Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Pan Asia Road Show

Our Asia sales god (not his official title, by the way) is currently in the midst of a five-week tour through Japan, Korea, China, Taiwan and Singapore, following my busy and productive trip there last quarter. He's too busy hosting seminars, meeting with customers, and raking in cash to be posting here or sending detailed reports, so chances are this space will be pretty quiet for a while.

In the meantime, EGT staff credibility points at stake!!! For the picture on the right (one of my favorite buildings in Asia, due to its unique construction), one credibility point each if you can identify:
1) What building is this?
2) What famous bridge leads out to where this building is located?
3) What is the name of the river that this bridge crosses over?
And for a bonus credibility point, name the Asia skyline pictured below.

I even have a picture of DB cutting a rug while in Seoul at a developer party one night. For 10 extra credibility points, I'd have you name the fancy step DB is grooving out, but I'd need to seek his permission first to post that one! :-)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Customer Visits in Japan

Our Japanese subsidiary, Emergent GameTech Japan KK, was launched earlier this year in the hopes of increasing our presence in this unique market. We have since participated in some local industry events, held an event of our own, and traveled much of the country introducing Gamebryo to the market. We've generated quite a bit of mindshare, and picked up some great press, as well.

Japan is a unique market, in that it is clearly dominated by consoles and handhelds, but also in the fact that PC online gaming here is still young and niche, although healthy. This week we met with two of the most important players, one in each of these spaces. One is Japanese largest developers and has developed literally thousands of games for publishers such as Buena Vista Games, Capcom, EA, Namco Bandai Games, Square Enix, and dozens of others (this is public information all available on their website). The other company we met with this week is another large developer, one of the most prominent players in the online games space.

We look forward to deepening our relationship with these developers and indeed all of the Japanese development community. Kore kara mo yoroshiku onegai itashimasu.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

2008 Wuxi International Digital Arts Forum

The city of Wuxi, China (about 80 miles west of Shanghai) is a magnet for animation studios and a growing number of game studios. This weekend Wuxi sponsored their first annual International Digital Arts Forum, which was attended by about 300 professionals, government officials, and the press. Emergent was invited to present there, due to its growing popularity in China. I gave an overview of Emergent and Gamebryo, and it was received quite well. I made quite a few government and press contacts (both so important in China), and picked up some new sales leads, as well.

The Chinese certainly know how to hold an event. It was held indoors at a high tech park in Wuxi, and when they announced the Forum to be officially open, fireworks went off on the stage (see picture at right). Just bright white fountains, but still - it was cool. One of my sons suggested that we try indoor fireworks at our home on the next Fourth of July. We'll see if the Mrs. will approve that.....

The lighting stinks so I apologize, but this is me during my presentation. The audience had been sitting there for 2.5 hours of university professor lectures before I got up, so to wake them up, we did some audience participation stuff.

The Chinese love formal signing ceremonies. This one between a university in Beijing and one in Stockholm.

I want to be like this guy sitting down on the right. Wearing a suit and tie and get hot? Just roll up the legs in your suit pants!

Chongqing University Visit

This past Thursday, we visited Chongqing University in the Chinese southern city of Chongqing. Most cities in China fall under the governorship of a province (the Chinese equivalent of a "state" in the U.S.), but Chongqing is run by the Chinese Central Government (I guess sort of like Washington, D.C. is). It's a tiny little city of about 31 million people (that's only slightly smaller than all of California!), and it is best known for it's spicy foods (so they tell me). The university here, too, is quite prestigious. The university also sponsors a commercial entity that acts as an incubation center for independent studios.

We had a GREAT meeting with university officials (see picture at right), and look forward to extensive cooperation with them for academic and commercial purposes. The details of which I will not put in such a public forum as this blog, but suffice to say that the possibilities are really cool. It will also require me wearing a suit and tie and shaking hands with government officials, which will get picked up in a very huge way all across China.

We went to dinner that evening with the university officials, and had a great meal. The meal included, of all things, duck tongue (yes, I ate some, and DB now calls me "tongue eater"). But undoubtedly, the highlight of the evening was EVERYBODY in the restaurant stopping to look at big screens all over the restaurant, to watch the successful launch of China's third manned mission to space. The patriotic fervor in the room was awesome - it was cool.

We will look forward to growing ties with Chongqing.

Me, apparently doing the Macarena during the meeting.

At dinner that evening.

A view of Chongqing at night.

Games Convention Asia: Singapore

Earlier this month we made an appearance at Games Convention Asia. This was the second annual Asian version of Games Convention held in Leipzig, Germany each year. The show was in two parts, a professional conference on the third floor of the Suntec Convention Center, and a public exhibition area on the fourth floor. The professional conference drew some 700 attendees; we had some good meetings there and developed a few new sales leads, as well. The exhibition area supposedly drew some 92,000 visitors, though traffic there was quite light on the Thursday afternoon that I went up there.

Being the business guy that I am, I stepped out of my comfort zone a bit, and gave a 50-minute presentation entitled "Simplifying Cross-Platform Development in a Multi-Core Environment." I spoke all about the varying multicore architectures of the PS3, the Xbox 360, today's multicore PCs, and even Larabee and Cuda, new architectures by Intel and Nvidia, respectively. And of course, how Gamebryo's Floodgate simplifies development across all those different architectures (and how it even benefits the single core Wii).

Does that sound like a really exciting presentation, or what?! I warned my audience that if they were taking notes, they had better put big ol' rubber erasers on the ends of their pencils, so that when their heads came crashing down in their laps from falling asleep, they didn't accidentally poke an eye out. Most everybody laughed, so apparently this group of attendees had a pretty good command of English.

However, the near-100 attendees seemed to be thoroughly engaged, and folks were highly complimentary of the session. A big hearty THANK YOU goes out to Vincent Scheib and Dan Amerson for their help in prepping me for this presentation!!!

Ntreev was proudly exhibiting Black Shot Online (Powered by Gamebryo) at the show.

A view from the exhibit floor.

Chongqing YuCai Technologies Visit

Friday morning this past week we met with a very talented developer by the name of YuCai Technologies. We had a great meeting, and we expect them to graduate from pre-customer to customer any day now.

These customer visits in China are really great, and help to drive our business. It's always great to be there. That weekend, ironically, we picked up another lead for a studio that is literally just down the street from YuCai. It's a small world!

On the left you'll see a picture of our team with some of the YuCai guys.

Korea: Gamebryo as Far as the Eye Can See

Time being a precious commodity which I am short on, I will not take time to stitch together the three photos, below. So just envision it. These photos were taken from the 26th floor of the Grand Intercontinental Seoul (one of my favorite hotels worldwide, for its service) in Korea. If I were to stitch these together, in one photo you'd be able to see three Gamebryo customers in one setting.

In the photo on the left, you see the building with the "Red Duck" logo. They are a Gamebryo customer. In the middle photo, the tall glass building on the right is Asem Tower, where Neowiz occupies a number of floors. Yup... another Gamebryo customer. EA Korea is also on this building; is it just coincidence that EA acquired 19% of Neowiz last year??? And in the photo on the right, there is a tall glass building in the way, the World Trade Center building. Were it not for that building, you could see the offices of Vertigo, yet another Gamebryo customer. For the purposes of this posting, I thought about blowing up building so we could see Vertigo, but on second thought, realized that the Korean authorities might have a bit of a problem with that.

As always, a big SHOUT OUT to our Korean distributor for doing such a great job for us there!!!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

CEDEC in Tokyo

This week is Japan's annual CEDEC event, the Computer Entertainment Supplier's Association's game developers conference. This year the conference is being held at the Showa Women's University in Tokyo - a great venue choice for a game developers conference! I've noticed many MANY more foreigners in attendance at this year's show, so it is obviously growing in popularity overseas. Tomorrow morning Miyamoto-san from Nintendo gives a keynote address; his creativity always inspires.

Emergent sponsored the developer party tonight; lots of food and mingling in the university cafeteria. Miyamoto-san was there; I almost feel sorry for him because he's such a celebrity. Especially here in Japan, when he walks in to a room everybody gets all excited and wants to talk to him. Not entirely unlike when I get home from one of these month-long trips to Asia and the reaction I get from my kids when I walk through the door. OK... well perhaps not my kids, but at least my dog. :-)

Food and merriment at the developer party.

Food and merriment at the developer party.

More of the crowd.

Miyamoto-san posting for cameras.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Bank Heisting - a Possible New Career for Jeremiah

Yesterday at Seoul Incheon Airport, after we arrived from Shanghai, I suggested that Jeremiah go find an ATM to get some cash, while I rented a local cell phone (it's too bad BlackBerries don't work here).

Poor Jeremiah... he came back with look of panic on his face, holding about a two-inch stack of 10,000 Korean won (KRW) notes, saying, "John... I think I did something wrong!!!" I thought he had just held up a bank, or something!

Meaning to withdraw only about $80 worth of currency, he actually entered the KRW amount which ended up being worth nearly $800. He's now the proud owner of A LOT of 10,000 Korean won notes! At 800,000 KRW, Jeremiah is nearly a millionaire. Don't ever let anybody tell you Emergent can't make you a millionaire! :-)

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Artist Training in Daegu

Greetings from lovely Daegu, South Korea, about 200 miles southeast of Seoul, near Busan. We are conducting an artist training seminar here, thanks to our hosts the Daegu Digital Industry Promotion Agency (DIP). As we all expect, Jeremiah is doing a GREAT job of leading the seminar, and the attendees seem to really be enjoying it.

We have about two dozen attendees, and it has been a pretty interactive session. The session is ongoing even as I post this entry. We had 60 attendees in Shanghai earlier this week, and of course this size group lends itself to a lot of interactivity and participation.

Consider this, though: In Shanghai, a city with a population of 19 million, we drew 60 attendees (granted, we sadly had to turn some away as we reached capacity), but in Daegu, a population of just 2.5 million, we're drawing one-third of that. One-third the attendees from a city one-eighth the size! Congratulations to John (organizer at DIP, not me) for bringing in such a great crowd. Every attendee, too, is a Gamebryo pre-customer, so we're building pipe!

Perhaps selfishly, I'm looking forward to a good Korean dinner tonight! :-)

Developer Party in Shanghai

What good is a training seminar in Shanghai if you don't throw a party for our attendees?! So we did! We had the entire third floor of Malone's American Cafe (a.k.a. "Bar") in Shanghai. They laid out a great buffet for us, and all the beer you could drink!

To the right is a picture of Areil from Winking Entertainment, by the sign leading our attendees up the stairs for our party. Below is a picture of Jeremiah and I, several of the Winking employees, and the head of SoftImage China. A great big THANK YOU to our partners and co-sponsors of the seminar and the party, Winking, SoftImage, and ScaleForm!

In the back of that photo, below, wearing the white shirt and standing just behind Jeremiah, is Gary Chang, CEO of Winking Entertainment. I had the opportunity to sit in this Shanghai bar chatting business, industry trends, company performance, and our overall partnership for 30 minutes with Gary. Gary is a GREAT guy, and Winking is a great partner. I very much valued this time together with Gary, and I still contend that the best business is done in Asia in bars (and that's a lot coming from me, someone who doesn't even drink!).

Shanghai Art Training

We just completed a very successful training seminar in Shanghai, working with game development studio artists, training them with DCC tools and Gamebryo. Though the seminar was "local" in nature, we had attendees come in from as far away as Singapore. In all we had 60 people in attendance, representing 23 studios, 9 of which are not currently using Gamebryo. That's nine very qualified sales prospects for us - way cool. I love these seminars!!!

Now we are in Daegu, South Korea, where we will do a similar seminar here for the next two days. Stay tuned!

Sorry for the Silent Treatment

I apologize for giving you all the silent treatment for these past couple of weeks. The family and I were on vacation in Hawai'i! Enjoy the pic to the right. Yes, count them... my wife and I have six children. Videogame junkies every one of them. Or as I like to affectionately call my children, "Beta Tester 1," Beta Tester 2," and so on.

But alas, things kept rocking in Asia while I was on vacation. And as I post this, I'm BACK in Asia and back at work, and it feels great. I am grateful for a career that I really absolutely love!

Expect some more postings to follow, now that my nose is happily back to the grindstone...

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A Hoot of a Fun Time in Shanghai

In conjunction with the Gamebryo Seminar we held in Shanghai at the start of this week, we threw a party at Hooters for all of the attendees. Some of the programmers were nervous in the presence of RW women, as opposed to those of the 3D polygonal variety, but everybody had a good time.

This Asia General Manager even got talked in to getting up and doing the "chicken dance" in front of the whole restaurant. If anybody in attendance happened to get video of that, I'm offering cash monies for my sole possession of the Goodale grooving reel. Some of the pictures we got even include me on a bar stool, doing the Y-M-C-A dance. You'll have to click through to the link to all the pictures to find that one (or more?).

We also got video of the toast that I gave (see below). Just before my toast, the Hooters girls were grooving to "Mickey." In my toast, I offered to either dance next, or give a toast, instead. THANK YOU, Val, for leading the crowd in a chant of "Dance! Dance! Dance!" Those of you who know me know that I can make a complete fool of myself while being completely sober. Note that the shot glass I'm holding is actually filled with Sprite, and I was able to easily one-shot it! :-)

To access all the pictures I've posted (to date) from this trip to China, please click here.

Monday, July 14, 2008

China: Gamebryo Training Seminar Kicks Off

Emergent sold its first commercial license in China in 2005. Last year (2007), we sold 15+ licenses. In the first six months of 2008, we sold 10+ licenses. China is certainly one of our strongest growth areas, and we are happy to be working in China with our distributor, Winking Entertainment. Providing outstanding local sales and support for us here, they are doing a great job!!!

Today we kicked off a two-day training seminar in Shanghai (see picture at right). We honestly had quite a few existing customers in attendance, with only a handful of folks who had never touched Gamebryo. As we has done so much recent business here, several new customers were also in attendance.

We had 32 people in attendance today, and we know that tomorrow we are slated for over 40. Considering we pulled this whole thing off in just over a week (with invitations going out only 4 days beforehand), we felt it was a great turnout.

To wrap up the evening, we had a party at Hooters. I'll have more pictures and video to post later.

Gamebryo... kickin'butt and takin' names in China!!!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Matt's a Creep, John's a Weirdo!!! (but with standards)

I just want to point out that when we travel to Asia, we work our tails off. It's absolutely, positively MISERABLE!!! Life is just absolutely awful, we're working so hard!!! Now that I'm sure all of my readers believe this, it is with calm assurance that I post this video of us having some FUN! :-)

Matt and I went to a karaoke club in Daegu, South Korea (Val is absent because he had to head up to Seoul) Friday night. We went with our host for this trip, Mr. John Kim from the Daegu Digital Industry Promotion Agency. In the first video clip, below, Mr. Kim is singing Radiohead's "Creep" and adapting the words to say, "You're a creep. You're a weirdo..." It was absolutely hilarious!!! This video is the inspiration for the title of this blog posting, "Matt's a Creep, John's a Weirdo." The parenthetical addition of "but with standards" will remain the personal, inside joke of those on this trip. I will reveal it's meaning only if you purchase a Gamebryo commercial license! :-)

In this second video, below, you hear me yelling in the background for Matt to shake his money maker!!! Can he shake it, or what?!?!?!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Gamebryo Descends Upon Daegu

Emergent is in Daegu, South Korea this week, conducting training sessions for game developers in this region. Our hosts are the Daegu Digital Industry Promotion Agency, and we appreciate their hospitality.

I am posting this "live" from the event, and aside from a couple of hiccups, things are going very well. I gave an incredibly exciting Gamebryo introduction and market trends overview presentation, and now Matt and Val (the geeks - and I mean that in a good way) are going through Gamebryo from a technical perspective. After lunch here, we will do some hands-on training.

Matthew Campbell, one of our Senior Gamebryo Engineers, and Valery Carpentier, our Gamebryo Technical Expert, are guiding the group through the use of Gamebryo. We have two simultaneous interpreters in a booth at the back of the room. It's a highly technical event, and their job is incredibly difficult. I feel for them.

Most of the game development community in Korea is concentrated in Seoul, and we focus a lot of our efforts there in Seoul. Therefore, it's nice to get some exposure down here. We have 26 people in attendance, representing a number of different entities. Only ONE person in attendance has any experience using Gamebryo, so it's nice to be in front of so many pre-customers. Enjoy the photos herein.

The interpreters booth at the back of the room. I did that job in my younger years - it's tough!!!

Val, Matt and I with our hosts at dinner last night.

Matt and Val on the train ride (about an hour-and-a-half) from Seoul to Daegu yesterday.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Powerleader / Innovation

Photos are beginning to trickle in from DB's continued tour of China. Areil just sent these to me, and especially as they contain pictures of a cleaned-up, sharp-looking DB, I'm thrilled to put them up on the blog.

The first two photos are of the meeting with Powerleader. This was a particularly fun meeting, because they actually signed the license agreement at the meeting. This agreement execution meeting on June 30th certainly contributed to our record quarter in Asia.

The next two photos are taken while our team was visiting the Xiamen Software Innovation Park, a magnet for developers. We had more than ten developers represented at the meeting, to whom we introduced Gamebryo 2.5. Ahhh... more pre-customers.

Keep up the good work, DB, and take comfort in the fact that you can sleep in your own bed (or bedroll at the office, whichever you choose), in a week!

Special thanks, too, to our wonderful integration partner, ScaleForm. Their China guru, Ben Mowry, has been attending nearly all of these meetings with us, and I'm sure our combined presence has lead to more sales of both Gamebryo and GFx.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Upcoming Events in Asia

Mainly because I cannot read very well and need pictures to be entertained, I feel an obligation to include a photo with each blog posting. The obligatory photo at the right is of our office in Tokyo. No... not all of the employees/computers, etc. are ours, as we share office space with a company called "ZeroDiv" (a mobile contents developer) to save costs. But to the left you see Takumi on the phone, working away. So here's the relevancy to this post's title: we have a lot going on in Asia.

The day before our Head of Sales for Asia heads home after a nearly-six-week tour through the region, myself and two other Emergent team members hit the ground again next week in Asia, for yet more events there. We're continuing to support customers there, build pipeline, and become the de facto standard in the region. Our calendar of events in Asia over the next couple of months is as follows.
  • July 10-11 (Thur-Fri). Daegu, South Korea. Gamebryo Technical Training courses. I will give an industry trends keynote that is sure to put people to sleep, then our Matthew Campbell and Valery Carpentier will give two days of technical training. This event is sponsored by the Digital Industry Promotion Agency located in Daegu, South Korea, in conjunction with their partnership with University of California, Irvine. Thus far, more than 20 developers have registered to attend (all Gamebryo pre-customers).
    Of note:
    In my career, I've been to Korea 30+ times, but have never been anywhere other than Seoul. I am looking forward to venturing out of Seoul, to this southern city of Daegu.
  • July 14-15 (Mon-Tue). Shanghai, China. Gamebryo Technical Training courses. Again I will give a sleep-inducing keynote, followed by two days of training by Matt and Val. Additionally, Gary Chang, CEO of Winking Entertainment, our distribution partner in China, will give a brief address. And in what I'm sure will be the most thrilling event all year long, myself and Gary will be available Monday morning for press interviews, which we are lining up. Man... press!!! Unlike my blog here, I guess I need to be careful what I say! :-)
    Of note: We're working on securing the venue, but our lunch-time eatertainment should also be noteworthy. It's sure to be a hoot!
  • July 17-19 (Thur-Sat). Shanghai, China. China's biggest games industry show, China Joy. Though our big June-July road show and my own personal vacation schedule prevent me from attending China Joy, Winking Entertainment will be there, showing Gamebryo and conducting customer and pre-customer meetings.
  • August 4-5 (Mon-Tue). Shanghai, China. Gamebryo Technical/Artists Training. I will once again attempt to put people to sleep with my keynote, followed by two days of technical and artists training. In between the July and August events, attendees will be able to "play" with their eval copies of Gamebryo, and Val will once again be there to follow up with any questions people may have, and to continue some technical training. Additionally, however, our own Jeremiah Washburn will be joining us to give some artists training with Gamebryo.
  • August 7-8 (Thur-Fri). Daegu, South Korea. We will follow the same program from Shanghai earlier in the week, again sponsored by the Digital Industry Promotion Agency. We'll be glad to head out of China on Wednesday, two days before the Olympics kick off there. It's bound to get a little crazy with all the extra Olympic activity!

Monday, June 30, 2008

Record Quarter for EGT in Asia. Poised for More Growth.

We are thrilled to announce that we have just closed a record quarter in Asia. For the quarter just ended, we saw both transaction count and revenue in Asia double from Q1 this year, and nearly three times that of the same period in 2007.

We will post more details later, after our Asia team has a chance to catch a breath. Even more exciting to the team, though, is the momentum we have achieved in the region, and how we will continue to grow our business in the region and beyond.

As a sign of that momentum, DB had an excellent meeting this morning with one of our anchor clients in China, Tencent. Tencent has one Gamebryo-powered game in commercial launch already, and several more in production. Tencent's advanced casual racer "QQ Speed" is one of the most popular games in China; the QQ Game platform enjoyed peak concurrent users of 3.8 million this last quarter. Look out, WoW!!!

Tencent is looking forward to growing the relationship with us, as are so many of our customers in Asia.

We also have a number of new clients in Asia, even having sold multi-SKU console licenses in Japan (where our critics said we would gain no traction) this past quarter.

Gamebryo: Becoming the de facto standard in Asia.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

EGT Flood(gate)s PS3 Technical Seminar 2008

Sony Computer Entertainment Japan (SCEJ) held a PS3 Technical Seminar these past two days in Tokyo. We did a 45-minute presentation today entitled "Gamebryo: Improving Performance with Floodgate Technology." Along with the presentation, we of course showed our mesh and Bad Sushi demos. Kamata-san did a GREAT job with the presentation. In the Q&A, since so many developers are shy about asking questions, Kamata-san did his own FAQ, and filled the Q&A with his own questions that were quite good - very helpful to the developers.

Kamata-san even executed a self-depricating joke in the Q&A (FAQ), that this crowd of developers actually laughed at (an accomplishment in and of itself). The more I see Kamata-san "in action" with pre-customers, the more impressed I become with him. It's a testament to the great team we have on the ground in Japan!

There were 80 people in the audience, and they seemed to be engaged; no sleeping audience members here. There were other middleware companies that presented at this event, some of whom presented in English, with English-language slides, with the aid of interpreters. By contrast, our presentation was given by a local support engineer, completely in Japanese with Japanese-language slides. I won't mention any of these other middleware companies' names, but the contrast between ours and these other sessions was unreal. It was a stark contrast of epic proportions!

Enjoy the event photos, below.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Customer Visits in China

I'm sorry it's been a while since I've posted here. DB and I have been running around (literally) trying to close out Q2 here in Asia. And close it out strong we will - Q2 will be a record quarter for Emergent here in Asia. We're working hard and having a great time (indeed, part of the EGT culture!). Some pictures from customer visits, below.