GDC 09 lecture overview

(The Moscone North Ballroom right before Iwata's keynote)

Here's a list of all the GDC lectures I went to, along with a 2 sentence commentary. What a great experience! More of my thoughts in later posts...

Discovering New Development Opportunities, Satoru Iwata
Tried to give 3rd party developers ideas and incentives to develop for Nintendo hardware. I wasn't aware that there are almost as many wii balance boards in homes as there are ps3's. I got a free DS game out of it, "Rhythm Heaven". Haven't played it yet.

From Bungie to Bootstrapping: Starting an Independent Developer Studio, Max Hoberman
Gave some tips on how to bootstrap using the work-for-hire model. Basically enumerated sound business practices... no surprises.

The Art of Braid, David Hellman
Put heavy emphasis on integrating the meaning of Braid into its art assets. Showed several iterations that the art went through to get to the final stage (apparently they worked on art for 2 whole years?!?). Artwork cut into various shapes and sizes was placed on top of collision tiles. They also made extensive use of particle effects.

Procedural Speech Generation, Paul Taylor
Excellent presentation on speech synthesis using voice morphing, text-to-speech, and everything inbetween. I really believe that procedurally generating speech allows for more dynamic and immersive gameplay.

Using Musical Styles to Enhance Storytelling, Lennie Moore and Garry Schyman
Advised that when asked to write music in a particular style, the best thing you can do is listen to as much of that style as possible.

Experiences and Rare Insights into the Video Game Music Industry, Hitoshi Sakimoto
Sakimoto reminises about what it was like to program game music back in the day, and encourages composers to write from the heart. Most people seemed to agree the talk was poorly translated.

10 Great Things Game Designers Exhibit, Gordon Walton

  1. clear communication
  2. positive mental attitude
  3. teamwork
  4. continuous learning
  5. player empathy
  6. KISS
  7. Flexibility
  8. Problem Solving/Analytical Skills
  9. Broad Knowledge
  10. A Passion for games
As one attendee at the talk noted, these are pretty much the basis for a great employee in any industry... and these traits are really just icing for the larger cake of raw skill.

iPhone Development: Exploring The New Frontier, Noel Llopis
Stressed that although the barrier of entry to make games on the iPhone is low, making a profit is difficult because there are just so many applications already on the platform.

What's Real About Virtual Reality Audio, Simon Carlile
A presentation on the basics of Head Related Transfer Functions and how to implement 3D audio in a virtual reality environment.

Using 5 Elements of Failure Design to Enhance Player Experiences, Jesper Juul
  1. failure count - # of times failed
  2. failure awareness - when the player realizes failure is possible, but may not actually fail
  3. failure communication - how designer communicates failure to the player
  4. failure setback - how much time a player wastes by failing
  5. failure repetition - how many times a player fails in exactly the same way
By Balancing these 5 ideas, failure can be used or communicated in nontraditional ways.

Talking to the Player with Barks, Patrick Redding
Talked about the dialogue engine for Far Cry 2, and how to make realistic AI dialogue for NPCs in the game. Thier process included evaluating game state, player state, threat level, and more to determine what an NPC says during the game.

Shaping Ones Musical Identity, Troels Foelmann
Foelmann's approach seems to be searching for unique, nonstandard instruments and morphing them with the appropriate software tools to emerge with a personal identity. He also suggested stacking many different sounds from different sound libraries on top of one another (and often beefing up the bass of an orchestral score with low frequency synths)

Recording and Mixing Music for Games, John Rodd
Surprising to at least me, there were no secret trade tips at this talk, only the mantra of good recording/mixing practices.

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