Game Developers Conference 2004 Wrap-Up

March 31, 2004 By R. LeFeuvre

After only learning of the Game Developers Conference a few years ago, I've since wondered what it would be like to attend it. Well, I don't wonder about it anymore -- I now know because last week I attended the 2004 GDC in San Jose.

Roll out the red carpet - I've arrived!

Looking back, I'd consider the GDC to be less significant to the gaming world than E3 in terms of the press, but I'd say it's much more important to professionals in the industry. You see, there are two main functions of the GDC: talking about how you did your job in nifty lectures and informative classes, and connecting those who have jobs to those who want jobs.

Too bad I couldn't do either since I'm not in search for a job for another year and my simple-yet-free-college-provided Expo Pass denies me access to all but a handful of the seminars.

Right after I got my badge I waited in line to get on the Expo floor, only to realize that the line I was in was for something my pass did not allow me to participate in!

Sidetalk on THAT thing

After I found the right door the first thing that greeted me inside the expo was the Nokia booth. I think they've found out how to design the next N-Gage so you don't have to take the battery out to change games, make the system 6 feet long.

They placed the Intel and AMD booths right across the path from each other. I expect the knife fight happened at noon on Friday right there on the GDC floor.

Further inspection of the Intel booth reveals an interesting design choice. Is it just me or do you feel "cooking exhibit" from the layout. Actually, they ran Call of Duty death match tournaments and spewed pro-Intel propaganda while the gamers played. Shameful yet genius!

How many brown-nosing saps can you find in this picture?

It didn't take long to stumble upon one of the key features of the GDC - the job booths. So much pimpin', so little time. (That's not to say that people don't beg for job in all the other booths at the GDC).

At the Semi-Logic booth they were giving out shirts to people who could score high on a test. They had two quizzes to choose from, the programmers test and the artists test. Being of the programming order, I figured that the free shirt was a good as mine. I mean how hard can the programme- HOLY CRAP DOES A=(6<<2) MEAN!? WHAT IS ($3A531F)&5D IN HEX -- I DON'T KNOW!?!

Needless to say, I failed the test (I did only miss 2 of the 11 I answered, out of 15 questions) but due to a combination of a little pity on their part and thinness on my part, which apparently means I can fit in a size small t-shirt (by the way, thin does not mean short), they gave me a shirt anyway! Woot to being a skinny, pathetic loser!

Make your move Sam, I dare you.

I got to meet the real Sam Fisher at the Ubisoft booth. I was just about the wrestle his ass to the ground, since he was giving me one hell of a stare. I've played a lot of Metal Gear Solid so I was pretty confident I could take him, but I stepped back out of respect for the GDC and Ubisoft.

Retro had one of the most creative ways of passing out their recruitment pack, they designed it like a GameCube case.

I really doubt Retro hires "everyone".

DTS had a truck in their booth to showcase their sound system. That makes sense... sure. I think its a sign that you have too many screens in your setup when you have two screens in the dash showing the same video feed!

Can you find the programmers in the pictures above?

nVidia claims to run one of the few booths for "artists", a contest called "Got Art?". The idea is pretty simple, 10 artists draw a picture which must incorporate the nVidia logo (natch). Artists get 20 minutes and the winner (voted by the booth workers and crowd applause) gets a brand new nVidia graphics card. The losers all get free T-Shirts, and this secondary prize is what gets the occasional poor artist (read 'programmer') to contribute his/her drawing (read 'pencil scratchings') to the contest.

Well, it was getting pretty near to lunch and I was getting hungry. And what was right next to the "Got Art?" booth but tons and tons of food and drink.... which is yet another thing ONLY for people with a better pass than my free Expo badge.

What can I say, I'm a health nut

Good thing I snuck my own lunch in. By snuck I mean 'put in my backpack' and by lunch I mean 'Gatorade and a cookie'. (Note: that is not the actual Gatorade or cookie from said lunch as they were devoured to quickly to photograph.)

After being revitalized from my well-balanced lunch I returned to exploring the GDC Expo floor.

Who knew inflatable chairs came in 'ATI red'

Rule #43 of the GDC. You can talk about anything if you have comfortable chairs in your booth.

Hmmmm, if our dreary, lifeless, older ladies don't attract you to our Maryland business college, then maybe our the flashy sign will do the trick. No thanks.

It's the next Power Glove!

Here's a game that uses gloves attached to a tether as a PS2 controller. You can punch the air and your character punches in the game. They only thing I wanted to punch after trying this was the guy who created it.

Now here's a rad booth. Okay, not really, but it is the booth of my college, the Art Institute of California, San Francisco, and the reason that I'm at the GDC in the first place, so they deserve a little press.

Okay, that's enough. Next pic.

Let me remind you again that I only had an Expo Pass, which means I was not allowed in 99% of the classes and lectures available (and a whole 0% of the really cool ones). So the following are the events that would have taken place had I been able to attend the events I had wanted too (may I point out again, I draw like a programmer):

This would have happened

First off, I would have went to Bay Raitt's "Creating Golum" talk. (Bay Raitt is known by many as the worlds greatest polygonal modeler) People have been waiting years for him to talk and I would have been there for sure. Here's a "pic" of me meeting Bay after his speech.

This should have happened

Next I would have attended the "Game Design Methods of ICO" with Kenji Kaido and Fumito Ueda. Learning about one of the greatest games ever from the dudes that designed it would be a dream come true. They really get into their games.

This could have happened

Then I would have then went to the Nokia sponsored session to teach developers how to make games for the N-Gage, because someone should. This picture was 'snapped' during one of the more interesting parts of the talk.

This will happen

Finally, I would have been personally invited by Tim Schafer and 2HB to their "Adventures in Character Design" lecture. I would have been his best student and then he would have offered me a job. In fact, Tim Schafer said that I was going to BE the next Tim Schafer!

I actually did get to attend one class, a Half-Life 2/Softimage session. And while the talk itself was a mixed bag (I'm more excited about Softimage|XSI but I'm a little more worried about Half Life 2) I did come away with my coolest bit of swag:

CD Sleeve + Trigger = CD GUN!

The software is a free version of Softimage|XSI and is packaged with a bunch of Half-Life 2 stuff (if you're interested you can read more and download it here). But ignore that - what is important is the packaging. What you see in the top-left corner of the sleeve is an orange trigger. Let me tell you from experience that a CD 'fired' out of this thing can cause some damage.

The evening was capped off with the Game Developers Choice Awards. It was a pretty nice end to my first experience with the Game Developer Conference (and I got another free shirt that didn't fit). Will Wright and Tim Schafer (I cheered for Tim) were the coolest of the presenters handing out awards. The high point of the show was when Masaya Matsuura, creator of PaRappa the Rapper, Vib Ribbon, and others, was given the "First Penguin" Award for starting the 'rhythm-game' genre. The low point, HK-47 stealing the "Original Game Character of the Year" award from Viewtiful Joe!

While I was only allowed to touch the surface of what the GDC really is, I still had a blast (and I didn't even get to attend the after-parties), and I can't wait to go next year. And hey, hopefully next time I'll be pimping my work just like all those other brown-nosing saps!

Digg this article Save to del.icio.us Filled under:

There are no comments available for ‘Game Developers Conference 2004 Wrap-Up’ yet!