Another year, another game developer conference. This was the first time I attended Devcom, and I have to say it’s a pretty good replacement for the now defunct GDC EU. There’s a decent selection of speakers, and the attendees come from all sectors of the games industry which gives the event a slightly less corporate feeling. The on-site catering service is still pretty lackluster though, and I sorely miss Respawn.

This was also the first time I really used MeetToMatch, and I’m blown away by how good it is. Planning meetings was always a pain during any conference, and this app allows you to schedule, cancel and keep track of them in a highly efficient manner. (The app unfortunately doesn’t help you get better at meetings though, so I’m still doing this by trial and error. Sorry, table 4!)

I guess I also appreciated just getting off this island for a while. The first thing I did after arriving in Cologne was to sit down on a nearby bench and enjoying the sunset while sipping on a cheap beer. It’s something I always took for granted living in central Europe, and not being able to stay outside for long is a frustrating aspect of living so far up north.

Lastly, I completely picked the wrong shoes for the event, and my feet developed some hideous blisters on the first day. Fortunately, I met a fellow Swiss who gave me one of his blister bandages. #networking

Event Highlight

I met 20 Swiss people in a single day. Seriously.

When I was looking for a job in 2014 right after graduating from the Games Academy, things weren’t looking good. The handful of Swiss indie studios could barely afford to exist, let alone hire anyone new so I had to look for opportunities elsewhere. Now, 4 years later, the indie scene is thriving and Switzerland has an international presence under the #swissgames banner.

Things aren’t perfect, however. The crux of the matter is that games still aren’t officially recognized as an art form, and therefore don’t receive the funding they need. To put it in perspective, Solid Clouds received more in grants than the entirety of the Swiss games cluster in 2017. While we still have a long road ahead, I remain hopeful and look forward to the day I can work on great games in Switzerland.

Game Highlight

This one goes to Imagine Earth, which initially piqued my interest because its border expansion mechanics looked very similar to Starborne. It’s a strategy game that takes place on a single planet, and the goal is to build up a powerful colony in order to buy out the competing players. The twist is that global warming is a thing, and reckless expansion will turn the entire planet inhospitable after a while which puts a dynamic timer on all participants.

It’s a very focused game with a clear goal thanks to the relatively short run time of a match, and the absence of unnecessary micro-management allows you to start a game without committing the entire evening to it. I can’t say this about most other strategy games on the market, and Imagine Earth offers a fun alternative to satisfy the strategy nerd inside of us. Check it out here.

Food Highlight

Beirut. It’s a Lebanese restaurant near Heumarkt, and offers absolutely delicious food at very affordable prices. I highly recommend you pay them a visit the next time you’re in Cologne.

And that’s about it, I think. See you next year!