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.
“A few friends of ours in Melbourne highly recommended coming to GDC,” say Tom and James Greenaway of Kumobius, a development studio that recently released the platformer Bean's Quest on iOS.
“We don't really have a new game to show off at this event, but we wanted to make a few contacts for when we'd have a game to publicise in future.
“The internet helps, but putting the game into somebody's hands is really the best way to get them to experience it,” Tom adds.
“It's always great showcasing it on an iPad, because other people will walk by and see it and say, 'Hey, what's this?'”
So how is the GDC for networking, I ask? Are the parties really the be-all and end-all of getting your name and your game noticed?
“I feel there's been a bit too much focus on parties,” James says. “They're inherently a bad place to really show games to people and talk business when it's a loud kind of nightclub environment. I've found it annoying to have any kind of discussion during them.”
Kumobius were too busy with the final update of Bean's Quest during the early months of the year to organise a booth to show off their game, but there are upsides to not having to explicitly work at promotion. The creative environment has given the brothers a chance to think about some prototypes for future games.
“We've got a bunch of ideas to prototype,” James says.
“We're not sure what sort of game is going to come out of it, but we know it's going to be less safe than Bean's Quest. We haven't really been prototyping any of our own games, per se, but yesterday we found a bunch of developers outside the Moscone Centre doing an impromptu prototyping session of a game involving paper cups. Of course, we joined right in. It was great to get physically involved with that.”
Kumobius are now heading to PAX East, where they will be exhibiting Bean's Quest as part of the Boston Indie Showcase. We are now looking forward to their next game, which will hopefully involve just as much paper dinnerware.