Tag Archives: game developers conference

GDC Friday

Today, the conference caught up to me, and it was somewhat lazy. With the exception of getting up at the ungodly hour of 8:00am to go to a Schell Games breakfast, I spent the morning in full nappage. After we checked out of the hotel, I took my napping to the little park area behind the Metreon, where I was lulled to sleep by the water feature.

For lunch I had 2 banana-strawberry-nutella crepes from the fancy food court, which perhaps wasn’t the wisest decision I’ve made, and resumed my lazy day at the bean bag lounge in the conference center. I happened to run into Olivier there, and eventually Drew showed up, and then some Schell Games people, and so on (the more people in a cluster, the more magnetic it is, I guess).

Several of us went to the afternoon talk about level design in Far Cry 2, and how it supports varying player types and allows for player expression. It was certainly an interesting lecture, and drew some fascinating analogies that I’m not sure I agree with, but were interesting nonetheless. More delicious food for thought.

The Schell Games crew bid the fancy food court a final farewell, and now I’m chilling with Andy and Edmundo, waiting for M.E. Chung to come and fetch us and bring us to her abode.

Overall, I had a fantastic GDC! I got to see so many people again, and the talks I did see were very good. A worthwhile experience for sure!

GDC Wednesday Night

I’m chilling out in my hotel room wearing an outrageous zebra-print bathrobe, for it seems that the hotel provides tacky animal-print bathrobes for all its guests. Classy!

I spent the afternoon schmoozing about the expo floors. The amount of booths on the floor was somewhat dismal, and the career floor was packed, but I suppose that isn’t surprising given the times. There was a lot of me introducing people to other people, and a lot of randomly bumping into folks, and other such socialization.

The evening was a restful one – Tracy, Chris and I ordered in food and hung about the hotel room. Afterwards, I joined a pack of ETCers and headed to the ETC Gathering, picking up Drew along the way. The party was loud and crowded in a small space, and I was proud of myself for lasting a good 15 minutes in there. I am, as always, terribly apt to be drained by large and loud social gatherings.

Drew and I then headed over to the top floor lounge at the Marriott to meet up with a bunch of people from Project Horseshoe. Much like the gathering on my first night in San Francisco, this social setting was MUCH more to my taste. We didn’t sit and chat for long before someone busted out the card games – Family Business taking the forefront.

Family Business is a fun little card game in and of itself, but the true joy in the game is from the gimmick where all the players have to speak like mobsters. This, of course, amplifies hilarity in every action, and I was happy to observe the rise and fall of the city mobs, particularly the vicious rivalry between Olivier and Brenda (I suspect that feud may last for generations on end!)

Tomorrow I’m planning on hitting up the Valve and Blizzard talks, and hopefully catching up with Steph and Colin if I am lucky.

GDC Wednesday Morning

After a whirlwind of excitement (by which I mean a 5 hour delay in Dallas), I finally arrived in San Francisco last night to be bombarded with social greetings. We’re staying at the Hotel Palomar, which is multitudes better than they sketchy place we stayed last year (sans purple track lighting and a palm tree painted on the wall, though) and much much closer to the convention center.

Andy and I met up with Drew and some of the Insomniacs and there was much greeting and hugging. Amusingly, Insomniac and Schell Games seems to have booked the same hotel. Before long, Reagan joined us, having “heard my laugh” from God knows how far across the floor. I’m flattered that my laughter is a beacon, but occasionally embarrassed by how loud it apparently is!

There was chattering and drinking and people came and went and I gave out many hugs. Jesse stopped by, and Schell Games Austin showed up, and then the ETCers started filing in. It was much fun! These are the sorts of social encounters that I truly enjoy, rather than exhausting myself at the IGDA party.

This morning I hit up Clint Hocking’s lecture on Fault Tolerance, which was about Intentionality and Improvisation in the design of Far Cry 2. There, Drew and I found and greeted Olivier, and subsequently threw things at Brenda Brathwaite a few rows in front of us (she brandished threateningly and there was much giggling from our row).

The talk itself was very interesting! I thought that looking at gameplay patterns in a cycle of composition/planning phases and execution phases was a pretty insightful way of analyzing how a player interacts with the game, and one I hadn’t thought of before. While I think his use of the word “Improvisation” was misleading, the ideas behind it were sound and fuel for much thought. Plus, after chatting with Brenda Harger afterwards, we agreed that having the phrase “Improvisation” more accessible in this industry was a good thing, even if it was not being used accurately. Having it get exposure may lead people to investigate, and that’s always good!

After the talk, Drew and I went and grabbed lunch with a friend of his from Infinity Ward whose name slips me. The fancy food court in the shopping center is just as delicious as I remember it! Paninis for the win!

As I expected, I was exhausted after lunch, and in need of a nap. I think I’m pacing myself much better than last year, now that I have an idea of how GDC is gonna roll. Looking forward to social gatherings tonight! Stay tuned for ADVENTURE!

GDC Summary

So at the end of the day, I went to Ubisoft to meet up with my mentor for the last time. Joe came along too, such that I wouldn’t have to walk by myself.

The greatest thing about winning this scholarship was definitely the mentor program. Chris is such a nice guy, with lots of industry experience, and is completely devoted to helping young people coming into the industry from an education route. I’m certain he’s a person I will keep in touch with! Joe and I thought it would be awesome if IGDA had a mentoring program beyond the GDC scholarship, because it’s such an incredibly helpful opportunity to have a mentor; someone with much more experience than you that you don’t have to worry about impressing, but instead are able to ask questions and come to with stories and concerns.

The first thing I’m doing when I get home is writing my mentor a nice little thank-you card. I imagine that Chris would be the sort of person who would love to bring Ubisoft to the ETC in a similar way that many other game companies do, though his schedule as a producer is so busy that this might not be a possibility. Even still, I feel very grateful that I have this awesome person to go to for advice and help whenever I need it.

It seems Andy wasn’t the only one to catch a cold at the IGDA party. We’re sitting in the airport and the Schell Games crew showed up, towing a few sniffling, coughing, sore-throated members of their own. We’re all on the same red-eye flight back to Pittsburgh, so that’s pretty cool.

In closing, I’m really glad I had the opportunity to come to GDC. It was exhausting, yes, but a fantastic and worthwhile experience that I will not take for granted!

GDC Thursday and Friday

So I fell behind on my daily updates, whoops! Thursday was largely uneventful. I worked the career floor and talked with a lot of different companies. I went to one panel about the Future of MMOs, but it grew so snippy and snarky that I decided to duck out early, especially after learning that Andy had met up with Bryan Cash on the expo floor. <3 Bryan Cash! We had a lovely lunch, but the rest of the afternoon was lost to me. I had forgotten to take my medicine the day before, and so was quite exhausted and in a lot of pain by the afternoon. Andy, growing more and more ill by the day, was also ready to turn in, so we went back to the hotel and had a very restful evening. Today was much better (and I kept my exhaustion in check with a Mt. Dew). I saw two very interesting talks: one about Entrepreneurship and Pandemic, and one which was an Expo of start-up companies (none of which were game companies, but which had some innovative tie to the game industry: patch clients that doubled as social networks, microtransaction management services for MMOs, and the like). After lunch, we hit up the career floor to watch Andy impress the crowd with his Guitar Hero skills, and then the expo floor again to play some of the Independent Game Festival games. For now I'm relaxing and considering attending the Portal post-mortem. At 5 I'll be visiting my mentor at Ubisoft, and then the lot of us ETCers will be flying back to Pittsburgh on a red-eye. All in all, I'm very glad I came to GDC. There was much to learn and many people to see, and I feel it was well worth it, and am thrilled to have won the scholarship. I am, however, exhausted to the core of my bones. So many people! I am drained and dry, but still excited to get back to the ETC and apply what I've learned to Bandology. I will, however, likely need a full day of sleep to catch my brain up, and another full day of emailing follow-ups to everyone I've met at the conference. Hooray for GDC! Hooray for Lisa Brown: Game Designer!

GDC Wednesday Afternoon

So, we didn’t make it to Ubisoft this afternoon, but that’s okay. Instead, my mentor and I walked the Expo floor, and it was great fun times! There were some interesting setups, yes, but mostly we just had fantastic conversations about this and that and the other. My mentor is brilliantly easy to talk to.

We ran into Brenda, and I introduced the two, and we had an intriguing conversation about improv acting and its role in the industry (and in all industries! Everyone should take an improv class, in my opinion). We also had fun scoping out our favorites of the Independent Games Festival (go World of Goo and Polarity! Also? AudioSurf is FREAKIN AMAZING).

This evening I spent chillaxin with Andy (who is a bit sick, as are many people, I blame the IGDA party!). We watched Robot Chicken and MythBusters and a fantastic show about sea critters (if I see a cuttlefish on TV, I can’t resist) and have a lovely time. We finished off the evening with a great Bandology meeting, and I’m excited about my return to school and the work I’ll be doing.

Looking forward to another exciting day tomorrow!

I am a Game Designer

This morning at GDC, I made a career change.

Now, don’t misunderstand, this wasn’t an on-the-fly decision. It’s something that’s been bubbling and building for a couple of months now. Last night, Tracy and Andy tipped me over the edge by suggesting I would probably get the most out of a design internship this summer versus any other type.

This morning I went to talk about High Impact’s production process, given by one of their lead designers. I had a moment of recognition that truly, I was sitting on the wrong side of the court. After the session, I plopped down, pulled out my laptop, nudged Jesse online and said “I think that maybe I should be looking for a design internship and not a production internship.”

He responded, “I think you might be right.” I could almost hear him smirking through the internet, the knowing smirk of someone who’s known this about me for a good while, but was nudging and waiting for me to figure it out on my own.

Commitment! I spent the next couple of hours sitting on the floor of the convention center, frantically rewording my website and reworking my resume. Andy stopped by between sessions to sit with me and help revise my resume. Jesse stopped by to sit with me for support. A smattering of other ETCers stopped by to see what I was up to, and when I relayed my sudden career change, responded with, “Well, DUH!”

Why does everyone else figure these things out about me before I do?? Nevertheless, the changes were made, and I’m ready to hit the Career Expo tomorrow with my new goal. Huzzah!

Other highlights today included a big Bandology lunch (with past and present members alike), then a session given by Bungie on Matchmaking in Halo 3. It was extremely informative, though now I have Fiddler in the Roof stuck in my head.

Now I’m chillin and waiting for my my mentor, such that we can go adventure at Ubisoft. Huzzah!

GDC Tuesday Afternoon

Well, I’d intended to go back to see another session, but instead I spent most of the afternoon sitting and chatting with Drew and Activision Jason, and later, Brenda. It was a fine chat about the history and motives behind GDC, the role of educators in the conference, and my curious foray into Game Design. ETCers and other industry folk joined and left our table in a steady stream. This was a much preferred environment for me compared to a packed session, especially in my sleepy state.

After a leisurely dinner at the food court, we returned to our hotels to prepare for the giant IGDA party being thrown tonight. I promptly fell asleep. I doubt I will be scorned for skipping out on the party, nor will my absence likely be noticed (they are expecting 2000 people to attend). The fact of the matter is, I’m exhausted, and the conference proper hasn’t even begun yet! I need to rest up if I intend to survive the rest of the week at all.

I blame the large amount of people, which quickly drain away my energy. Andy says I should just pretend every person at the conference is actually a dog, since puppies seem to give me so much energy (Brenda agrees, thinking it would be extremely fun to think of what breeds people would be). Activision Jason says that creating a defensive energy bubble around oneself is a learned skill, and that I merely need to work my way to 375 (how I grind this skill, I have no idea).

For now, I’ll call it an early night. There’s a session at 9am tomorrow that I really want to go see, so an early bedtime won’t hurt in the least!

GDC Tuesday Morning

Today was the day of scholar activities, and I am quite worn out! In the morning we all met up and went over to Three Rings Design for a tour. This was great, because it was one of the companies I wasn’t able to see on the West Coast Trip. Three Rings is a fantastical place, visually, and their company model is one I am fond of. They were very friendly and open, and are giving all the scholars alpha test accounts for Whirled.

Afterwards, we met up with our mentors, which was the most exciting part of the day for me! They matched up each of the scholars with an industry professional in the line of work we were interested in. Mine is a producer at Ubisoft, and is really cool. We wandered off to figure out our schedule for the conference, and had a fabulous conversation about production and the game industry in general. He’s going to arrange a tour of Ubisoft for me (the studio here is mostly a publishing house with a small development team).

He set off to another meeting and I wandered about until I found Carlos, who is also doing computery sorts of errands. Tonight is the big IGDA party, which I may go to, but am sort of dreading. Large gatherings of people drain me to the bone. But who knows, it could be fun!

For now, I think I’m going to go seek out that bean bag chair lounge again…