I'm tempted to name-drop. I've met a ton of cool people, a lot of whom are semi-heroes of mine, some of whom I've met online, some of whom I've never met. I'll mostly resist the name-dropping thing, but I will tell this one story: the guy sitting next to me at Will Wright's presentation, mentions how crowded it is. We get to talking, he has a French accent, so I have trouble hearing his name. Then we talk about what games he's done I could swear I hear "world" and "darkness" so I double-take on his name tag. He's freaking Eric Chahi! And he sat right next to me! "Oh my God, you're Eric Chahi," I say. And proceed to worship him.
Okay, another name: Jake Simpson seems to be the center of the universe. People I've only met online know him. Friends from college I haven't seen in a decade know him. Does anybody *not* know him?
And he had some stuff to say about the talk Tomo and I did, in answer to questions that Tomo and I didn't actually answer that well.
Question One: what if you're starting from scratch with your code: how do you prototype?
My flip aswer was "Don't do that." Jake pointed out you can prototype in 2D, or text. Good idea, if you're making a strategy game or a sim or Dungeon Keeper or whatnot. Wouldn't work for an action game where 3D is king (Spider-Man or Tony Hawk), but it'll work for a lot.
And Jake tested us by asking, "What if you need to prototype a system that's dependent on a lot of subsystems?"
I said, "Then it'll take a lot of time. Months." Tomo said, "You're SOL."
Jake later mentioned that you can stub out the subsystems, and although you can't test if the system will be fun, you can at least test if it works or not.
Okay, other highlights: Paul Du Bois (more names! I can't stop!) took Chuck Tolman and me to see the Double Fine offices and to play a release candidate build of Psychonauts. Very promising - still can't wait for it to come out. The art direction is insane! It's like a cubist Mario on acid.
Will Wright, in his presentation today, demoed the game he's been working on since, I think, Sims 1. A friend of mine violated his NDA by telling me that Will Wright was working on Sim Everything. At the time I was like, well, whatever. I didn't know what that was or why that would be fun. Well, now I've seen a demo, and I think I got more pleasure just watching the demo than I got from all the games I played last year. I'm tempted to quit Treyarch and send EA my resume, provided I could get assigned to that project.
And my powers of prediction are awesome! Greg Costikyan ranted at the Game Designer's Rant, and what did he say about Allard's keynote? "I don't know about you, but it made my skin crawl." His rant made me feel a little guilty about continuing to suck at the Spider-Man teat. Of the other ranters, Warren Spector was pretty down to Earth (let's stop being Wal*Mart's bitch); Brenda Laurel was like, from some other dimension or something ("videogames are a non-consensual relationship between middle aged men and young boys"); Jason Della Rocca took everybody to task (game developers are blind, xenophobic fools - more on the "fool" part in a bit); and Chris Hecker had an amusing point to make about the processors in the next generation - for gameplay code, they're going to be slower than the current generation of processors.
Listen, I loved the rant; they were right on about a lot of things; but there is some room for argument. Yes, publishers are getting more and more risk-adverse. But Activision let us put this wacky swinging system into Spider-Man 2...and EA is letting Will Wright make Spore. Jason Della Rocca was saying that Steve McConnell was implying that we're fools, becuase software developers who follow best practices shouldn't have to crunch anymore. Now, I've read and loved McConnell's book. It's my Bible when it comes to development. But it hasn't saved me or my team from crunching, though, as hard as we try. And okay, gameplay code will be just as slow as ever. The thing is, gameplay code isn't the main burden on our CPUs. If the CPUs get faster at processing graphics, then we'll have more bandwidth for our gameplay code. (This point didn't occur to me until later in the evening; I talked with Chris [last name drop, I promise] a bit after his rant, and I would have asked him about it instead of swapping new father stories if I had thought about it.)
A friend of mine called the GDC a "fucking waste of time" before I went up. All I can say is, okay, maybe I didn't learn all that much while I was there, but I don't see how meeting, in person, all these people I respect and admire is a waste of time. Plus I got to see a ton of old friends. So yeah, that.
Oh, and thanks to everybody who came by my talks afterward and introduced themselves. Good to meet y'all. And thanks to everybody who gave props to *Spider-Man 2* or *Die By The Sword*. I live for that shit.
GDC was awesome. I'm still buzzing.