So here I am, Day Two of GDC, Day One already in the bag.
Here's some of the stuff I saw on my first day of the GDC Main Conference, and the great Gamasutra coverage of them:
I was also the first on the Expo floor Wednesday to get my hands on Gunpoint! Is that exciting? You bet that is exciting.
One talk I wasn't able to find much of a write-up about in the major blogs is the talk given by Scott Rigby from Immersyve about player motivation and retention. This talk was particularly relevant to my line of work at the moment, and I am always interested in hearing more about player psychology. It does seem as if Rigby has given similar talks before, so here's a writeup from 2010. I have more thoughts about this talk, but probably not the time to collect them all just yet.
As for the other talks, while I'm getting ramped up to hear more today, my quick and somewhat-disorganized thoughts here:
Meier is has great insights but at GDC tends to give very general-audience talks. I had the privilege of meeting him once in a more small-scale setting at Michigan University, and he's a great person to have a conversation with. Once he's up in front of a big crowd, like in GDC, he's not able to get as specific and his lecture felt a lot like a broad overview of the topic. My favorite part of the talk was where he talked about different playtesters and their attitudes toward the game they're trying.
One thing I found interesting was, when he wasn't talking about strategy games (which of course he knows best) he discussed racing games as his most-cited second example, and how the idea of decision-making might apply in such a game. I know there are a lot of racing games out there still, but I wonder how relevant that example felt to the majority of the audience. I see it as sort of a niche genre this day and age, but it may be I who am uncultured in that department.
I was interested in seeing Inafune's talk, I confess, partially because I, too, am a huge fan of Mega Man. However, he obviously wasn't there to talk about that. His relationship with Mega Man is complicated. So, when he gives a talk where the major takeaway is: "We need to get beyond re-hashing the same ideas and heroes at this point, and come up with more new ideas," the question you do not get up to ask him is: "How do you feel about how Capcom is handling Mega Man?"
So of course someone did just that.
Beyond the standard audience shenanigans, this was a great talk. Many Japanese developers are a little tight-lipped at GDC sessions, but Inafune is fairly outspoken. He was talking about issues with the Japanese industry focusing on sequels, HD Remakes, and rehashes, and how he feels the country has lost its will to succeed. (It was a great temptation to make #winning jokes on Twitter.) Really, though, this isn't just a problem with the Japanese industry. It is a problem with the AAA industry in general. Hell, it's even a problem with the movie industry. It's a symptom of a world becoming more risk-averse and it's a hard problem to fix. However, the problem may be more obvious in Japanese games because of less visible indie projects. And indie has its own issues…
I also definitely have more thoughts about Mare Sheppard's talk. I thought it was a good talk, because it challenged some assumptions and had some important information. But in the end I can't agree with her, and that's complicated. It was, at least, the second or third-most controversial thing yesterday.
I plan to write more about this, but it looks like Day Two is already about to start. Sims, Saints Row, and other fun talks are on my to-do list today.