This guy pretty much sums up GDC.
I could have just as easily posted a picture of a young-to-middle-aged man-nerd with a prominent gut. A lot of game developers, it seems, could stand to lay off the puddings.
GDC is a weird conglomeration of lectures, exhibits that no one on Earth would have interest in visiting, and lines. People lined up to get the crappy food boxes they hand out everyday. People lined up to see Shigeru Miyamoto, Phil Harrison, and Eiji Aonuma. It's not quite the madhouse that E3 is (or was). And it's still struggling with whether or not it wants to be cool.
Mostly, though, it's five days of schwag and handshaking that you will never get back.
Koji Igarashi likes to apologize.
We're sitting in a private room, and Igarashi (the man shepherding Konami's Castlevania franchise), is having a hard time with his own game. He's showing off Castlevania: Dracula X Chronicles for the PSP, and he's doing pretty well, but is still unnerved whenever his character in the game dies.
"I'm a terrible gamer, don't you think?" he asks me through his translator. When I suggest that he's not bad, and that maybe the game's difficulty hasn't been tuned yet, he says, "Maybe I am too old."
Self-deprecation and apologies for the unfinished state of his video game aside, Igarashi is a pretty neat guy to talk with, even if a lot of stuff gets lost in the translation. When I asked him about the changes he's made to the Castlevania timeline, I got a 20-minute explanation in Japanese and three sentences in English from the translator that boiled down to, "the story in Castlevania Legends makes no sense."
Gamecock rented a bus and hijacked members of the press, shuttling them across San Francisco to attend a game demonstration for Fury, a wild RPG/ third-person online brawler fusion. Later, the company would throw GDC's most bitchingest after-hour party in an old theater that (oddly enough) also served as the venue for LucasArts' 2006 holiday party.
Oh, and the GameCock was also at GDC itself, punching mokes like GameSpy.com's Thierry "Scooter" Nguyen in the gut. Scooter really shouldn't have been smiling after being punched so...
Peter Molyneux, love him or hate him, gives a really good speech. At GDC, he had a packed crowd laughing and booing and hanging on his every word.
This, I thought, bodes well for Fable 2.
Anyway, Molyneux revealed some new features for his game. The big reveal, of course, was a dog companion that every player in Fable 2 will have access to. And this, of course, was to make the player care, to feel something, even if it's indifference.
Players will be able to use the Xbox Communicator headset to call their dogs, Molyneux said. And, he hinted, players will be able to meet other players' dogs?most likely online.
Also, Molyneux is cool enough to refer to a certain natural, biological act as "rumpy-pumpy love."
It happened at GDC, and I totally missed it.
On Wednesday, a bunch of game developers held a seminar titled "Burning Mad: Game Publishers Rant." And, as befitting a seminar about game developers ranting, there was much ranting to be had.
Enter Chris Hecker, one young brainiac who never heard of the old saying, the frog does not befoul the pond in which he swims.
Hecker called the Wii a piece of feces. Only he didn't use the word feces. And he claimed the Wii was nothing more than two GameCubes held together with duct tape. There was still some room in Hecker's mouth, so he opened it to stick the other foot in, when he suggested Nintendo make a console that does not suck ass.
Needless to say, the apology soon followed...
With the Game Developers Conference, you pay your money and you take your chances. Most of the seminars are at least salvageable, with some educational or entertainment value.
Other seminars are an hour of your life that you will never, ever get back.
Yesterday, I stumbled into a talk that was humorously titled by its speaker, "Music Licensing for the Jilted Generation." That was the most interesting thing about the talk.
I know nothing about music licensing. And when I left, I knew less than nothing. The man spent ten minutes reading off the features of the PlayStation 3 game SingStar.
The moral of the story: Follow the crowd. If a speaker attracts an audience so small you couldn't even field a baseball team, he's for sure someone you don't want to listen to...
Attendees at the Game Developers Conference got to see a whole lot of nothing about LucasArts' new Star Wars title Force Works. But today, LucasArts gave attendees of a seminar a brief look at the game's protagonist, an as-yet-unnamed no-goodnik serving as Darth Vader's secret apprentice.
Vader's apprentice got to torment Stormtroopers in what was basically a technology demo. He ripped Stormtroopers off a balcony, knocking them over a ledge (and smartly, two Troopers tried to grab on to said ledge, clinging to one another). Then, he picked up another enemy and held him in the air with Force powers, finally impaling him, mid-air, with a thrown lightsaber.
Oh, and the apprentice also holds his lit lightsaber behind his back when he's running or not fighting. Very cool.
The secret feature in Fable 2, the one its creator Peter Molyneux will be hyping, is love.
Actually, the secret feature in Fable 2, the one its creator Peter Molyneux is hyping, is a dog.
Molyneux revealed there were three great features in the Xbox 360 RPG Fable 2. Love, or the dog, was the first of them. Microsoft has forbidden Molyneux to talk much about the game. For Fable, Molyneux talked endlessly.
"I showed off presents I didn't have," he said.
Anyway, the dog part is real. As is love. The dog is an attempt to put real human emotion into video games. Each player will get a dog in Fable 2. The dog will love the player unconditionally, and Molyneux is betting players will love it right back.
Oh, and another great tidbit from Molyneux: Characters can have protected or unprotected sex. Unprotected sex leads to children and, since players can opt to take the role of a female, Fable 2 will be the first game where a player's character will become pregnant and will go into labor. No lie.
The Game Developers Conference brings together game makers from all across the globe. And yesterday, Microsoft put three of the greatest RPG makers on the same stage to discuss the evolution of the role-playing game.
Fable's Peter Molyneux, Mass Effect's Ray Muzyka, and the creator of the Final Fantasy series Hironobu Sakaguchi were tapped as panelists.
You can read the complete transcript of the event here.
Or, you can just skip all that and marvel at the sight of three game greats sharing space.
The other big announcement at Sony's pre-GDC Keynote party spoke of a virtual home for all PlayStation 3 users. Called Home, this will be a free download enabling people to enter a virtual world (filled, of course, with advertisements) where people can create a character, talk with friends, engage in games such as billiards and arcade titles, and decorate their own personal virtual apartment.
It's a lot like Second Life, Home is. It supports both text- and voice chat, and players can import pictures and videos to use in their personal space. For the demonstration, a virtual TV was purchased and placed in a user's home. A trailer for the new James Bond film was selected from stored content on the PlayStation 3 and then made to run on the TV set.
Oh, and then the TV set was dropped down the stairs to show that, yes, all items in Home have realistic physics. Miracles and wonder...