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.
For the Voxel Agents, it's all about refining their next game.
“What we're seeking here at the GDC is some expert feedback from people to see how our game is progressing,” says Tom Killen, who is here with fellow Voxel Agent Simon Joslin. The two have been springing their in-development iPad game on unsuspecting conference-goers the past few days to note their thoughts on the puzzle game currently dubbed 'Project Tree'.
“It's great to network, meet these people, and hear their opinion, because you know we have the best minds of the games industry here,” Tom explains. “If we have any gameplay issues, we want to hear about them, from the experts, so that we can resolve them.” Details on Project Tree are scant, but Tom describes the game vaguely as a game that “used to be about destroying things, but has since changed to become a game that makes you feel good about growing new things instead. He estimates that the game, despite its apparent polish, is only about 30% complete. As he says, “We have four months to take all feedback on board to solve its issues and then continue to make this game really, really pretty.”
Tom continues, “It's an intense process, going out there every single day and speaking to strangers to try and refine our design. It's a good thing the nightlife is good.”
(The Voxel Agents were later spotted letting off some steam and getting their dance on at an 8-bit party.)
Project Tree is aiming for a release date of between July and September this year.