The sound of crickets chirping last Friday was deafening. Gamescom 2017 kept me busy and I unfortunately was unable to prepare and publish the blog post scheduled for release at that date. Now that the event is over, I’m filled with mixed emotions. On the one hand, I’m happy to be going back home to Denmark, sleeping in my own bed, and having the option to sit down on a comfy couch whenever I want. On the other, I’m saddened by not having been able to roam around more and see what other indie devs are up to - I did get to visit a few.
Engaging with gamers and members of the press is emotionally, psychologically, and intellectually uplifting, albeit quite physically draining. The positive feedback lifts your spirits, interesting questions make you see the game in a different light, and seeing people immerse themselves in the game to the point where nothing else around them exists is - to a member of the development team - pure joy.
One of my favorite engagements involved a young couple who were interested in the art style. He was more interested in shooters but was desperately trying to get his girlfriend into gaming. That’s why he’d decided to take her to Gamescom, partially to see the games he was interested in but also to see if anything caught her eye. Forgotton Anne did. She had never played games before, so I told her about the style of gameplay in Forgotton Anne. She was glad to hear that there was no fail state and that she could experience the story at her own pace. There would be no pressure on her to finish puzzles of complete platforming sections within a specific time frame, so this would be a good game for her to learn the basics of playing games.
While moving around the scene and interacting with objects came fast, she did have trouble controlling the cursor while in animavision. With some helpful tips and patient encouragement from her boyfriend, however, she soon learned how to make fine adjustments to the cursor’s position and was good to go from there. Of course, as with any first-time player, things went slowly to begin with but the speed at which her movements gradually became more swift and graceful was a delight to watch. By the end of the demo, I was convinced she had acquired the basic skills necessary to follow the difficulty curve and eventually complete the game, which put a smile on my face. When she then put down the headset and excitedly told me that she couldn’t wait to find out what happens next, I felt pride. They shook my hand, I thanked them for playing, and as they left I could see in his step a lighter spring. There was hope after all.
Conferences like Gamescom involve eleven hours of standing around with the occasional food/bathroom break. Sometimes, very exciting things happen like an unexpected interview with a German radio station or a graphics card crash that makes the game unplayable. At those times, time flies faster than we would like. The main reason we are there, however, is to raise awareness of our games, build and engage with our community, and to answer any questions that players have. If you are lucky (which I was) most of your time will be devoted to this task. If not, you will spend a long time wishing someone would give you one of those free fidget spinners everyone seemed to be walking around with.
Gamescom 2017 was fantastic and I thank everyone with whom I spoke during the event for their positive feedback, their interesting questions, and the stimulating conversations we had along the way. Until next time, may the gods of gaming shine upon you.