I ended up having an enjoyable social morning, starting with a breakfast at Lauries with Mike, Patricia, and papa Mike,
Once I reached the convention centre i ran into George,
and we continued an old conversation about hedgehog mating rituals, concluding that we all are but humping soufflés. One of my favorite conversations of the day.
After some more random conversations I made it into the session
Rules of Engagement: Blizzard's Approach to Multiplayer Game Design
Pardo stressed the importance of using the Beta for design iterations, and recommended boosting features to start with. That way players really use them, so there is feedback. Easier to downplay them later than the opposite. He also recommended to not make changes to often. To not panic - players often find their way around features that at first seem impossible from the player's perspective.
He made an example of battleground balancing. Alliance players win the battleground Alterac Valley 95 times of hundred, and loose Arathi Basin 90 times of 100. Therefore players are rewarded honor points also when they loose, though not as much as if they had won. I guess that an obvious question to this would be - why not balance the battlegrounds so players don't have to go in there knowing that they will loose? But since the question is so obvious I am sure it is thought of already.
When it comes to maps Pardo and his team prefer pre-made maps to generated ones - it gives more control and players can learn them more easily.
On match making Pardo recommended "fewer buckets". If there are too many criteria to fill for match making players may end up not finding anyone to play with.
Pardo showed many colorful slides which I photographed.
I had lunch with Ghodrat and Kenton from Distil Interactive that are doing some very interesting stuff which i will dip into.
Pollinating the Universe: User-generated Content in SPORE
Caryl Shaw showed web features that let spore players share their inventions through webpages. What blew my socks of was when she showed the music editor.
I couldn't concentrate properly since Gamestudies Download 3.0 was at the same time, so i surrendered and ran over to that session.
Game Studies Download 3.0
Jane McGonigal, Ian Bogost and Mia Consalvo
I didn't get there in time to hear the whole presentation, but luckily the slides can be found online at Jane McGonigal's website.
I recommend browsing through the slides, the selection of research results is spot on. I was especially glad they included the work of Aki Järvinen, and work by the people at the Hypermedia lab, it deserve a bigger audience. And I got to add to my reading list, always welcome.
Between sessions I ran into Sam Lewis, who is not only a friend but one of my advisors. We hopped into
Collaborative Writing and Vast Narratives: Principles, Processes, and Genteel Truculence
Ken Rolston and Mark Nelson
Rolston and Nelson had a lot if interesting things to say, and I photographed some slides, but again I found it diffucult to concentrate. I was so curious to see the MMO Sam has been designing for Cartoon Network, so eventually i surrendered to that and we scurried away to the press room so I could try it out.
It was pretty amazing to see the game design i first tried on pen and paper 2 years ago form on the screen.
For dinner I met up with my colleagues from Gotland University again, our professor Steven Bachelder had arrived, and I was eager to get to talk to them again. This is Steven:
After dinner my jet lagged colleagues went for a nap while i scampered away to the Marriot for a quick drink with Ren and friends of his before the evening party.
I found them deep in conversation about zombies and bottled water:
The Nordic game party featured a concert by Skid Row
Among others I found Jesper Juul there, and TL, and my former colleague Johan Peitz who is here to show his new game with his company Muskedunder (coolest company name ever in my opinion.)
I listened a little while until i scooted off to a bar where the EIS lab had settled down.