Game Seminar at the College of St. Benilde

15 01 2018


      We were invited by Ms. Gwendelyn Abacano Foster last week to a seminar at the College of St. Benilde (CSB). Featuring Mr. Ian Garner. Ian Garner works with Another Indie, an independent game publisher from China, that has published multiple critically acclaimed and commercially successful games such as Lost Castle. This was another opportunity for us to learn, especially publishing our game to China, which we don’t have any idea on how to go about it.

Mr. Ian Garner

     We also have a new contributor to the game – Faith Dimaranan. She’s a game development student at Asia Pacific College. We really need someone, aside from Jap, with game knowledge and game logic to help us in other aspects of our mobile game. She is helping us in fixing the localization, achievements and optimizing the game.

   Ms. Faith Dimaranan

     Jap and Faith joined me at the seminar. We had trouble finding a parking space so we were a bit late when we got to the seminar. There were a few attendees, maybe about 20-30 people. Some were students and some developers. The topic was familiar, like finding a hook (selling point) of your game, and how to email publishers about your game. He also mentioned that developers should always attend events like ESGS and Gamecon because these are the places to get good feedback than having feedback from game testers. It is better to showcase your game to gamers and developers, because they have a better game sense, meaning they know what to look for in a game. He said that Google is not accessible to China, so we really need to have a local publisher in China to have our game published. We can email publishers directly and if our game catches their attention, they will publish it.

     After the seminar, it was a good opportunity for us to show our game to Mr. Garner as well as to the other developers to get feedback. Unfortunately, a lot of people were having photo ops and were pitching their ideas as well. So we showed our games to 2 other people. Ian Christian Sevilla, who is a game developer, programmer and College Instructor at CSB. He also gave feedback last 2016 at ESGS. When he saw it he said it improved a lot, but he commented on the User Experience once again. He gave some feedback on fixing visuals for a better experience for the user. While playing, he commented that we fix the balance of the game. I thought he was referring to the balance of the playability of the characters. He meant the balance of the progression of the game. He said that the game should have a slow progression, we should teach the player what buttons to press first before making him fight monsters at once.

Mr. Ian Christian Sevilla (with backpack)

     He gave us a link to how the Megaman game made players experience each ability at the start of the game.

     Actually, it made sense, because he really had a hard time figuring the controls when he was playing the game. Faith and Jap immediately had ideas on how to fix this.

     Kevin Brian Valmonte, a game developer, programmer and college instructor at CSB also tested our game. He said that the game looked good, and only needed to be polished. Instead of pressing a button to continue from a tutorial, why not just tap the screen to continue. He also said to fix the loading screen, there was a lot of dead space and we should remove the delay between screens. He also commented on the art, but that was just his preference and it wasn’t really that important.

     We had good feedback here and Faith has volunteered on fixing the tutorial integration in the game. She is also optimizing the localization so it will be easier to add more languages later.

     It is good that she has game programming knowledge and she figured out what part of the game needs to be fixed. We are now applying improvements from the feedback we gathered and Faith has committed to helping us optimize and polish the game.

Article and Pictures by Alstaire A. Sarthou

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Global Game Exhibition (G-Star) 2017 – Busan, South Korea (Philippine Delegates)

14 12 2017

      Last July 26, 2017, we received an email from the Animation Council of the Philippines, that Ms. Tess S. Loring, Chief Services Division of DTI-EMB (Department of Trade and Industry – Export Marketing Bureau) together with PTIC (Philippine Trade and Investment Center) Seoul through their Commercial Counselor, Mr. Emmanuel W. Ang, were seeking companies interested to participate in G-Star 2017, Busan, South Korea.

           

            Title of the Exhibition: Global Game Exhibition 2017 (G-Star 2017)                                  Date: 16 – 18 November 2017                                                                                                      Mission Period: 14 – 19 November 2017                                                                                    Opening Hours: 10:00 – 18:00
            Venue: Exhibition Centre 2, BEXCO, Busan, Republic of Korea
            Exhibition Coverage: Game Software (online, mobile, video, board,                                       arcade, indie) and Game-related hardware
             Number of Exhibitors: 30 Companies for 10 ASEAN Member States                                    (AMS) (3 from each AMS)

Busan Exhibition and Convention Center (BEXCO)

   

     The ASEAN-KOREAN CENTER (AKC) will be covering the following expenses:

         – Space Rental & Booth Construction
         – Printing of Backdrop using images provided by the exhibitor

     One person per company
        – Round-trip air ticket: Economy class
        – Accommodation: Five (5) nights
        – Domestic Transportation

      While the DTI-EMB will be choosing the 3 companies that will participate in the event. The companies just needed to submit the Exhibition Registration Form and digital images of the main product sample before the August 4, 2017, deadline.

     In past years, the AKC worked with the BOI (Board of Investments) to organize the Philippine delegation for this event. This year it was offered to the DTI-EMB; the BOI felt that the project is more aligned with the DTI-EMB since its main purpose is to help generate exports. They also wanted to focus on making this opportunity available to small companies not only in Metro Manila but also from other regions in the country.

     Top Peg Animation Studio indicated its intention to join and suggested Anthro Katipunan, the game designer for our mobile game, to be its representative. We submitted the requirements on July 31, together with a letter that we were excited to promote our first mobile game, The Crop Circle Warriors©, globally.

      On August 29, we were informed that not 3, but 6 companies were chosen by DTI-EMB to join the event. Apparently, some countries had only 1 or 2 representatives which opened slots for our country. The 6 companies and their main product were:

             1. Synergy 88 Digital – Barangay 143 Street League (Mobile game)
             2. Emottoons Studio (Cebu) – Animation Services
             3. Audacity Studio (Iloilo) – Digger: Puzzle Quest for Hidden Gems
             4. Indigo Entertainment – Agent Aliens (Mobile game)
             5. Top Peg Animation & Creative Studio Inc. – The Crop Circle Warriors©                       (Mobile game)
             6. Xurpas – Woot (App Store)

     Unfortunately, Anthro wasn’t able to fix his passport in time for the event. So I had to replace him as the company’s representative. We duly informed the DTI-EMB about this change on September 13, since we had a deadline to submit a copy of the passport and completed guidelines for G-star.

     We were also reminded of the Business Matching System, where we needed to register at the G-Star site and set up meeting schedules with different companies that were either exhibitors or visitors at G-star. These companies can then approve the meeting schedule if they were interested. I received 2 invitations from companies from China and Vietnam, while I was able to send 7 invitations to different companies, only 3 approved. Anyway, in my experience at the Tokyo Game Show, more clients made meetings at the booth rather than set it online. So I wasn’t worried too much about this.

      We were given access to the Business Matching sites when I learned that Emottoons Studio was replaced by Ingenuity Studios (Davao) – which had 2 games Tamagogo and Mayari (Mobile games) that won back to back as best game at the ICT Creative Awards.

     September 20, we learned the confirmed number of participants per country.We also learned our hotel accommodations and flight schedule.
          1. Brunei -1
          2. Cambodia – 4 (incl. the Ministry of Commerce)
          3. Indonesia – 4 (one additional company)
          4. Malaysia – 3
          5. Myanmar – 4 (one additional company)
          6. Philippines – 6 (three additional companies)
          7. Singapore – 3
          8. Thailand – 3
          9. Vietnam – 3
         10. Laos – 0 (did not participate this year)

                       Total 30 companies.

      September 29, due to my experience at the Tokyo Game Show last 2014, I knew it would be hard to meet potential passing clients at our booth while having other meetings with other companies. I suggested to the DTI-EMB that a second representative of Top Peg be allowed to attend. At that moment, Xurpas also sent an email stating that they will be sending two representatives and they will take care of the additional persons’ expenses. The AKC promptly considered it and said that the hotel rooms are good for two people, so we just needed to pay for the flight, transportation and Trade Badge. Since Edith Sarthou, who is our Administration Head and also my wife, knew of the costing for our different projects, I suggested that she come along with us. Xurpas also requested if they could fly at an earlier date, with the cost of accommodations at their expense. Aside from Xurpas and Top Peg, Synergy 88 also had a 2nd representative.

       October 4, we had a delegation meeting at the DTI-International Building. Present were the delegates, James Lo of Indigo Entertainment, Sofia Adap of Xurpas, Joemar Albino of Synergy 88, Me and Edith for Top Peg. Hajee Aquino of Audacity (Iloilo) was also present via Skype, while John Naranjo of Ingenuity (Davao) was not online. Also present were the representatives from DTI-EMB, Ms. Tess Loring, Ms. Glecy Cademia and Mr. Rhys Manabat. Highlights of the meeting were the discussion of the Business Matching Activity, the additional representatives and setting up a Viber group for easy communication between delegates. Also, the delegates informed the DTI-EMB of the problems that were encountered last year, since Audacity and Indigo also joined them. They said that the Invitation Letter from the AKC should be sent to us so we can process our visas earlier since there was the ASEAN Summit, with a 1 week holiday, coming up. We were also advised to have our calling cards printed with Korean translation at the back.

     We received the Invitation Letters plus our flight schedules on October 13, from Mr. An-Jin Hun of the Asean-Korean Center (AKC).

     

     November 2, Indigo Entertainment informed the DTI-EMB  that Mr. James Lo would be replaced by Mr. Eduardo Nilo due to last minute commitments. 

       The Korean Embassy opens at 8:30 am but we were advised by the guard to be there by 6:30 am when we inquired last October 30We were able to apply for our Visas on November 3We arrived at about 6:45 am and there was already about a hundred people already in line. We just needed to list our names at the window, by 8:30 am those on the list will be called in, anyone not in the list would fall in line outside and take a chance if they will still be called in. After that, you just need to fall in line again and submit the documents to the guard, who then checks and approves it. You will be given a number that would be called at a specific window for the interview. I was placed in a special lane since I was able to travel to Japan before, and since Edith was my wife, she too was able to avail of the special lane. At the window, they just asked the purpose of the trip. They then gave me a schedule on when to pick up our passports with the Visa. We received our Visas on November 8. Edith was also able to purchase a promo flight from JejuAir with a round trip ticket for only P14,000++.

Republic of Korea VISA

     We were also asked to send our backdrop designs based on the ASEAN Pavillion design that they gave us.

ASEAN Pavillion Design

     When I designed the backdrop for Top Peg, I decided to place Korean translations. Since it was suggested by the DTI -EMB that our calling cards have a translation, then why not our backdrop too. I used Google Translate to do the translations. I had a cousin, who works for a Korean-English School, who had her boss check the translations. Her boss said I made a mistake on the word “CROP”, my version meant “To Cut”, instead of “vegetation”.

                               Original Translation                              

Corrected Image 

The Backdrops for the Philippines

     We had another pre-departure meeting at the DTI-EMB office on November  9. Present were all the representatives of each company, Hajee of Audacity was there via Skype. Mr. John Naranjo of Ingenuity called in sick. We learned that Hajee had a problem with his Visa documents, which was lost in transit since he applied for his Visa in Cebu, the DTI-EMB  promised to help him fix this. Mr. Eduardo Nilo of Indigo was voted to be the point leader of the delegates since he attended the same event last year. Joemar Albino of Synergy 88 would be doing the presentation for the Philippines, and I was assigned to be the photographer.

     Alstaire (Top Peg), Eduardo Nilo (Indigo), Edith (Top Peg), Sofia Adap (Xurpas), Tess Loring (DTI-EMB), Glecy Cadenia (DTI-EMB).

     November 13 Flight to South Korea was at 11:45 pm. We were informed that Hajee of Audacity that his Korean Visa wasn’t processed in time as it now took 7 days to process the Visa in the province, instead of two days a few years back. He wasn’t able to join the trip.

November 14 , 2017 –  DAY 1

     Upon arriving at the airport at around 5:00 am, we purchased a data SIM card so that I will always be online for our viber group. It cost about P1,300 for 5 days. We then took a limousine cab to our hotel, Fraser Place at Namdaemun, Seoul. Seoul was clean and it was cold, 3 degrees Celsius. It’s a good thing we brought scarves and gloves. And when the wind blew, we froze because of the freezing air. The hotel room was nice and cozy, but our view was a construction building at the back. The toilet even had the controls on a tablet like a remote.

     The workshop and presentation of the participating countries would start about 1:30 pm so we had time to stroll and take lunch outside.  We saw the market, lots of street food and cheap clothes. We had Omurice (Omelette Rice) and Beef Soup which included a lot of side dishes.

     The workshop was held at the Namdaemun function room at the Fraser Place; we were given a copy of the presentations bound like a book. Surprisingly, the Philippines’ and Singapore’s presentation weren’t included. We learned that we weren’t able to submit a power point presentation ahead of the event. We were given a deadline of September, but we weren’t able to comply.

     Mr. An-Jin Hun of the Asean-Korean Center (AKC) welcomed all the delegates and showed a video of this event. This will be played on a large screen at the center of the ASEAN Pavillion.

Mr. An-Jin Hun of the AKC

1st Topic

The Current Status of the Korean Game Industry (In program)
How to make a No. 1 game across the globe (actual presentation) by Jung Mu-Sik, Vice President, Lunosoft Inc.

  Mr. Jung Mu-Sik of Lunasoft Inc.

     I’m not sure why they changed their presentation, but this topic gave me insights on how to market one’s game globally. Mr. Jung talked about their partnership with large IPs such as Disney, the game is Disney Catch Catch. It is basically a “Spot the Difference” Puzzle game for iOS. He also talked about changing design styles and gameplay depending on the country you wished to publish. He showed the game that was released in Korea. It has a pirate story as an intro and a pirate ship in the titles.

   Disney Touch Touch

     When they released the game in Japan, the pirate ship was changed to Mickey Mouse (who is very popular in Japan), who was not a main character in the game. The title was changed to Disney Touch Touch, which they couldn’t explain why. And the pirate story Intro was replaced by a map with levels. Also, the Achievements and Competition modes were removed. Japanese gamers don’t really like confrontation or match their game score with others, they’d rather play alone, this is according to their data research.

    They also showed the difference in business models. The Korean version had a store where you buy Rubies as currency for In-app purchases, while in the Japanese version, you buy a Gacha, which is an eggshell toy where you don’t know what prize you will get inside.

     Items for sale were also different, Korean version had different Pirate Ships while the Japanese version had Pens with Disney Character Heads.

2nd Topic 

Global Mobile Gaming Market Strategy by Mr. No Hyun-Kwan, Director, Mobirix, Co.


      Mr. No Hyun-Kwan showed different business models for the game but showed that the best model for them was the combination of Ads and In-app purchases. They showed charts on their games’ progress.

     Usually, the life cycle of a new mobile game is a few weeks. After launching, a game gets featured, it gets a few thousand downloads, then it gets forgotten. As a business model, developers need to plan on how their game be sustainable for months than weeks. Next, they showed us the business model they apply in their games.

     One of their games, Shooting King was launched April 2017, It was a Free to play the game with Ads and In-app purchases. It got featured in Google Play in the same month, then they improved their In-app purchases and Ads by July 2017, and pushed marketing by October 2017. This was done as a plan to sustain the game for several months.

     They also said that it is not enough to use social media to market your game. Social media is just 1 of 28 ways to market. Press release, blog sites are other ways. And having a good customer support service is a good strategy to have for your game.

3rd Topic

Entering ASEAN Game Market and Related Issues, by Mr. Kim Dong-Sung, CEO, Movegames Co.

    Mr. Kim Dong-Sung talked about ASEAN having the highest potential of growth among emerging markets. The top 5 gaming markets being (comparing game revenues):

  1. Thailand – $252,300,000
  2. Malaysia – $214,200,000
  3. Singapore – $201,600,000
  4. Indonesia – $140,800,000
  5. Philippines – $96,800,000

     Also, he says, aside from mobile, Steam, is a new platform that ASEAN market can tap. He also said that the PC-Online Game is a huge and growing market, and Korean developers and publishers are entering into Steam. One Korean game that was successful was the “Battleground” game.

     They are also testing out a new business model for mobile games, Animation IP. Where the player needs to watch a video (story related to the game) to be able to continue playing. Since most of their games are based on existing IPs such as Power Rangers, this made a lot of sense. This new business model is still in the prototype stage though.

     Next presenters were from each country. Mostly they showed statistics of their country. I will just list the statistics or if there were some information relevant to that country.

1) Brunei Game Industry, by Mr. Farhan Ismail, Co-founder/CTO, Itsybytes Company

Total Population: 431,700

Mobile Subscriptions: 515,800

     Some people had more than one phone which is the reason that the subscriptions is higher than the population. One problem they faced with mobile gaming was the payment system. E-payment gateways through local banks are still growing, and recently First Data Merchant Solutions was established. Also, a Korean company FinTech will be setting up a Centre in Brunei. Bitcoin is also being accepted.

     Their current status is that they are relatively new in the industry, and small game developers in the country have only 4 options:

  1. Hope for a serendipitous hit.
  2. Align with a major publisher
  3. Global crowdfunding
  4. Self-publish online deliverables

     Mr. Fahran is subsidized by the government, according to him, if you do business with him you are basically talking to the government of Brunei.

2) Cambodia’s Game Market by Sabay Osja Co., Ltd.

Total Population: 15,950,000

Mobile Subscription: 27,600,000

     Game Preference: Candy Crush, Billiards, Vain Glory, Casino Game

     Payment Systems: Pi Pay,Wing, Pay & Go, Smart NW Luy,Bongloy, Acleda Unity, E money,E Cash,Asia Wei Luy, True Money

3) Indonesia Game Industry Outlook by Arief Widhisaya, Secretary General, Indonesia Game Association (AGI)

Total Population: 255,500,000

Mobile Subscription: 308,200,000

     Game Preferences: Strategy Games – 30%, Racing Games – 25%, Action Games – 18%, Arcade Games – 14%, Simulations – 14%, Other – 4%

     In Conclusion: In general, Indonesia’s gaming market is growing very fast. Predicted to be 1 Billion USD by 2020. Local game industry ecosystem still very bleak, yet the potential is there.

4) Overview of Malaysia Game Industry (No name of speaker)

 Total Population: 30,800,000

Online Population: 22,800,000

Total Revenue: $539,500,000

     The speaker showed more of Malaysia’s growing achievements in the game industry.

  • Malaysian Game Company going IPO
  • Malaysian IP being recognized internationally
  • Creative Content and Technology
  • Schools for Animation and Games
  • A homegrown industry

5) Myanmar Game Industry Overview (No name of speaker)

Current Game Trends:

  • Most of Myanmar’s gaming population contributes to mobile gaming
  • Gamers above 25 are few compared to other countries
  • Most popular games are MMORPG, Strategy and Card games

Potential of Game Production in Myanmar

  • Very few game companies
  • High demand for Burmese games
  • Rapid economic growth shows potential for exponential growth

Current Issues in Game Production

  • Few in-app purchases due to limited number of credit card users
  • Limited resource of talents
  • Use of jailbroken games
  • Lack of schools which offers 3D animation
  • Lack of advanced technical knowledge for game production

Payment Systems

  • Mobile credit by mobile service provider
  • Steam accounts
  • Credit cards 

6) The Game Developers Association of the Philippines by Joemar Albino, Synergy 88

 

     We are not included in the book because GDAP wasn’t able to provide the presentation when the AKC needed it for printing. Anyway, Joemar talked about the Philippines being the go to a country for game testing and quality assurance. We also have schools that offered game development plus a growing industry of game developers, publishers and more. Big companies, such as Ubisoft, are now setting up shop in the Philippines to tap the bountiful talent that is available in the country.

7) Singapore Games Industry (No name of speaker)

Total Population: 5,700,000

Online Population: 4,900,000

Gamers: 3,300,000

     Paying gamers in Singapore spend an average of $204.72 per year, which is the highest average in Southeast Asia, and seventh highest in the world.

8) Thai Videogames Opportunities in Global Market (No name of speaker)

Thailand is in the Top 20 Countries for Game Revenues 2016 at number 20.

Total Population: 68,100,000

Online Population: 28,700,000

Total Revenues: $521,300,000

     Thailand has Publishing, Art Outsourcing, and Game Outsourcing services. They also have their own IP and won some awards. Their primary market is China and Japan.

9) Overview of Vietnam Game Industry by Ha Hong Minh, Director,Vinh Xuan

Total Population: 93,000,000

Online Population: 50,000,000+

Mobile Subscriptions: 130,000,000

Mobile OS Market Share: Android – 67%, iOS – 29%, Others – 4%

     They are planning to target more female-oriented games because women have more mobile phones than men. Also, eSports is very popular in their country, hence competitive games are a top draw.

The speaker also had a sub-topic on “How to be successful in Vietnam Mobile Game Market”

  1. Choose the right games
  2. Target right users
  3. Operate right way
  4. Customer service 24/7

Or better yet, choose the right local publisher in Vietnam.

     The talk ended about 6:00 pm, we then went out of the hotel to see some of the sights at the market and ate dinner. 

November 15, 2017  – Day 2  

Industrial Visit I: Creative Economy and Innovation Center

     9:00 am – All the delegates regrouped at the Fraser Place lobby for the Industrial Visit; two buses were provided for all the delegates. Bus 1 had Malaysia, Brunei, Myanmar, Indonesia, and Cambodia. We were in Bus 2 with Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. It was a 45-minute bus ride to Pan-kyo where the Gyeonggi Center for Creative Economy & Innovation is located.

     The Center is located in a valley in Pan-kyo, South Korea. There are several centers here that house game and animation studios, research centers and startup centers.

     10:00 am – When we arrived here it was extremely cold, and being in a valley, seemed to create a wind tunnel. When we turned towards a corner of a building, the freezing wind would make everyone stop.

Sofia and Hannah of Xurpas, Joemar of Synergy88, John of Ingenuity, Dokes of Indigo and Alstaire of Top Peg

     At the Gyeonggi Center for Creative Economy & Innovation, outside the buildings looked like typical office buildings, simple architecture and all gray with glass. Inside though, it looked like modern creative offices such as Google. They had Cargo containers converted into modular offices, colorful floors and furniture.

       A fellow who called himself David (He said his name is hard to pronounce by foreigners) did the presentation about South Korea.

     He had some interesting trivia about South Korea. He said that Samsung holds 24% of the Gross Domestic Product in all of South Korea, so if Samsung falls their economy will be in big trouble. Also, the big companies diversify into different industries, that is why you will find Hyundai Malls, Samsung Malls, Hyundai Gas stations, etc…

     Samsung is now the 2nd top-selling device when it comes to mobile phones and appliances. It has surpassed both Nokia and Sony.

     There are more Fried Chicken restaurants (36,000 as of 2014) in South Korea than there are McDonald’s (35,429 as of 2014) around the world. The government supports the people who want to start-up a company, and most unemployed people suggest a fried chicken restaurant. An example was someone wanted to start a wine shop, but the government has a law that they won’t fund a startup that has alcohol as their main product. So the person made his shop, Chicken, and Wine. In fact, the Korean government knows that unemployment is on the rise when there are more chicken restaurants this year than the prior year. We asked them which was the most popular chicken restaurant, they said it was Kyo Chon, which is also available in the Philippines. We did not get to try it though because most of the shops had Korean text so it would be hard to find.

     David also talked about the Korean Startup Landscape. There are a number of IT-related startup companies in the Pan-kyo valley.

     Below is the whole area of the techno-valley which is similar to the techno hub that was built in Sta. Rosa, Laguna here in the Philippines. This one though is much larger. Below is the map, and we are in just one building.

     He next gave us a tour of the startup offices and research labs. We went up to the 7th floor via elevator.

     He even showed how advance the security system is here, with retina scanner to open doors.

     They showed a 3D Lab where they print different prototype items and figures, a Mobile Lab where they test different kinds of mobile devices.

   

      And they showed us different devices that they came up with like the Smart Umbrella. This umbrella has a built-in barometer so it can communicate with your mobile phone to show how the weather will be, including temperature, humidity and wind velocity.

     There was a bitcoin atm machine, as they are one of the countries that have accepted bitcoin as a currency.

     They also showed us where they develop and test Virtual Reality apps and games.

Joemar, Alstaire, John, Sofia and Hannah.

     Going down they made us take the stairs. It was cool that the calories that you burn are shown on the stairwell.

     He then showed us the other buildings that included an animation and game studio. The buildings all looked alike and there were no signs. It was really freezing but he invited us to a bridge that crosses a creek in the valley. All the delegates were not comfortable with the cold weather but we were able to take a few snapshots.

    The ASEAN delegates
   

      12:30 pm – After this, we took the AKC bus to a mall for lunch, it was a buffet lunch but it was small compared to the buffet restaurants in the Philippines. It was mostly Korean dishes but it was cozy. We only had 45 minutes for lunch because the train that we would take to Busan had a 2:00 pm schedule, if you miss it, it would take another hour to wait.

     1:30 pm – The bus then took us to the train station which is a 10-minute drive from the mall. At the train station, everyone recognized the place at it was featured in the movie – ‘Train to Busan’. Everyone had selfies at the station, at the train and also near the tracks.

This is me checking if there are zombies at the back.

It took about 2.5 hours by train passing through the provinces.

     4:30 pm – we arrived at the Busan Train Station; there were 2 buses again provided by the AKC waiting for us at the station. There was a Marvel Shield Theme Park beside the train station in Busan.

Everyone was asleep on the bus, tired from the train ride.

     5:30 pm– It was a bit traffic, so we arrived 30 minutes later than our schedule. Busan was less cold than Seoul at 10 degrees Celsius but still cold, it was like San Francisco – a bay area. We took another bus to the Busan Exhibition & Convention Center or BEXCO, for the ingress.

     When we got there we first saw the ASEAN Pavillion and then everyone started to prepare their booths for day one of G-Star 2017.  Here we met Josh (in orange jacket), the other representative of Synergy 88. He took a flight straight to Busan because of prior engagements.

     6:30 pm – We then took the bus to our hotel – Shilla Stay. It was a smaller hotel but had good architecture and interior design.

     There was faux fireplace, since the wood was just for display and the fire came out of a gas burner. A faux bar, with no liquor, a giant teddy bear and a business area with a long table with books about design and architecture.

     Our room was simple but had moving dividers that expose a glass window to the bathroom. It also had an advance remote control for the toilet. This time I took pictures. What was funny was that there was an emergency button beside the remote, maybe when you run out of batteries.

     

     8:30 pm– We took a late dinner at a McDonalds close to the hotel with John Naranjo of Ingenuity. The burgers were different; I got a 1955 burger, Edith got a Beef and Shrimp Burger and John got a Grilled BBQ burger. There was no small size only big, and it cost about P300 for each meal. We also needed to clean up after eating which we almost did not do until we saw the cashier’s eye widened in disbelief with our ‘uncivilized’ behavior of not cleaning up the trash after eating. We immediately noticed her reaction and cleaned up after. After this, we went back to the hotel to get ready for the next day.

November 16, 2017 – Day 3

Official Day 1 of G-Star

     I tried the breakfast buffet at Shilla Stay Hotel, and it was the typical breakfast buffet Korean style. There was an egg station, bread station, ramen station, bacon and cold cuts, and roasted veggies, plus coffee, juices, and tea.

     We took the shuttle bus from the hotel to BEXCO at 9:20 am. When we arrived there we saw the huge line forming outside. The business meeting is held at a different building from the exhibition hall for the public. The general public is not allowed to enter the business meeting area. The picture below was taken from the third floor of the business meeting building. We noticed that there were no cosplayers, unlike in Manila where most of the attendees were in full costumes.

     Inside we started to prepare our booths. The other delegates too were busy attending to their booths.

     We finally met Mr. Emmanuel W. Ang (Emman for short), Commercial Counselor of the DTI-PTIC Seoul. He was happy we were there but he was disappointed that Hajee of Audacity couldn’t make it. He said it would be an issue with the AKC since they have fully paid for the flight and accommodations. He said that this will be brought up at a post-meeting for G-Star. We were also surprised to see Mr. Joebert Yu, organizer of the E-Sports and Gaming Summit (ESGS) in Manila. He was looking for potential exhibitors for next years ESGS.

Joebert of ESGS, Eduardo “Dokes” of Indigo, Hannah of Xurpas, Als, Emman of  PTIC Seoul, Sofie of Xurpas, Edith and John of Ingenuity

     When the doors finally opened we were greeted by different companies for publishing, mobile game stores, customer support, advertising, etc. We then started our business meetings. We met with those that we scheduled at their website, and also some who were walk-in from other companies. Since this was the first day, we didn’t get to go around the exhibition hall that much.

     We agreed that we would take lunch at intervals so there would always be representatives at the Philippine booth. Edith and I went to lunch at around 1:00 pm. We looked at and entered a nearby restaurant where a number of people were eating.

     We saw that the people there were eating a hot pot of pork ribs and veggies, unfortunately, the menu was in Korean. We saw a picture with small, medium and large sizes. Thinking that the people eating there ordered the small size, we thought of ordering a medium then splitting it between ourselves. When our food arrived, we were surprised at the size of the hot pot. We ordered the group meal instead of the solo meal. It had 7 slabs of pork ribs and lots of veggies. We messaged the other delegates and told them our problem, that we mistakenly ordered and we could not finish it alone. But they already have eaten their lunch, so we just ate what we could. The medium size meal cost around P1,400 instead of the P380 for the solo meal.

    The soup was a bit spicy and the ribs were very tender, this was the perfect food for the cold weather. They called the soup Gamjatang or Haejang-guk or Hangover soup.

     We went back to our hotel at 6:20 pm. We were invited via online to the G-star welcome party but we learned that it was going to be at a bar named Devil’s Door. So Edith and I passed and said we will attend the next party since the organizers said that there will be others. I was able to get pictures from the other delegates who attended. The other delegates said that they attended 2 parties, and they got home at about 2:00 am. Edith and I didn’t eat dinner because we ate too much at lunch and we need to conserve our budget.

  

November 17, 2017 – Day 4

Official Day 2 of G-Star

      I again took the buffet breakfast, Edith passed because we would need to pay extra P700 for the extra head since the AKC only booked for one head. We again headed to BEXCO by bus at 9:20 am.  The business meetings continued with other firms. 

     This time we went to the other booths, we saw the other Korean companies as well as some big developers.

Com2Us invited us to a party at 8:00 pm

Gamevil and Com2Us booths

Kakao Games Booth

Unity booth

      We also went to the B2C booths, this the convention area and it was located in another building connected with where we are staying by an elevated walkway.

    The majority were Korean game companies and I noticed only one Japanese game company the Bandai Namco.

Bandai Namco booth

     There were a few cosplayers unlike at the Tokyo Game Show or even compared to our local game conventions, where there are hundreds of cosplayers. There were also virtual games.

     The highlight of G-Star is the eSports. These are games where a lot of players compete with each other until there are only 2 players left who compete for the grand prize. This is similar to the format of the ESGS, where there are a number of eSport games, like FIFA Online, which is a soccer game, Battlegrounds, Icarus and Starcraft.

We also saw some Korean game character statues on display.

     At lunchtime, we tried the food court at BEXCO. Here they only serve 2 types of dishes: the Pork Rice Topping and the Beef Soup. Edith ordered the pork toppings, it had a lot of side dishes for free while I had the beef soup.

     At dinner time around 7:00 pm, we were invited by Mr. Emman Ang for an authentic Korean barbecue about two blocks away from our hotel. We went to this restaurant where the parking lot doubles as an outdoor dining area where we seated behind the cars.

     We sat on a long table with 2 grills. Emman was on another table with the girls from Xurpas and Dokes. They gave us raw pork and beef that we then cooked on the grills. They placed kimchi and raw eggs at the side of the grill to cook. There were also condiments for us to season the meats while cooking.

       Thinking we had a good free meal, Emman said that we should chip in for the cost of our table, while they chip in at their table. It cost about P800 per head, so I was caught off guard because of our dwindling budget. After dinner, we went straight to the Com2Us Business Networking Party at the Grand Ballroom of the Haeundae Grand Hotel. The said hotel is also just a walking distance from our hotel.

      We were a bit late to the networking party, so we rushed to go there and arrived about 9:00 pmEdith and I then regretted having a paid dinner when we saw the variety of free food available. There was chicken, prawns, beef, burgers and lots more. We were full already, so we just tasted some of the food. 

     The networking party was a good place to meet the other exhibitors. Then they announced that there was a raffle, they gave away a large Gundam Tobot, a drone, some action figures as well as computer accessories. No one from the Philippine delegates won.  It was a fun night, after which we went back to the hotel at around 10:00 pm.

November 18, 2017 – Day 5

Official Day 3 of G-Star

    Our hotel was only a block away from the famous Haeundae Beach. So we went for a morning stroll at 8:00 am. It was freezing but the beach was nice and clean. There were a lot of seagulls and pigeons. And there was an Aquarium near the beach but it was still closed.

     Back at the BEXCO around 10:00 am, the crowd was still large. There were fewer people at the business matching so it gave us a chance to go to each Korean booth and give our calling cards, show our game and make some connections.

     We tried one of the food trucks outside for lunch this time at around 11:30 am, we chose the shortest line with barbecue ribs. The price was equivalent to P280 for a single serving. It was good though, but we had to eat at tables made out of cargo planks at the parking area. There were also some cosplayers who posed with the crowd at the food truck area.

     We also took shots at the park beside the BEXCO. When we went back at 12:30 pm, all the staff of the AKC and the ASEAN delegates were having photo shoots, so we joined them. We thank everyone for the warm hospitality. It was a great experience for us overall.

John of Indigo, An Jin of the AKC, Als, Edith, Ms. Park of the AKC, another guide and Josh of Synergy.

ASEAN Delegates

     After G-Star, some of us agreed to go to the mall for stuff to take home at around 6:00 pm. The mall was so big and stuff was too expensive, so we weren’t really able to take home anything. We had dinner at the food court and we took a taxi back to the hotel afterward at around 9:00 pm.

Mall and Dinner

November 19, 2017 – Day 6

To the Airport

     Edith and I ate at the buffet breakfast at the hotel around 8:30 am. We also had some last shots in the lobby after for checkout at 10:00 am.

   

     

     I then took Edith to the subway 10:30 am because she had a different flight and she needed to take the train back to Incheon. The rest of us would take a connecting flight from Busan airport to Incheon airport. The road to the subway led us to a strip with lots of restaurants and some tourist spots.

   

     At around 11:00 am, we learned that it would be a 2-hour train ride to the Busan station, so after taking her about 9 stations, I headed back to the hotel to meet with the other Philippine delegates.  After that, it was a mad rush to the airport for the 2:00 pm flight so we didn’t have time to take pictures.

      On November 22, Emman Ang messaged us via viber. He said that the AKC was disappointed with the no-show of one of the Philippine delegates. Ms. Tess Loring of DTI-EMB defended themselves that they informed the PTIC Seoul of the VISA problem. Emman said that wasn’t the point because they only allowed 3 companies per country and we asked for more slots, to which they obliged. So it was up to DTI-EMB to make sure that all those slots would be filled. The AKC even brought up a suggestion to make the accommodations partially paid by the delegates just so that they take it seriously next year. There were even some countries saying to scrap the event, in the end, there was good news: G-Star will continue the ASEAN partnership again next year.   

   The DTI-EMB asked us to attend a post G-star meeting on November 23. Unfortunately, I had to deal with a death in our family so I wasn’t able to attend. They emailed me that I needed to send them a report of the leads we got and also our suggestions for the preparations. They also asked us to send copies of the calling cards we gathered that are potential clients in the future.

     As a tip for those who would like to go to the G-Star, be prepared for a final full mobile game with a business model. A good looking game with a good gameplay is just for starters. Most of the time they don’t even look at your game.  Many things will be asked of you by the Chinese, Korean, and other Asian businessmen, which I am not at liberty to divulge. If you have no game or have a game but no business model, then your time and the foreign businessmen’s time will be wasted. As for services, that would depend on what services your firm will provide, but most are not interested in services since they have their own talents in their own county.

Article and Photos by Alstaire A. Sarthou;  Overview photo of BEXCO from the Internet

 





Paul Streitz’s Animation Project

13 10 2017

     Last October 10, 2017, Grace emailed me about Paul Streitz giving a talk about “A Philippine Animation Movie Company?” to be held on October 12 at the New World Hotel from 1:30 pm to 4:00 pm, the talk was for free. I was curious what I can learn from the talk especially the marketing of animation shows, so I registered for the event.

     The talk started about 1:50 pm and ended about an hour later. Paul is a writer and producer from the US, who wrote some books on economics and a string of musical plays for theaters in New York. Paul explained the reason of why he is in the country –  half-jokingly he said after his divorce, he had money to do some animation projects for his past musical plays but he didn’t want to invest a lot of money in building a team of animators to do his project. So he figured out that coming to the Philippines where a local animation company can animate his play entitled ‘Madison Avenue The Subliminal Movie’ in flash animation for 90 minutes before he dies. The idea is to prolong the life of the property; as a live film has a shorter lifespan.

     After the brief introduction, Paul showed the business side of the film business, where the dollar and cents were broken down to show that there is money to be made for all the parties involved – from the writer, owner, producer, distributor, merchandiser, and production company. He showed estimated figures for big hit films such as the Simpsons and a not so well known film only shown in the US but the profit figures are still worth the effort. Mickey Mouse and the financial side of the merchandise part of the character was also highlighted. He said that other stories with expired copyright could be ideal animation projects such as ‘Treasure Island’, Wizard of Oz’,’Oklahoma’ and ‘Annie’.

     Paul then proceeded to pitch his string of plays such as ‘Oh Johnny’, ‘Madison Avenue’and other plays. Being 20 years in market research, he showed some figures that Madison Avenue has great reviews from both critics and audiences alike. He continued to explain the character, about the surprising plot and remastering the sound to make it up to date and recorded the dialogue for the animation project. Paul also talked about Gary Cherpakov, who was the brilliant music and lyrics writer for his plays. Paul was all praised for Gary whom nothing was hard for him to write,  as it all came naturally to him and the work could be done perfectly in a day or two. Instead of using rhyming words, Gary was more on rhyming the sounds, and in Paul’s opinion ‘Oh Johnny’ is one of the top five best musicals.

 

       After the talk, there was some question and answer portion and some light snacks for the attendees. I don’t know anyone in the group except for Grace, the rest were composed of freelance 2D and 3D animators, animation teachers, students, producers for events and live film. After a few minutes of staying around, I left the venue but Grace and other people stayed for many more minutes to ask Paul for more questions. Grace said Paul was more on the music  – 70% rather than on the animation – 30%.  Anyone who was interested to talk to Paul further was invited to lunch the next day at the same hotel.

      The presentation was really new to me, as I am not exposed to musicals, much less to animation musicals. I don’t recall any popular flash animation that pops out right of my mind to compare with the proposed ‘Madison Avenue’ film. If ever pushed through, I think it will be tough for the local animation production company to present the proposed musical to highlight the music, the choreography and character movements that the target audience would respond to.  But just the same, I wish Paul and the team would do well on the project. As for me I’m just focused on finishing and launching the mobile game in the next few weeks and editing and improving our web series.

     Less than a week after the talk, I got to listen to the CD of the Madison Avenue songs that Paul’s assistant handed out each participant. The songs were really nice, clear and had a happy feel to it. It was only after hearing the various songs that I got to appreciate the proposed movie as the songs, message, and topic are one of a kind.