Last week our community manager Sara and I went to Hamburg, Germany for the Causal Connect convention. Junebud sends teams to game industry conventions around the world, like many other game development companies do. Now, why do we attend these things? Good question. Let's use our Casual Connect visit as an example. We brought a cheap camera along for the trip, so enjoy the grainy pics.
Off to Germany! Ola at Copenhagen Airport before boarding.
Before we begin I want to establish some background. When you develop a game you go through a number of phases. First you need the idea, and then you need a of proof of concept. This is usually a prototype. After that you need a crack team of artists, designers, programmers, sound engineers and project managers to develop the game into a production version. In my experience, this can easily lead to what I call “bunker mode”.
Hamburg at near eight in the evening, and we just found our hotel. We still had four more hours of work ahead of us, networking.
Time to head back out. Ola and Sara back in the hotel lobby, ready for a business meeting.
Bunker mode is when the team is so focused on making a good product that they cut themselves off from the outside world. Safe inside their air tight shell, developers find the focus they need finish the job. If you're lucky you get to emerge from your bunker with a piece of sheer magic, catching the world by surprise. If you're less lucky you may find that other teams made better versions of your game months ago. This is why business and community people need to stay updated at all times.
It takes a while to get used to each new convention. Sort of like a new game. Here I am, consulting the mini-map.
The Junebud Crew left the bunker as we deployed MilMo on Facebook in July of 2010. By then we felt our game was cool enough to take on the competition. That led to the next phase: finding good partners to help distribute the game. “Partners” can be marketing experts to help you raise awareness, or it could be someone who provides translation services. It could be full fledged publishers who specialize in licensing a game for distribution on one or more markets. Last, but not least, partners could be someone willing to invest money and help grow your company.
We crossed the John F. Kennedy brücke (bridge) every day on our way to the Convention Center. At 1,7 million people, Hamburg is a big city.
Another big thing at conventions is meeting other developers to share experiences with them. Bunker mode can be dangerous, because you isolate yourself and can lose track of what's going on around you. There are always excellent lectures held at game conventions. Casual Connect is particularly good for Junebud because it focuses on browser games and all kinds of social games. Because we needed to both do business and collect information, Sara and I had a tight schedule. While I spent my time in meetings, while Sara mined the different lecture tracks for useful information.
There's fresh business information disclosed at industry lectures. With long days, It's hard to stay sharp for several straight days of lectures. Sara did a god job!
A day at a convention might look like this.
We had a very good time in Hamburg. For me, one of the coolest things was to get to meet up with my friend Vlad Micu, web editor for Gamesauce. He also introduced me to my long time hero Ben Cousins, general manger of EA's Easy Studios, the man behind, among other things, the Battlefield Heroes initiative. We all got to sit down and talk about 3D browser games, free distribution and all the challenges and opportunities that come with that package. Very inspiring!
I always try to get a good breakfast. You never know when you'll get to eat again. We ended up given sausage for lunch every day. Ah, Germany.
At the end of the week we were pretty tired, and it was good to get back to the office. Sara has spent her time making a big presentation based on the lectures in Hamburg, that we will use to spread what we learned to the rest of the Junebud Crew. As for me, I've been busy following up on the exciting meetings. It's been nothing but new meetings, e-mails, LinkedIn and phone since.
After four days in Germany it was time to get back to Sweden. On the train home from the airport, at ten in the evening, we were both pretty tired.