So, my very first though certainly not my last, game developer conference was at Rezzed, in Brighton and what an experience it was! Unfortunately we were a little too late in applying for our own booth for Vinland: Arctic Assault in the Leftfield Collection (an area sponsored by Sega purely for indie games), I still managed to hand out a sneaky flier here and there, and talked about the game to anyone who would listen.
In a way, I am pleased that we didn’t have a booth, partially because I would have had absolutely no clue about what was required for it (though the presentation of the Indie games was pretty simplistic... black marker pen on the walls), but also because it meant I was completely at liberty to peruse the other presentations and also able to attend some of the lectures which were on an interesting and varied mix of subjects.
The most interesting one for me, was the one presented by Peter Molyneux of Dungeon Keeper, Theme Park, Populous and Fable fame. He talked about the reason he got into game development, and why it continues to hold his fascination today (and it is quite clear that this man really, really LOVES his job). He spoke at length about his new company and project, more psychological experiment than game, and his reasoning for doing so. I was quite pleased to be able to draw some parallels between his business model, and our own at Zatobo, namely that the next couple of projects they are working on, are entirely geared towards developing the tools and gathering the experience to work on a final “best game ever”. It’s not something I have spoken about much, but I will do an article on it at some point but essentially our idea is to create a series of smaller, more casual games which will feed expertise and funds into a larger “big project”.
I also attended some other lectures, though these were of a lower key but interesting never the less. I am somewhat sorry that I didn’t make more effort on some of them, the DayZ, Natural Selection and Total War in particular I am kicking myself over having missed. Still, instead of these I was out on the show floor, trying games and more importantly chatting to the developers and community leaders themselves about their games, how they have progressed and what they wanted to do in the future.
The stand out part of the show however was Natural Selection 2, which I have since pre-ordered (yes, it was just that good). At first, I was a little put off by the poster, adorned as it was by a big ugly alien gorilla thing, however in getting closer I watched over the shoulder of some guys who were part way through a game. To cut a long story short, I eventually had a go myself and was immediately impressed by the quality, level of detail and intelligence of the core features; which would constitute a proper review on their own. During this time, I managed to meet and talk to one of the devs plus some of their community volunteer team who were extremely friendly and happy to talk about the game and its origins, plus what they hoped it would evolve into. No matter that I would wander off to other booths, or run off to lectures it was always the place that I ended up coming back to.
Overall Rezzed was a really positive experience, I am only sorry that I didn’t get to meet any of the organisers themselves (would have been really nice if Rock Paper Shotgun, Eurogamer and the others had a booth or something of their own), thanks to the importance of game journalism in the early life of most small indies, this would have been really cool if only to let us introduce ourselves.