Monday, March 7, 2011

A Look Back at GDC 2011 -- Day 1

It's come and gone -- my second Game Developer's Conference. Five days filled with various talks, tutorials, demos, and exciting news for those in the game industry; however, I only witnessed three of these. Unlike my GDC 2010 experience, I feel like I learned a lot more, met a lot of cool, interesting peopple, and overall had a much better time. Here's a breakdown of how my GDC went.

I was in San Francisco yesterday, so I had woken up early to attend my the keynote of GDC given by Satoru Iwata entitled, Video Games Turn 25: A Historical Perspective and Vision for the Future. It was a decent talked, mostly focusing on the importance of innovation in the game industry and the lack thereof currently. I did like it except for the fifteen to twenty minutes of 3DS advertising, which a part of me understood, but at the same time, this was GDC, not E3. It should have discussed how development for the 3DS will be and not things like the fact it will have NetFlix.

After that, I wanted to go to the IGDA Indie Sig, but it mostly involved a spud-like game dubbed ninja, which I didn't feel like playing, so I just explored the Expo floor. I explored the Expo quite a bit, which I'll mention later.

After lunch, I went to a talk entitled Gesture Control and Character Animation Using 3D Sensors for Unity given by Tyler Bryant and Amir Ebrahimi of Flying Zoo; it was sponsored by a group called Mixamo. It demonstrated two things: how to use Mixamo for animations in the Unity store and how to mix the animations Okem's Shadow Tools with Unity. Okem's Shadow Tools will allow developers to easily utilize things like Microsoft's Kinect and other 3D cameras. This was particularly exciting, as a indie developer on the side; if this is affordable and Microsoft allows XBLIG developers to use the Kinect in the future, I can see this being helpful in the production of a lot of cool Indie Games.

I then explored the Expi floor some more until my next session, which was the Casual Games Roundtable hosted by Brian Robbins of Riptide Games and Wade Tinney of Large Animal Games. I sat on the sidelines the first day since I felt like such a noob. Things like "Are downloaded games dead" and "the significance of indie developers" were discussed. The most important things I took away from this first day were that games should not be vacuumed into types such as casual and social, but instead have aspects of them. Also, if you're an expert at something you should learn to adapt it to new technologies and markets, not try and change you expertise to a derivative version of something that's popular and already out there.

On the Expo floor that day, I talked to GAO -- Game Advertising Online -- about advertising and marketing, as well as music licensing from a site called, which I was very interested in. Most of the things on the Expo floor dont't seem appropriate for indies, but these two did, and I liked that.

Anyway, that was my first day of GDC. At night, some co-workers and I got into the PlayPhone Social. It was a very fun time, but didn't come without consequence...

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