Disclaimer: Sorry for the layout. Our WordPress has been acting up and we will update our website towards the end of the year anyway, so after a few attempts of fixing it, I just posted the blog like it is now. It will look better, once the website has has been updated.
Hey guys, Murmel here, starting to write a new blog from Poznan, Poland – or as you could call it: Murmel in Wonderland. So basically we have been invited to fill in for another German dev team for a study visit to Poznan and the Poznan Game Arena (PGA), which is the biggest Polish trade fair for games. I was the lucky one to get sent here, since it is my job to be at these kinds of events. I have to tell you, things have started off kind of surreal, because essentially this whole trip is paid for by several organizations like the EU and the Polish government and what not. So what is happening is that I get stuffed with awesome food at fancy restaurants, and get hailed a cab whenever I want to go to the fair grounds from the hotel (which is a 20 minute walk away, but somehow I am in Wonderland, remember?) So yesterday (Wednesday) I arrived late, because Deutsche Bahn likes to fuck around with me lately and my first connecting train from Kassel to Berlin had been cancelled. Thanks again. I was set up in a hotel near the city center, within walking distance of the fair grounds and met some of the other participants of the study visit, ranging from journalists, to other devs, to people who work for real industry heavyweights like Humble Bundle or Adobe. Everyone is super friendly and from all over the world and we are having a great time. I still have no clue, how I have “earned” a spot here, but I am definitely enjoying the hell out of it. Here’s the view from my hotel room (free mini bar included) and a shot of the restaurant we just went to. I will keep writing over the next days and put this up some time next week, when I will be back in Kassel. So let’s see, what awaits me next!
So I did not have too much free time after the slow start, so I left this for the weekend. My favorite quote of the whole trip was when we were at lunch on Thursday. We were offered white wine with the meal and after we had first emptied our glasses, we were offered a refill. So the waitress goes around and reaches Sébastien and says: “Do you want more wine?” To which he replies: “I’m French”.
Thursday continued with an evening of Polish culture. Since my group had been invited by the Poznan trade fair we attended the opening ceremony of the tourist exhibition which started one day before the PGA. There was a polish folk ensemble with singing and dancing called “ŚLĄSK” and everyone wore traditional Polish clothing. The overall theme of that show is guys screaming “HEY!” and “HA!” and the women must somehow be able to talk to dolphins, considering their cheering noises. Despite not understanding a single word they were singing it was was interesting and fun to watch, although it went on a little too long for my taste.
The evening ended with the tourism fair banquet which was, sadly, not our cup of tea with loud karaoke singers and 70s and 80s music. The group started to get closer though, which was nice, and we had some vodka and weird-looking lemonade.
On Friday the PGA started and after breakfast we left for the fair grounds and I started by visiting all our awesome German indie friends from Brightside Games, Rat King Entertainment, THREAKS, Maschinen-Mensch and Megagon Industries and talked to them about their projects and stuff. I don’t get to see these guys enough, so the PGA was a welcomed opportunity. The rest of the day I strolled around the halls. looking at games and went for lunch with the THREAKS. For me the interesting part would start on Saturday, with the developers conference. In the evening our hosts Paweł and Ewa, who did an amazing job being there for us and showing us around, took us to dinner at the restaurant Brovaria which has its own beer brewed with honey and some of-the-hook food. The cheesecake was to die for! By now our group had gotten to know each other even better and it was really fun and interesting being around people from all around the globe and being able to talk to them about their work and culture. I need to do stuff like this more often – next year will be a release year for us, so I hope to get around even more.
Saturday was finally the day of the developer conference and from now on I would spend most of my time in some room where a talk was held in. They ranged from marketing talks to game developing and level design to people talking about their company’s history like Devolver Digital or Humble Bundle. The most interesting talk for me was about developing for Microsoft platforms, mainly because we want to get into the ID@Xbox program and I was able to ambush the Microsoft speaker after his talk. Here is an interesting thing for other indie/new/young developers: Personal contact is the key. At first the guy was really short with me and just wanted to end the conversation quickly. Their process is streamlined, they send out monthly mails because (I guess) they must have a huge backlog of developers wanting to get into ID@Xbox. I really get how he does not want to spend hours talking to people at a conference, nagging him about this. But I managed to exchange business cards with him and gave him our portfolio. Note: Always have great stuff to show important people – see why on Sunday! After that accomplishment my “work” for the day was done and together with the rest of the group we went to the PGA party with free vodka (only free vodka) and some time to get dinner, networking and a little dancing. I was somehow tricked into leaving not too late by Paweł but together with tow of the French guys I went out to a night club right across the street from our hotel which rounded out the night.
On Sunday this whole amazing trip was about to end and some people left right after breakfast to reach their flights and trains home, so we said our goodbyes and the group split up. While writing this I already miss them. Zee Germans and Americans stayed and went to the fair grounds one last time. We decided to walk and save Paweł’s money and do something for our health. Remember Saturday? OK, it’s just one paragraph above. So while standing at a traffic light we were talking about Humble Bundle when suddenly our group counted one more. My Microsoft man from the day before had stayed in the same hotel and suddenly was part of our walking party. He told me, he had looked over our portfolio and that it was very important that I had given it to him. He liked our stuff and had already put us in touch with people in charge for our region. BAM! Mission accomplished! The rest of the day was more talks and a boosted ego and in the end back on a train to Kassel. Paweł had to do some on-the-fly booking for my connection from Berlin to Kassel, because my initial ticket had only been valid from Poznan to Berlin, which I realized on the train. So after a second of anxiety of yet another missed train and a night in Berlin the conductor let me on the train to Kassel without the printed version of the ticket and I reached home late at night, exhausted but happy. I hope I can go again next year, if Paweł will have me. A great few days in Poznan with some great people have come to an end.