Daily Archives: February 22, 2008

A Day at GDC 2008

After a week on vacation then turning around and spending a day up at GDC, my motivation to write is pretty low at the moment.

Yes, vacation is supposed to revive you, but the travel part is always such a pain. As is par for the course for us, there were problems with our flight back. You would think that being forced to spend a few more hours on Maui would be a good thing, but Kahului airport isn’t that exciting. Plus I am one of those people who, on travel day, isn’t happy until the traveling is done.

After a three hour delay caused by our original aircraft being taken offline for maintenance, a replacement Boeing 777 showed up to take us home. We did get something of an upgrade with the new plane. The 777 on the way out was configured for maximum capacity and minimum leg room, while the replacement aircraft was a trans-pacific hauler with expanded first and business class and extra roomy economy plus seats. (My knees didn’t spend the trip poked into the seat in front of me! Yay!)

And then we spent another hour on the tarmac while they worked out a computer issue with the new plane. It was a good thing I found an outlet in the airport to recharge the DS.

We finally got home around 1am California time.

But no sleeping in for me… well, some sleeping in, but not much. I had to get up to GDC.

I tried ringing Darren’s cell phone before I left, but he apparently isn’t allowed to roam south of the St. Lawrence. I had Brent’s cell number as well though, so I headed on up to San Francisco.

Text-master Brent guided me into their location on the Expo floor at GDC and we (Brent, Brenden, Darren, Troy, and myself) all met up for a bit before scattering again for various sessions.

I cruised the expo floor for a while. Of note were Vivox, who just entered into an agreement with SOE to bring voice to all of their online games.

Motion capture technologies were rife on the expo floor again this year, so there were plenty of booths feature people in black outfits dancing around and going through a series of motions that were translated into charater actions on computer screens. I’m not sure I needed to see a WWII-era US Army Sergeant dance the macarena, but there is was.

The MMO development software package, Hero Engine and Multiverse, both had big booths right next to each other on the exp floor and were showing off how you could make a “me too” MMO more easily than ever. Okay, maybe that isn’t totally fair, but neither engine looks to be the path to anything new and innovative and neither booth boasted a meaningful list of shipping MMOs that used either engine. Yes, BioWare has signed up to use the Hero Engine, so we may see the barriers of effective story telling pushed for the current MMORPG paradigm, but it will be evolutionary not revolutionary.

NASA also had a booth close by. They have announced announced their own MMO plan, but the booth did not seem to have much to do with that… or at least the staff I spoke to at the booth had no information on it. They were busy superimposing fuzzy frame grabs of individuals and superimposing them over pictures related to several NASA projects. Here I am superimposed in front of the Orion spacecraft:

nasagdcpic.png

Oooh, I’m in space. How fun.

One of the things I missed was the PlayXpert booth. PlayXpert was the focus of VirginWorlds podcast #103, which I listened to on the way HOME from GDC. I wish I had heard it on the way up, as I would have had some questions for the team there.

I also cruised through the career hall. All of the major studios were there and recruiting. Of note was Nexon, the makers of Maple Story and KartRider who had huge list positions available. They seem to be ramping up for something here in the US.

We met back up late in the afternoon, recorded a quick Shut Up We’re Talking podcast, then started talking about dinner. We headed over to the career hall, picked up Alan “Brenlo” Crosby and headed to Buca di Beppo for dinner. While it is located practically across the street from the Moscone West Hall where we started, we felt the need to walk all the way around the fifth street parking garage before ending up there. Once there we were joined by Michael Zenke.

We ordered almost exactly the right amount of food, not always an easy thing to do at Buca di Beppo, and went through what was interesting and what was not at the show. (The Future of MMOs session came up a few times and was the subject of one of Michael’s GDC posts over at Massively.)

Here we are, with exactly one slice of pizza left between us:

gdc08dinner01.png gdc08dinner02.png

From left to right:

[picture editing note: I had to kill the red-eye on Darren and myself, as we looked like new recruits for legion of the undead. I did not, however, make my eyes any more blue than they already were.]

And that about wrapped it up for the evening. Darren and Troy were heading home early the next morning, Michael, being a real journalist, had work to do, and Brent… well, he had tickets to the CCP party. We’ll all have to see if that comes up in a future VirginWorlds podcast.

[Addendum: Darren has a couple of pics from the CCP party attached to his post here.]