GDC Summary

So at the end of the day, I went to Ubisoft to meet up with my mentor for the last time. Joe came along too, such that I wouldn’t have to walk by myself.

The greatest thing about winning this scholarship was definitely the mentor program. Chris is such a nice guy, with lots of industry experience, and is completely devoted to helping young people coming into the industry from an education route. I’m certain he’s a person I will keep in touch with! Joe and I thought it would be awesome if IGDA had a mentoring program beyond the GDC scholarship, because it’s such an incredibly helpful opportunity to have a mentor; someone with much more experience than you that you don’t have to worry about impressing, but instead are able to ask questions and come to with stories and concerns.

The first thing I’m doing when I get home is writing my mentor a nice little thank-you card. I imagine that Chris would be the sort of person who would love to bring Ubisoft to the ETC in a similar way that many other game companies do, though his schedule as a producer is so busy that this might not be a possibility. Even still, I feel very grateful that I have this awesome person to go to for advice and help whenever I need it.

It seems Andy wasn’t the only one to catch a cold at the IGDA party. We’re sitting in the airport and the Schell Games crew showed up, towing a few sniffling, coughing, sore-throated members of their own. We’re all on the same red-eye flight back to Pittsburgh, so that’s pretty cool.

In closing, I’m really glad I had the opportunity to come to GDC. It was exhausting, yes, but a fantastic and worthwhile experience that I will not take for granted!

GDC Thursday and Friday

So I fell behind on my daily updates, whoops! Thursday was largely uneventful. I worked the career floor and talked with a lot of different companies. I went to one panel about the Future of MMOs, but it grew so snippy and snarky that I decided to duck out early, especially after learning that Andy had met up with Bryan Cash on the expo floor. <3 Bryan Cash! We had a lovely lunch, but the rest of the afternoon was lost to me. I had forgotten to take my medicine the day before, and so was quite exhausted and in a lot of pain by the afternoon. Andy, growing more and more ill by the day, was also ready to turn in, so we went back to the hotel and had a very restful evening. Today was much better (and I kept my exhaustion in check with a Mt. Dew). I saw two very interesting talks: one about Entrepreneurship and Pandemic, and one which was an Expo of start-up companies (none of which were game companies, but which had some innovative tie to the game industry: patch clients that doubled as social networks, microtransaction management services for MMOs, and the like). After lunch, we hit up the career floor to watch Andy impress the crowd with his Guitar Hero skills, and then the expo floor again to play some of the Independent Game Festival games. For now I'm relaxing and considering attending the Portal post-mortem. At 5 I'll be visiting my mentor at Ubisoft, and then the lot of us ETCers will be flying back to Pittsburgh on a red-eye. All in all, I'm very glad I came to GDC. There was much to learn and many people to see, and I feel it was well worth it, and am thrilled to have won the scholarship. I am, however, exhausted to the core of my bones. So many people! I am drained and dry, but still excited to get back to the ETC and apply what I've learned to Bandology. I will, however, likely need a full day of sleep to catch my brain up, and another full day of emailing follow-ups to everyone I've met at the conference. Hooray for GDC! Hooray for Lisa Brown: Game Designer!

GDC Wednesday Afternoon

So, we didn’t make it to Ubisoft this afternoon, but that’s okay. Instead, my mentor and I walked the Expo floor, and it was great fun times! There were some interesting setups, yes, but mostly we just had fantastic conversations about this and that and the other. My mentor is brilliantly easy to talk to.

We ran into Brenda, and I introduced the two, and we had an intriguing conversation about improv acting and its role in the industry (and in all industries! Everyone should take an improv class, in my opinion). We also had fun scoping out our favorites of the Independent Games Festival (go World of Goo and Polarity! Also? AudioSurf is FREAKIN AMAZING).

This evening I spent chillaxin with Andy (who is a bit sick, as are many people, I blame the IGDA party!). We watched Robot Chicken and MythBusters and a fantastic show about sea critters (if I see a cuttlefish on TV, I can’t resist) and have a lovely time. We finished off the evening with a great Bandology meeting, and I’m excited about my return to school and the work I’ll be doing.

Looking forward to another exciting day tomorrow!

I am a Game Designer

This morning at GDC, I made a career change.

Now, don’t misunderstand, this wasn’t an on-the-fly decision. It’s something that’s been bubbling and building for a couple of months now. Last night, Tracy and Andy tipped me over the edge by suggesting I would probably get the most out of a design internship this summer versus any other type.

This morning I went to talk about High Impact’s production process, given by one of their lead designers. I had a moment of recognition that truly, I was sitting on the wrong side of the court. After the session, I plopped down, pulled out my laptop, nudged Jesse online and said “I think that maybe I should be looking for a design internship and not a production internship.”

He responded, “I think you might be right.” I could almost hear him smirking through the internet, the knowing smirk of someone who’s known this about me for a good while, but was nudging and waiting for me to figure it out on my own.

Commitment! I spent the next couple of hours sitting on the floor of the convention center, frantically rewording my website and reworking my resume. Andy stopped by between sessions to sit with me and help revise my resume. Jesse stopped by to sit with me for support. A smattering of other ETCers stopped by to see what I was up to, and when I relayed my sudden career change, responded with, “Well, DUH!”

Why does everyone else figure these things out about me before I do?? Nevertheless, the changes were made, and I’m ready to hit the Career Expo tomorrow with my new goal. Huzzah!

Other highlights today included a big Bandology lunch (with past and present members alike), then a session given by Bungie on Matchmaking in Halo 3. It was extremely informative, though now I have Fiddler in the Roof stuck in my head.

Now I’m chillin and waiting for my my mentor, such that we can go adventure at Ubisoft. Huzzah!

GDC Tuesday Afternoon

Well, I’d intended to go back to see another session, but instead I spent most of the afternoon sitting and chatting with Drew and Activision Jason, and later, Brenda. It was a fine chat about the history and motives behind GDC, the role of educators in the conference, and my curious foray into Game Design. ETCers and other industry folk joined and left our table in a steady stream. This was a much preferred environment for me compared to a packed session, especially in my sleepy state.

After a leisurely dinner at the food court, we returned to our hotels to prepare for the giant IGDA party being thrown tonight. I promptly fell asleep. I doubt I will be scorned for skipping out on the party, nor will my absence likely be noticed (they are expecting 2000 people to attend). The fact of the matter is, I’m exhausted, and the conference proper hasn’t even begun yet! I need to rest up if I intend to survive the rest of the week at all.

I blame the large amount of people, which quickly drain away my energy. Andy says I should just pretend every person at the conference is actually a dog, since puppies seem to give me so much energy (Brenda agrees, thinking it would be extremely fun to think of what breeds people would be). Activision Jason says that creating a defensive energy bubble around oneself is a learned skill, and that I merely need to work my way to 375 (how I grind this skill, I have no idea).

For now, I’ll call it an early night. There’s a session at 9am tomorrow that I really want to go see, so an early bedtime won’t hurt in the least!

GDC Tuesday Morning

Today was the day of scholar activities, and I am quite worn out! In the morning we all met up and went over to Three Rings Design for a tour. This was great, because it was one of the companies I wasn’t able to see on the West Coast Trip. Three Rings is a fantastical place, visually, and their company model is one I am fond of. They were very friendly and open, and are giving all the scholars alpha test accounts for Whirled.

Afterwards, we met up with our mentors, which was the most exciting part of the day for me! They matched up each of the scholars with an industry professional in the line of work we were interested in. Mine is a producer at Ubisoft, and is really cool. We wandered off to figure out our schedule for the conference, and had a fabulous conversation about production and the game industry in general. He’s going to arrange a tour of Ubisoft for me (the studio here is mostly a publishing house with a small development team).

He set off to another meeting and I wandered about until I found Carlos, who is also doing computery sorts of errands. Tonight is the big IGDA party, which I may go to, but am sort of dreading. Large gatherings of people drain me to the bone. But who knows, it could be fun!

For now, I think I’m going to go seek out that bean bag chair lounge again…

GDC Monday Afternoon

The summit talk after lunch was all about revenue models for Free-to-play games, and was very interesting. It was also very popular, and the room was so crammed full that I had to escape afterwards for a re-charge.

Wandering about, I found that the convention has a bean bag chair lounge in the middle of the floor outside the exhibit hall! Brilliant! I chilled out for awhile, soon joined by Tracy, Edmundo, Jake, and Alyson. I decided to sit there on a bean bag and work out what talk I wanted to see in the afternoon, and promptly fell asleep. Doh!

Upon waking, I walked back with Tracy and Jesse. There’s a big, glass-enclosed carousel outside the convention center that looks very fun, and Jesse and I resolved to ride it before GDC is over. “I will have to schedule a time this week to ride it,” I said.

Jesse turned to me with the most incredulous, laser-eyed glare he could muster and scoffed, “I’m not scheduling when I ride the carousel.” I barked back in defense of my inability to be spontaneous, and Tracy berated us both on the silliness of a glass-enclosed carousel to begin with. It was all in good fun, of course. We parted ways with Jesse and returned to the hotel.

Tonight, I met up with the other GDC scholars for dinner at the food court. There are an abundance of interesting people, and many a business card was exchanged. One girl is going to be a first-year at the ETC next year, so I am determined to get her properly introduced to Jesse and Drew.

Yay networking!

GDC Monday Morning

So for today, Bandology split up between the Casual Games Summit and the Worlds in Motion Summit. I went to the latter, which is about virtual worlds and massively multiplayer experiences (as Jesse says, “it sounds like a girl came up with the name to that summit,” at which I shook my fist threateningly, at which he smirked).

I picked the summit to learn what I can about MMOs to apply to Bandology. What I discovered, to my surprise, is that there exists in this industry an animosity between “virtual worlds” people (Second Life, Social Networking experiences, etc.) and “mmo game” people (WoW, Club Penguin). This startled me, as I’d never perceived the friction between the two groups until today in this room!

The first two speakers were so-so, but the third guy from GoPets () gave a great talk about Game Interface over User Interface. I think I absorbed a lot of Bandology-relevant tidbits from that talk.

For now, I must finish my lunch and head back to the summit. Stay tuned for more!


Today I fly off with my project team to the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.

I am extremely excited, if not a little nervous (this will be the most gigantic conference I’ve ever attended). On Monday I’ll be attending a summit about MMOs, hopefully to absorb what I can learn to apply it to Bandology. Tuesday I’ll be running about with the GDC scholars (I won a scholarship to attend GDC, so there’s all kinds of perks with that). The rest of the week I’ll be running about to this session and that, and maybe this party and that, and whatever social networking you tend to do at conferences.

I am armed with a stack of business cards and a tiny notebook, and we shall see what GDC brings!

My goal is to blog a bit about each day, but even if that doesn’t happen, I’ll likely be twittering left and right if you like bite-sized updates.