As what should have been GDC week continues on, it's really hitting home just how much aspects of it are missed. Sure, we've posted before about how GDC drives us to create games, and E3 reminds us of our love of games and the industry. But for a group as spread out as we are it's become apparent how much these re-connection points matter.
First, there's the social aspect. These conferences and expos provide set points throughout the year where we get to connect. With our fellow team members yes, and also with other developers around the world that we typically see only these few times a year. As easy as communication is these days with so many options (Slack, Email, Texting, etc.) there is still no substitute for actual face to face time. So to all those that we're not getting to meet up with (and between us ourselves) - we miss you all and can't wait to see you again next time, whenever that next time may be!
Then there's the motivational aspect of having set points in time where we know we'll be asked to share what we're up to and the status of in-progress games. These often act as a forcing function to ensure necessary decisions are made in a timely manner in order to get a demo done or be ready to answer questions we know will be coming, whether from press, our fans, fellow developers, or even our dev reps. Let's be honest, we've never been the most timely developers and we're aware of that. Part of it is the price of being a smaller studio that often works as it can across multiple projects as required vs. full steam ahead on a single vision. But there's still benefit to these known-ahead-of-time checkpoints.
There's been a lot of talk about whether GDC or E3 or similar will "survive" the year off. We certainly hope so. Yes, press releases can be sent out online. Yes, videos can be shared and live streams and the like. Yes all of that can be done for far cheaper than trips to shows and booths and all of the associated costs. But there is something that can't be replicated in the same way: honest interaction with real people. Moving everything online lets us reach more people, but in a much less personal way. And isn't half the point of being indie to have that more personal connection with your fans?
We certainly thing so...