Me Got The Funk

February 28, 2008

Well, it seems that flying in an encapsulated, recycled air cabin does wonders for my immune system. Promptly after returning from GDC I came down with the flu, which I am trying to get over right now. Sorry for the delay in posts, but I have to go battle this plague before I think I’ll be up for some sort of update.

One bit of information I wanted to share was Brenda getting onto the IGDA Board. Congrats Brenda! What a week you’ve had, first with the Game Design Challenge and now this.


GDC Day 5: My Brain is to dead to think of a witty title

February 23, 2008
  • Showed up at the conference this morning at 7:30, like usual. No one was here. It was seriously me, the security guards and some pink shirts (Conference Assistants). Guess there was some crazy partying going on last night.
  • A session about brainstorming! What more could I ask for. This was a great session for designers about being able to force out ideas instead of waiting for the moment of “Eureka”.
  • The game designers rant was just spectacular. It was one of those events that gets my blood going. Clint Hocking, Daniel James, Jane McGonigal, Jenova Chen and Jonathan Mak all did a fantastic job. Kudos to them all!
  • Tim Longo did a great job on his presentation about Developing for IPs. I think this is probably extremely difficult (I can only speculate) and he had a really great concept for how to think about development.
  • Metaplace. Raph Koster. Epic. That’s really the best way to put it. The presentation was more about the development and I think the audience was expecting a demo more so, but I was freaking blown away by it. The best way I can describe it without getting insanely technical is that Metaplace is to MMOs what HTML is to webpages. It’s a scripting language that allows decentralized MMO architectures. Okay, so that was semi-technical.
  • Went out to dinner with Tim and some other people from Crystal Dynamics and we got into some pretty philosophical conversations. Basically, cats are sentient. Don’t ask. I don’t feel like explaining.

Overall, I can’t even begin to tell everyone how just absolutely spectacular this whole experience was.

GDC Day 4: Caffeine is my friend

February 22, 2008
  • I’ve started drinking coffee in the morning, since sleep is completely over rated.
  • Went to the Lucas Arts presentation regarding The Force Unleashed. Game looks incredible from the game play I’ve seen. The things that the company had to go through to create the project are also incredible of course.
  • Clint Hocking panel concerning immersion was incredible. I was happy that I could actually follow along with the complex issues he was discussing. Thanks for the training SCAD.
  • Decided I need to learn LUA or C#. C# probably so I can get into XNA development.
  • Spent about an hour catching up on some work for ARG, school related things, personal things, etc.
  • Attended part of the Experimental Games session. Saw a couple of very interesting games. I think my favorite one was Cursor*10
  • Met up with my mentor and got to hang around while he reminisced with some of his former Lucas Arts buddies. It was cool to listen to how they all moved around in the industry.
  • Ended the night with the Game Designer’s Challenge. Brenda did a great job!
  • Crashing early tonight since I am beyond tired…

GDC Day 2 & 3: Wet and Cheery

February 21, 2008

Sorry for the delayed post. It’s been difficult finding time to get updates going on the blog in a timely manner with all the running around I’m doing

Day 2

  • It started raining today. How smart am I to come to San Fran without an umbrella? Luckily bought one for 5 bucks.
  • Got a tour of Three Rings, makers of Puzzle Pirates, as part of the IGDA Scholarship. Great company and not just because of the Nautilus themed room where they work.
  • Met up with my Scholarship mentor, Tim Lingo. Had a a great convo with him about the industry and what sessions I should goto while here
  • Got introduced to Noah Falstein and was able to actually hold a conversation.
  • Went to the IGDA Mixer Party and the Linden Lab’s party. Met Jake Simpson who had some great insights into the industry and game design philosophies.

Day 3

  • Still raining. Lost the umbrella at some point in the day. No clue where it went; hope it keeps someone dry.
  • Got down here at 7:30. No one is around, so had time to update my contacts.
  • Censorship Panel led by Daniel Greenberg, who I saw speak at Siegecon. Good panel with lots of insightful info about how the ESRB works.
  • Spent some time in the Career Pavilion handing out resumes and talking to companies. Ran into Raph Koster and thanked him for linking to my blog.
  • Went to the Noah Falstein QA session with Sid Meiers. Insightful into one of the top designers into the industry and how he makes games.
  • Collaborative Writing and Vast Narratives with Ken Rolston and Mark Nelson of Big Huge Games. This was a great session that applied almost directly to issues with ARG work our team is having. Really glad I went. Great presentation.
  • Had dinner with a spectacular view of the city, but spent the time listening to the developers talk. Felt extremely lucky to have been able to go at all. Brenda explains it best.
  • Left after the dinner and headed back to the room for the night.

GDC Day 1: A Mishmash of a day.

February 19, 2008

The day started out well enough. Met up with Brenda for breakfast and met a few of her fellow designers. Went to the World Summit keynote given by Raph Koster. I was extremely happy about Raph’s talk. I’m of the school of people that really does want to see the full power of gaming go beyond entertainment. Raph talked about the virtual world/real world convergence; specifically about how we, as designers, are behind the curve. His “predictions” from a couple of years ago have already come true. And the thought process that many are using is not an updated model of what is actually happening in the real world right now.

The next talk of note that I attended was about the use of Facebook and social gaming. Honestly, I had no idea about the numbers that social gaming pulls, but it really doesn’t surprise me that much. Seeing the impact that casual games have, social games, which I now think of as “casual games lite”, can have a much broader appeal to a much larger market. Games are inherently social (look at the success of the board game in everyday life); it makes sense that games based around social interaction are so popular.

Also had dinner with some of the GDC scholarship people. It was really interesting meeting what will hopefully be my peers in the industry. Everyone was very friendly. I loved the fact that we could all sit down and talk about games and the game industry and no one was left behind.

GDC Update

February 18, 2008

I made it into San Francisco today after my first flight being cancelled. I was supposed to get in at 1pm, but didn’t get into town until about 6. Not to mention the hour plus it took me to get from the airport to the hotel (I took the BART and walked instead of a taxi).

I’m pretty much dead on my feet right now. Long day of traveling. So, all you get is pointers.

  • San Francisco is a great city so far
  • I was on a flight with a few other people coming to GDC, but I didn’t introduce myself. My brain wasn’t working
  • It’s cold and I’m glad I brought a bunch of warm clothes
  • Tomorrow I’m going down to the Moscone for breakfast and to register

The First Rule Of Fight Club Is You DO NOT TALK ABOUT FIGHT CLUB

February 6, 2008

Ask me no questions, and I’ll tell you no lies

Today I presented what our group has worked on so far for the ARG project. Actually, I presented the method we are using to do our work. I didn’t show anything that we have actually created. This seemed to upset some of the people in the class, since I wouldn’t answer certain questions. One person even made the comment that I should go into politics.

The truth is that I wish I could tell everyone what we are working on so that we could get feedback on whether or not it plays well. But there are some problems with this.

Linear Narrative

ARGs have a linear narrative that is non-repeatable. Once one aspect of the ARG has been discovered there is no way to hide that information again. The only option is to change the important piece of information. This may sound simple, but all of the information surrounding it will have to change in a cascade of content revamp. If even a small granule of important information is leaked before it is intended to be released, then our team will have to go through a mad scramble to try and fix the problem.

Episodal Development

Our team has decided to develop while the ARG is being played. Unlike a more traditional video game model, in which the game is released “completed”, ARGs have the ability to have content change or added before the end of the ARG is reached. The information I tell you about today may have little-to-no relevance on what the ARG will become in the future.

Content Development

The needle in the haystack seems to be the best way of thinking about ARG creation. You make a single piece of information that is important and hide in a vast amount of information that isn’t. In fact, it’s one factor our team hadn’t counted on and has pushed development time much longer. We are stuck making hay right now. If we showed you what we had at this moment, it wouldn’t make much sense unless we pointed out the needle to you directly. This kills the “discovery” aspect of playing the ARG.


One issue our team is going to have to face in the upcoming weeks as we approach one of our major milestones is how to get people to play test the game. I have three thoughts on this.

  • NDA Testers – By making our testers sign NDAs, it will hopefully protect content from being leaked. The problem is that even a simple slip of the tongue could divulge too much information to future players and throw off our whole design path.
  • Don’t Test It – This goes against everything I’ve ever been taught or learned about games. Games are interactive, and the only way to test them is to interact with them.
  • Just Release – If we just release what we have as the beginning of the ARG, then we can do “on-the-fly” testing. Of course, we couldn’t fix any issues inherent to what we have, but we could make sure we don’t do the same mistakes when we actually release the next phase.

No matter what, I know that we will be scrambling after release to see how this thing all plays out. I know that we are going to have to change how we are doing things to compensate.