Thursday, March 15, 2012

GDC 2012 -- Day Three

It's the third and final day of GDC. Things are starting to wind down a bit, so I actually didn't go to any of my morning talks. It was a combination of being tired, but nothing sounded interesting either.

Frozen Synapse: award-winning indie game that utilizes simultaneous asynchronization

Relaxed Hardcore: Why Asynchronous is the Next Big Thing in Core Gaming

Mode 7 Games' Ian Hardingham gave this thirty-minute talk. It discussed the importance of using asynchronous gameplay and the reasons why it was used in their game, the indie-hit, Frozen Synapse. Asynchronous gameplay is a fancy way of saying turned-based over a network. The difference in Frozen Synapse is that instead of taking my turn and then waiting for my opponent to take theirs, we both decide what we are going to do at the same time and then watch it play out. It would have been nice to see a little code or some details on how to implement the simultaneous asynchronous gameplay discussed, but it was a design discussion -- and a bit of a postmortem -- so I couldn't complain too much. Overall, this talk was decent and well delivered but not overly inspiring or special.

Promotional image for the Indie Games Summer Uprising

Marketing for Indies: The Indie Games Summer Uprising

After lunch, my friend, Dave Voyles of Armless Octopus -- a review site specializing in XBLIG and indie titles -- gave a talk about the Indie Games Summer Uprising he helped put together in the summer of 2011. Despite a Zune-related hiccup, it was a well-delivered talk and interesting. Battle High was part of the Indie Games Summer Uprising, so not everything I heard was completely new to me, but there was a few bits that I was surprised to hear about like the dashboard update and its related secrecy. Overall, I appreciate all that Dave did for the Summer Uprising even more now because of this informative talk.

Image of Osmos, a game Andy Nealen worked on that exhibits texture...I think?

Minimal vs Elaborate, Simple vs Complex, and the Space Between

This talk was given by Andy Nealen of Hemisphere Games and Rutgers University. This was my last talk of the conference, so I was waiting for something to get me inspired, ready to return to work with new ambitions and desire, something to end my GDC with a roar, but instead it was just a whimper. Maybe I was tired, maybe I wasn't prepared for a talk like this, but overall: I just didn't get it. Nealen seemed to bounce around from various topics such as why games that look simple are actually complex because of the number of game-states they can have but then went to the importance of texture -- and not texture used for applying models -- but the overall appearance of a game screen. I guess I was just looking for something more directly related to the topic's title, but instead I just got a talk about "What does Andy Nealen think about game design?" which seemed to be a lot of computer science based ideas. Overall, it just was a bit disappointing for my last talk of GDC 2012.

Maybe "Meh Face" is a bit extreme, but I did feel this at times after leaving most talks this year
I guess as a whole I was a bit disappointed about the talks I attended this year at GDC. They all weren't bad, but I didn't really learn anything groundbreaking and wasn't overly inspired. It's partially my fault for not picking better talks, but a part of me suspects that maybe I'm just harder to inspire than others. What I did like about GDC this year though was meeting new people and catching up with people that I don't see on a regular basis, and maybe that's the more important thing.

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