This year marks the 11th External Development Summit (XDS), which will be held from September 6th to 8th 2023 in Vancouver, Canada. 1518 Studios, part of the PTW family of brands, has been a proud partner of XDS since 2017, providing art services for marketing collateral and associated advertising for the event. Additionally, the PTW family of brands has been proud to sponsor and attend the event, year after year!
We recently caught up with 1518 Studios’ Senior Art Producer, Elvina Antonova, who leads the art partnership between 1518 Studios and XDS. We chatted about the history of this relationship and the development of artwork featuring XDS’s star mascots, Gary and Voof.
One of the best aspects of this working relationship has been the freedom the XDS team has given us in creating visuals for the Summit each year. They use their experience in hosting the conference to brainstorm with us and keep the graphics fresh, while maintaining the consistent look and feel that visitors recognize and enjoy during their visit to the Summit.
Our journey with XDS began during our first attendance in 2017, where we won “Best First-Year Attendee,” awarded by Chris Wren. Chris is a 20-year veteran in the video game industry, Founder, Executive Producer and Chair of the XDS Advisory Committee, which ensures excellence in the delivery of the internationally acclaimed XDS event. Chris and his team do more than simply put the conference together; they truly support the game development and art production communities in many ways. We were inspired by the warm atmosphere they had created and enjoyed the panel discussions from the many specialists gathered at the Summit that first year. It was clear that we needed to be a part of this phenomenon and do whatever we could to help it grow and thrive.
We work closely with Chris and his team to create art and animation for a variety of formats and media, including newsletters, industry presentations, social media, elements for the XDS Connect website, photo booth walls, surface signage, posters, stickers, and more. Even elevator door wraps, as seen in these images below from XDS 2022, celebrating the 10th anniversary of XDS.
Our 1518 Studios art team supporting XDS is composed of Maxim Miheyenko, SVP & Head of Art; Elvina Antonova, Senior Art Producer and PM; three 2D artists, one 3D artist, two 3D animators, one video editor, and one graphic designer. When developing visuals for a new year's Summit, the XDS team provides the new year’s design and style guide, which is refreshed every year to be vibrant and colorful. The XDS team discusses the concept and overall ideas with us throughout the year, so we understand the brief very well before starting work. Our brainstorming calls are something we look forward to. Traditionally, our first brainstorm call is in May, so 3-4 months before XDS starts.
XDS’s signature visuals are its mascots, Gary and Voof, a pair of lively and fun robots. We helped develop both the look and personalities of the duo, who embody the spirit of fun and adventure that XDS fosters at its events.
Just like the games industry itself, the design of Gary and Voof has evolved over the years. Check out this comic strip below, where you can see some of the early iterations of Gary and Voof, leading up to the modern design of our robot mascots, which everyone has come to know and love.
Some of our favorite designs to create are the avatars and emojis in the universe of Gary and Voof, which attendees can use in the XDS Connect app.
New for this year, 1518 Studios and the XDS team are taking Gary and Voof into even more stylized game-world settings. Wouldn’t you like to take a journey inside these worlds?
No matter the exact visuals, the goal is to always provide creative designs in different areas of XDS as an organization and an event. Whether it’s the XDS newsletter (which you can sign up for here), the XDS Insight Report (which you can check out here), or a cute post on social media—be sure to stay tuned to see all of 1518 Studios’ creative designs for Gary and Voof, and all the adventures they’ll have at XDS this year.