The Game Developers Conference was a disappointment for me.
Not due to anything or anybody who was there. No, this relates to a curse.
Somehow it works out that nearly every year I am sick on my birthday. A mighty spoiler of plans this curse has been at times.
This year I thought I would duck the curse. My birthday was on Wednesday and I made it to Tuesday in good health.
And then it struck. There has been a short term stomach infection that has been going around and it chose Tuesday evening to visit our home.
The bathroom was a busy place at our house Tuesday night into Wednesday. And while the worst was past by noon on Wednesday, we were all pretty well exhausted.
Another birthday ill. Not a big deal. I am used to it by this point. But I had plans for the day after my birthday.
I had paid for an expo pass for GDC and had taken a vacation day on Thursday so I could head up to San Francisco and see the conference.
Thursday morning dawned and after a good nights sleep I was feeling human again. Even somewhat healthy. But I was still dragging.
Still, I paid for the pass and I knew calling up work and asking to exchange my vacation day for a sick day was a non-starter, so I got in the car and headed up to San Francisco.
GDC itself was fun and if I had been feeling better I would have had a good time.
I met up with Brent and Brendan from VirginWorlds. It was fun to talk with them for a bit before they had to run off to do an interview about Pirates of the Buring Sea. I am sure that will be part of podcast #58.
While I was talking to them at the CCP booth I also got to meet Todd and Gary of Massively Online Gamer. It was nice that Todd, the man behind the scenes for MOG Army, spotted “The Ancient Gaming Noob” on my badge and knew who I was. (I actually saw Ryan and Gary a little earlier but they were in an earnest discussion with somebody so I did not interrupt. I’m too polite to ever be in sales. At least I’ve laid eyes on the lot of them now though.)
While at the CCP booth I saw some of the EVE avatar demo. They are pretty cool looking and I really did like that you get to see the avatar walk out to your ship in its berth. It gives a great sense of scale. (And they seem to get the whole “avatars should look hot” thing.)
[addendum: video of the demo here at TenTonHammer.]
Still, for all of that, I am not sure how getting out of the pod is going to change the game itself. It will still be a huge game that needs a lot of time investment and membership in an active corp. Avatars might get a few more players interested, but the game is so wide open that it is hard not to feel lost.
It is pretty though. I love it for that. I dig space.
I pestered the people at Red5 for a little bit after hearing Brent and Brendan go after them a bit. I just asked what they were making (an MMO) what their qualifications were (they have a guy who worked on WoW) what it was about (uh… we have some artwork) and what they were really doing at the show (recruiting). To be fair, the young lady with whom I was speaking was obviously not the CEO or anything.
I made the mistake of standing by this video conference setup they had in the Red5 booth that was linked up to their office and ended up having to wave nervously at a couple of guys who kept trying to joining the conversation. I tried to move off camera, but they had a control an panned to follow me, eventually making me feel uncomfortable enough that I decided to move on.
I went through the rest of the expo hall and then through the recruiting hall. I even ran into Alan “Brenlo” Crosby at the SOE booth and talked with him for a couple of minutes. I mentioned the SOE podcast and both how much I liked the insight into SOE it gives people and how important that insight is to the community. I did not mention how sorry I was that so much of the community warm-and-fuzzy feelings generated by the podcast and the recent community summit went in the crapper with the Station Access price hike, mostly because I was pretty sure he had hear that song before. (Why, oh why, did they have to make it equal to the price of playing two MMOs? That just crossed a psychological barrier.)
I was deliberately not collecting swag from the show, having thrown away metric tons of crap collected from trade shows in the past, but I am something of an SOE fanboi so I did ask for some SOE logo items.
And then I began to fade. I had only been up there for three hours at that point, but my body was still trying to recover, so going from spending a day on my back to spending a day on my feet ended up being a tall order.
I was going to try to hang out and meet up with Brent and Brendan again. I wanted to talk with them for a while longer if, for no other reason, than they are both smart and together on their feet when talking about gaming. Any illusion I might have had about any scripting on the VirginWorlds podcast fell away. They are as on top of their subject in person as they are on the show.
(This is why I stick to writing. I have to chew on things for a while before I am ready to talk about them.)
However, we missed each others calls to our respective cell phones and by the time we got on the line with each other I was already out of the parking garage on headed towards the freeway. Too bad too, as they were up at the SOE booth.
Thus ended my first GDC. I did not even make it to any of the limited number of sessions that my expo pass would have allowed me to attend. There were only two on Thursday. One was over before I found out about it and the other was not until 5:30pm. While the idea of a session with the title “Pirates vs. Cowboys vs. Ninjas” was intriguing, my body wasn’t going to make it.
Next year GDC is in February. That is far enough from my birthday that I ought to be safe.