GDC Miscelleny

So I wrote a whole post on how Patrick Redding totally trivialized David Freeman to his face (by accident, I think) after Redding’s awesome Far Cry 2 Narrative Design talk at GDC, but I deleted it after deciding that no one wants to read about my schadenfreude and it’s not the most professional thing to make someone’s embarrassment public, even if they are pompously self-important. So scratch that off of my earlier things-I-promised-to-blog-about-after-GDC list.

Instead, here’s a post about almost everything else I promised to talk about post-GDC.

1.  I met so many fantastic people at GDC.  I’m not much of schmoozer or particularly deft at networking, so I was expecting that the sessions themselves and not the people would be my highlights for GDC, but I was wrong.

At the Game Design Workshop, I got to meet Frank Lantz of area/code. They do a lot of urban multiplayer-type games which I don’t really care about, but they also did my favorite Flash game of all time whose design I am totally going to steal adapt some day. He’s a great guy that had so many poignant insights when we were doing our activities that I’m really super-glad I made that connection. I also met Robin Hunicke there (MySims, Boom Blox) who made me stop feeling like less-of-a-hack-in-a-room-full-of-veterans than I had been and is super-amazing in every regard.

At the sessions themselves,  I got to meet Mark Nelson who wrote for Oblivion, Morrowind, Fallout 3 and wrote one of my favorite comedic characters in all of video games, Sheogorath. So it was a pleasure picking his brain for a little while. And I go to talk with Clint Hocking again, who is always insightful. I got to know that Steve Fawkner (that did Puzzle Quest) doesn’t have any magic design juice, he was just in a corner financially and came out with something crazy that stuck. Nice guy. And I met about two dozen other awesome folks that I’m not going to talk about because it isn’t interesting to anyone but me, but if we talked at GDC, don’t take your omission from the list as a sign I didn’t find you or your ideas fascinating or important.

2. Funny moment at the Microsoft keynote. Schappert is going through the titles that sold more than a million units on the 360 in the holiday season. After each, there is a brief pause while the crowd applauds.

Schappert: “Mass Effect”
Audience goes apeshit.
Schappert: “Assassin’s Creed”
Audience goes mildly apeshit.
Schappert: “Guitar Hero III”
Audience continues going apeshit.
Schappert: “Madden 08”
Six guys clap, including me. Crickets chirp. Tumbleweed rolls across the stage.

I mean, come on guys. I know you think sports games are beneath you and I won’t compel anyone to like them, but give us some respect that we are able to put a title out there that tackles similar problems as those other games every ten months (and does it all online too, cough cough) and sells like gangbusters year after year. Yeah, it’s not a perfect game by any stretch and the corporate heads certainly aren’t perfect angels, but the guys that work on the game deserve as much respect as the others on that list, don’t you think?

3. The Gears of War 2 announcement at the end of the keynote was somewhat surreal. They showed the teaser at the end of the Microsoft keynote and let’s just say it was uninspiring. The center channe, I believe, was off, so we didn’t get any of the dialogue. Then CliffyB comes tearing through a paper wall with one of those chainsaw gun things to announce the game. What are its features Cliff? “It’s gonna be bigger, better and more badass…” That’s a direct quote. It’s like a six year old was telling us about the game. You can get away with that shit with your mouth-breathing diehards, but I expect a little more meat at GDC. After the announcement, he walks off stage and the lights go up. Uhhh…. I guess the talk is done?

Okay, I lied. I’m still no where near caught up with GDC stuff. Sometime soon, I promise.

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