Friday, March 09, 2007

GDC - closing day of multicrazitudiness

Friday, GDC started off with me skipping out a of promising session on Agile Game Design Practices for something more light hearted but ultimately more disappointing. I think my one only gripe is that Eric Zimmerman brought up Scott McCloud's excellent book Understanding Comics. Where McCloud goes into great detail to dissect the essense and history of the sequential image, this session was just a joke. For what it was, an entertaining gamer experience, it was fun but his statement would have me interpret this to be a similar attempt at understanding games through games left me sorely disappointed. Maybe he forgot to make a disclaimer or I just flat out didn't hear him say it. A wrap up discussion would have been ideal to close this thing out. A recap of what the panel thinks they got out of this discussion. Alas...

The two teams. Red: Jonathan Blow, Warren Spector, Tracey Fullerton. Blue: Jesper Juul, Clint Hocking, Marc LeBlanc. Moderators: Eric Zimmerman and Frank Lantz. The rules were turn based. There was a second screen (not pictured) that has the name of the two games the red and blue quarter tokens were on. The two games are linked by a connector statement. So at the start of the game, it read something like [Myst] [is more social than] [You Don't Know Jack]. The team would then defend this statement or they could flip the statement to [You Don't Know Jack] [is more social than] [Myst]. Flips would end your turn. Opposing teams could challenge this statement which would be decided by audience participation. This first move is worth 100 points. A successful challenge steals 100 points. If the moving team succeeds here, they go on to replace the connector phrase with three available phrases and again, defend or flip the statement. If they get through this part (by challenge or no challenge) they get 150 points. I think challenges are still worth 100. If they get by they get to move their piece again. Same thing but that team's turn ends as 3 is the max number of moves you get in one turn. Each star on a Game on the board adds 100 points to that turn's value. Earning the extra points will decrease the number of stars by one. One star is randomly added every... turn? Why write so much about something I didn't like? Well, it had potential. I like the premise but the execution was somewhat lacking. For 1.0, I hope they learned a lot about how this could be improved.

I was going to go to a Raph Koster (Theory of Fun) and Ray Muzyka (Bioware) talk entitled "Sharing Control" but Sylvain got me to go to a Nintendo talk about Brain Age and Nintendo's tools. I was pretty sure they would not talk about their actual tools and was pretty sure it would just be a production talk about some choices they made but reluctantly attended. It turned out I would be correct. I did learn that the supposed 3 months it took develop Brain Age was in fact around 6 months: 2 months of voice and writing recognition library development prior to the "official" development period, and another month of post-production stuffs. Also, the supposed 10 man team also referred to the development team and not the many many Nintendo RnD engineers who worked on the various recognition libraries. The one encouraging thing was, yes- Nintendo has an RnD department. I am a strong advocate of RnD that can be shared amongst teams. 2 - This RnD happened before there was a direct need for it. It was in a implementable state when it was needed and ultimately proved essential to the project. I think this is an easy call risk. The costs may be high but spending money in something you know you will get mileage out of in the future is important.

Who is that strange man in the audience?

Shigeru Miyamoto! ZOMG!!! I was able to have myself introduced by a Nintendo staff translator as a Wii Designer. He even gave me his card (no email! no surprise).

As the throngs of people began to amass around "Shiggy" I noticed several of his entourage sort of gathering around the sides. Some ready to sweep in a moments notice to take him off to his next scheduled engagement. Some casually chatting on the side. I noticed this peppered hair individual who recognized from earlier and immediately whipped out the single Japanese sentence I use all the time. "Ano sumimasen, ishho ni shashin totte ii desu ka" Excuse me, is is OK to take a picture together? This guy is Eiji Aonuma, director of Zelda. Remember him from yesterday's post?

More Japanese craziness in the form of Goichi Suda aka Suda51. Joe Wong said "this was the best and worst session I've ever attended." It was indeed a downright crazy session but by far not the best for me. His talk boils down to: developers, please continue to make more and more punk games. publishers, please continue to fund these games. He did say in a slide that business oriented directors try to make successful games while artistic oriented directors will make the game they want to regardless of schedule and budget. Realistically that sounds insane, like any publisher would want to get involved with that. Suda51 was fortunate to pretty much get a carte blanche from legendary Capcom producer Shinji Mikami (Resident Evil). I doubt this happens very often. I think he was trying to say that the indie film scene is very important to movies just like these type of artistic games are important to the games industry.

The Assassin's Creed talk I was very much looking forward to was cancelled so instead I called it a conference. Went to Shaba to hang out. Ping Pong. Check out some of their stuff.

Snapshots of the San Francisco evening from Nob Hill...

en route to Masonic Auditorium for...

Video Games Live concert. San Francisco Debut!

I got to go backstage with my special connections. This was the VIP stage table. Zawesome!

Stage before show...

really backstage in the corridors where I met Martin Leung, aka the Video Game Pianist. You can see my All Access pass here.

and Charles Martinet, voice of Mario!

Backstage angle.

Back up front... it's Sonic! It's really my friends Camera man in there.

My original seat started off on the side but I was able to easily move more center for a pretty nice view of it all.

Grim Fandango music

Monkey Island music

Intermission loading bar. Awesome and functional.

Koji Kondo does Super Mario.

Alexei Pajitnov

Koji Kondo

Just about everyone.

1 comment:

Banewulfe said...

awesome photos, especially of VGL!

I wish I went! T_T

Gah! Bad pic of me at the "Punk Games" session! XD