Sunday, August 21, 2011

GDCE’11 highlights

I saw tons of talks at this GDC, and scribbled piles of notes. But ignoring notes, to-do exclamations and note-to-selfs these talks stand out in my memory:

- Dean Tate’s talk on Dance Central
- Carl Callewaert’s hands on demonstrations of Unity
- Richard Garriotts keynote on the three eras of gaming


Dance central

Break it Down! How Harmonix and Kinect Taught the World to Dance; The Design Process and Philosophy of Dance Central
Dean Tate (Harmonix Music)

The red thread in Tate’s talk was how the team had focused on making the learning of how to dance - the tutorial of breaking down the dance moves - into something fun, into a game in itself. Tate described clearly, and with a good balance of detail vs abstraction, the different iterations of development and testing was done in close tandem. Everyone who played Dance Central know that they really succeeded too - the result was awesome, and Tate did a great job describing what they did and how.



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The Three Eras of Gaming and Why This One is a Game Changer
Richard Garriott (Portalarium)
Richard Garriott make one of these speeches that left me feeling inspired: Seeing small things in their right perspective - small, and that which sometimes seem unimportant - such as exploring ad hoc ideas that might not lead anywhere - as important. As for what he actually said: here is a link to the gamasutra summary.

What i found most intriguing was that he wants to reinvent role-playing for this new era of social gaming, starting with understanding the new players and help them along. (whereupon i made mental jazz-hands piping “me tooo! me tooo!”)



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Carl Callewaert’s hands on demonstrations of Unity
Callewaert’s talks were my highlights because I’ll start using Unity this autumn, and Carl gave an excellent introduction. It wasn’t this tiresome “mumble-clicktety-click-mumblemumbleclick” but rather a clear and concise walk-trough. Thank you for that Carl!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

GAME-blob goes to GDCE'11

We travelled from Gotland to GDCE and Gamescom in Cologne like a big (pretty cosy) blob. We joked about how we’d need vests that would blink or make sounds whenever any of us 19 people got too far away from a dynamically updated centre-point of our blob.

Here is the blob negotiating a ticket-machine as we are arriving to Cologne.

Arrived to Köln, negotiating ticket machines

The Blob by our booth:
by our booth at GDCE'11


Blob got lost in the parking lot (trying to find the crytech party)

Blob is lost

Blob decides that even if the sign is promising, this is not the right party.
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Blob is stuck! (but we made it in the end, and our blob merged with the mega-GDCE-blob )
Blob faces a challenge

One of the great things with travelling in a blob was that we could spread out over the whole conference program - and occasionally the hive mind would gather to compare. Now I know which talks I need to listen to when they come online in the GDC Vault. One is John Blows talk on “Truth in Game Design”. The blob didn’t agree at all about that talk, so it seems to be really interesting. Another talk I’ll access is Peter Holzapfels talk “Team Jazz and Production Kung Fu - How Different Art Forms Can Help Us to Create Better Games”. Several in the blob loved this talk. The same goes for Thomas Grips’ talk “Evoking Emotions and Achieving Success by Breaking All the Rules”. The part of the blob that listened to this one says it was the best talk of the whole conference.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Violet

I just played/read/interacted with the interactive fiction piece "Violet" by Jeremy Freese. The protagonist is a PhD student who needs to write a thousand words for his thesis on his birthday otherwise his fiance will leave him. Oh, how I can relate to the procastrination for writing, to what desperate means can be necessary for concentration. How there can be no distractions, and how he threaten himself in order to get the job done. And its funny too!


As a reader you get put in the main characters shoes by needing to type in what he does (like "put gum in ears" or "pee in flowerpot") while interacting with his fictional version of his girlfriend. The roles of the main character, the story teller and the reader works magnificently in this piece of interactive fiction.


Another thing that worked exceptionally well was the chunking of the text blocks, and how the information was revealed: just right in order to be dramatic, and to pace the progress. I found it difficult sometimes to know what to type - it had to be exactly what the system expected, not any alternative formulations. Since it is impossible for the reader know exactly what to type it is necessary to type "hint". Then, the system tells you what to type.


URL for Violet:

http://ifdb.tads.org/viewgame?id=4glrrfh7wrp9zz7b