”They are not just names on Discord!”

April 4, 2023
Posted in Interview
April 4, 2023 Paul Virostek

”They are not just names on Discord!”

A lot of familiar faces and a lot of familiar names. Pole CEO Max Lachmann just got back from the Game Developer’s Conference in San Francisco. We asked him to summarize his trip to California.

How was it?
GDC 2023 was very intense and hectic, but also great fun! I went with Pole co-owner and COO Linus Anderberg. Days were packed with meetings and evenings with various parties and meet-ups to attend. I think we had about 25 meetings during our four days in San Francisco.

GDC is a huge event with over 20,000 attendees and a lot of ground to cover. How did you prepare yourself?
This year our focus was solely on meeting with new and existing clients, and not so much on the talks. We had a fair number of meetings booked in advance, but quite a few were booked just the days before the conference.

Who’d you meet?
One of the fantastic things with GDC is that you have the chance to put faces to names, meet the people behind the emails. This is really the most rewarding thing with GDC in my opinion. After all, the contacts and relationships we build when we network is more connected to a person and not so much with a company. That can easily get lost when you are working with companies or networking with people across the globe, and GDC is a good place to bring it down to the personal level again. As an example, we have been working on recently announced ”Combat Champions” for Seattle based game developer C77 Entertainment for almost three years, and we finally got to meet them. They are actually real people and not just names on Discord! We also had wonderful meet ups with some of the brilliant audio people at Sledgehammer (who we treated with Swedish candy Djungelvrål), with audio programmer Yiting from Tencent, I finally got to meet audio director Elise Baldwin from Microsoft in person and had a lovely lunch with Nathan Moody from Skywalker. And we of course made sure to meet up with people from Audiokinetic and Dolby to find about the latest in terms of tech. We also met with some competitors, which always is interesting. We face the same challenges and can help and learn from each other. And as usual, a whole bunch of meetings that we are not allowed to talk about.

Did you attend any seminars or workshops?
We just went to a few talks when we had gaps in our schedule. We managed to check out a Tencent talk about FPS games for mobile, a talk about vehicle audio in games, a game audio business round table and we also heard Paolo Armao from 34BigThings describe how he used some of our libraries to create the most amazing sci-fi vehicles for the game ”Redout 2”.

You’ve attended GDC several times. How has it evolved through the years?
I think this was my fourth GDC, and my first since the pandemic. It takes a couple of times to get into it, it can be quite overwhelming the first time you go, and hard to know which meet ups to prioritize since you can’t make them all. This year, I was perhaps expecting the business to be a bit slow and affected by recent layoffs at many tech companies and an ongoing recession but was surprised to see that it seems to be full steam ahead, both when it comes to ongoing projects but also when it comes to investors for new projects. More people than ever, and a very positive feel in all aspects.

Is it an important conference to visit for Pole?
GDC has an importance to us at Pole from several aspects, one of them being branding. We have previously attended as ”the four-people company known for vehicle sounds and vehicle libraries”, which is not strange, since that is how we entered the business. This year was the first year where we could come in with a completely different confidence and substance, today being a 17 people strong team with sound designers, audio programmers and composers, with the skills and bandwidth to connect as a complete audio department to game studios. It generates a lot more interest to customers, and it’s very rewarding to us as a company.

The other aspect is of course to meet up and talk to existing clients face to face, since they are usually spread out around the world and for this one week all gather at the same place.

Will you be going next year?
We have not yet decided about next year, but I would assume we will go again. I would however like to send over some of our juniors to attend the talks and to get to experience some of the vibe, and maybe prioritize that next year if possible. But for now, next up will be Gamescom in Germany later this year.

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