March 11, 2003
Game Developers Conference Recap

A few notes from the GDC Recap at SXSW.

Warren Spector & Rich Vogel speaking. Brad King moderating.

Sequels can hurt & help. Depends if developers listen to comments it can be great. Or it can suck if the same thing is done over.

Even difficult subjects, like Scooby Doo, can be good if the gameplay and concepts are good.

Costs are spiraling, sales haven't risen. Expectations are rising. Risk is escalating dramtically. They minimize risk by going with known quantities.

Online Gaming - What is the role of online games in consoles. Rich says that it will be the second gen consoles that will really enable it. Today it's a little to difficult for most people. The inclusion of a keyboards is essential.

Persistent World vs. small group gaming - There's a difference.

Disagreement over online games. Sims Online is an example of bad design, but not entirely. Warren & Rich disagree on why it's not successful. Warren says most people don't want to play online games to the degree hoped for. The audience is loud and excited, but it is small.

Warren wants next game to sell 5 million. Will there be enough hardware to run it? In consoles? Yes.

Mobile gaming - Lots of discussion at GDC. Phone games mainly used to kill time. Different in Japan where there is a phone gaming community. Discussed the failure of Majestic. Scary to regular people, not enough content.

"You won't see EA or Eidos or Microsoft making phones games. Other small developers will make them."

At GDC they discussed education. They talked about the role of games in education. In Star Wars Galaxies there will be connections to the game via phone, IM, web, etc. Many things to add access to the games.

The reason Warren hates online games is that they are not satisfying. He doesn't want interact online, he wants real world.

Rich says they are great because you can live in the alternate universe. You can do thngs you can't do in RL.

I just told Warren to play Neverwinter Nights.

I just thanked Rich for making Ultima Online.

Question about why dungeon master role hasn't come to gaming. The guy doesn't know about Neverwinter Nights.

At TSR in 1988, 15 million people ahd played D&D. Estimate 1/2 were gamemasters. 10% any good. How many could use a toolset 10%? 80,000 people worldwide? How many can make things and do a good thing?

The FPS mods are must simpler to create content/levels than roleplaying games.

Warren wants to find a way to provide episodic content. He wants to develop better methods of interaction with NPCs. The ability to interact with the AI needs to be more immersive. They both stress the importance of bots expressing emotion & mood.

The next step is probably from Valve. Halflife 2 will have very cool stuff. In Deus Ex Invisble War they have a new conversation system that will be reflected in the avatar. So will Star Wars Galaxies.

Warren speaks heresy and says framerate is not important. (OMFG. Burn him....) is a virtual world where emotions and expressions are well done.

Warren says UO, EQ & DaoC are "not games, they are fucking chatrooms".

The importance of good writers is key to games getting better. "Writers are writing code, not prose." Warren is finding programmers who can write. He doesn't want to teach writers how to code anymore.

Developers need to get two hit games under their belt and then they are allowed to experiment. Creative stuff that people don't get are hard to market.

They both seem focused on detail in the games. Things like limping in a football game are examples of good stuff. (I disagree completely)

Closing remarks - GDC this year had a theme this years. Lots of online discussion. Process of game development is an issue. Formalizing the design process. People may not like games like GTA3, but it is the best balanced game on the market. Online games allow balance and creation of new games. The GDC is getting better because it's more aobut gamign and less about technology.

End of session.

A note on Warren Spector: Warren has been described as arrogant and offensive. I didn't find that. He is clear in his opinions and firm in his stands. People may disagree with him (like me) but he's not mean to simply be mean. He is simply very open with his views. Many aren't comfortable with people that don't hide their thoughts.

Posted by michael at March 11, 2003 08:09 AM