Hello, and welcome to the first day of GDC feedback extravaganza!
The morning was kicked off very indie-ly as I attended the opening of the IGS where Ron Carmel explained a little further what the Indie Fund was about and how it came to be. The talk in itself was interesting, although it remains to see if the experiment in funding works out (it would be awesome that it did, so fingers crossed). What was nice is that the presentation was illustrated by Braid’s artist, so as nice to hear as it was to watch.
The follow-up was a rather quirky presentation by Cactus, regarding the techniques by which one could punish and disorient the player. Actually I think he got short on time because the talk never really seemed to take off: we were treated to a list of his favorite David Lynch movies, some fellow game-tortionists’s work and ended with a short list of techniques he used. You’ll have to come back later for actual content, if you’re lucky. Was this actually a very clever exercise in disorienting and punishing the conference attendees disguised as a talk about punishing players instead? We’ll probably never know.
I then managed to catch Soren Johnson’s very inspiring keynote at the Serious Games Summit, about the relationships between themes and mechanics. For me, the keynote nailed one of the biggest problems facing the serious games movement/market actually, which is over-reliance on theme to carry a message. Of course, the mechanics are the message, not the theme. You can read more about it here.
I kicked off post-lunch with a quiet talk at the IGDA education summit. The title was “Happy together” and the talk delved into ways educators and people in the industry could better collaborate to bnenefit both. Amongst the speakers was Prof. Stephane Natkin, director of ENJMIN, who revealed to us his plan to take over the world. Also, a sort of brainstorm session was organised and teams were tasked in finding new ways in which they could collaborate together in order to boost the student’s education.
Then followed by a short reminder (I refuse to call it a lesson) of good marketing tactics for indie studios on behalf of Wolfire Studios, makers of Overgrowth.
After that, I walked in into what was probably the weirdest talk at GDC ever, at the Serious Game Summit. Basically it was some guy talking about this idea to teach kids not to go along with sexual predators. The WTF moment was wen you followed the dates he gave us, you realised the game had spend 20+ years in development, even more than DNF. The kicker? It’s a FLASH game. FLASH. Also, the guy got totally paranoid in the 90’s that someone would “steal his idea”, so he got a lawyer he ended up marrying in the 00’s. Bonus stage: all of the voices in the game were provided by said guy and said lawyer wife. This presentation was probably indiest than any other IGS feature, COMBINED. The guy was so indie that before working on his game, he was a friggin sailor. Yes, the kind that goes on boats. Again, Indieness. But seriously WTF.
The conference day closed with a rather interesting IGS keynote about Immediacy and Depth. The talk was actually more interesting by what it told about the Indie movement than for it’s actual content. Basically this came through as “hey, mainstream does this pretty well, so we should steal their methods”. The key here is that this shows that now, there are more people who have always been indie than people who were working for The Man and quit (this was the norm some years ago). Visibly lots of students are attracted to indie games nowadays, which is wowsome. Global domination is just at the turn of the road. (In itself the talk was pretty basic stuff, so I won’t go into it).
And that’s it! More tomorrow if the beers allow it.