8/22/2014

GamesCom in the eyes of a GameDev

Hey everyone! Last year I described my first GamesCom experience. It was a... simpler time. Last year I've only been there over the weekend and my job was to do a stage show two times a day and look after the cosplayers my company hired. It has still left me plenty of time to look around and soak in all the stuff, even though getting from one hall to another took ages. 

This year was different. Extremely different. I arrived in Cologne on Monday evening to help set everything up on Tuesday. We had 20 PC's in the public area and another 6 in the business area to show off our game, Lords of the Fallen. All of them were provided by our partner, so we had to check if our game works stable enough on those. Luckily there was no major issues and we were able to wrap it up within maybe four hours. Tuesday has passed relatively smoothly.

Media room ready for the visitors
Wednesday. Media and development day, GamesCom is still closed to general public. Everything starts at 9:00 a.m., but we arrive at the venue around 7:30 a.m. to double-check everything and get ready. Even though general public theoretically can't enter the fair yet, the public area is already pretty lively. Some clearly underaged peeps are running around, amateur cosplayers have also most probably confused the dates, but oh well, who really cares, as long as they don't get their hands on the 18+ stuff, right?

The business area is getting crowded. Our BizDevs are having one meeting after another while my job is to help out the press representatives with the controls of our game. Repeating the same controls over and over every ten minutes I fail to notice that the last time I ate something was around 6:30 a.m. and it's almost noon. Luckily, our booth in the business area comes with catering, so I am able to grab a cheese and ham toast, wash it down with a glass of coke and get back to my controls mantra. Every other visitor needs some help with the game or asks some questions, so I end up going back and forth between them.

When they finish playing, they usually have questions and those questions take anywhere from three minutes to half an hour. Most of them walk out happy, complimenting our game - makes a gamedev happy. In the early afternoon someone wants to shoot a video interview - usually with our Executive Producer (EP). "Sorry, busy, you do it" I hear. Allright, let's pop a cherry, shall we? The first interview starts awful, but gets better with each question. It's time for another toast when it's over. They're out of toasts, so I grab some fruit snacks that I swallow together with another glass of coke and that's what keeps me going till 7 p.m. Our community manager comes back from the public area to share what was happening there and I realize I didn't even have time to check out the showfloor.

20 stations occupied for 10 hour straight in the public area
The next day, Thursday, turns out to be almost the exact copy of Wednesday for me. Luckily, this time we can arrive just before 9:00 a.m. Explaining controls, answering questions, guiding the guys who are playing, showing the advanced stuff in the game, answering more questions, giving interviews, grabbing two toasts before they disappear, sitting down to close my eyes in tiny breaks before someone new comes in. This time video interviews get a lot easier - there's no question that you haven't already answered a dozen times already. Thurday is the first day with general public on the showfloor. The line to play our game is between one and two hours long. We're closing the booth at 7 p.m. again. There's supposed to be a party tonight. None of us wants to go, everyone just wants some peace and quiet.

Friday, the same drill. At 9 a.m. we get first visitors, more controls explanation, more interviews of all kinds. There's a twist though - at 4 PM we're going on Twitch, yay. Somehow I managed not to die and the video is already roaming the web. People seem to like it, challenge Near the end of the day we gather the stuff we don't want thrown out, erase the game from the PC's and head to the hotel - the business area is going to be no more within hours.


We have our flight back on Saturday evening, so we have a whole day to finally attend GamesCom public area, check out what's going on, soak in all the gaming coolness. We arrive early again to take advantage of our exhibitor's passes. We get in 15 minutes before the general public is even let in to stand in line to check out Bloodborne. We're first in line. We get in exactly at 9:00 a.m. and after more or less 10 minutes it's over. We head towards our public booth, where we spend less than an hour checking out if everything is okay. After spending 10 hours a day for three days straight watching people play our game we don't really feel like doing the same on day four. We split to take a look around.


Thanks to a VIP pass I got to see Alien: Isolation. First five minutes left me unimpressed. Then I got a basic hang of the alien management mechanic and I have to say that even though the game is definitely not my cup of tea, I enjoyed it quite a lot and will gladly check it out once it releases. Then I took a walk around the shopping area, taking photos of merchandise and looking for a gift for the girl I left at home for almost a week. With the shopping done I looked at my watch... 11:00 a.m. I take a brief look at the Nintendo zone, get a glimpse of Final Fantasy IV, check out what Sony offers and get amazed how much free space EA has paid for and... And I didn't even feel like visiting all the halls. I just met up with our EP and around noon we both decided to just head for the airport.

Imagine how exhausted an avid gamer has to be to prefer sitting at the airport for a few hours instead of spending them on the biggest consumer gaming convention of the year. A week of rest and... already preparing to leave for PAX.




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