• Andrew Jonhardt

SXSW 2019 & encroaching business

I've been seriously debating whether I'd skip posting this week. SXSW 2019, while exciting, was ultimately disappointing. I had to miss the majority of the first day due to my first migraine in months. I caught the 2 remaining panels I was interested in on day 2, and saw the entirety of the show floor. On day 3 I... entered fighting game tournaments.

The most fun I had during my entire time at SXSW was in playing a game that came out in 1992.

The above video was not from me playing. I lost the 1st game of every single tournament I entered. Never the less, my willingness to remain engaged with SF2 Turbo says something about my state of mind.

I was in full Player mode. My inner designer would peek out from time to time if something interesting appeared. ShotOne!, which I first saw at PAX South, was present:

There was also a game called Unheard that looked really interesting.

Unfortunately, the player inside me didn't want to put up with all of Unheard's audio nonsense on a showfloor. The designer inside me is still upset I never even tried it.

Something I did try was a card game called Side Effects. It's a game about mental illness, and the side effects of drugs people take to combat mental illness. Players attempt to cure their own mental illness while using special cards to manipulate the conditions of overs. The game was pretty fun, in a dark humor sort of way, until it was revealed that the Depression card forces you to lose your turn.

Small rant time: I view conditions that force a player to stop playing for an entire turn as lazy and dangerous design. I cannot see a player who is doing nothing as someone who is having fun. Telling a player to skip their turn seems like a great way to remind your players they have better things to do with their time.

I ended up buying Side Effects, of course.

I re-encountered Roguecraft Squadron, a basic space RTS, for the 2nd time and spent some time chatting with the developers. They both seem like very nice people, and I encourage anyone who's interested to check out Roguecraft on Steam.


There was 1 other new game that caught my interest: Metal Revolution. It's a simple fighting game with a blocking meter.

The rest of the limited selection was made up of things I tend to gloss over (mobile games and VR), random things that had nothing to do with gaming (the Airforce, a bunch of students attempting to solve problems with machine learning), and personal projects that were still very janky but were reportedly only months away from release on Steam (developers working on an FPS as their first project). Ok, not entirely fair; there were also some decent 4 player games, What the Golf?, and something from Devolver Digital (Katana Zero I think). I heard later that Devil May Cry 5 was present, but I didn't see it anywhere.

I left SXSW in a bit of a funk, and the funk has only grown worse. All of a sudden it feels like I have no time: a cellphone issue came up that needed dealing with immediately, events at work (including a party my department is supposed to host but that no one will take charge of), stuff that has been put off for after SXSW suddenly very important again. I haven't had time to look into any of the advice/tips I got from a panel made up of local indie devs (2nd best part of SXSW, behind Street Fighter), but I have been in a position to be reminded how much easier board game design is compared to videogames.

Worst of all, I'm too tired to tell if I'm being a drama queen or if I've got real problems here.

My goal for tonight is to get some sleep, even if it feels like I'm failing at something or someone in order to do so. So, gonna go do that. Until next week.

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