GDC 2010: San Fran & Back Again

By: Brandon McCartin (BMcC)

On: March 23rd, 2010

BMcC looking so thrilled about GDC -- photo by Chrissy Chubala
Embarrassing picture making me look like more of a derelict than I truly am courtesy of Chrissy Chubala

The 2010 Game Developers Conference has come and gone.

GDC is essentially the start of the year for me. It’s more of a personal landmark than Christmas or my birthday. When I get home, that’s my January 1st. This year, like every year, was profoundly inspiring, motivating, enlightening, exciting, and everything in between. Just being around so many people who decide to do the same crazy thing you do, who have such passion, is almost magical. (Especially after months of solitary work!)

Yet, GDC is also different each year. The indie community keeps growing and changing. This year there were so many new faces, more than ever, so many surprises, and an overall feeling of… something I can’t put my finger on, but that’s good! It was certainly the best year yet. (On the other hand, what year wasn’t?) Here’s to seeing even more indies next year!

I’ve got plenty of stories to tell, but the front page isn’t really the place for it. Instead I’m going to put down my coverage of The Independent Games Summit already. Sitting at each session, furiously scribbling notes, I thought, “Yeah, I’m on top of it this year!” Of course the real journalists were typing right into blog posts, or Twitter, or whatever fancy new thing they’ve got on their fancy-pants laptops. (I would say something here about me being “too indie” and so on, but the truth is I was woefully unprepared for everything, as always.)

So, in lieu of most (if not all) of the sessions being posted to death already, I’ll provide summaries, plus my own personal, first-hand impressions of everything I saw, along with links to some of the better write-ups online. If you’ve seen enough already, or just don’t care, I apologize, carry on. But if I reach just one child’s heart… it’s worth it.

  • BMcC

    As awesome as it all was, there’s never enough time to hang out with everyone. (Not to mention all the cool people that couldn’t make it to begin with, aah!) :(

    Looking forward to running into y’all wherever in the world we might meet this year. Much love.

    GO GO 2010 GO

  • Derek

    You look like one of the monsters from Where the Wild Things Are in that photo.

  • ptoing

    @Derek: Ahahaha, oh man, fuck, so true *wipes a tear*

    I will make an effort to be there next year >:O


  • salade

    Pfft, like I’ve had the time to follow any coverage.

    Lay it down man!

  • BMcC

    Haha, right on. :)

    This is for you!

  • xerus

    You look absolutely thrilled to be there, b-mick.

  • BMcC

    I’m not sure I knew where I was at that point. :

  • Adam Atomic

    you guys, brandon just wants his family back

  • Chris Zamanillo

    In before circle-jerk comments…

    Looking forward to the IGS coverage, hopefully of the less discussed talks. I only saw short (but good) tweets on a few of them from the @GameConfTweets account.

  • BMcC

    I was in as many as was physically possible, but missed a few (with overlapping times) that I would have liked to have seen. Might be able to get extra info from the speakers, though…

    Is there anything in particular you were interested in?

  • Anthony Flack

    I gotta say, attending GDC last year was a horrifically expensive, and quite alienating experience for me. I felt like I absolutely did not fit in.

    I also met quite a few interesting people, but never for long enough. Like when I talked to Brandon for approximately five seconds, before I unfortunately had to rush off, and we never crossed paths again. I would like to have a proper talk with Brandon, but in the context of GDC, it’s like sitting down to have a chat in the middle of a war zone.

    Maybe next year, or the year after, if I manage to become stupendously wealthy in the interim, I’ll come back to SF at GDC time, and rather than actually attending, I’ll just meet up for drinks with some of the cool people who are in town at that time.

    Small groups of individuals, I mean, not those horrible big developer meet-ups. They were just chaos. And everybody flocks around the developers with well-known faces…

    About the only people I really got the chance to get to know were the members of my own team, and the Eufloria guys. And that’s cos we were spending time hanging out AWAY from GDC and AWAY from the parties, in dark little back-street bars.

  • BMcC

    Aw, man, I know exactly what you mean. This was my first GDC not feeling totally overwhelmed (but still pretty overwhelmed) and not returning exhausted and sick.

    I consciously avoided the big parties this year. My fondest memories are of the lunch breaks with different folks, the backyard fires, wandering around the city, the diners, the few extended conversations… not the expo or any of that.

    I actually thought of our meeting a few times this year, believe it or not. Was really hoping to see you again, to *actually* get to talk to you. (It doesn’t help I’d neglected the internet so much this past year, either, argh.) I hope you do make it next time! A dive bar suits me fine. :)

  • BMcC

    Oh, also, it gets easier and easier. As you get to know folks, you realize that, even during the big meet-ups, we’re a relatively small bunch. (I didn’t see the flocking thing this year, either.)

    This is a general GDC tip for anyone, I guess, but whenever I feel alienated or socially awkward or whatever, I remember: We probably have more in common with each other at GDC than with anyone anywhere else.

    That sounds a bit sappy, but yarr. :P

  • Anthony Flack

    Yeah, if I do go back I will make more effort to organise more personal meet-ups while I’m there (it didn’t help that for my first 3 days in SF I worked for 72 hours straight, trying to get something ready to show for our booth!)

    And looking at all these GDC’10 pictures is bringing back lots of memories of our one and only trip to the States. I definitely would like to come back and do better next time, but I so, so, SO could not afford it this year.

  • Alexitrón

    If I’m gonna get back home looking as happy as Brandon does on that picture I’m really gonna make an effort to attend to at least one of these events before I die .

  • Martin grapefrukt Jonasson

    GDC is quite possibly the best place on earth. Also Brandon, you rock. Keys or not.

  • Kinten/Fellow derilict beard man

    Next year I’ll definitely go to GDC,
    especially if there’s hotties like Brandon there!
    You can’t express indie love enough without a rugged beard.

  • bateleur

    You don’t look derelict Brandon, you look *indie*. :-D

    And yes, I do want to read your accounts. Each year more and more stuff is done with video which I don’t have time to watch, so I’m increasingly out of touch!

  • jon schubbe

    great to meet you too Brandon!

  • nihilocrat

    here’s hoping I can pony up the cash to attend next year… which is what I said last year, and the year before that, and so on…

  • celluloseman

    The indie game community <3

    It shouldn't be called the 'indie game scene', and it isn't. People are approachable. There aren't that many of us, like BMcC said. I met lots of developers who made games I really like (Cactus, Farbs, Derek and Alec, to name a few) and getting back things really do feel different. Amen to that new year stuff.

    I love you guys.

  • phubans

    This was only my third GDC but I agree it was the best yet. Hanging out with Cactus & Co, The Exploratorium, and philosophical campfire discussions with BMcC until sunrise made it all a magical experience :) Thank you all!

  • phubans

    Oh, and not to mention… IGF had the best show of any so far!

  • Joel Cairo

    You kinda look like Sam Rockwell playing Sam Bell in the final scenes of the movie Moon. I love that movie and Sam rockwell so that’s a compliment of the highest order.

  • BMcC

    **@Anthony:** You can do it, man! I hope Cletus Clay makes you megabucks, hehe. :)

    **@Alexitrón:** I think I got so happy I overloaded and wrapped back around to crippling depression for a moment. But then Cactus won, so!

    **@Martin:** Oh *man*, I forgot to buy some *keys!* Next year. :

    **@celluloseman:** Rock on. This year’s gonna be good. :D

    **@Paul:** Yeah, man! It was risky, but I’m so glad I stayed up.

    **@Joel:** Hahaha, I *wish* I had a mustache like that! One at all, really.

  • BMcC

    Argh, I missed a few comments…

    Kinten! You are a gentleman among gentlemen.

    Bateleur! Thanks, haha. I will do my best. :)

    Jon! It was cool meeting you too, even if just for a moment. (A moment at GDC is a lifetime in the real world, anyway.)

    Nihilocrat! You should mow lawns all summer, maybe open a lemonade stand? :P

  • BMcC

    So, yeah, posting articles now. Fighting through a killer head cold over here. :