(Wrote this back in February but incorrectly posted it as a page where no one could reach it. Posting now but it’s really from March.)
So 3 semi-quick GDC stories to provide the flavor of why I try to attend the GDC each year.
Story 1: Meeting With Distributors
I’ve been worried about the ever shrinking Casual PC Download space but it was obvious from speaking with my distributors that they still need/want PC product. Although the audience has shrunk a bit and some developers have left the space, they balance each other as the better games get a little more front-end bump and live longer in the top-100 before being pushed down. And face-to-face time never hurts when it comes to extra little advertising bumps that they might decide to give you. Clutter V will be out soon, and the distributors were pleased to hear that I’ll have at least 3 games in that space in 2015. (And I was pleased that they were pleased.)
Story 2: Synchronicity and Bonza
I’m at my RPI Tuesday night GDC-Alumni meet-up and run into the 2nd best Crossword Player in the country. (Yeah, he’s in that movie about crossword puzzles too.) He shows me a game called Bonza that is the best word game I’ve seen for a while. I love it immediately and am impressed with the smoothness of their interface. It’s made by a company called MiniMega.
The next day I’m at the Expo and the first game that catches my eye in the GDC Play area is…you guessed it…Bonza. I chat with the two developers (brothers) a bit and learn that they have a 2nd edition out sponsored by National Geographic. The 2nd edition has a picture element similar to some of my minigames in Clutter. Also, the National Geographic guys are there and I get their card as well. They are skeptical that a “jigsaw” based game can do well on the PC because according to them people only want to play one jigsaw a day. I tell them about my other game I’m launching soon called “Sliders and Other Square Jigsaw Puzzles” and we leave it at…”If it does ok…I’ll share my data…and see if they’re interested in a National Geographic branding of that game”.
Story 3: A tale of Two Jesses
So Jesse #1 wrote one of my favorite books on Game Design. I found out recently that he’s an alumni of RPI and FB-Friended him a while back. Since he has 12+ years running his own Studio (doing mostly 2nd party games)…I decided to ask for 5 minutes of his time to see if he had any advice on what I should do beyond the Clutter PC franchise. To keep it short, he blocked off an hour of his time for me on Thursday morning. It was awesome (and I wasn’t too much of a goober fan-boy) and well worth the trip to California just for that. He teaches at Carnegie Mellon (and he pulled that off….without having a PHD) and still runs a 100+ person studio. Very impressive individual.
Now Jesse #2 was later in the day…but I have to say it was a great way to end my GDC hanging out with him for 30 minutes. Even though he’s from Atlanta and has not been as visible as he used to be in the local Game Dev community, it was nice to just hang and catch-up with him a bit. His presence is much missed at the local events…but I didn’t mind at all traveling 2000+ miles to share a beer with him (he even paid….thanks Jesse).
And I’d have to say that covers about a fourth of the interesting things that happened to me at GDC-2015 this year. Some good talks (not quite as good as 2014 though) in the indie-game-summits and I enjoyed the Expo more this year. It felt like the big-lie, “Mobile is where the Money is”, wasn’t as all-encompassing as it has been in years past. More student projects and a big Indie-Dev section demoing their games was also a lot of fun.
I’m not a big traveler, but the GDC continues to be worth it each year. I felt so good, that on the last day, I gave $20 to a monk in yellow robes. Probably a scam, but he blessed me (or so it seemed)…and I definitely walked away feeling blessed. The GDC can have that kind of effect on you.