Finn Staber at Unite!

Back in October, Finn Staber of Portalarium and a member of Austin’s IGDA steering committee, served on a panel at Unite!

Successfully adding AR or VR to your studio’s arsenal is expensive, and requires significant R&D burn. Programmers & Designers must act as “early adopters” of this new tech to keep ahead of the curve, and accurately convey emerging feature requirements to clients or other developers. The standard for developing AR/VR experiences is rapidly evolving as developers pioneer new interaction methods & gameplay mechanics. This session will explore best practices for AR & VR as we stride in to the future, and how studios can position their teams ahead of the development curve.

Intel Buzz Workshop

The Austin IGDA has been working with Intel to help bring  the annual Intel® Buzz Workshop  to Austin on Oct.15 for the very first time!  We’ve got member speakers and panel moderators, including Jen Bullard, Frank Coppersmith, and Sheri Graner Ray!

You are all invited to this full-day conference dedicated to game development! This is a great opportunity for anyone looking for some guidance and feedback from industry mavens, or just a fun day full of networking and giveaways. There will be speaker panels and technical sessions hosted by industry gurus throughout the day, including Warren Spector (Deus Ex, Disney Epic Mickey Games) Raphael Colantonio (Arkane Studios), Corey Johnson (Unity) and many more. The talks will cover a range of topics from building & design, to launching and funding a game. There will also be an indie game showcase from a group of awesome local indie devs! More speakers will be announced soon.  Finally, the folks at Intel will top the night off with Happy Hour :) Come and have fun! There will be LOTS of giveaways and food! The conference will be held at Vuka-Austin. Tickets are on sale right now. There are a few Early Bird tickets available, and after that it will be $10 with all proceedings going towards Child’s Play.

You can get tix here:

From Indie Developer to Company Owner: Building Your Indie Game Studio

Going from being an indie game developer to the owner/manager of an indie game studio is hard! You need to develop new skills to navigate being a business owner.  On 22 Sept at 7:00 PM at the Capital Factory, come listen to a panel of experts on all the topics you know are important but are afraid to talk about. The IGDA and Austin Mobile & Indie Game Dev Meetups are pleased to bring to the Capital Factory a wide range of world class experts to help! Bring your toughest questions and get the answers you need.

Kay Oder, Business Performance Advisor – Insperity

Insperity provides human resources services to over 100,000 small and medium-sized businesses. You may think HR is only for big, established companies, but Kay will discuss issues that are critical for small indie studios, including:

  • Paying people as employees vs. as contractors
  • Health insurance options for yourself and/or your team
  • What a “professional employer organization” does for small companies

Doug Jones, Principal – Colliers International

Colliers International is a commercial real estate company with approximately 16,000 employees in over 500 offices around the world. It’s true that many indie game devs work out of their own home or with a remote team, but having an office can provide a huge boost to productivity. So, in case you decide to explore that option, Doug will share some tips on office rental, such as:

  • Status of the “hot” Austin market
  • Common terms in office rental agreements
  • Options for short-term and sub-leased office space

Lewis Leavitt, Business Development – Bridgepoint Consulting

Bridgepoint Consulting provides financial and technology consulting services to a range of clients, from startups to publicly-traded companies and government organizations. Lewis will offer advice in many areas relevant to indie game studios, including:

  • Why you should care about finance and book keeping
  • Other services available (debt, strategic decision making)
  • Top of mind topics for startups

Brian Halbert, Financial Advisor – Merrill Lynch

Merrill Lynch Wealth Management is the wealth management division of Bank of America. It employs over 15,000 financial advisors and manages $2.2 trillion in client assets. As a struggling indie game dev, investing may be the furthest thing from your mind. But putting a tiny bit of thought into this now can make you (and your studio) far more financially stable in the future. Brian will cover some basics, such as:

  • Importance of thinking about saving now at the start of your career
  • Smart, easy ways to save and invest
  • Do it yourself versus getting professional support

We hope to see you there!



Finn Staber – IGDA Steering Committee Member and Unite Speaker!


Unite 2015 is coming up in Boston next week and Finn Staber will be there.  Finn will be joining Pete Moss from Unity Technologies on the talk…

AR & VR Development: Sharpening the Tip of the Spear

5:30-6:30, AUDITORIUM

Track: VR/AR, Business / Level: All

Successfully adding AR or VR to your studio’s arsenal is expensive, and requires significant R&D burn. Programmers & Designers must act as “early adopters” of this new tech to keep ahead of the curve, and accurately convey emerging feature requirements to clients or other developers. The standard for developing AR/VR experiences is rapidly evolving as developers pioneer new interaction methods & gameplay mechanics. This session will explore best practices for AR & VR as we stride in to the future, and how studios can position their teams ahead of the development curve.

Pete Moss – Unity Technologies
Finn Staber – Portalarium

Great job Finn in getting selected as a featured speaker!

Best Cities for Video Game Development Jobs


A recent article in Game Industry Career Guide ( names Austin as the number 2 city in the US for video game development, counting 44 game studios. Our “unofficial” count of game studios (using Linked In and other sources) makes the count closer to 135, but this includes many small indie studios.

Finn Staber on Game Development for Smartglasses & MobileVR

IGDA Austin is excited to join with Austin Indie and Mobile Game Dev Meet Up to feature IGDA member Finn Staber, programmer / designer at Portalarium. He’ll discuss developing AR games for smartglasses and VR games for mobile devices.

Finn is a multi-talented game developer with a diverse background. He’s served in the U.S. Army and worked at several Austin game studios and startups. In addition to being a programmer and game designer, Finn has skills in Voice Acting, Visual FX, Animation, 3D Art and World Building. He also teaches Unity workshops at local colleges, and is a mentor for several high school game development programs.

Finn is currently a Game Programmer/Designer at Portalariumworking on Shroud of the Avatar. Over the last couple of years, he’s developed a passion for creating augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) experiences. He enjoys helping other teams reach success, and is dedicated to making the Austin dev community the tip of the spear in AR/VR development!

For his talk, Finn will focus on a couple of areas. First, he’ll cover building AR games for smartglasses. He’ll show you how to develop AR apps using Unity + Qualcomm’s Vuforia SDK. And he’ll discuss how to build & test your apps on the Epson Moverio Smartglasses, along with some design considerations inherent in augmented reality games.

Of course, it’s true that no smartglasses are a huge commercial success at this point. But there’s a ton of interesting stuff on the horizon in this space, including Microsoft’s HoloLens, a rumored revamp of Google Glass, and the forthcoming Magic Leap SDK. Now is a great time to learn more about building games for these devices and stay ahead of the curve!

Finn will also cover developing VR games for mobile devices. In particular, he’ll discuss how to add Google Cardboard functionality to a mobile game and how to prepare your game for the various mobile VR marketplaces.

“Mobile VR” is basically any virtual reality experience created for mobile phones. There are several prominent VR HMDs (head-mounted displays) designed to hold a standard smartphone. These include GearVR, MergeVR, and Google Cardboard. Of course, these don’t provide the high-end experience of Oculus Rift, but they may prove more popular for mainstream users, thanks to being so affordable / accessible. Again, don’t miss this intro to an exciting new frontier in game development!

Schedule for this event:  
• 6:30pm – Arrival and socializing
• 7:00pm – Intro and announcements
• 7:10pm – Finn Staber talk
• 8:15pm – Q&A
• 8:30pm – More socializing

Gaming Peripherals: AR/VR HMD’s & Controllers!


In partnership with Unity Austin, we’ll joining them for an event this Thursday, July 2, 2015 from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM at Mister Tramps Sports Pub and Cafe on 8565 Research Blvd, Austin, TX.

The topic: gaming peripherals! We will be covering the SDK’s and example projects for developing games & simulations in AR & VR, and discussing the different options for controllers and input/tracking.

Join us for a great night of networking as we look under the hood of the Unity example projects & developer portals for Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, GearVR, MergeVR, Google Cardboard, Epson Moverio & Microsoft Hololens. We will also discuss developing gameplay functionality for multiple input types, including dual-analog controllers (XBox), the Sixense STEM, LEAP Motion, Kinect2, and Valve’s Lighthouse basestations+controllers!

IGDA Austin will also be giving away a free ticket to Captivate!

IGDA Attends the Austin Technology Council CEO Summit

Ceo summit

On May 28th, I had a chance, along with Leandro Gonzalez, CEO of Trick Game Studio, to join top executives in Austin at the Austin Technology Council’s CEO Summit.  The day long, invitation only event connects Austin leaders to discuss a vision for the local technology industry, to share best practices, and to connect with colleagues facing the same challenges and opportunities in growing their companies.  Best of all: for the first time, the video game industry was recognized for it’s ongoing contributions!

Key lessons learned include:

1. The Collaborative Economy:  “In the age of the collaborative economy, companies will need to learn how to adapt through creating membership models and diversifying their physical goods into services.”  – Jeremiah Owyang, CEO, Crowd Companies

2. Lessons in Leadership: “Entrepreneurs need to be bold, have courage and take risks. They also need to understand that there is nothing more important than the team that they build.”  – Kevin Plank, CEO, Under Armour

3. Austin’s Capital Landscape: Second stage funding is beginning to come into Austin from all over the country. The city is in a stage of fast growth and Austin should pursue those prospects.

4. Attracting Tech Talent: Austin companies are not paying enough to compete with the companies moving in from out of market. Austin needs to provide better opportunities to attract entry level candidates.

5. Austin’s New Opportunities: “Medtech is on the rise, and Austin is the place to be for innovation in the industry. With the advent of 3D printing and other technologies, medical devices are cool again.” – Kerry Rupp, COO, Medical Innovation Labs

Great event!


IGDA-Austin Presents Microtalks: AGENCY


What can be said in 10 minutes? When the subject is making video games, it’s dangerous to go alone. And it’s best to get straight to the point, even when the theme is AGENCY.

AGENCY is the theme for the latest speaker symposium presented by IGDA-Austin, scheduled for the evening of Thursday, May 21. Doors will open at 7 p.m., with opening announcements to begin at 7:30.

The location will be the Green Room of Tech Ranch Austin’s offices in Balcones North. The show is free, but seating is limited, so please sign up only if you’re sure you plan to attend!

The event will be filmed and for the first time, streamed to Twitch! Visit for details.

Speakers include some of the best Austin has to offer from within and without its video game industry, from technology, design, art, audio, research and the world beyond. And how much can they say about it in 10 minutes?

Speakers to include:

John Henderson

Adam Creighton
co-owner/studio general manager, Panic Button

Beth Beinke-Schwartz
level designer, Certain Affinity

Starr Long
executive producer, Portalarium

Chelsea Hostetter
interaction designer, frog design

Ryan Joy
startup liaison, Microsoft

IGDA Austin Attends the Game Developers Conference

The Game Developers Conference returned to San Francisco in early March and I was there.  As the chair of the Austin chapter, I was pleased to have a chance to represent Austin and our community at the world’s largest annual gathering of video game developers.  IGDA was also out in force, sponsoring numerous panels, social events, student attendees and a booth.   Some of the IGDA events I attended include:

  • Volunteer banquet where more than 100 chapter leaders, dedicated volunteers and student participants were feted for their support of the organization.  
  • IGDA networking event at the San Francisco Children’s Museum.  One of the biggest and eagerly anticipated events of GDC, the IGDA networking event brought together hundreds of attendees in a terrific space adjacent to the Moscone Center for an evening of music, food and great conversation.  We also celebrated Kate Edwards (IGDA’s exec director) 50th birthday!
  • IGDA chapter meetings.  Leaders from around the world met with the executive leadership of the IGDA and discussed how to make the organization better and more responsive/valuable to its membership.  I was stunned by the extraordinary breadth of the IGDA, meeting leaders from Europe and Asia.
  • IGDA board meeting.  The official annual meeting of the IGDA board of directors surfaced some interesting and eye-opening information about the organization.  Slides are here: IGDA Annual Meeting 2015 (PDF).
  • Overall, my first GDC was terrific and I was honored to represent Austin!

You can read more here about IGDA and the GDC: