Three towering complexes stand staunch against the city's cold. Thousands of game developers spill from their doors. Excitement buzzes beneath the ground, from the basements in which countless huge humming computers try to process the tech-heavy new games that they are demonstrating. Back above ground, over-eager girls press energy drinks into the hands of passers-by.
Held annually in San Francisco, the Game Developers Conference draws people from all over the world to spruik their games and learn from the best developers in the business.
So what draws an Australian developer across the seas to the GDC? We tracked down the Australians milling about the Moscone Centre for their thoughts on development, promotion, and yes, maybe even the parties.
Defiant Development is being represented at GDC by director Morgan Jaffitt, who is displaying the studio's next release at a dedicated booth.
“It's been a good day for us,” he said when we spoke to him on Wednesday. “Our newest game, Heroes' Call, is just a couple of months off release so it's been good to have people drop by and get an idea of what to expect from the official release.” Heroes' Call is a triple-A free-to-play action RPG intended for mobile and tablet releases.
“The sort of gamers who want to play Angry Birds on their mobile have plenty of games to choose from,” Morgan says. “Core gamers, not so much. With Heroes' Call, we're trying to take the Diablo torchlight and bring it to mobile with a high amount of polish.” As someone passionate about games as well as their development, I ask if Morgan misses the GDC experience of attending lectures and bumping into famous devs in the hallways.
“I guess I'm already quite engaged with the community and am already up to date with what is going on,” he says. “I love the GDC, but I'm mostly here now for business reasons, so I'm happy to sit by my booth. It pays off just to have a presence here. While it's easy to keep in touch with other developers or publishers through Skype, it helps to be able to shake someone's hand when you say hi.”
And what of Defiant's other in-development game, Warco? Morgan says that the much-publicised concept has been put on hold to focus on Heroes' Call.
“We've pulled back the scope on Warco,” he says. “We initially developed it as a full-priced console-style game, which is a very hard market to get into. Publishers are getting more and more conservative. We're looking at ways to minimise its scale so that it makes me sense as a title for digital distribution, but still maintaining it as a great experience.”
Defiant will continue working on Heroes' Call in the meantime. 16 people worked on the game over a relatively short development period of five months. It will be out for mobile devices in a couple of months.