GDC Coverage Roundup

I’m planning on writing about my overall takeaway from GDC 2012 for my First Person column this week, but it was a much better event the second time around (GDC 2011 was my first GDC). The same thing happened with E3 – round one was mostly chaos and learning, round two was about getting some good networking accomplished and getting real work done. Here’s everything I wrote from the conference (that isn’t under embargo):

I covered a bunch of panels for PocketGamer.biz. I thoroughly enjoy learning about the mobile development business, and the more I do, the more I realize just how much game development is more an integrated market than different sectors, i.e. “core,” “social” and “mobile.” I never really thought about that breakdown but it’s an undercurrent that runs throughout games media coverage, and it’s not reflected by my experience covering various portions of the gaming industry.

Two of my panels were specifically about the Japanese mobile market, where I learned about a company called Supernova that makes GPS-based games in Kyoto, and heard an argument for why Western developers should consider moving into the Japanese mobile market. I think the former idea of GPS-based games is really interesting, and could be applied to numerous American cities with historical sites. I’m not sure about how viable the Japanese mobile market is for American mobile developers, however.

Matt Small of Vector Unit gave a really interesting session about what console developers need to know before they begin working in the mobile sector. Randy Smith, the Creative Director of Tiger Style, gave a fantastic post-mortem of their game Waking Mars, and really broke down the iterative process in excellent and illuminating detail.

Last, Paul O’Connor from Appy Entertainment broke down how mobile developers can take premium gaming apps and turn them into hybridized freemium gaming apps. This latter subject really hit home as I saw more free-to-play PC games at GDC than anything else, which is how the mobile market is making 48% of its revenue according to some studies.

I covered two panels for G4, a post-mortem of the classic arcade game Gauntlet, and a panel where Will Wright, Sid Meier, Cliff Bleszinski and John Romero talked about the games that inspired them. The Gauntlet panel was a fun crash-course in the arcade game business model as well as an interesting look at how the game came to be, but the “Forgotten Tales” panel was great for exposing me to the word “electromechanicals.” They were a class of game produced in-between pinball games and video games, and I had a chance to play quite a few of them at Musée Mécanique in San Francisco on Saturday afternoon.

I wrote two previews for G4, as well, one of which is embargoed until mid-March. My preview of PixelJunk 4am was clear to run immediately, though, and if you enjoy musical games, this one is an absolute must-read. If you own a PlayStation 3 and like music games, doubly-so!

I was grateful for the opportunity to write for Ars Technica again, this time covering the Medal of Honor: Warfighter reveal last Tuesday night. This took place early into GDC week, but more than any other event I attended, this reveal exemplified why I enjoy GDC so much…because the spectacle and massaged PR messaging of the triple-A consumer markets get really predictable, and therefore really boring, extremely quickly.

If you ever wonder why some video game journalists can seem jaded, consider that the “interview” Greg Goodrich did on stage that night was probably rehearsed time and time again. It’s almost insulting for Goodrich to sit down with those two men in front of a room of veteran game journalists and pretend that he was actually having a conversation. Keeping up the facade gets tiresome…and I’ve only been at this for a year and a half.

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