Game Design, Programming and running a one-man games business…

GDC 2016 Impressions

No fancy images because…I’m sat on the floor of a convention center tethered to a power socket on my laptop…and its fiddly to write this.

I’m at GDC, in the US of A, doing ‘press stuff’ and hanging out with gamedev buddies. I have the cheap-ass indie pass, so I can only get into a few talks, and I do not qualify for ‘free’ coffee. Whatever…

Frankly, apart from the indie soapbox, which was part awesome, part ‘wtf?’, I haven’t really been drawn to talks anyway. Theoretically I’m here to meet the press, and promote Democracy 3 Africa, but getting decent appointments proved tricky (I guess it sounds like DLC…and its not in VR…so…), so I don’t have *that* many of them. If I had to make a proper business case for flights+hotels+conference pass, it would be very tricky.

The highlights are basically having meals & drinks with fellow indies. There is something about game developers that makes them generally pretty witty, pretty easy-going and friendly. This isn’t true of all professions. I worked on city trading floors once. ahem.

Meeting the press is beneficial, and worth doing, but I also kinda feel weird trying to ‘sell’ to strangers face-to-face. Most devs don’t mind it as much as me, I presume. I do find myself thinking ‘if I broke my leg and couldn’t get to any press meetings, that wouldn’t be so bad right?…’. I guess that’s my very very unpredictable mood-swing introvert side coming out.

For those not here, the news is that Game Development is currently dominated by VR middleware and hipster beards. Those are basically the two major prongs of development right now. VR is BIG here. There is a whole VR ‘track’, which amusingly can only be experienced here, physically in San Fransisco, rather than remotely by tele-presence or VR-gogglez.

I do get an impression there is a lot of denial about the realities of the indiepocalypse. Part of me suspects this GDC is the last desperate roll of the dice for a lot of people who quit their jobs, bought a unity license and some stock art, and expected their first indie game to be a minecraft style blockbuster. It would be fascinating to know what percentage of indie attendees here are running down savings, or more worrying still, increasing debts to friends/family/credit cards. GDC definitely needs more talks like Jake Birketts ‘the no hit wonder’, which injected some typically British downbeat realism into proceedings. Better to be cautious and make a living than over-optimistic and bankrupt.

So..I have 2 press things, 2 meals, 1 party and 1 biz-meeting to go, then its off to detroit (I’d tell you why, but its a secret), and then off to New York, just for sightseeing and fun, before back into mega publishing crunch time. I miss the sight of fields, cows & sheep and trees. And my cats, obv.


One thought on

  1. Naive indie dev who quit his day job and bought a Unity license here. Currently made 40 times as much as I was hoping for, still going strong, despite practically no marketing efforts. I don’t think there’s an indiepocalypse, just a lot of indies making bad decisions. It helps being just one person, budget = 1 Unity license and keeping a part-time job until the game actually starts selling.

    You’re definitely not alone in feeling weird about selling face to face. I have a bad case of social anxiety, so I have no idea how I’m going to proceed once my game actually leaves early access.

    The VR hype seems odd to me, might just be that I haven’t tried it. Just seems like something you just have to try, but the the gimmick will quickly fade. Then again, I thought the same about the wiimote.

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