I just got back from Cologne, Germany, where I was attending GamesCom 2009. It was a total ‘mare, but also a dream come true if that makes any sense.
It was my first major, proper tradeshow type thing. I’ve been to big events and shows before, like UbiDays and so on, but this was the first international multi-day event that I had to organise myself. I think I did pretty well, getting one article up every day, plus news stories and building a back-catalogue of interviews and previews I can spew out in the future. I had loads of good meetings, though I’ll freely admit that I probably should have stacked some more in for Day Three (I was just worried about cramming too much in). I met loads of cool new contacts, especially the team at FutureMark who are working on the surprisingly fluid and fun-looking Shattered Horizon. I also played more games than most people have brain cells.
Most importantly though, I saw Alpha Protocol for the first time. I knew very little about the game going in, but what I saw at the presentation was all good. This game looks phenomenal, like the next Deus Ex. It’s a modern Spy RPG, with you as a lone agent trying to track down some lost missiles, but it’s got a fully complex branching story system. You can join up with different factions, turn enemies into allies, take different routes through levels and so on. Most of the main characters can be killed or saved as you choose and all the weapons etc. can be upgraded as you go. It sounds too good to be true. It probably is.
Other things I saw which looked interesting included Scribblenauts, AVP, Shattered Horizon, Mount & Blade: Warband and Majesty 2. Majesty 2 itself wasn’t a fantastic looking game or anything, but it was presented to me by a very nice Paradox PR lady called Boel who knew very little about the game, but was just so lovely that it didn’t really matter. Oh, and Borderlands looks good too.
I remember one of the first things I read of Rich Swinburne’s was a blog post about stuff it was important to take to a tradeshow, such as a mobile phone with loads of credit and a notepad and pen rather than a heavy laptop. He’s very correct, since you’re on your feet all day. I’d add to that and say that it’s crucial to have a bag of fruit in your hotel room too, as you need those vitamins and energy at the end of the day. It’s also important to get everyone in a room to introduce themselves to you aloud (not just give you business cards) if you’re using a dictaphone. Taking a good book of short stories is a good idea too, to help fill those tram rides and short breaks while you wait for the developer to turn up. Always keep some deoderant, chewing gum and something sugary to eat on hand too as it’s inevitable that you’ll run out of energy, get sweaty running from one meeting to another, or need a quick icebreaker if you’re in a room with new people.
Socks too. I forgot mine and was faced with foot-based mystery for the entire trip. Always pack extra socks.