So many people at GDC told me they like the blog that I felt guilty for not writing anything lately. So here are my GDC takeaways.
Mostly we were pitching. The game we're pitching, a new Richard Garfield game, has gotten the best response in pitch meetings I've ever seen - we may even be able to sell it on the design document alone. I can't put my finger on why, but it's an idea that's both fresh and at the same time obvious, and it's something we can do for a relatively small budget, so maybe that has something to do with it.
I tended to go to sessions in topics I know nothing about, figuring I'd learn more that way. So I went to some art and audio sessions. Not sure that's the wisest course of action - if I learn one thing in a design session, it's probably something I'll be able to directly apply, but if I learn a whole bunch of stuff in an art session, will I find a way to use it?
Focusing a player's attention was a theme in three talks I saw - a lighting talk, an audio talk, and Kaplan's World of Warcraft Quest talk.
The Iwata talk -
1) the prototype for Wii boxing was just made up of colored blocks. YES! This is just what I was on about at my leadership forum prototyping talk. Gameplay first, art later, a necessary step on the way to vertical slice that too few people care about - they get hung up on art.
2) he made it sound like their kill rate was lower than I would have expected - saying Miyamoto games sometimes linger in the prototyping stage for over 2 years, that *sometimes* they get abandoned, but even then the experiment may show up in a later game. Maybe the kill rate for Miyamoto games is lower than the average kill rate for other Nintendo experiments. Anyhow, this is one of the ways Nintendo takes the sting off of killing a prototype - the feeling that it's not thrown away, that it might be brought out of the vault at a later date.
*Lighting With Purpose*, by Jay Riddle and Paul Ayliffe -
1) artists always have better slides than programmers
2) if you haven't started using global illumination, use it - if it's good enough for Hannah Montanna it's good for us
3) light is one of the many ways you can focus a player
4) lighting (and light color) should change as you go through level - for flow, to pull you through emotionally. See Cinderella, the disney movie. Turok had a "color script" for this purpose.
5) 4 F's: form, feel, focus, flow. (and PURE's 3 V's: vistas, vertigo, verticality. Next time I'm making a game design bible, maybe I should come up with a clever acronym or alliteration to get my vision across...)
6) Characters and world should have different lighting rigs / setups. They said the same thing at the Prince of Persia talk. It seems obvious now that they say it, but the last time I worked on a renderer I was trying so hard to make the character lighting look like the world lighting it didn't occur to me you might want it to be different on purpose. PURE used it to do rim lighting, for one thing, and PoP used it to give characters a higher ambient light.
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