coherence at GDC 2023
“So, how was GDC?” is the question that everyone is asking each other right after coming back from San Francisco. coherence was at GDC this year with a party of 4 and we had a blast, so let me share with you my experiences from that crazy week.
For those of you who are new to it, GDC stands for Game Developers Conference, and it’s a yearly event that takes place in the San Francisco city center. It’s probably the longest running game event out there, and definitely the most expensive to go to!
At its heart, GDC is mainly a developer conference and has an expo showfloor where publishers can discover games in development. However, there’s a whole range of events happening around, before and after GDC that it makes sense to attend.
We didn’t have a booth for coherence, and the whole focus of the week was running meetings in a room we had rented at the hotel W, right next to where the conference was happening. We decorated the room with a banner and had some swag to give away.
The room had a view over the venue hosting GDC, the Moscone Center, and the nearby Yerba Buena gardens. And what a view!
Moscone Center from the 31st floor
But most importantly, we brought 3 coherence demos with us.
One of them being our First Steps tutorial, the other being a Load Balancing demo we made specifically for GDC (it’s the one you can see here) and a third, older demo, showing coherence running alongside Unity’s ECS. As one of coherence’s strongest points is its ease of use, we focused a lot on in-editor demos using Unity, demonstrating all the fantastic tools that our SDK team has built to make workflows as smooth as possible. We hope (and think) that the demos managed to show what is great about our tech, and attendees to the meeting seemed quite impressed.
The coherence suite
If you’re interested in the Load Balancing demo keep your eyes on the coherence Youtube channel and this blog, as we will soon post a video about it.
Between Tuesday and Monday, I left tech demos mostly in the hands of Tadej (our CTO), and ventured to other locations. Jonathan (our Business Development Manager) and I spent a lot of time at an event organized by the company MeetToMatch in partnership with country associations which was putting developers from 3 countries in front of publishers to pitch their games for funding. Indie teams from Spain, Sweden and Switzerland presented their projects and - guess what - a good half were of the multiplayer online variety!
For us it was super important to see what studios out there are developing, and what are their pain points and expectations when it comes to online multiplayer.
Swiss game pitches
Later I also went to check out the European Games Showcase (EGS), a pro-bono event where you could actually try the games hands-on.
European Games Showcase
I love to play games but often expo show floors are too bombastic due to the presence of big stands, blasting music through their speakers. The EGS was the perfect venue to sit down with some mid-sized studios and have a chat. I particularly enjoyed the look at Half Past Yellow’s new game, where one of their programmers, Max, led me through the design decisions behind the game’s puzzles. (there’s no info on the game yet, you’ll have to wait for the reveal!)
My highlight? It has to be Soulbound, a local and online co-op RPG, by a small Swedish studio called Friendly Foe. That game has a lot of style! I can’t wait for it to come out. Plus the game was already running really well on a Nintendo Switch, so that’s where I’ll get it! Perfect match.
Soulbound - check out the gameplay footage
While meetings were raging on in the suite upstairs, I took some more time on the road to join a Youtubers’ meetup in the nearby Yerba Buena gardens. The gardens are right next to the Moscone center, and is the best place to be when looking to catch up your breath between a meeting and a talk.
The Yerba Buena gardens
Here I caught up with some friends and creators, including ex-colleagues from my previous job at Unity. Checking some of the channels from many of the creators I met, multiplayer is such a hot topic right now! DapperDino, Samyam, CodeMonkey, and more; are all exploring multiplayer solutions in their recent videos. (perhaps coherence next?!)
In the evening, I dressed up and attended the IGF Awards and the Game Developer Choice Awards, presented by Marina Díez and by Leslee Sullivant, respectively. The IGF ceremony especially is always an event that I hold very dear, for it reminds me what I love about this industry. It’s a treasure trove of visionary indie titles, not always commercial, but surely inspirational. (actually, one of our teammates, Erik Svedang, won one in 2009! Always been his fan ever since, but don’t tell him) Plus, the host Marina touched often on quite important hot topics in the game industry, like for instance on crunch (see the final speech).
You can watch the whole livestream. You should spot me at some point, I’m sitting right in front of the main stage 😎
Marina Díez hosting IGF
Now that I think about it, I don’t recall any of the finalist games being multiplayer. It makes sense, as creating a multiplayer game has been so far a huge undertaking, and that hinders creativity. But it’s ok, coherence had a soft launch only last November. In June there will be coherence 1.0 that should open up multiplayer game dev for any small-and-starting developers!
IGF 2024, here we come!!
My highlight of Thursday was definitely our “free demo slot” moment, 3 hours when anyone could just drop in the room at the same time and check out our tech. We gathered quite a few people - without the room getting too packed.
The crowd starts to gather for the free slot demo
As the hours went by, the free slot turned from a tech demo into a very nice cozy time that ended up extending until night. At which point we had to leave to find some food.
The view from the room at night you ask me? Here we go:
San Francisco at night from the 31st floor
Thanks to everyone who dropped by! You know who you are :)
Friday was a blur. Some very productive meetings, and in my free time, rushing to the expo to check as many booths as possible: Unity, Unreal, Rider, Godot, and some country booths, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, … my highlight is definitely doing a demo using my computer and my phone, connecting them on the Internet by using the phone as an access point. Wild, but it worked!
Checking out some games in the Unity booth
In the evening, we had our flight back. Bye San Francisco! Bye everyone. It’s been great, as always!
Our tips for GDC
An obvious one: never trust hotel or conference Wi-Fi for your networking demos!! Though everything went well and nothing broke, it was kinda slow. When cornered, connecting your demo to cellular data might be a good way out.
In retrospection, we can’t stress enough how useful it was to have a room in which to show our tech. In the past we’ve done meetings in various places at the event, and it’s always easy to underestimate San Francisco’s distances, and always be late for your next meeting. If you can afford it, it can make a lot of sense to have a permanent and quiet space in which to run your demos. It can also be quite expensive, but still cheaper than booth space.
Another thing we did right was to send a team made up of 2 technical people and 2 business people. GDC always has an incredible amount of events happening at every hour, and it can be easy to miss opportunities. But with this team composition, we could always split up and be in more places at the same time, while still having the ability to demo coherence or talk business.
GDC was a fantastic moment to connect and reconnect with many friends and new and existing business partners. Where will we meet next? Gamescom, Nordic Game Conference? Keep an eye on this blog, we’ll definitely announce it, or feel free to reach out via the coherence Twitter or on our Discord to ask.
Now, after this deep dive into real-world connections, excuse us as we go back online to work towards coherence 1.0!