March 20, 2006
Game Developers Conference 2006 - Day 1 Report
Today was the "first" day of the Game Developers Conference and it was, for the most part, a whole lot of nothing (well, except for the big Spore announcement). You see there are two "parts" to the five day GDC conference.
The first "part" consists of the first two days and all-day tutorials covering topics such as "Embodied Agents in Computer Games" and "Physics for Games Programmers" and are geared towards the hardcore developer. Not much happens during these first two days as they're still getting the "main" conference ready, you can actually see them building the booths and other exhibits during these two days.
The other "part", AKA the "main" conference, covers the last three days (Wednesday through Friday) and is a total madhouse of gaming news and information. Lectures and panels are only an hour long during these days and cover such topics as "Bootstrapping a Game Company in the Age of Blockbuster Budgets" and "Valve's Design Process for Creating Half-Life 2". Since these talks are only an hour long they are often jam-packed with juicy information. And just to make things a bit more interesting there are an average of twenty five of these panels per hour! Looking over the program can be a dizzying experience trying to pick and choose which panels will "make the cut" and vie for your attention.
So today I spent nearly an hour just looking over the hundreds of lectures, carefully deciding which will be worth my time and effort to attend and report upon. I'm still making my picks but definitely on the list are the various keynotes -- the big PS3 keynote, the Nintendo keynote and Will Wright's (of course) -- and I'll be attending all the talks regarding Spore (again, of course) but the rest are a tricky bunch. Hopefully I'll have the final picks ready in time for Wednesday...
Oh yes, as for today I spent most of time at a conference titled "Do-It-Yourself Usability: How to Use User Research to Improve Your Game" given by Microsoft Game Studios. As you might imagine the bulk of the tutorial dealt with methods for setting up and testing your game design. The best part of the tutorial was viewing the various market research movies and watching how easy it was for average users to get lost in games. Really interesting stuff.
Look for more coverage throughout the week.