This is when the real GDC begins. The first two days were all about sessions. Today, the conference opened the Expo floor where different companies from the US as well as the world had their booths set up to show off their company and/or their products. Along with that, IGF and Career Pavilion has their sections reserved in the Expo floor. Needless to say, I spent the rest of my time at GDC going to the Expo floor and checking out what that place has to offer. I had my first round of checking out Career Pavilion for any job openings, checking out companies, and checking out GDC play outside Expo where lots of other independent game studios were showcasing their games. I also checked IGF briefly just to see the games that I saw from the IGS talks.
During my past years at the Expo floor, the companies had some interesting stuff to show, but this year, I was impressed on how far we have come in terms of technology advancement. Neurosky definately had me and all of UCSC Computer Game Design majors’ attention. They manage to implement technology that can read brainwaves and make neat demos out of it. They had robotic cat ears that move, they had a video game demo made where you can throw or lift objects with your mind (whhaaaaaaat??), and they made a remote control helicopter, all of which can controlled based on how focused you are or how calm your mind is. As an individual who is more intrigued by alternative controls for games, I was all over that booth like a fat kid in a candy store. I talked to everyone who was a part of that booth, got some interesting info(including a way to obtain supplies to make games with this technology), and a piece of flair from one of the booth girls that got me free beer at the booth. Thanks to that booth, I am making plans on developing games with their tools in the future.
Every 3rd night of GDC marks the annual IGF and Game Developer’s Choice awards. I never took up the opportunity to go to the event in the past, so this was my first time going. It is really neat seeing on how far independent games has evolved over the years. FTL got Excellence in Design in IGF awards and got the Best Debut award in Game Developers Choice awards (whaat???). Cart Life won a few awards in IGF, including Best Game. However, Cart List didn’t sweep IGF like Journey did for Game Developer’s Choice awards. Journey won every award that it was nominated for (6 awards!), including Best Game. Robert, Cassidy, and I left Game Developer’s Choice a little early because we had to grab dinner and start our evening of jumping from party to party.
Day 2 of Expo exploration. The expo is so big you can’t even check out every company in a single day. I spent most of my second day there just bugging
companies for jobs and grabbing free goodies for my family. I also decided to spend some time at GDC Play checking out more games. I never would have expected that some people who run their booths at GDC Play would use that to recruit people for internships or smaller jobs. But thats the thing that happens there I guess. After grabbing some lunch, I decided to take a crack at the Valve booth to see if they are open for jobs. After talking to one of the representatives, I was asked to attend one of their sessions on their hiring process of job applicants. So I did. Turns out that their sessions is definately eye opening. All I can say without giving too much away is that they are very different in terms of hiring and if you choose to apply, you just need to show that you are capable of showing what you can do for Valve. As soon as the Valve talk comes to an end, thats when my final and non-forgettable night of GDC began.
Right after I walked out of the talk, I headed straight to the Brutal Legend art book release party. Little did I know that I had to wait in two seperate lines: One to purchase the art book or any pieces of the game art, and another to have your recent purchase(s) signed by Tim Schafer and some of the artists. I decided to buy the book to enjoy the game art and to give Tim Schafer and the artists plenty of space to do whatever they want with their autographs. Waiting to purchase the art book didn’t take long. Waiting at the second line, on the other hand, took quite a while. Chatting with my classmates, making new friends, and catching the sighting of Team Meat (Super Meat Boy) and Johnathan Blow (Braid) made the wait well worth it. It was really cool to see Tim Schafer and his quirky side that a lot of people enjoy so much. I also enjoyed looking at what the artists put down along with their signatures. From a quick draw of Brutal Legend’s protagonist to a 12 finger hand making the devil horns sign, they made the artbook well worth the money spent.
After getting signatures and grabbing dinner at Tokyo Express, my friend, Drew, wanted to go to a after party/concert where Skrillex is performing. I never got into Skrillex, but I decided to tag along just to enjoy my final night. That plan got ruined when we saw that the General Admission was long and the line for the people who MAY end up in the General Admission line was even longer. We are about to call in a night before we had a group of people come up to us to ask us if we could get them in. After telling them that we are just regular people and we couldn’t get in either, they changed plans and they wanted to go back to a party hosted by Blizzard. We were invited to come along with them. Needless to say, we joined them. My friend and I ended up sharing a cab with a CEO from a game company from London.
So we arrived to the Blizzard party. There was one problem. This was an invite only party, your name has to be on the list, and neither me, Drew, or the CEO were on the list (we lost the group who went in the other cab). The CEO tried talking our way into the party. Drew and I were a bit skeptical at first, but we knew it, the lady was registering the CEO and then us for the event. Before we knew it, we walked in to find open bars, dessert and food tables, and pinball and game arcade machines! There were plenty of developers who made AAA commercial games like Halo 4 and Blizzard games at that party. I even met Derrick Acosta from Mega64. It was pleasing to see that he really liked the Biogenesis demo that I showed him! I also met the Blizzard Producer as well. I wished that I would have showed him our demo and networked with more people, but I still had blast at that party!
Final Day of GDC. For what I have done for the past couple of days, I could have spent that day resting at my aunt’s house but I had some loose ends I wanted to take care of before I do that. The first thing I did there was I checked out IGF and play some of their games. I ended up playing FTL: Faster Than Light, Intrusion 2, and Incredipede, which they are decent games to say the least. All I can say is that after playing FTL, the game definately deserved the awards that it won (Excellence in Design and Audience Award). I checked out other games like Zineth, Kentucky Route Zero, and Super Space _____. Even though that I never got to play those (because the wait was too long), they seem like they were interesting games. After IGF, I went and give a quick walk around to check out companies and grab to see what could be useful for Biogenesis development as well as what could be useful for me in the future. Out of a lot of booths I looked at briefly, I found a booth that has a AI debugger tool. That is definately something that could be useful for me at least, if not useful for our AI development in Biogenesis. After going through the booths, checking out some playing some video games, and bugging a couple more companies for jobs, I finally decided to retire a little early and end my fun week at GDC.
At the time of this writing, I just got over the cold that I got from wearing myself out from walking around GDC constantly for 5 days. Because of that, I also spent half of the following weekend sleeping in bed back home. Was that all worth the 5 days? Yuuup, totally worth it! Even though that I missed out on a few things, this year was definately the best year I had so far. I have learned a lot from going there by going to sessions and hearing about things from other people that I made connections with. Socializing with people who are as motivated to get in the industry as I am or people who are as passionate about the technologies and games as I am made me glad that I am pursuing this path into the gaming industry. Never had I been so motivated to come up with ideas for my future projects or to play around with my ideas that have yet to be in development. After my graduation, I am hoping I can get started on making a game or two on my own so I can help sharpen my programming and game development skills. and help propel me into the gaming industry. In the meantime, I need to save up some money so I can buy the Summits, Tutorials, and Bootcamps pass for next years GDC so I can get into the AI summit talks!