03 . 07 . 17
For the third year running, the Digital Radish team joined forces with Unity Technologies in Amsterdam to help organise their flagship European event, Unite Europe.
With over 1700 game developers from numerous countries, it was the biggest Unite Europe ever and for the first time featured a special opening key-note and networking event at the Theater Amsterdam. A two-day conference of talks, exhibitions and of course, the now legendary Unite party, followed at the iconic Gashouder building. Here’s what we loved at this year’s Unite Europe, from trying out the latest boundary-pushing releases from Sony Playstation, Google and Samsung, to dancing the night away with aliens.
As the doors to Theater Amsterdam opened on the first afternoon, the attendees flooded into the amphitheatre for the much-anticipated key-note speech. Sarah Stumbo, Unity’s XR Evangelist and Mike Wuetherick R&D Product Manager uncovered the upcoming release of Unity 2017.1 software and showcased new features before CTO Jaochim Ante expanded on Unity’s core engine programming features. But it wasn’t until after the speech the real big opening happened, literally, as the stage parted to reveal a secret area for networking drinks. The area had a festival feel thanks to atmospheric lights and décor, food trucks and a DJ followed by a live gypsy swing band.
After the key-note excitement at the Theater Amsterdam, the following two days saw the conference move back to its usual venue at the Gashouder. The old gasworks building was packed to rafters with exhibitors showcasing their latest games and products built on the Unity platform, including Sony Playstation, Nintendo, Samsung, Facebook, Google and Oculus. Unity staff were also on hand for demos of the latest software and an Ask the Experts Zone for developers who had queries.
There was some top notch tech to complement the event, from Azavista’s registration technology which ensured that no delegates were left waiting to check-in thanks to their ticket scanners that printed delegates’ badges instantly. There was also a designated Unite App designed by Double Dutch that provided its own social network to talk with fellow attendees, sent push notifications for important moments, and hosted a complete guide to the conference.
From “Making lions dance” to “All I want is a decent pair of pants”, there were some attention-grabbing headlines at the talks this year. A selection of the industry-leading and innovating speakers this year included: Matte Conte, Head of Development Engineers at Oculus; Brandon Bray, Principal Program Manager at Microsoft; Wayne Lu, partner Engineer at Facebook; Lulu LaMer, Senior Producer at Google; and of course Unity CEO John Ricciteillo.
2017 saw exhibitors really push the boundaries and use creative ways to attract visitors to their stands, one being iWay’s virtual personal trainer which gamified exercise as users took to a fixed bike and donned a VR headset while cycling through desserts with killer spiders and more. Youisician also took Guitar Hero to another level by allowing users to learn to play instruments, from keyboards to guitars and ukuleles, through an integrated app that makes hitting notes into winning points.
This year’s Unite had a festival feel with the different stages for talks and the catering food trucks. With so many excellent talks, food trucks serving food throughout the day meant guests could choose when they wanted to eat so they didn’t miss their favourite speakers. There was a wide variety to choose from, from bao buns and chickpea waffles to the traditional Dutch Fries and Bitterballen.
After its successful European debut last year, the Made with Unity Showcase returned to Amsterdam to showcase the latest independent games made on the Unity platform. In their own dedicated domes that looked like something between the Crystal Maze and the Eden Project, there was a variety of games for attendees to play across different styles, genres, mechanics and platforms including PC, console and mobile from up-and-coming indie studios.
Amidst all the learning and innovation, there’s always time for some fun with technology at Unite. This year’s guests could take selfies at the Snapcube booths with weird and wonderful extras from Donald Trump to Lord of the Ring’s Eye of Sauron, all from a simple cube with QR codes. (We were even treated to snaps with a personalised radish) Guests could also get their laptops, phones and notebooks personalised at Uncover’s tattoo shop for objects. You simply sent a PDF of your design to the team at the booth and it was lasered onto your possession in seconds! Everyone loves a personalised laptop.
As always, Unity was advocating women in gaming. Not only were many of this year’s speakers female, but there was also a dedicated speaker series, with a kick-off speech from CEO John Riccitiello. Veronica Peshterianu who has worked on hit franchises including The Sims and Halo then gave insights and best practice tips, followed by a skills-building session with Elizabeth Brown, Unity Head of HR, all geared towards helping women get ahead in the male-dominated industry of gaming.
We couldn’t talk about Unite Europe without mentioning the alien invasion that occurred at the party! As guests were partying away, three giant techy aliens invaded the dancefloor and danced the night away, and even flirted with party goers. The party featured a variety of great music acts, including Nikki Nice, one of Amsterdam’s top female DJs who plays electric violin as part of her set, and Eleven20One, a 9-piece band singing every hit you can imagine from ‘Disco Inferno’ to ‘Sex on Fire’. And not forgetting Marioke – karaoke with a gaming twist – when guests sang their favourite songs with the lyrics rewritten about video games. “We’re holding out for a Mario till the end of the niiiight!”
Once again, we loved working with Unity’s events team to put on a top-notch event that was described as, “The best game dev event I’ve ever been to!”. Amsterdam, until next year, “Vaarwel!”.