Sorry about no updates last week. I’ve got a lot of little posts planned, but instead opted to attended this year’s Game Developers’ Conference. I am better for it, and I didn’t think anyone would mind.
GDC is something that holds this weird mystical energy… an energy that can only be captured by watching this video. You get a vibe that you’re part of something bigger, something about making games a grand, unified conversation, and you get to do so in an industry-facing event that wants you to improve. Needs you to improve to better its own existence. It’s a powerful, summer camp-like feeling, if summer camp ended with you going off and starting your own camp.
With that in mind, I’d like to recap a few of my favourite moments that really encapsulated the experience.
1, Hex Heroes
Alex and I had a chance to play Hex Heroes, a kickstarter-funded project coming to Wii U and Steam. The game is about playing an asymmetrical RTS, one person on a game pad builds buildings and manages resources, and the others play AS the units. The game is really coming along in development, but our experience hanging out with the devs reminded me of something really close-to-the-bone.
They said very little opportunities to play with press presented themselves, but that’s not really the point of GDC. Because GDC is about developers, the opportunity to show your game at GDC Play is a chance to play with devs… a chance to get real feedback on your game (which they said they received a lot of), and to find out how your game plays with people who love play. It framed a lot of our experiences with the rest of the devs and I started accepting looking at every chance to play a new game as a rare and trusting one. What a cool feeling.
2, Giant Cop
I have very often said that I haven’t had “that” VR experience. The one that really sells the medium and actually makes me feel like it is the future that everyone says it is. By and large I haven’t been 100% convinced that everyone can attach to it, but I have played some games that are actually genuinely fun games.
In the Canadian-made Giant Cop you play a literal giant cop and have to actually throw people in jail. With your giant hands. This game nailed everything; the immersion, the tone (hilarious 70s cop show, weird ideas about law enforcement), and the creation of emergent gameplay by applying objects that can be treated with similar rules. (Read this amazing article on Spelunky for more ideas on that. Seriously read it.)
The point is, Giant Cop is at its heart a game. It uses the rules of VR to make an experience that is fun and challenging, one that introduces new rules about searching and challenges you with the skill of throwing. VR is going to be the future, for sure, but we’re going to need more Giant Cops to make it the future of games.
3, The Music of BloodBorne
I can nerd out a little bit, as an audio director, even though I’ve never played the game. The sheer insanity that went into this soundtrack which is, really, meant to drive you insane, is amazing.
To get the score just perfect across 6 different composers and orchestras, the audio directors demanded a limit on the instruments that can be used–a certain number of strings, a certain number of choir voices, a certain number of horns. This is unheard of when coming to hire individual composers, and it gives the score (again, written and performed by a world of people) a sense of coherence. Plus its terrifying. Check out the track above and keep your eyes open for the GDC Vault when it becomes public.
4, The People
In addition to a ton of other positive games and talks, this is a massive reminder that this industry is fuelled by humans, and GREAT humans at that. It is a pleasure to be so internationally connected with people that have the same curse, and to see them in a flurry around the Moscone center. I could go on for quite a while about all the positive elements of being a part of this but you have to go yourself. If you can’t afford to go, you have to watch the talks, and if you can’t afford to take the time to watch the talks, you have to bust ass to get the most out of the game design experience of a world of developers that WANT to help you.
If you do get to go, the easiest way to get the most out of this experience is to walk until you can’t feel your feet anymore. Hence the title, but trust me. It’s worth it.