Did you know Techland invited creators to the Wrocław HQ for some knowledge sharing sessions this year? Let’s take a look back at the first ever Community Workshops!
Hello everybody! Let’s give Tymon a break this time – I’m Rafał Polito, Techland’s Technology Producer. I’m mainly involved in creating and maintaining tools used by our developers. One of my current focuses is also on user-generated content (UGC). My goal is making sure that content creation is as easily accessible as possible, not only for developers but also for gamers.
We’re very lucky to have a community that’s really creative, and this ingenuity naturally lends itself to building maps. But usually it’s more or less a niche interest, available only to those who dig deep into dev functionalities – both for the game creators and those who like to play them. This is why I’ve spent hundreds of hours buried in developer tools to make them more approachable for our players. On top of that, we partnered with mod.io, which was a huge step in terms of opening UGC up to a wider audience. Now, you can access the maps by just pressing a button in the main menu, on PC and consoles alike.
But that’s playing, what about the creating part of the equation? Our (and mine, personally) never-ending love for UGC and teaching other people resulted in the first ever Community Workshops related to our Community Maps project! We invited top creators from all over the world to our headquarters in Wrocław to pass on our knowledge, discuss, brainstorm, and learn about their expectations regarding the future of Developer Tools and UGC.
We are always #CommunityFirst, which we work hard to show in our daily actions and relationships we aim to build. Social media exchanges and meet-ups are great, but I’d like to take it a step further and interact with the members of our community in a tangible and productive way. This is why the goal of the workshops was to equip our guests with the literal and metaphorical tools for them to grow as creators – show them a way that could lead to becoming developers. We know some of them see a future in gamedev, so it’s really fantastic to be able to watch their work, how passionate and meticulous they are.
Me with our 9 happy workshoppers:
So, what exactly went into these workshops? For two full days, the top map creators had an opportunity to meet and talk to the developers in our office, particularly to Techland’s Developer Tools team.
Our devs were all praise:
“I was surprised and excited to see that our guests had unique backgrounds and skills, suited to working in different areas and with diverse features. They gave the impression of one, united team that had been creating games of their own for years. Sometimes, I felt that they knew more about our tools than I do, or our developers! I also had a feeling that we’d known each other forever, even if our previous communication was only online.”
During the first part of the workshops, we focused on theory: what goes into designing a good map, and what aspects are extremely important to make it successful. For example, it turns out you don’t have to create a painstakingly perfect 20-hour-long scenario for people to want to play it. Sometimes, all it takes is a cool idea for 5 minutes of fun – if it’s executed well. We also had a discussion about the specific projects created by our community members and studied each case separately. Additionally, we discussed a few tips and tricks on how to save time and maximize results.
Engrossed in map creation:
The second part was all about practice – our guests had to pick a random idea and inspiration, lottery style. Here are some examples:
- Pitch black: make a map where the infection progress is the primary threat;
- Gravity: make a map where a different gravity setting is the main gimmick;
- Picturesque: make a map where visual beauty is the main focus.
Then, we moved on to the game jam stage, when they got to create new maps. What followed was a conversation about individual progress and an idea sharing session. Towards the end of the day, we entered into brainstorming mode. We talked about Developer Tools, the future of this feature, and how to improve tools for the community. We showed some sneak peeks of upcoming updates, like mod support or new features in DevTools to support mod creation. We even showed our legendary City Builder, most requested by the community – but, in my opinion, it’s too complex and too big even for our developers to handle and so will remain our secret tool.
Just look what beauties our dev tools can help create*:
Let’s take a look at what one of our guests had to say about the entire experience:
“The crew was awesome, very fun, charismatic, and positive people around. The plan for workshops was great, we had time to explore, time to chat, time to work and focus, then relax by the end of the day. The integration with other community map creators itself was something I think we all needed. There wasn't a moment where I felt lost.”
We strongly believe that community is the most important aspect of Dying Light. Meeting up with our map creators was a joy, an honor, and an inspiration all at the same time. Personally, I think that initiatives like the Community Workshops are the best thing that can come out of this symbiotic relationship between Techland and the folks that like our games enough to dedicate hours of their time to poke around the technical aspects. A lot of respect goes out to them and I hope we’ll be able to have a repeat experience next year. Let us know what you think about it on our reddit channel. To find more information on Community Maps, visit the dedicated area of Pilgrim Outpost. Who knows, maybe you’ll get inspired to create one as well!