Guildford.Games Festival 2024 Sponsor Spotlight: Glowmade

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It's time for Part 2 of our G.G Sponsor Spotlight series! This time we chat to our dear Glowbugs (by which we mean "Team Glowmade") about their involvement in the festival and the important role of the G.G community. We'll also get some insight into Glowmade's Community Manager Lizzy's dream life as a Sim and being part-time loot goblin in Baldur's gate (same, Lizzy, same).

So Lizzy, why did Glowmade choose to sponsor the Guildford.Games Festival? What aspects of the festival resonate with your company's values and goals?

Because we love Guildford, for a start! We’re beyond proud to be so set in the beating heart of this community and all the fantastic fellow studios we get to call neighbours. Glowmade are first and foremost about community, inclusivity, making experiences that bring all kinds of people together, and that is what G.G.Fest so totally embodies.

It’s an event that uplifts so many, and the initiatives to showcase new and varied talent are always cracking to see. We strongly believe that there’s immense value in even the most obscure skills and interests when it comes to game dev, so it’s a no-brainer to sponsor an event that attracts and celebrates so many amazing minds to the industry!

How do you believe the Guildford.Games Festival positively impacts the local community in Guildford and the gaming industry at large?

I couldn’t possibly list all the ways, I’d be here till next G.G.Fest! Seeing everyone all together in the same space does wonders to boost community pride, and the panel discussions make for some truly invaluable insight and experience that can only be a net positive in many ways.

The G.G Festival being open to those in education is also a great way to incentivise future developers, who maybe don’t have a solid plan or even idea what they want to do but know they like games and want to see what’s what. Certainly, it would’ve been invaluable to me back then. An event as broad and inclusive as this can open doors to many who can go on to make great strides in both the community and industry at large, and I just think that’s awesome!

From your perspective, what unique opportunities does the festival provide for fostering connections between gaming enthusiasts, developers, and industry leaders?

The portfolio reviews are genius. They can easily spark conversation, good will and inspiration among all kinds of participants. Right off the bat, teams who may be hiring can pinpoint potential, or point them in another studio’s direction. There’s such a show of support for new and experienced developers that I’m yet to see so prominently elsewhere.

Could you share a memorable moment or experience from a previous Guildford.Games Festival/Dev Drinks/Awards that highlights its significance to your and/or within the gaming community?

At the G.G Awards in November, the absolute tidal wave of cheering that went on for each and every nominee and award-winner was such a highlight of the evening - and, frankly, the whole year. 2023 was undeniably rough on the industry and its people, but for that night so many people turned up to celebrate even just a handful of their own, and with so much passion and joy. It cemented to me what a great community we have, and I was so grateful even for the opportunity to sing praises of people I’m yet to meet because you just know that they feel the same about us. We truly have something special with Guildford.Games, and I can’t wait for many more memorable moments to come!

In what ways do you think events like the Guildford.Games Festival contribute to the innovation, longevity, and evolution of the gaming industry?

Events like this, that recognise and celebrate the community behind games, are what drive the positive evolution of human effort and contribution within the industry. By keeping studios and their people front and centre, I feel there’s a real shift in feeling like your personal contributions matter more in the development workspace.

There’s also a lot of emphasis on inclusivity and individuality, so more people are more comfortable being themselves and making bolder choices that they, personally, would like to see pitched in a game, which is really really neat. That all feeds contentment and accomplishment, and people want to make better games, and for longer. 

What was the first video game you remember playing, and how did it influence your love for gaming?

This is dreadfully stupid, but my most vivid memory of gaming as a child is locking in hardcore to play '5 A Day Adventures on my dad’s big 90s PC. It’s this wild point-and-click adventure about eating healthy, solving puzzles and minigames to learn about nutrition, all while this nightmare-fuel of a mascot called Bobby Banana skateboards in and out to let you know how radical green beans are. I will still be haunted by his voice in fifty years, but as a kid, I was riveted. 

I was like: “Wow, I’m in control of this. I am the arbiter of how many beans Bobby can eat. Yes… The power…. The absolute power!!!” So it’s a miracle I didn’t grow up to be some sort of supervillain, but it was an experience I hadn’t really had before. I really liked trying to beat my high scores, or unlocking the secrets of the cabbage quicker than my last playthrough, and it made me realise, “Wait… this can’t be the only one. There must be more videogames out there.” The rest is absolute history.

If you could be any video game character for a day, who would you choose and why?

Ok, hear me out, but I would just love to be a Sim for a day. Let’s say Olive Spectre, because she’s a legend and the best part of Strangetown. Literally seduced the Grim Reaper, like, c’mon - she’s so powerful for that. Imagine the bliss of not having to make your own decisions, no stakes, no open world to worry about, just the ultimate fantasy of home ownership and quirky animations, with an occasional plate on the ground that blocks entry to the bathroom.

Sure, there's a chance that whoever's controlling me might be running Baby’s First Squid Game like we all did with the pool ladder at 10 years old, but c’est la vie! The Grim Reaper’s my boyfriend anyway, what’re you gonna do? Dying is basically a date for us, AND now I have a house!? Nothing but a win!

What's your favourite gaming memory from your childhood?

Defeating the Balrog for the first time in Lord of the Rings: the Third Age. It’s one of my favourite turn-based RPGs ever, and as a 6-yr-old kid who did not understand things like status effects, action points, or even the slightest semblance of strategy, you can imagine just how laughable my first playthrough was. Getting to the Balrog gave me probably my first ever existential crisis, like, “Wait, I have to kill this thing?!” My hands would shake and my heart’s just pounding, and between turns I’d have to do laps around the whole house to psych myself up for my next move. Killing it was euphoria, and I was legitimately unstoppable.

Are there any video game soundtracks that hold a special place in your heart? Which ones and why?

Skyrim’s soundtrack will always be number one, in my heart and soul and everything else. There’s nothing quite like it, and if you know, you know. Skyrim modding is actually what kickstarted my game career, and there’s nothing quite like exploring cool dungeons you’ve made whilst a score that epic plays in the background!

An honourable mention must also go to The Sims 2 (particularly the Nightlife and University expansions), because when I say “absolute banger,” I mean it!! Absolute. Banger.

If you could visit any gaming world or environment in real life, where would you go and what would you do?

I think I’d like to be, even briefly, in the world of The Last Campfire. That game came to me at a time where I didn’t even know I needed it, and even though it’s environmentally not the most fantastical departure from real life, it made me think and see with so much more hope that a world like ours could be this warm. I’d mostly just spend time staying cosy at the campfire, trying to practise some mindfulness - which I think I’m especially terrible at lately. I’d also like to go out on the little boat (mine was a duck, the best option) because I used to canoe a lot as a kid, and it’d just be nice. I could follow to see where the embers went if I had time, but it’d be more of a quiet visit than anything else, y’know? Yeah.

What's your go-to video game for winding down after a long day?

Lately, I’ll have to say Baldur’s Gate 3. I just love being a little loot goblin, and seeing all the dumb ways I can do silly things, find secrets and kick some ass. After a long day, what beats a glass of wine and getting in your jammies to yeet the absolute bajeezus out of some unsuspecting goblin with your big strong Barbarian arms? You tell me.

If you could create a brand new video game genre, what would it be like and what would you name it?

A romance sim, or visual novel, that is multiplayer - or perhaps based on player input. I like the idea of crafting emotional experiences with friends, beyond what just the developer has outlined for narrative, or whatnot. I’d like to see an otome, for instance, where two players can both try romancing the same character and the character has to dynamically choose who they prefer. Can you tell I’m not a programmer and therefore can only theorise how difficult that would probably be? I’m stumped on what the genre would even remotely be called, so let’s go for my default name and say Steve. I dub these games Steve. Hey, man, you wanna go play a Steve later and see who she chooses? Heard there’s a new Steve dropping on Steam. Nice.

We need more Steve games! Thank you for chatting to us, Lizzy! We look forward to seeing you and the Glowbugs at the Guildford.Games Festival 2024!