Zach Gage before his GDC talk

This week we catch up with attendees of the 2012 Game Developers Conference and ask them what brings them to GDC. Following the first full day, we hear from Robin Arnott, Simon Flesser, Ichiro Lambe, Jaime Woo and Mattias Häggström Gerdt.

Robin Arnott
Designer, Deep Sea

This is my third GDC in San Francisco and maybe fifth GDC total. I feel like each time I learn more and grow more. Last year I really enjoyed the Metagame that Eric Zimmerman organized as an interesting social experiment.

Last year I was new to the community and it was more about finding my niche. Now it's about hanging out with the people I haven't seen since the last festival. I'm looking forward to seeing Phil Fish and Zach Gage. I work with Alex Bruce over skype, but to interface face-to-face is great.

These are friends of mine in the indie circuit that I get to see at GDC. Two parties that I'm looking forward to are the Wild Rumpus Party and the Kill Screen Party. The robot suits from last year were one of the highlights of the festival. It's all about indie people enjoying each others' presence.

Simon Flesser
Designer, Beat Sneak Bandit

What was your response to hearing that Beat Sneak Bandit was nominated in the mobile category of the IGF Awards?

I was super-happy. That about sums it up. I really like ASYNC Corp., which is nominated. Waking Mars seems very nice as well. I think I will be at the IGF booth the entire conference, but I'm looking forward to seeing all the nice people who come to play the game.

Ichiro Lambe
Designer, Dejobaan Games

What brings you to GDC this year?

Cliché answer, but it is the people. I like meeting with other developers, (doesn't matter if they're triple-A or indie,) talking with other people whom I've met online and have been touching base with digitally for the last year. Having a conversation means that you can bounce all these little ideas back and forth in real time. It's about all these tiny interactions.

Having participated in the IGF, do you see it as worthwhile as a focus for the independent developer community?

I've experienced it from both sides. I was a nominee for excellence in design in 2010. I've been a judge, and this year I'm on the technical jury. As a juror, it allows me to help improve the state of the community. Entering is fascinating in that it gives you something to work toward, so I would like to do that again.

What games do you have in development that we might look for at a future Independent Games Festival?

We have two titles in the pipeline right now. One is the continuing development of Drop That Beat Like An Ugly Baby. Then there's a new project called Drunken Robot Pornography that started out as an April Fools gag. Those are both games that, in no small part due to meetings here, are developing differently than they had been last year.

New game reveal by Daniel Olsén and Simon Flesser

Jaime Woo
Co-founder, Gamercamp

What do you find most valuable about attending GDC?

As a festival programmer, I'm coming to see what people's current perspective is on the industry. We definitely would like to mirror that in our own festival.

There are so many creative people at GDC who are thinking about how their work pertains to the industry. Everyone realizes that this is the most prominent form of cultural expression that's happening for this generation. That's a big change from twenty years ago.

Are there talks scheduled that interest you this year?

A lot of the talks that I'm interested in are the cultural ones. Mare Sheppard is doing a talk on why she doesn't like "women in games" initiatives. It's interesting because we know that women are underrepresented. We wouldn't want just any random woman to enter the industry, because it's demeaning to say that anyone of a certain gender should be as valued as someone of the same gender who has devoted themselves passionately to this craft.

We really have to think about how we diversify this industry in a meaningful way. Previously the industry had to think about making great games, but hasn't considered the way to do that and have it be the most beneficial socially. That introspection in the industry is fascinating to me.

What's new with the Gamercamp Toronto game festival?

November 2011 marked our third year. It was a big milestone and means that it's going to be sustainable and part of the Toronto ecosystem.

What are your goals for Gamercamp Jr, for kids aged nine to thirteen?

We've been working on ways to make kids more game-literate, so they can see games not just as these polished, closed box systems but be able to express themselves through it. If we encourage kids to write and make music, we should also encourage them to make games.

With that, we don't charge any money for it. People have offered to sponsor, but we don't take the money because we want to keep it pure at this stage. We've had one already, where we taught a combination of physical games, board games and digital games. We'd like kids to break down the boundaries that separate those different forms of gameplay.


Mattias Häggström Gerdt
Music composer, Cobalt

Last year at GDC was really special because we had somewhere to be. [Cobalt] had a booth, so we could stand by and watch people play the game. This time I'm looking forward to some of the talks, particularly one by Cave about bringing their hardcore Japanese shooters to the iOS.

What brings you to GDC this year, all the way from Sweden?

First and foremost, GDC is about meeting developers and other composers. There are a lot of musicians here, like my friends at HyperDuck. I'm staying with Josh Whelchel and we're going to get some work done in person on Scrolls. Then there's Danny B. and Jimmy Hinson (Big Giant Circles). It's very fun to have everyone in the same place, which is a really big part of GDC in general.

How has the reaction been to Cobalt thus far?

Since the Alpha launch, there have been a lot of very enthusiastic people. Some hardcore fans have started forums. They've discovered our engine and made their own maps, even though it wasn't a feature to begin with.

An EP for Cobalt has been uploaded to Bandcamp, but are there any plans for a full soundtrack release?

I try to release soundtracks for all the games I do. The Cobalt EP was a combination of things. We wanted to give a taste of the music in Cobalt, and people had requested the trailer music specifically be downloadable. I also wanted to collaborate with my friends, which is how the whole remix EP concept came about.

The completed soundtrack may take awhile, unless I do something similar to what Daniel Rosenfeld did with Minecraft by releasing an Alpha and Beta soundtrack. I have some plans.

For more of what brings people to GDC, see last year's interview series. For more images of GDC, see our flickr photo set.