Impressions from Devcom & Gamescom
Last week was a really intense one for us, as we attended both Devcom and Gamescom. At Devcom, we did the first IRL showcase of Truer than You, during the two conference days, as well as at Developer Night | Courage Cologne. Then we moved over to Gamescom for meetings, where we were part of the Creative Europe Media stand.
Showing the game
Showing a game publicly for the first time is always nerve-wracking. We have done a user test of the game before, but it’s very different to observe people when they are playing. We learned a lot! Some of the findings were things we had already suspected, some were things we didn’t already know about, which is great, because now we’ll have the chance to make things better.
We tried to keep track of the players, and 63 % seemed to be female/non-male. We had already estimated that 60 % of our players would be female/non-male, and this guess seems to be fairly accurate. Then you’d have to consider that (judging from what we could see) the visitors to Devcom are not evenly distributed between genders – we believe there are less female visitors than male. Some of the players commented that they were drawn to the game since they interpreted it as LGBTQ+, which made us really happy, because it’s true!
The art style
The most common comments revolved around the art style. “Visually striking”, “unique” and “one of a kind” were some terms used, and I, who created the art, could not be happier. The art for this game has actually been a challenge from the start, and I’ve changed the style, especially of the backgrounds, many times. Getting encouraging comments was exactly what we needed.
Before showcasing, we had some questions around how the main character Rin would be interpreted by players. Some commented that they appreciated that Rin was explicitly stated as non-binary. (I myself got goosebumps when a player called out “yay” at the point when Rin said their pronouns were they/them.)
There were also some players who used the pronoun “she” for Rin, which we see as a good thing, since we were afraid they would mainly be interpreted as (assigned) male, and we’d like their gender to be vague. Seeing that different players used different pronouns for Rin was something that delighted us. (Two players were also called Rin themselves, but that’s a completely different story).
The things that didn’t work
We also found some things that we need to improve, and two things stood out. One was that some players didn’t grasp how the choices worked, and they could miss making any choices at all (since the game doesn’t force you to make choices, you can always continue without making a choice, but that should be deliberate).
Another was that some players got a little “lost” when clicking around in the in-game phone, not knowing when and how to close it. Both these things can be addressed with better feedback through sounds and animation, and (in the phone) adding a button, but also by making the tutorial more thorough.
Developer Night & Courage Cologne
After the last day of Devcom it was time to showcase at Developer Night | Courage Cologne. It was our first time at that event, which brings thousands of people to a showcasing night at a club. There are many, many cool indie games to play, an outdoor area to hang out in, and a dance floor (that attracted my attention a lot, since I was in the mood for dancing). We thoroughly enjoyed this event. It reminded us of showing Knife Sisters at A Night of Erotica in Malmö in 2017, which was a great experience, and the first time we showcased Knife Sisters.
Showing a game on a club night is very different from showcasing at daytime, and our game might not be 100 % suited for a loud and crowded environment, but actually, a lot of people played. The happiest things were to reunite with the founders of Gamera Games, who we’d met for the first time at Gamescom last year, and to meet with someone who helped us test Truer than You and who we hadn’t met in person before.
After showcasing for two days and one night, moving over to Gamescom to “only” have meetings actually felt kind of easy. We were part of the Creative Europe Media stand, and met with many new and old friends and strengthened our business relations. I guess 😀
Meeting up with a female/non-male network from Discord was one of the highlights, another was talking to the Korean dev behind the cheeky platformer Pigromance, and a third was hanging out with friends on the stairs to the Dome in the middle of the night.
We also took the time to explore the exhibition halls, see our friends do a chiptune show, play some games, and get mystery bags.
All in all, our experiences from Devcom and Gamescom were wonderful – and we’re already looking forward to coming back next year!