Thoughts on the first Steam Dev Days

Steam Dev Days Logo

This past week I was lucky enough to attend Steam Dev Days in Seattle, WA. When I say lucky, I mean Ryan Vandendyck of Eden Industries graciously let me tag along with him, since he was invited (he has a game on Steam, Waveform, and is currently working on Citizens of Earth). Big thanks to Ryan for getting me into the conference, as well as to and from it (Check out his games!).

It’s been a few days since the conference ended. It might be the post-event buzz, but I think it was the best conference I had ever been to. I haven’t been to many conferences, but Dev Days was the most streamlined one I’ve ever seen. There were no vendor booths, no giant sponsored banners, no sessions that end up being just a vendor sales pitch, nor conference bags filled with advertising. There were a lot of game developers, seemingly many of them programmers, many Valve employees (all very friendly), and surprisingly inspired and inspiring sessions. Even the catering was quite nice.

Here is a collection of my thoughts and experiences from the event:

  • When I discovered the Steam Controller in my bag, that was pretty exciting (thanks Valve!). When we all found out that we were each getting a Steam Machine, that was awesome (thanks Intel!).IMG_2421
  • There were more attendees than I expected, although I did notice the attendance rate dropped on the second day.
  • The entire conference was centered around not only receiving feedback, but answering questions. Each session either had explicit time left for questions (even during Gabe’s welcome address, he opened the floor for questions!) and the speaker(s) would hang around to answer individual questions, or there were dedicated breakout Q&A sessions right in the schedule. Also I just realized, I don’t think I heard a single utterance of “we can’t tell you about that” throughout the whole thing.
  • I got the impression that Valve is working to be very open and dedicated to Steam, and all Steam efforts. Obviously we will have to wait and see how real this becomes.
  • I went to mostly technical talks, and they all were quite good. A few linux ones, rendering, online cheat prevention, VR, etc.
  • The talks about game economies and user-generated content were inspiring. Micro-transactions that makes everyone happy? Even non-paying players? Sign me up. I have a history with modding games, so it’s great to see things like the Steam Workshop taking off.

Soon I’ll be sharing my thoughts on the Steam OS (including Steam Machines, and the Steam Controller) and my opinions on Valve as a whole.

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