The GDC 2013

I’ve been back for over a week now, and once again I really suck at timely blogging.

The GDC was once again great on so many levels. The first two days of talks in the indie-dev track were informative, inspiring and energizing. Here’s a little item from day 2 that I posted about on Facebook.

Day 2:

Day 2 was the best day yet at the GDC. I met THE Zach Barth of Zachtronics – Spacechem fame. And….I found out he was an RPI graduate as well. Awesome.

I know that doesn’t quite explain why that’s so great…and part of it was the series of events.

1. Attend a lecture where SpaceChem was shown.
2. Decide it’s an awesome game, successful, hard-puzzle…and mostly abstract (in some ways yes, in others not so abstract).
3. Decide it’s the one game, I’m definitely playing when I head home. (sold on Steam not a “casual game”).
4. Go to my RPI Mixer…and who walks in from Class of ’08….

Yep…Zach. My excitement overwhelms me…and he immediately gave me the next 10 minutes of his time…one-on-one…answering some questions about Spacechem…etc…

Just great. The magic of GDC.

Ok, back to this blog. I’ve been playing SpaceChem when I can, and at first I just loved it and it was fun trying to get the hang of the interface. Now that I’ve got the hang of the interface, I’m looking forward to the puzzles getting harder. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like the early puzzles are easy…but each one (in the tutorial and first area) seem to be designed to teach me “one thing” to add to the bag-of-tricks needed to solve later puzzles. Someday, I’ll blog just on that alone.

Ok…so Day 3 was the first day of the Expo and it was way bigger than when I saw it 3 years ago. Everyone (and their brother/sister) it seemed is pushing Mobile development but it actually makes me happy knowing that. I’m not ready to head to that space yet (as long as I can continue to make profitable Casual Download games for the PC).

Although I have no doubt that some of the “middlemen” in that space will make money, I think it’s incredibly difficult for a game developer to get notice and make money in that space. I heard story after story of developers spending a year or more of their time making a “great game” but not figuring out how to get seen in that space and making peanuts for their efforts. Very sad really.

I didn’t attend any of the big parties at the GDC, nor go to any of the awards stuff…I’m not really a “gamer” at heart in that way. I did go to a nice dinner at a Chinese restaurant with about 30 other Georgia gamers. As always, connecting up with the local indie/gaming crowd is fun.

I attended a few more lectures but most of them did not live up to the indie lectures on days 1 and 2. I did enjoy the postmortem of Myst and learned some interesting things there. By Friday, I was ready to head home…but first I got to spend a very nice afternoon in Berkeley to see my stepson Ito who’s over halfway to his doctorate in Chemistry.  Haven’t seen him since Christmas, and he treated me to a very nice tasting Vegetarian Burger near the campus.

My last big highlight of the week was being treated twice to Morton’s The Steakhouse. 3 years ago, I treated two of my friends to Morton’s and they treated me (each one on a different night) this time. I lived in California for 14 years and throughout the week I was able to reconnect with 10+ people I worked with at one time or another. A few of them even drove an hour out of their way to make time to see me…always makes me feel good.

Ok…really lastly…one other big thing was meeting Jessica Sachs from Big Fish Games. It’s always nice to meet people at the companies that distribute Clutter. I don’t know if it’s a coincidence or not…but Clutter had dropped off the Top-9 list in Brain Teasers at Big Fish Games (hasn’t been in the top-9 for about 4 months)…and now it’s back at 3 (and 7) over there.

Whether real or imagined…I tend to believe it’s always good to personally meet anyone who is selling your product. Although I know I make them money too (and they definitely make me money)…I’m really just a small fish in their Big Fish pond…and I’m just grateful that because they exist, I get to do what I do.

One last effect the GDC had on me. I’m now seriously thinking of trying to Speak at the Casual Connect in San Francisco at the end of July as hopefully part of the Indie showcase. I’m hoping to tell the story of why I still stay in the Casual Download PC Puzzle space (as opposed to Mobile or Facebook) and what I’ve done to help myself be successful (enough) in that area.

And really, really lastly…I was lucky enough to split my hotel bill with a Student from Georgia who was lucky enough to be a CA (Conference Assistant) at the GDC. His name is Erich Schuler and you can read more about his experiences at the link below. He saved me money, and he was very easy to get along with. The least I can do…is point everyone to his blog. (Oh, did I mention that GDC is all about the networking).

Erich’s GDC BLog

 

Games

3 responses to The GDC 2013


  1. GDC was great! I’m glad to see you had a good time. Thank you for being a fantastic hotel roommate! Thanks a lot for the plug too. I really appreciate it. 🙂

    Also, from what I’ve observed as a CA, the summit talks were pretty great. Those were the talks that really got me thinking outside of the box about game development and they delved deeper into concepts which the main conference sessions didn’t necessarily did as much. Although, there was that new advocacy track that took place during the main conference that I didn’t get to check out as much as I wanted too. I’ve heard some really good and forward-thinking discussions coming from people who’ve attended those sessions.

  2. One thing I have seen and heard from others is that the presentation content is much better at the summits than during the main conference. If I attend any sessions next year, it will be those

    • joe

      Totally Andrew: At least in the “indie” area which was packed for just about every talk. (To be clear, that’s the indie-dev track on Mondays and Tuesday, I basically stayed in the same room the entire time. I missed just one talk (due to a meeting with Big Fish)…and out of the remaining talks there was only one that bored me on any level. I learned, I laughed, I cried…great stuff, from a very diverse speaking group).

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