Updated: Mar 20
This past week has been a whirlwind of emotion. The whole week has gone by slowly but every single day has felt like a Friday to me. Thanks to everyone who responded to my question on Instagram, this week's post is about my first experience at the London EGX Gaming Convention in 2019. In 2019 myself and my team were fortunate enough to attend as developers with Games Talent Wales, and next week I will be attending as a consumer instead. I’m so excited to go back, I would have loved to go last year but the thought of everyone in one secluded area with Covid running rampant, I thought it was best not to even attempt that trip. So get ready for a lot of photos and a ton of insight into what it’s like being an indie developer at EGX.
I just want to start off by saying, we had 8 people in our group. 8! Can you even imagine what it was like finding a hotel for 8 people? Well I can because I was in charge of finding accommodation and traveling to EGX. Not only were the hotel prices getting more expensive the closer we got the EGX, all the rooms were being booked as well. We managed to find one hotel that had space for 4 people, another room for 2 and another that only had 1 bed available. Luckily we found an AirBnB with room for 8+ people and it was relatively cheap. Not only was I under the delusion that it would be relatively close to the convention centre, I was also under the impression it would be easy to get to at night when our bus came in (Maybe we should have let Danii rent a bus and drive us all)...
So let me set the scene. It’s October 12th, we’ve just finished a 3 hour coach ride, a 40 minute train ride, and walked for 20 minutes to the supposed BnB address. It’s cold, we have heavy bags, and none of us are from London. We knock on the door…. And it’s not the right address. NOR is there an AirBnB located anywhere near the house we knocked on. Panic starts flying! Danii finds the phone numbers for the help lines and they’re all out of service. It took us 20 minutes just to get a real person to talk to and they said they would contact the hosts. I message my mom and ask her to start looking for hotels in the area and to hold off booking until we get confirmation our money will be returned. At this point, we are so tired, I don’t mind paying for a hotel for 1 night or even a taxi to get there. I just want to sleep!
So we head to a nearby pub and on the way the host calls us! Yay!! She had just gotten off of a plane and her phone had been switched off when we were trying to call her. She gave us the real address and said she would have the house cleaner drop the key off to us. So we started walking there and 30 minutes later… That's right, there’s no one there. So I called her again and said no one is here and we would wait at the pub nearby.
30 minutes later she arrives with the key and we can finally relax! No one even cares about dinner and we all crash onto the beds and fall asleep. I have never been more grateful for Danii’s mad FBI find the phone number and ask for a refund, take-charge skills before.
Luckily we had arrived a day early so we spent the next day relaxing and cutting out 200 stickers. That’s right, I ordered stickers for the event and we spent about 3 hours cutting them out because we got them in sheets, not individual ones. But that gave Danii and Seb a chance to package the game and playtest it. (I was still really bad at the game so I just watched as my mind slowly slipped into madness cutting those stickers). Then we traveled down and, if you have never been to a gaming convention during set up, it’s just something I can’t explain. It’s quiet, all the developers are setting up stands, the merchandise stalls are unpacking and you can just sit and talk to them about what they do without interruptions, and it’s unreal. The pictures don’t do it justice really.
Opening day was a rollercoaster full of illness, laughing, and exhaustion. We were advised to take Vitamin C each morning because we would be meeting new people and shaking hands, touching a lot of controllers, and all the pre-covid ick we’ve all come to despise. Having taken that advice, myself and one other were sick from the very start of the day. And let me tell you, standing in a crowd (I mean crowded… no walking 2 steps in any direction crowded) waiting for a 30 minute train ride to a convention is not something I ever wish to experience again. Luckily I wasn’t ill and my team found me a seat on the train so I wouldn’t have to stand. Awful! Do not recommend it.
Watching the mad rush of early access pass holders swarm to the Cyberpunk 2077 booth was surreal. They all ran in hoping to be the first at all the big games. We definitely learned that if someone just walks past your booth and is looking at your game, just ask if they want to play. They’re there to play and chances are they’re just looking at it to see what the controls are like. They will play your game. To say we were not prepared for any of this is an understatement. We had divided up the hours so we could all take breaks and go around playing games, but we were not prepared to pull people into the game, the awkwardness of people saying no and walking off, or the sheer noise that was present in the building. If you’ve ever played Scientific Shutdown, then you’ll know it has a catchy tune and some voicelines, all of which were drowned out by the other games playing at full volume. It’s ok though, the entire team was sick of listening to it by the end of day 3 and I will never unhear Dr Hans Trottlestein saying “I'm only running this test because I hate you, have fun” Sometimes I can still hear his voice in my nightmares.
The rest of the week was amazing! We learned so much as a team, how to be flexible, how to compromise, and how to communicate better. Unfortunately a few team members got ill and couldn’t travel to the centre (I would rather someone get rest than over exert themselves only to travel back home, alone, to be ill) and from that we had to adjust our time slots manning the booth. Nothing was unsolvable and we came away from the event having gained a greater knowledge of what it is to be a team. I don’t think a team has ever been closer before starting their Masters degree together than everyone yelling at me and Owen to shut up at 2am while watching Whose Line is it Anyway.
EGX as an indie developer is not easy by any means. You have to compete with the big titles there and you have to constantly remind players that the game is a work in progress so their feedback is valued, but no, the controllers are working. We had picked up some really crappy ones that didn’t have full 360 degree rotation (don’t worry, I found a good controller to show them the difference). We also met some wonderful developers on the same program as us and we keep in touch. If you want to see their work, I’ll leave some links.
Going to EGX next week, I know I’ll miss a lot of the perks we had as developers, like getting into the venue an hour early, walking around during set up and take down and seeing the full process of the conventions, a storage space under the computer for my bag, and the friendship. I really miss my team and I wish Covid hadn’t destroyed our company and the hard work we had put into it (I do not miss standing around for 8 hours). But I know next week I’m going to be attending some amazing talks given by industry experts, playing some really fun games (catch me at the retro section) and meeting some fantastic developers who have earned their place in the convention hall.
Thanks for reading about my experience in 2019, next week I’ll be at EGX so the blog might be released a bit later than usual, but follow me on Instagram @definelogicinteractive to watch all the fun unfold in my stories.
Till next time…