GDC is the event that every game developer looks forward to. We get gifts of networking with other people, free swag from booths on the expo floor, some potential connections for job offers, some knowledge from tutorials, and last but not least, the GDC afterparties! The entire event falls on our spring break, so Double Shot Games members and other team members from UCSC have something to be even more thankful for!
I bought the Indie Summit Pass for my trip. It was my 3rd GDC, so I wanted to have a pass that allowed me to access more of GDC than I had in my previous trips. Last time I went to GDC (about 2010), I bought the Expo pass which allowed me to go 3 of the 5 days of the event. The year before that, I bought the Student Pass which allowed me to go for the final day of the conference. The Indie Summit Pass gave me access to the summits from Independent Games Summit along with everything else that Expo pass gave me, which was a nice step up. Also, did I mention that this pass allowed me to go to GDC for all 5 days? Now that’s what I call a spring break!
The weekend prior to the event was rather eventful. On top of visiting with my family, I have to figure out the logistics of my trip, such as planning for my first two days of the conference, RSVPing to the after parties, and even research famous faces of commercial and indie game development. On top of that, I had to figure out the travel logistics such as directions because I made plans to stay with my aunt at a town 20 minutes away from SF and I plan on riding the BART to the conference every day. During the weekend of my preparations, I also had to attend to making a working demo of Biogenesis to show of to people of the GDC. Thankfully, I was able to take care of that and finish up with preparations just in time to grab dinner and spend some last minutes with my family before departure to start my adventure in the gaming scene.
This is the day where I had to get up super early. Why? Because I need to get to the Moscone Center early so I could register myself and start my week! So I went there and did just that, got my GDC papers, GDC bag, and now I’m ready to rock and roll. After grabbing my morning coffee and chatting with my friends, I had to go my way in order to go to Developer Days with Intel. Developer Days are basically a day long workshops where you get to play around with nice tools and make something out of it. This is the only day that I went to a Developer Day. I only went there for half of it because I lost focus halfway through and couldn’t pay attention (maybe because I didn’t have enough caffeine in my system?). On the bright side though, I got a nice interactive gesture camera where it can detect hand gestures and faces. I also learned how to implement the interface based off that input in Unity. Too bad that I can’t bring that knowledge over to help build Biogenesis but maybe I could create something with it in the future, right?
After I left Intel’s Developer Days, I went to the Independent Games Summit sessions and sat through a few of the remaining sessions with some of my friends. The last session of that day was definitely the most invoking session that I have attended so far. This talk is titled “Obsessive-Compulsive Development: Retro/Grade Postmortem . Matt Gilgenbach, the speaker, is clinically diagnosed with OCD. His whole talk was about how is OCD led him to implement the little bitty details of Retro/Grade and made them pretty, which resulted in the game not performing well in the market. He told how his obsessive attention to detail put him through hours of labor and took him away from what mattered to him, including his fiancee/wife. I never been in a talk where a person is so honest about the results of his game, let alone someone’s OCD that mended the outcome of the game.
After the Retro/Grade talk followed by dinner at Mel’s with friends, I went to a party hosted by Backflip studios at a venue which is a block away from Moscone Center. This was my first GDC party that I have ever been to. If there is anything I learned from this, is that parties are a great way to network with different people (you’ll see why later). Cassidy and I met a few people. We had interesting conversations with other people who are interested in either game development or anything that relates to games in general. Our night ended a little prematurely due to the fact that the live music became too loud for our comfort. So Cassidy and I ended up parting ways and ending our first day of GDC.
Im glad that I got to sleep in a little bit this morning. Just a tad bit too much though. I slept through my alarm and ended up missing the first Independent Games Summit talk of the day and walked in a bit late to the second. Oops. At least I was able to enjoy my second day. On that day, I ended up going to the rest of the Independent Game Summit talks. They had some interesting stories. Charlie Cleveland (one of the creators of Natural Selection 2) talked about how the Natural Selection community helped the team made Natural Selection 2 possible despite the overwhelming odds that were against the team. The team for FTL: Faster Than Light, an IGF Finalist, talked about designing without a pitch. This is very interesting seeing their process of making a game which you are put in a role as a captain of a star ship which was inspired by Sci-Fi TV shows like Star Trek and Firefly.
Last but not least, the Indie Soapbox session had a collection of Indie talks. Renaud Bedard from Polytron Corporation (Fez) started off the soapbox and talked about the dread of the Fez aftermath, even with Phil Fish in the audience. Out of 9 other talks, the one that stuck with me the most was Colin Northway’s talk, which his game is one of the games at IGF. His slides are actually a slide show of his travels with his wife and their development of Incredipede. His first words, “This is my wife at our release party of Incredipede” followed by a picture of his wife smoking a fat cigar on a boat at a lake is definitely going to stick with me for a long while. Now I’m inspired to travel and make a game on my own. Maybe I can find someone to do the same with me. For now, I’ll enjoy the nice open bar that they had set up right outside the Indie Soapbox talk and talk to anyone who’s also enjoying free drinks and food.
Come check in tomorrow for the final part of my GDC escapade! Here is a little sneak peak of the remaining days of GDC.