For those of you who are unaware this week in San Francisco the annual Game Developers Conference (GDC) is being held. It is an opportunity for developers from all disciplines and background to come together and talk about making games. This year I decided to attend for the first time and see what all the conference had to offer. So I bought myself a custom made GRH t-shirt, printed out some GRH stickers and signed up for an adventure in game development.
Oh. My. God. Where do I begin? I showed up to GDC having no idea what I was in for. My plan hadn’t really gone past see some talks, show off the new t-shirt maybe pass out some stickers if I’m feeling bold. What I got was so far beyond that I’m still trying to comprehend everything that happened.
I arrived around 11am to find the place swarming with people. Product promoters manned the street corners handing out fliers and free energy drinks. Almost all of them attractive women. Inside I collected my badge and tried to figure out where to go. I had not anticipated there being an entire floor dedicated to recruiting. I wandered the massive space looking at the different booths. Activision was front and center. On the left Blizzard and the right Playstation. Crowds had formed in front of each booth filled with eager men and women of all trades. Wandering deeper revealed the lesser known companies as well as a few of the other big wigs. A both for Capcom, a booth for Nintendo, another for Microsoft, and two booths packed to the brim for Valve and Obsidian. I quickly learned that most of these applicants where students ripe for graduation.
After cutting my teeth with some of the lesser know companies I finally worked up the courage to wait in line for the Valve booth. Initially I had no plans of applying to Valve. I have zero experience programming for AAA titles and I assumed that was a solid prerequisite. However, later in the day I saw signs indicating they were hiring programmers for Steam, since I am a decently experienced web programmer I thought the match seemed like a good one. I waited in line for about half an hour watching as each eager applicant before me was transformed from an optimistic hopeful to a dejected husk skulking away. It seemed Valve was very picky about who they talked to. My fear grew as I approached the front of the line. Would they also reject me? In short, no. In long, I am not totally sure. They asked me to fill out a form and then I sat in a waiting area with about 4 other applicants for roughly an hour. At which point I went up and ask them what was going on. Apparently their only web guy was busy, but they had someone else come in and talk to me instead. The interview lasted about an hour, or at least it felt that way. Nothing terribly technical was asked, I showed him a bunch of my work on his iPad. I especially enjoyed showing off GameReviewHero.com.
As someone who has done many interviews. I know the end of the interview is always weird. You shake hands and say thanks, but generally your not supposed to say anything about whether or not the person got the job. Unless its just you, you are usually not the one who gets to make that call. The end of this interview was no different. It ended and it was recommended that I check out the hiring talks they had every few hours throughout the day. Something they told everyone who spoke to them.
Despite the very anticlimactic end of the interview I felt good. Like I usually do after I spend an hour trying to convince someone that I’m awesome. Writing or talking about every major accomplishment you’ve ever done is a great confidence booster. I wanted more of that natural high so i started talking to more companies. I applied to Blizzard (doing Battle.net stuff) and a company called Backbone that recently did the Sega Collection available on the Playstation Network (and maybe XBL?).
After learning that, during the entire day, I had only looked at about a third of the conference space I spent the last hour checking out the Expo hall. I didn’t see much, but I did run into the co-creator / designer of Super Meat boy Edmund McMillen. I gave him and his wife a sticker.
We are trying to raise money to pay our writers over at GameReviewHero.com. So we set up a fund through 8-bit funding:
We most of the money is for paying writers the rest will be for keeping the company running and some GRH merchandise.
I do a lot of research looking for Indie games. Because of Game Review Hero now I find games even when I am not looking for them. It has gotten to the point where I am almost crippled with anxiety when I find a page like this.
It seems innocuous right? A single page with a video and some links to games, but each of the links has a couple links on it. Then you find a site like this one, this one, or this one which has hundreds of games listed and 90% of them are crap…
It often leads down the proverbial rat hole, from the depths of which I find myself steeped in so many free games I’m not sure what to do with myself. I came to a realization today though. These types of sites are a whole new classification in the gaming universe. I have decided to dub them gaming nebulae. Some of them we know about, like Kongregate, New Grounds and ModDB. Some have been around a long time, some of them are larger than others, but all of them have one thing in common: they are troves for finding interesting games to play.
Clearly I will never run out of games to add to Game Review Hero.
Ugh, I found another one.
People are talking about Game Review Hero! First Ian Bogost and several of his followers.
Admittedly not positive, but I think we will get some decent traffic form it anyways. I emailed Ian letting him know what the motivation behind Game Review Hero was all about and he responded with a quick “Good luck with it” which I take as a signal that he doesn’t really mean any ill will towards the sites existence.
I also discovered Orbital Games linked to our site referring to a review of one of their games.
Both of these posts where entirely unsolicited so needless to say we are very excited!
The beta site has been launched you can look at it here:
It is invite only. If you want an invitation please contact me and I will invite you.
The Game Review Hero website is coming along nicely. I am nearly done with the beta version. My plan is to start an invite-only beta next week. Right now I’ve got about 11 candidates that have expressed interest in trying it out. I am hoping to get more. I am also hoping people actually use their invitations. I think I am also just going to start inviting people I think should join. All I need is their email.
I spent the last two hours collecting information on Indie games for the site. I got 15… This is going to take some time.
I did manage to put together some screen shots of what the site will look like.
We move fast here at Ionmark Games. Here is our latest project:
Will be posting soon with more gory details. Stay tuned!