Tuesday, March 17, 2015

GDC'15 - Summary and Highlights

The recuperation week after GDC in San Francisco has ended. I'm back in Malta, and back in my routine.  Now I am mulling over what was most important during the GDC week. What stuck?

For me, the highlights of the week were:
  • Seeing the hype and hope around VR and AR,
  • seeing that the ARG Ingress has become massive, 
  • seeing so many good resources for indie developers, and
  • the general focus on inclusivity and diversity that permeated the conference.

On a personal note, it was good to get to talk with others who have been through similar journeys, now that I am starting my own indie studio.

Post GDC15 notes, from the plane

I wrote about VR and AR in [another post], thinking that the time for these technologies might actually be here now, and I'd like to get my hands on the Project Tango dev kit and play around with it.

The same might be true for ARGs, alternate reality games. There was a talk in the narrative summit about the ARG Ingress, and I was amazed to realise that it is played in more than 200 countries now. People search for clues, sometimes travelling far to do it, and have impact on the development of the story. The talk by John Hanke was fascinating, describing clever story telling methods, multiple modalities and channels for telling the narrative, and structures for the different voices/roles who tell the stories. I remember the game Majestic from the early 2000 - so cool, but before its time. And now, here we are. (Note to self: download Ingress and play.)

This year I went to GDC in a new capacity - as an indie developer, and there were lots and lots of talks that seemed to be geared *just* perfectly for me. Talks on how to go about making a game, and how to reach an audience with it. A roundtable on how to do it on low cost - i.e how to make the startup-time last as long as possible. And at the same time there were nice announcements from Unity and from Unreal proving them to have models suitable for indies. (Unity 5 for free, with great features, and the power of the Unreal engine against a 5% cut in profits.) I'll summarise the most useful resources and talks later and post it on [Otter Play].

GDC 2015 Games are for everyone

In the wake of the awful threats that has been made towards women in the game industry it was good to sense that inclusivity and acceptance for diversity permeated the conference. There were talks on the very subject, and this year it was even possible for parents attendees to get help with baby sitting.
The talk that resonated most strongly with me was when Amy Henning, as part of the #1Reason session said "The water is fine, come on in." directed to those who may not feel welcome. When she said this, she had the weight of 30 years as game developer behind her. Its a powerful message, and one that I would echo to anyone who doesn't fit the bill of game-developer stereotype. Its not the game industry that is toxic, as a community. The waters are fine. And if you meet a shark, shout, and the rest of us will come to the rescue, men and women alike. Or shark, I don't know. Jellyfish.

Perhaps the things that were most important though, in retrospect, were the personal conversations. It was wonderful to meet old friends, and get encouragement for this new path I am taking now.

I uploaded photos from the GDC week to Flickr, you find them [here]. I made more notes in my photo-diary. Links to these are to the left, under 2015-> March.