decades, but not without fruition as Divinity: Original Sin II is one of the best modern day RPG games.
Right before he ended his keynote, he brought up an important piece of news that he will form Larian Studios Malaysia, which will aide in the development of their newest game called Baldur’s Gate III. This is easily the biggest news that will spur more development within the industry as a whole.
Once the keynote was over, our team managed to go through several panel talks that occurred throughout the day and which spanned through several tracks which were Production, Biz & Tech, Esports and Indie tracks. These panel talks with their various speakers were a rare chance to delve deeper into their respective fields within the video game industry.
The Production Track
In the Production track, topics focused on game production and the challenges that came with it. Hong Ly of Riot Games, with his topic Creating Captivating and Simple Visuals: The Power of Design talked about art design and the technicalities needed to bring out the best of the game’s art and to create a path for clean art design.
At the end of the day, Wan Hazmer with his topic Unique Flavour, Universal Appeal: Bringing Relevance Into Your Awesome Game, ensured that to touch base with your audience, you need to ensure that your game is relevant. With these relevant “factors”, and by ticking their checkboxes, you are able to create a game that relates to your audience.
The Biz & Tech Track
Over at the Biz & Tech Track, most of the speakers talked about the business aspects and technology that powers the industry. Daniel Robson of IGN Japan talked about ‘What Sparks The Interest of Japanese Gamers?’ in his panel. He talked about the Japanese love for RPG games which has strong visual designs, good looking characters, and good rhythms.
They also prefer more co-op games rather than player versus player games. However recent trends do show the increase in battle royales, asymmetric multiplayer games with emphasis on social interactions. The Japanese market also covers 28% of the mobile game population within the Asia Pacific region.
In another panel with speaker Jack Condon of S1T2, he talked about Planes, Games and Automobiles – Interactivity Beyond Games. In it, he described how developing game technology opens up new avenues for experimental endeavours in other industries, including education, health and art.
Creative visionaries utilize these technologies as an expression of art, while promoting the fact that game technology should not be limited to just entertainment. In fact, they’ve been used in multiple areas such as in the rural Fiji islands, where they raise awareness on healthy eating to curb the immensely high disease mortality rate with the use of Virtual Reality technology and mobile games.
The Esports Track
At the Esports Track, speakers talked about the ever changing and increase of the esports scene in the country and region and how we all can benefit from it.
At the panel ‘Esports Ecosystem’ with featured speakers Benny Teh (IpohNex), Clement Hui (The Pantheon) and Firdaus Hashim (Mineski Event Team), they talked about how the esports ecosystem has changed over the years and how it will also define the future of the esports scene.
By providing good facilities to train and influencers that portray a positive image during streams, young people are able to raise their game and play at the highest level. They also talk about the trials and tribulations of trying to establish a positive esport ecosystem and methods which will be able to help improve the grassroots levels as how Indonesia has done so.
David Tse of Razer in his panel ‘Esports Branding: How to Reach Broader Audiences’ talked about how Razer elevated their brand presence not only to sell their products to gamers, but to also improve the community with their brand ambassadors who genuinely love their products.
At the panel ‘A Behind-The-Curtain Look at Team Owners & Their Player’ speared by Farouq Flava (Flava Esports), Nureddy “Daddy Hood” Nursal (Team Bosskur), Sheang Wong (Geek Fam), they talked about how to run an esports organisation.
Creating an esports team can be easy, but to be able to sustain its growth requires good structure and strategy within the organisation. There needs to be a good and healthy training regime, with a strict schedule that has a good mental and emotional support system. These points are important as it’s not always about having good equipment, contrary to popular stereotypes.
The Indie Track
The last track, which is the Indie Track, is where the independent game developers talked about their experience in the scene and how they are able to spur and help guide the path for the next generation of aspiring game developers.
Jan Willem Nijman (Vlambeer) at his panel ‘Taking The Right Shortcuts” talked about making the right moves as an indie developer. Some tips included to create a fun game that has a lot of humour, or to create games that are fresh by throwing challenges to the players.
As long as developers are confident with their concepts and are able to execute them, they are able to create games which are highly creative, addictive, and even viral for the player.
In the ‘Fireside Chat: Making a Mark as an Indie Game Developer’ hosted by Desmind Lee (iCandy), Arief Widhiyasa (Agate) and Yi Wei (Kurechii), they talked about how they are able to create games that leave an impressive mark within the industry.
Agate managed to release a physical copy of their indie game and sold it on PC and console platforms with a revenue of $1 dollar per box, which is an incredible statistic. Kurechii was able to get into the Apple Arcade program and release their game King’s Landing through this platform.
While all these panels were happening, there were also exhibitor booths in the main hall showcasing games that are in the running for the SEA Game Awards 2019. We also had the opportunity to have a short interview session with the Founder & CEO of Larian Studios, Swen Vincke. Keep an eye on this space to check out the interview soon!
That being said, Day 1 of Level Up Biz KL 2019 was been a fulfilling one as we gained a lot of insight into the gaming industry, directly from the mouths of industry leaders in Malaysia and worldwide.
Stay tuned for our Day 2 recap as we enter more panel talks, more interviews and watch the awards ceremony and the closing ceremony by the Minister of the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia Malaysia, YB Tuan Gobind Singh Deo.