This year I was fortunate enough to be selected as a finalist in the Eurogamer Expo's Indie Games Arcade. From Thursday 22nd to Sunday 25th September I headed to Earls Court, London, to demo the game to Eurogamer attendees.
There were 16 finalists in the competition, including five iOS entries: my own Greedy Bankers, online card game Cabals, action-packed tower-defence Earth Under Siege, augmented-reality physics puzzler Reflow, and snake-on-steroids Hard Lines. Meeting all the other developers were amazing, with teams flying over from Germany, Finland, Italy and Brazil, as well as Cambridge and humble Coventry.
With the game submitted to the App Store a mere ten days before the event, I had spent the previous week preparing promotional materials: business cards, posters and T-shirts, all of which came in handy during the event. I also brought with me an awesome team of assistants, each helping me out on different days. A big thank-you to Jamie, Simon (pictured below) and Rowan for their help, and their ability to talk with detail and enthusiasm about the game when my voice had practically given up!
The game had a fantastic response from players, with my favourite word of the weekend being "rematch!" It also brought a big smile to my face when players came back to the game having played it earlier in the day, or brought friends to show it off to. Everyone loved stealing gems from each other, and the sneaky looks on players' faces when they first realised they could nick their friends' jewels were priceless! Stealing was definitely a big selling point for the game, and something I'm going to try and push further with future updates.
I also took some time to entertain the waiting crowds outside the venue, before the Expo floor opened up at 10am. Lucky queuers would be approached by me and my team to play the game while they waited, which everyone seemed to enjoy! Some players did get very absorbed into it and were practically wrestling each other over the game. It was at those points I had to hold onto the iPad for dear life to make sure it didn't fall crashing onto the concrete!
But at least it shows it's immersive. One of the key features I wanted to push with the iPad version is that the gameplay extends out of the screen and into the real world, and that was definitely apparent at the Expo. Some people commented that it reminded them of Copenhagen Game Collective games such as B.U.T.T.O.N. (high praise indeed!), mixed with a strong strategic component - something they hadn't experienced before, which is very encouraging.
I also had a great time at Friday's Rock Paper Shotgun drinks event. Despite a free bar, I managed to control myself and just had a couple of pints, but some of the other indies were a little worse for wear apparently! This was evident the next morning when my team were the only indies there setting up early. I think that may have been a good tactical decision, as Saturday turned out to be completely packed-out and my voice was practically gone by that point. It would have been nice to stay for longer at the pub though, as I met some great people there: developers, gamers and writers alike!
During the weekend I also got the opportunity to do some interviews for games sites, video reviewers and blogs, which I loved doing. I met some really interesting people, aspiring developers, musicians and artists, and even a giant cardboard robot (who proved unable to play the game due to his big cardboard arms). We were set up right next to Just Dance 3, which meant having to listen to the same music over and over again every day (particularly "Pump It" by the Black Eyed Peas), but I did get a chance to take on one of the Rimelands developers in a Beyonce vs. Chirstina Aguilera dance-off. I'm not sure who was which one, but the important thing is I won. What can I say? UK indies are clearly better dancers!
The indie games on show were brilliant too. I teamed up with fellow Warwick Game Design oldboy Alan Hazelden (These Robotic Hearts of Mine, which is excellent btw), to beat Terry Cavanagh's two-player abstract puzzle At A Distance, although apparently there were some bits we missed! I was situated between the visually outstanding first-person run-and-jump Fotonica, and the fascinating card game Cabals. Unfortunately I only got to have a brief go at most of the games, due to being so busy at my own stand, but the quality on show was fantastic, and the range of games on show was bigger than the rest of the Expo itself. Try them all out, because they're brilliant! Everyone I met said that the Indie Game Arcade was the best part of the show, but then again I do have a selective memory…
Heading home on Sunday night I was absolutely shattered, but it really was an awesome time, and I'd love to do it again. Next year perhaps? I'll definitely be entering, that's for sure! And, indies, I recommend you do the same.
A massive thank you to everyone who helped out. To the Reflow guys for lending me an iPad-to-VGA connector, to David Hayward for his tireless work organising and running the arcade, and to Jamie (he's a published author btw, buy his book!), Simon and Rowan for their invaluable help. Actually, Richard Lemarchand (Lead Designer, Naughty Dog) congratulated them on their sales pitch, so they were evidently great salespeople and a pleasure to have on board! Also to Sega and Rock Paper Shotgun for sponsoring the event.
A really awesome time, and I look forward to next year's Arcade. I also hope to see the awesome developers at future events - I'll keep an eye out for you all! But for now, onwards you Greedy Bankers!