Update + E3 2015 Recap: Indie titles, we out here.

A long overdue blog post, after doing some updates to my site! Briefly - got engaged last September (marriage date TBA - such is life when you're engaged to a nursing student), left my job of almost four years to pursue a new opportunity, and I've also been heavily considering pursuing some sort of graduate academic courseload. ADULTHOOD STRUGGLES OUT HERE.

 Shoutout to Lizzy for the custom art. (twitter.com/morehandclaps)

Shoutout to Lizzy for the custom art. (twitter.com/morehandclaps)

Moving on to current events: Last week was my first E3 on the other side of the industry fence, having more access than usual thanks to an exhibitor badge due to working the show. It was a great experience, albeit one where I had to juggle many tasks (Livestreams! Game demos! Tweeting!) in the midst of E3 chaos.

What was rewarding was seeing people come up to check out the games that our development partners have been working on and coming away with genuinely positive vibes. For those that don't know, I'm assisting with the community efforts for Santa Monica Studio's externally developed titles: Everybody's Gone to the RaptureWhat Remains of Edith Finch, and Fat Princess Adventures

It's been different working on products that have yet to be released, as opposed to an always-online, continuously update title (as I did with BINGO Blitz) - different in a good way, in that the approach to building a community and content ahead of time is a unique challenge unto itself. Building the ever-popular "hypetrain", if you will.

One of the highlights of working in this capacity over the past few months has been working with small development teams, since small team sizes are something that I've been a part of for the the entirety of my game industry career. It's also been refreshing to work on titles that aren't deemed as "normal" or AAA - coincidentally, I've also found myself gravitating more towards narrative-driven and experimental titles as an outlet to escape your standard gaming genres (not to say that I enjoy them...hell, I've been looking forward to Arkham Knight for an eternity) and take in something new. A quote from one of the developers I work with, taken from an interview article, grasped an idea that I felt really couldn't be delivered through your yearly big-budget release:

I guess we’re just trying to evoke a bit of the wonder and mystery and terror of life.
— Ian Dallas, Creative Director of Giant Sparrow (http://sms.playstation.com/news/giant-sparrow-interview-e3-2015/)

On that note, one of the trends I noted at this year's show (and was pleasantly surprised by) was the growing presence of 'indie' titles - IndieCade had a larger presence and a few crowds for some of the game selections over there  (Wattam and Butt Sniffin Pugs, though) and indie titles were featured at the major press conferences and booths. It's been my belief that AAA fatigue is inevitable - FPS titles set in the future or OPEN WORLD ALL THE THINGS have to reach a tipping point eventually. 

A part of that belief also lies in the economic reality that AAA budgets are also unsustainable - as gaming shifts more towards an "as a service" platform (see: post-launch content on everything) and early access/crowdfunding continues to trend, more power and say is being put into the hands (and wallets) of the gaming consumer. That leads to smaller teams taking that chance to develop the game they've always wanted, and that is certainly something I can get onboard with. Granted, the downside is that oversaturation on this scale will happen (and it has) but that's where gaming fans come in - if something just doesn't work, the reception will reflect that.

The takeaway from all of this? We're on a road where gaming has multiple options for developers and gamers to pursue now more than ever, and that is refreshing.


I definitely intend to blog more - it's part of my shortlist of things to do on the interwebs, aside from my active Twitter and Instagram feed. Tackling a Twitch channel layout is next...

-Jeff