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GDC2015: A week of infinite awesomeness

We made it back from GDC alive and well, having learned a trillion things. I wanted to share some of my post-GDC thoughts with you, and hear yours in the comments.

We made it! Back from GDC, and we're still alive, still healthy (moderately) and still at work in this wonderful world of game development. I went to GDC with my lead artist, Kyler, with a few goals in mind.

GDC

1) Meet other game developers, integrate ourselves in the community and spread the word about our project

2) Meet potential publishers and investors (if not for this project, for the future)

3) Hunt down press and ask them to write articles about us (not as good as PAX, but hey)

4*) Have fun!

*not included in the business development goals, included in the life goals.

We certainly succeeded in all these things, and much, much, much more.

First off, I should note, we had an amaaaazing weather week in San Francisco. I had heard that it rains a lot, but we had probably 12 minutes of clouds (no rain) throughout the entire week. I mean, come on:

Yerba Buena Park, right behind the conference center
Yerba Buena Park, right behind the conference center

 

There was so much to see and do, I was happy I had an Independent Game Summit pass because the talks I had access to were only on Monday and Tuesday. There were also sponsored talks which anyone could attend, but at least this way it let me focus on trying to set up meetings and see the expo floor and not feel bad about missing all sorts of awesome talks.

So where do I even begin? A couple of weeks ago I wrote aboutIMG_20150312_131326424_HDR Networking Tips Pre-GDC, so I guess I should revisit those. I think we did a lot of things right in that regard, seeing as we collected a fair few business cards. The networking tips I gave really helped us, and we did a good job of splitting up to go to different parties to maximize our people-meeting-potential. The key difference between leaving a party feeling successful about your networking and leaving it feeling like you missed out? Talk to everyone. Anyone who is alone is happy to start a conversation with you, and as I found, even people in groups are happy to accept someone new into their conversation. It may have happened to me twice in the entire week where I tried to join a conversation, they didn't seem to care much, so I hovered a bit and walked away. Simple as pie once you get past the (incorrect) notion that people will judge you for sparking conversation.

Next important thing was balancing my time. Kyler had an all-access pass, so I counted on him to go to more talks and learn more, while I focused on making connections and meeting people.

Chartboost

I spent some time going to talks, and found most of them extremely useful. Some were lacking in oomph, what I mean by that is that they seemed not to have an overall message, but most were insightful and gave me ideas. Sometimes the talks gave me ideas that had nothing to do with what the talk was about, but hey we're here for inspiration as much as knowledge. Maria Alegre, CEO of ChartBoost, gave a talk about the mobile market, giving some stats that her company has released and analyzing them to give developers and publishers some direction when entering markets across the globe. Super interesting and insightful even if our current game isn't on mobile.

Expo

The expo zone was massive (as expected), with gargantuan booths from Sony, Microsoft, Unreal, Unity, down to very small booths from independent developers. There was a ton to see, and to sum everything up would be long, difficult, and not even fair because I didn't get a chance to see even half the stuff. If you do find an article which sums up the tech well, please do share it in the comments below!

A lot of the stuff I saw there was new tech that I hadn't seen before, most importantly (for me) tools for developers that can simplify our lives and accelerate the development process. The show floor was, for me, a way to find new tech to improve our workflow.

Sony was showing their Project Morpheus, and Valve released their new controller for the Steam Machines (which we surprisingly didn't hear much about at GDC), and there was plenty more tech to be had. A mouse that you wear on your finger (the hardware, not the animal), 3D printing for game characters, animation tools that auto-rig your models, and thirty million VR things of all types. In fact if you're not in the industry and saw the expo floor, you might assume that everyone is going VR in a big way, which is quite possibly far from the truth.

ValveSony

Parties! There were many. I talked about networking before, but beyond the networking within parties we actually had to jump from party to party, going to 2-3 per night. Go to parties. When you get tired, realize that you're only there for a week and that you should go to more parties. Open bar, free food and amazing people from an amazing industry... there are more stressful work situations for sure. But it was definitely a lot of being "on" socially. Here's a picture of the Sony party, which was sweet.

Sony
Blurriness of picture and blood alcohol level are not proportional.

Lastly, but certainly not least(ly), is Game Connection. Game Connection is a program / place near GDC that isn't officially part of the conference, but is the mecca for business meetings and doing real games business. This is where many people set up their meetings and make connections with publishers, advertisers, contractors, etc.

GameConnection

This year it was at the Metreon, right next door to the conference. Uber-convenient. Speaking of which, Uber is the way to go in San Francisco for getting around (pro tip!). Anyway I didn't have a pass, but I got in as a "visitor" and ended up (as I always do) talking to everyone. I managed to set up a couple of meetings just at the coffee area, and I found some publishers I wanted to talk to. I simply walked up to the publisher's table and pitched my game. I basically asked if they had time to meet, they said "uhhhh not really but I guess?" and I gave them my super quick, 1 minute pitch. Once they were interested, they invited me to sit down and show them the actual game. "Ask and thou shalt receive."

gdc2

To conclude, GDC was awesome. We managed to do it on a better budget than average, and I'm sure it will pay off. Doesn't hurt that we talked to the consoles about getting our game on their systems and they seemed interested...

Big things coming from this small team! You can check out our site here, please subscribe to our newsletter and we'll let you know when our Kickstarter starts!

<3
Rich

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