On Thursday the 25th of August I went to Gamescom 2022 in Köln (or ‘Cologne’ as some name it)
This photo here is typical for what I found most on the ‘customer’ part of the Gamescom: playing games is a booming culture right now and all kinds of companies want to jump on that band wagon. The exhibition floors are larger than ever, but there is now a majority of non-game-dev booths.
But back to the preparations. My main reason to go to Gamescom was to get a better sense for the industry. I have been a solo game dev for 5 years now, but I want to connect more to others. So I signed up for a trade pass, so I could access the business part of Gamescom.
Further more, I booked a hotel. So I could drive there on Wednesday and attend the exhibition the next day. These hotels knew there was an event going on because they TRIPLED they prices. It is crazy omg. But that is how it its.
The day before
I took Roan, Mirthe and Alise with me on this trip. We spend the Wednesday together and did a tour around the city center of Koln. Enjoying the scenery. When it got late, we went back to our (air conditioned) and very spacey family room. And while they got to bed, I enjoyed staying up in the hotel launch. Talking to the people there, and finishing up with some personal time on the Steam Deck playing Vampire Survivors
Getting ready to enter Gamescom
On Thursday we parked the car next to the Zoo. So Alise and the kids could enjoy their stay at the zoo while I would attend Gamescom.
Why didn’t I bring them with me? There are family tickets available for Gamescom. But for now I think they are too young to enjoy a exhibition like this (its most of the time walking around and waiting in line to play a game, not that much actual gaming).
I got an electric scooter from the parking lot, and went over to the Gamescom entrance on a 5 minutes drive.
First stop: business booths
When I entered, I went straight for the business booths. I have been to Gamescom before but never as a trade visitor. So that part was much more interesting for me. Wanted to see what I missed out on all those years lol.
They had partitioned the business halls in sections. Every country (that wanted to represent itself) had a section. And there were some ‘generic’ sections like for game support and such. But here I am at the Dutch section. Did see Valconeer over there and a bunch of other Dutch games. Very inspiring for me!
In this business area there were also a lot of indie games present with a small area on a larger booth from like a country or a networking organistration (like the DGA for the Netherlands).
The Unity booth
I also went to the Unity booth. They had a few games on display there that utilized their cloud systems. Like Plastic SCM, Unity Cloud Build, Unity Cloud Server. But also other CI/CD stuff like Unity Test Framework.
I asked these game devs for their experience with best practices and such, how Unity was facilitating their game workflow for them, etc. Funnily enough, they admitted that it is still hard to set up a good workflow. They still have a hard time dealing with merge issues, keeping the build time low (full build 2 hrs anyone?), a lot of regression (so whole teams of QA testing for bugs all the time), etc. They are having a hard time getting good practices, especially because of how games start small and then scale up but processes don’t keep up. And there is ‘no easy way’ to make this al work fluently. Even with Unity’s own tools its still hard. These companies even call on Unity to help them with practices and advice on how to cope with these issues.
Then I talked to a Unity representative about this: where do we find examples of good CI/CD practices. Or how do we set up a scene so it can be tested and have as little regression as possible? In the business software development space, practices are common knowledge. But with gamedev its much and much harder. I would love to help get the message out on how to do this properly. I am already doing this with my Azure DevOps Unity build guides. And I would love to also cover the Unity cloud build. Or just ‘in general’ how Unity envisions CI/CD. This representative said he would reach out to me, helping to find these answers with me. He said that most of the studio’s ask them or other experiences game devs, but there isn’t that much to find on this stuff online. So yeah he could help me out with that.
So that’s my first business win for today!
After that I walked around to see if I could find Microsoft. The floor guide said that had a booth in hall 3 somewhere, but after some digging around it seemed like they where included in the UK booth and had an on appointment-base visit only. That’s a pitty. So I had to move on.
Back to the ‘real’ games
After that I went on to find the ‘real’ indie game booths. I have seen these business to business indie ones, but the consumer facing ones are the real deal (to me). These consumer facing ones probably are a lot more expensive to get (I have heard from prices starting from 7000 dollars, including travel and hotel expenses, rent of the stand space, the design build up of the stand, etc).
The indie area! I had to look around a bit to find it. But at last.
So many games are on display there! Imagine all these developers. Solo or with a small team. Preparing months in advance. And then having to stay besides your game from 10:00 until 22:00 from Wednesday to Sunday. The preparation as well as the actual presentation must be exhausting! I wish them all the best, I hope they get out of Gamescon what they wanted to get out of it. (Probably feedback on how to improve their game and marketing to get people to buy their game)
Erik the Indie Ninja
I would not be Erik if I didn’t have something prepared in advance:
I wanted to use the opportunity to reach out to visitors on the Gamescom to get feedback on Find the Gnome 2. So I prepared my Steam Deck in advance, as well as little cards (thank you Alise for this) to give them a link to my game.
I didn’t know if this was allowed, so my plan was to not intervene with people attending other booths (like staying in line). So I went to a large outside area next to the Indie area. People where resting there, smoking a cigarette and things like that.
I asked a few attendees to play my game. And rate it. Their responses were much more kind than I anticipated. They really enjoyed the game. Find it ‘refreshing’. Even a guy that was into point and click himself (and liked relaxing games) did find it very interesting and fun to play.
And there wasn’t that much critique either. Only a bit on the controls and some parts of gameplay not being clear from the get-go. This feedback is really welcome, it strengthens the need for the upcoming changes (Proper intro tutorial with controls, tutorial on gameplay elements when introduced, help button for when stuck).
With this feedback recorded, I had achieved my second business goal of this day. I was very happy with the overall result of the day by then.
On my way out
With 2 business results in my pocket, and a lot of my energy drained, I went on to walk around a bit. And mentally preparing myself to leave.
I really liked this area:
All kinds of cosplay people are over here. Helping each other out with their sets.
I took a side entrance exit and was on my way very quickly. An electric scooter was placed nearby very conveniently. So I took that scooter and rode it back to my car.
On they way back, I spotted this thing:
To my knowledge, this is an event you can order yourself. Did see it advertised a few years ago. Something about a floating dining or so. Thank you but no thanks, I will skip on that and let others enjoy an attraction like that lol.
So, that’s it for now!
Thank you for reading. I hope you had a great time. And see you next time!