Tuesday, March 28, 2006

GDC 2006

Just returned from GDC 2006. That was my first GDC, and I was overwhelmed with almost every aspect of the conference. Crowds of interesting people, booths of multitude of companies, famous ones and unknown ones, having to chose from several equally interesting lectures and having only three days to enjoy this event…

Here are some of my impressions from GDC. This is not my notes – just some disjointed musings.

The biggest disappointment of GDC for me was Will Wright’s keynote speech. Everyone was waiting for the speech by the cult game designer on “What’s next in game design” (at least, that’s how it was declared in the conference schedule). He was assigned the largest auditorium – and the line of people wishing to attend his speech wrapped around the building. But, instead of sharing his ideas on game design, Will spent an hour talking about astrobiology and research he had done for his next game, “Spore”. I was angry because of the wasted hour and the lack of respect that Will demonstrated towards his audience.

“Spore” was, in some sense, one of the most talked about games in the conference. Several lectures were dedicated to different aspects of this game – which was strange for me, since the game was not released yet.

One of the hot topics of the conference was prototyping. There were several lectures directly dedicated to prototyping (I’ve listened to one – “Advanced Prototyping” – it was really good); and it also was discussed in many other lectures, from all possible angles – what to prototype, how, when and why?

A curious session named “Burn, baby, burn!” was led by Eric Zimmerman from GameLab and was nothing else but game developers ranting about different issues. Funny, but most rants were about ranting too much!

The indie games presented at the Independent Games Festival were really impressive. Several games that caught my eye:
  • "Braid" - a game exploiting the idea of "rewinding time", but adding some very unusual twists.

  • "Strange Attractors" - a game with one- button control. The game reminds a pinball table, where the player can control the gravitational forces between objects on the field.

  • "Ocular Ink " -gesture- controlled game with interesting system of gestures.

Another hot topic at the conference was emotional game design. It seems like emotions in the games are the next “big thing. It’s too sad that, while pursuing emotional aspect, designers often forget that the game, first of all, should be fun. Some of “emotional” games, presented at GDC, were quite boring (for me, at least).

Conference ended on Friday with a perfect finishing touch: “Video Games Live” show, where a symphonic orchestra was playing music from different video games, both old and new, while some video clips from the games were projected on a huge screen on the stage. This was truly a memorable event!

I am very happy that I went to GDC this year – and ready to go there next year!

Technorati tags: , , ,

No comments: