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“Dad, what happened to your Papa Game Dev?”

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“Dad, what happened to your Papa Game Dev?”

A few days ago, my eldest son Diego (12) asked me this question. We were on vacation in Con Con, about two hundred kilometers from the noise of Santiago, with a beautiful view of the sea and a large swimming pool.

Con Con
View of the sea and the pool in Con Con, about 200 kms. from Santiago.

His question gave me surprise and a little bit of nostalgia. Papa Game Dev is one of the personal projects that I care the most, and for various reasons I had to leave it aside for almost two months.

“It still exists, but I have it a bit abandoned”, I replied.

And I decided I would write a new article before the end of this month.


Vacations and Projects

Almost a year ago I wrote an article about going on vacation where I said that one of the things I enjoyed most during those periods was the possibility of making some progress in my personal projects. I was on vacation when I wrote my first article of Papa Game Dev, and I was also on vacation when I revived my JPacman project.

These holidays were not an exception, and partly that’s why I stopped having time to write more articles for so many weeks. Maybe I went too far, because not only I worked on one personal project, but on several ones.

For example, I started developing a new version of JPacman using the Unity engine. My intention was to learn more in depth about all the systems that Unity provides to develop 2d video games, since my experience at Behaviour has mostly been with 3d games. I will write some articles about this new project as soon as possible.


JPacman using Unity
First steps of a version of JPacman using the Unity engine

Additionally, the experience of developing a complete game with Unity by myself helps me to prepare ideas and material for the courses in which I will be a teacher of video game programming during 2017. I also plan to write at least one article on this topic in the coming months.

Mogand and the emotional intelligence

Undoubtedly, one of the most interesting projects in which I got involved in recent months is Mogand, a venture that aims to create a “serious videogame” to develop the emotional intelligence of children who play it. It is a project that has been slowly starting for several months and it is led by a psychologist with a lot of experience in children, bullying, and issues related to emotional intelligence.

The team is made up of professionals from different areas, including renowned illustrators, screenwriters and education experts, all of which are fans of videogames. However, none of them have any experience or knowledge of videogame development, so they asked me for help to train them and guide them on how to give shape to the project so that they can then form a team and develop the game in the coming months.

Mogand's team
Mogand’s team includes leading illustrators, screenwriters and education experts, though none has any experience in videogame development.

It’s a nice project that mixes both children and videogames, two subjects that I’m passionate about, so I want them to be successful. For now, the project already arouses interest, because only a few days ago they were interviewed and they appeared last Sunday’s edition of the El Mercurio newspaper. The future of Mogand looks auspicious.

The End of an Era

February was also a month of strong emotions and deep reflection.

A little over thirteen and a half years ago, in July 2003, I started working at Wanako Games, the first company in Chile dedicated 100% to the professional development of videogames. At the beginning, we were five people in Chile developing the games (Tiburcio de la Cárcova, Andrés and Carlos Bordeu, Benjamín Prieto and me) and one in the United States (Esteban Sosnik) trying to sell new projects.

In 2007, Andrés and Carlos decided to become independent and focused on growing  ACE Team, a venture they had formed before starting in Wanako, and where I also participated in its early years.

But I did not go with them. I stayed at Wanako Games.


Zeno Clash
Zeno Clash, the first project of the Bordeu brothers with their ACE Team studio.

In 2009, Tiburcio and Esteban took a step aside, after Behavior Interactive acquired the studio in late 2008 and finally took full control during 2009. Both founded Atakama Labs, which would later become DeNA Santiago and would become, for a couple of years, the largest videogame company in Chile.

But I stayed at Wanako Games, then called Behaviour Chile.

And this year 2017, in mid-February, Benjamin also left Behaviour Chile, to appear later this week promoting a new venture, Giant Monkey Robot, and their BalanCity project that has just won the award for the best mobile / tablets game in the Game Connection America Awards 2017.

And I’m still at Behaviour Chile.


BalanCity award
Benjamín and Fernando, from Giant Monkey Robot, proudly showing the award they just received with their game BalanCity

I can’t complain.

The experience of being able to fulfill my childhood dream (to work in the videogame industry) has been incredible, and it has been possible thanks to Wanako Games and Behaviour. But clearly, the departure of Benjamin, who was the first of us to start working with Tiburcio, marks the end of an era for the company and for many of us who are still or were part of Behaviour / Wanako.

That is why it is inevitable to sit down and reflect on what all these years have been about, to think that I am the last one of a group of six pioneers who decided to make a leap of faith when we started working on this unusual industry, and to ask myself about how I see my own future in the company and in industry.

Although today, rather than reflect, I’d better take some rest. Today is my last day of vacations and tomorrow I must return to the office, to Behavior Chile.

Side note: I’m glad that Diego asked me about Papa Game Dev, which is what finally made me get back to writing. The next article will not take so long, I promise.

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Juan Pablo Lastra

Juan Pablo makes videogames since he was 8 and he is a father since 2004. Today, he has three children and he has worked in more than 20 videogames. He got interested on how paternity and the videogame industry are related and he decided to write about it, founding "Papa Game Dev"

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