'GDC discounts for big bus. I worked at GameStop for 7 years and miss all your wonderful faces. Please drop by and say hi!!!'

Posting this a little late, but I had a great time at GDC this year! I got to catch up with a lot of people I don’t get to see very often, and meet a lot of new folks.

On top of that, a member of GUMBO won the IGF Grand Prize, and the Nuovo award, with his game Betrayal At Club Low. You should play it–Cosmo makes great games, and you don’t have to take my word for it this time what with the whole winning the IGF thing.

I’ve written up my personal takeaways from some of the talks I attended below.

Table of Contents

Talk Notes

Add Senior to That Title: Real Career Talk

cheesy graphic that says 'everybody wants to move up' with a fish swimming upstream'
Recording, Slides

This talk by Ben Schneider walked through the difference between entry level and senior positions. I figure that since I’m working for myself, on some level I’ve sort self appointed myself “senior” and should probably understand what that actually entails!

My main takeaways were:

  • A senior moves the project forward at a high level
    • “A real rockstar plays with the band”
  • To do this effectively, you have to have been there before and know the way

I think this is actionable advice for me. I have a tendency to get distracted by the fun parts of a project, at the expense of the totality. That’s fine for hobby projects, but for Game 2 I think I need some more structure in the way I work and in the way I delegate work!

Business Development for Self-Publishing Studios and Developers

'getting good (experience)' and a picture of someone haphazardly? skillfully? hanging from a bunch of wires
Recording, Slides

Lucas Pessoa and Richie de Wit talked about the practical and ideological differences between publishing and self publishing from the perspective of a self published studio. This was a great talk, I recommend watching it for yourself.

The talk defines bizdev as “all activities that increase upside, decrease risk, or stimulate growth of your business or game”.

My main takeaway was that the focus of business development changes in each stage of development. Early on the focus is on decreasing risk, but over time the shift should be to increasing upside at launch, and then to stimulating growth of the game and company post launch.

Indie Soapbox

'let's talk about CONTENT'

The indie soapbox is always fun, it usually features 4 or so indies and gives them a platform to share recent lessons etc.

My main takeaway was that TikTok is still giving away visiblity to attract people to the platform. I think many indies put too much focus on social media, but as long as you don’t build your castle on their platform, there is potential upside to participating.

I don’t love how parasocial some TikTok marketing feels, but I don’t think it has to be that way.

Game Pitch Competition

I attended one of the many pitch competitions as an audience member. There’s no recoridng for this one, sorry!

I hadn’t attended a pitch competition before, so this was super interesting to me. I think the judges held back a lot to avoid appearing rude, which was a disappointing but respectable choice. I suspect I generally knew what they were thinking regardless.

My main takeaway was that the key to a good pitch is having a game worth funding, which implies that you know what makes a game worth funding and how to demonstrate that you have one. It was very clear to me who was sort of bluffing and who wasn’t. I don’t think the party you’re pitching to is gonna believe in your project more than you do!

Porting on a Budget: There and Back Again

porting on a budget: 'there and ack again'
Recording, Slides

Lucas Farina shared thoughts on the porting process. He organizes his porting work around a set of milestones: a base reference, an ugly but compatible build, an enhanced build, and a certification candidate.

Thoughts on GDC

Despite the high price of admission and silly crypto sponsors, I always get a lot out of GDC. It’s also always the most exhausting week of my entire year, and I’m a fairly active person. That sorta makes sense–if there’s going to be the one big game conference, then everything is gonna happen that week.

I think there’s a bit of a missing middle when it comes to game conferences. You can attend small local meetups, or conferences around narrower parts of game development, or you can attend the big one.

I definitely miss Indiecade. I’d love to see some indies put together in-person regional conferences, maybe with a bit more of a business focus than indie events typically have–everything’s not about money, but sustainabe indie dev means more, higher quality indie games.

Maybe that’s something to work on once I figure out the whole sustainabile indie dev problem myself!