Wednesday, March 14, 2012

GDC 2012 -- Day Two

So it's now Thursday and my second day of talks at GDC.

I actually think this image was used in the presentation...

Bootstrapping 101: How College Kids Built a Thriving Game Company in Under Three Years

This talk was given by Justin Beck of PerBlue. Firstly, I have to say, I felt he was a very good speaker. Anyway, the topic discussed the history of his company and their game, Parallel Kingdom. It was a mix of postmortem, business information, and anecdotes of starting a company. It was a very interesting talk, even if, at times, it went over my head with business information and numerical data. It did teach how to bootstrap -- or self-fund -- your own company without investors. Offering equity in the product to people working on it seems like a major key. Anyway, I liked the talk despite its few flaws and early morning time.

Jetpack Joyride. If I had an iPad, I'd probably love it!

Depth in Simplicity: The Making of Jetpack Joyride

This talk was given by Luke Muscat from Halfbrick Studios. This talk was average. It was mostly a postmortem -- a common trend this GDC -- of Jetpack Joyride, which I should have known from the title. It was well delivered, some good information about the importance of prototyping and playtesting but also to not rush a product if it's not really done like Jetpack Joyride, which I believe was supposed to be done in 4 months but took 9. I don't right this blog right after GDC to see how much I can remember and this talk just wasn't that memorable.

Logo for The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile, a very fun, 2D hack-and-slash

DIY XBLA FTW: The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile Postmortem

Unlike the previous postmortem, I remember a good amount of this one. James Silva of Ska Studios delivered this talk with a mixture of humor and respectable humility. He talked about differences between this game and the prequel to his game and how they differentiated it on a wide variety of topics: technique, sales, marketing, fans, etc. I guess what I liked was that, as a fellow XNA user, I got a lot out of the technique and tools stuff. If the Jetpack Joyride speaker would have done the same, however, I probably wouldn't have gotten as much out of it because I don't develop for mobile in my spare time -- yet. Anyway, I really enjoyed this talk and even of all the postmortems I've seen at this and previous conferences, this was probably my favorite.

I kind of want to see this movie only because so many famous designers seem to love it

GDC Microtalks 2012: One Hour, Ten Voices, Countless Ideas

This is a lengthy one. Essentially hosted by Richard Lemarchand, ten different speakers -- including Lemarchand -- spoke on a topic for about five and a half minutes each. Again, I don't really remember all of them well. I really only remember the ones I really liked and the ones I really hated. I'll start with the ones I liked. Cliff Bleszinski of Epic Games and Brandon Sheffield of Game Developer Magazine both had similar talks. They discussed the importance of doing what you want when it comes to independent game development a bit and to not be afraid to do it. A part of me liked this, but I feel it's advice that suffers from "easier said than done" syndrome; it's especially to say when your "likes" are usually in a popular realm. I think designers can do what they want -- in reason. Maybe the real point of their talk was to make a good game and don't worry about the theme too much. Sadly, "good" is subjective and what I think is good many may not and vice versa. Dave Sirlin, who helped rebalance Super Street Fighter II Turbo: HD Remix, discussed how "quick" games can be more strategic than games with long, thought-out gameplay because of its use of the unconscious. Dan Pinchbeck of Dear Esther fame bitched about people over-discussing certain aspects of games like changing the world, "being games", mechanics, etc. Overall, his outspokenness seem to overshadow what he was really saying and instead made everyone just blindly agree with it -- whether he was right or wrong. Alice Taylor of MakieLab spoke about the improving affordability of 3D printing and its uses in game marketing, which was cool to hear about. Amy Henig of Naughty Dog spoke about a movie and how it has inspired her design. This movie is entitled Sullivan's Travels; an older movie about a comedic director who enters the world of poverty to help him make a movie that shows the darker sides of humanity. It's a strange movie that mixes comedy and drama, but this is an important mix, Henig explains and it's exhibited throughout the Uncharted series. Unfortunately I don't remember Heather Kelley -- who she was or what she had to say. I remember who Erin Robinson was, but her talk escapes me as well. Mary Flanagan of Tiltfactor spoke about the importance of cooperation, which was fine, but then she made the audience play "Slaps" and then a weird, eyes-closed version of slaps that resulted in high fives. Overall, I felt this was awful and was my least favorite of these talks.

Pass for getting into the Microsoft Studios Mixer
Anyway, that was my last talk of the day. After that, I attended a small mixer for XBLIG developers. I got to meet some new people and talk about our games and our hopes and wishes for the XBLIG platform. After that, I attended the Microsoft Mixer with some coworkers and again networked with some very cool people and received some pretty cool swag! Overall, Thursday was a major improvement over Wednesday!

The final day tomorrow!

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