Salvadoran indie developer goes to GDC: Part 2
Staff Writer By: Sergio Rosa (nemirc)
[The Game Developers Conference is a one-week event aimed to game developers of different sizes and platforms, which means that, unlike SIGGRAPH, it's more focused just on design, writing, programming and marketing of games.]
Today was my second day at GDC. Just like yesterday, it was all about talks. However, I got the chance to do a few other things in the meantime, and also took the time to see some of the stuff available across the event.
As I said yesterday, there are different "tracks" that people can attend depending on their interests (that doesn't mean you are bound to only see the sessions of a specific track). However, this day we had a series of "sponsored talks" from Amazon. They focused on different topics, but the ones I went to were related to using Twitch to grow an audience, and how to make games for multiple platforms (with a special focus on making games for the Amazon Fire TV, which is not surprising).
The Twitch talk was interesting, because it got me thinking about how not only gamers, but also developers, can use that platform to stream and share content with an audience, and grow a fan base. They were very interested on delivering the message that Twitch is not a very easy thing to do, and that it requires a lot of work, but if done correctly, can be a very effective way to deliver a message. You may or may not know that Twitch belongs to Amazon, so it is not surprising they made this talk.
And they also gave us free lunch during that talk :D
Amazon also seems to be giving a push to the Fire TV. The Fire TV is an android-based console, but it uses a more standard controller, so the kind of games you can play are different to the ones found in mobile phones. I don't really know the Fire TV market and platform that much, but the talk was interesting. I think the biggest takeaway was the fact that you, as a developer, must think about bringing your games to as many platforms as possible (as long as it makes sense, of course).
I also took the time to visit Microsoft to get some information about the ID@XBOX program. The ID@XBOX program is basically a program for indies, where they can get free Xbox One Devkis, support, access to Unity, and the ability to release the games for the Xbox One platform. To be honest, I am curious to know about the future of Xbox, now that Microsoft announced the Universal Windows Platform. A lot of people say that this will be the end of Xbox, but I think it's better to just wait and see. By the way, Microsoft will be presenting more information about the UWP this week.
During my time between sessions, I visited a place where they have a lot of games that were made in some sort of game jam. The idea is that a lot of people were traveling to GDC by train, and they had to make a game during their time in the train. I haven't played any of those games, but I found the concept of the entire game jam interesting.
I've also seen a lot of emphasis on VR during the event. This kinda reminds me of my last visit to SIGGRAPH, when everyone was about 3D cinema and 3D screens. I get the feeling VR is going to be different, although I don't think it will ever replace standard monitors, specially since not everybody is capable of playing in VR, and not all games are suitable for VR.
During the afternoon I went to a couple of level design talks, including one from the developers of Firewatch, where they talked about how they used Unity to build the game, what worked, and what mistakes they made. At that point I saw Rami Ismail from Vlambeer (I had met him at Rezzed in 2014, and it seems he remembered who I was, which was cool).
At the end of the last talk I saw Steve Gaynor from Fullbright (formerly known as "The Fullbright Company"), makers of Gone Home. In case you're not familiar with Gone Home, it's a first person exploration game where you get to your family home and you find it empty, so it's a matter of finding out what has been happening while you've been away. At this point I used what I think has been my most honest introduction ever: "Hi, I have to tell you I loved and hated Gone Home" (when Steve heard this, he laughed so much, and told me he was glad I was honest and then he asked which parts I loved and hated).
If there's a lesson I can learn from this last part, is that whenever you see someone whose work is familiar (and interesting to you, of course), you should just go talk to them, since it's a nice way to start a conversation. The thing is that, coming from a different culture, sometimes I feel like they are on a completely different (which is true, by the way), and that makes it somewhat daunting to talk to them. However, most of the people I've met so far are really nice.
And this was my second day. The expo floor opens tomorrow, so there will be a lot of new things to see.
Sergio Aris ROSA