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Game Developers Conference 2018

Game Developers Conference 2018

I just noticed I haven't actually published a blog post since I started to detail out GDC last year.  I think I've started a "How living in Amsterdam is going" post a couple times, but haven't managed to finish that up. Hopefully soon. Anyways...

Last week I was back in the states for the annual Game Developers Conference (GDC). As it was my second time there, I felt much more prepared going into the event. Knowing where things are and how things generally work helps a lot in managing your time and quelling anxiety.  There are still some things I want to work on for next year, such as planning ahead for ancillary networking events and maybe even an after party (I'm looking at you Unity). I definitely need to work on putting myself out there more and try to make friends in the industry. I'm a pretty shy person, so that's a tough thing for me.

This trip, much like the last one, I spent a lot of my time in talks, presentations, and seminars on various subjects.  There always seems to be way more that I'd like to see than I have time to attend. But I did my best, and the rest I'll have to hit up on the vault later.  Here's the list I attended over the week for those that are curious.

  • The Year in Mobile Games
  • Good Game Design is like a Magic Trick
  • Practical IP Law for Indie Developers 301: Plain Scary Edition
  • Know Your Market: Making Indie Games That Sell
  • Crafting RPG Worlds in Real Environments with AR
  • Making Twitch Interactive with Twitch Extensions (Presented by Amazon)
  • New Mobile Frontiers: HTML5 Development Best Practices (Presented by Facebook)
  • Mobile Game Designers Notebook
  • Mobile Game Dev Stories
  • It's About Time: System Design for Mobile Free-to-Play
  • Job System & Entity Component System (Presented by Unity Technologies)
  • Board Game Design Day: Balancing Mechanics for Your Card Game's Unique "Power Curve"
  • Let's Be Realistic: A Deep Dive into How Games Are Selling on Steam
  • Indie Soapbox
  • Inside Oculus 2018 (Presented by Oculus)
  • Developing the Art of 'Fortnite'
  • GDC Microtalks 2018: Playing with Fire
  • 'Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality' Postmortem: VR Lessons *Burrrp* Learned
  • 'Horizon Zero Dawn': A Game Design Postmortem
  • How to Write Games for the Internet without Embarrassing Yourself
  • Playing with Pride: When Game Culture and LGBTQ Culture Collide
  • Marketing on Zero Budget
  • Micro Postmortems

One thing I made sure to hit up this year, after missing it last time, was the awards ceremony.  On Wednesday evening they have the IGF Awards Ceremony followed by the Game Developers Choice Awards. It was a hilarious and inspiring couple hours seeing some of the best of the best games and developers. Those of us not nominated or part of the nominated's friends and family were walled off in the back three quarters of the room, while the people at the front tables did some pretty good drinking it looked like.

I spent some time on the show floor on Wednesday and Thursday.  Being a part-time indie, a lot of the b2b offerings aren't super applicable to me.  However, there was still a good bit to see.  I got to try out the new Oculus Go headset and play a little bit of "They Suspect Nothing" at the Oculus booth. I spent a good deal of time at both the Amazon and Microsoft booths learning more about their services and collecting swag. I love the azure blue coloured xBox controller MS was handing out.  And I also got to play a little bit of Squanch Games' "Dr. Splorchy Presents: Space Heroes" on the new Lenovo Mirage Solo Daydream powered headset that they teamed up with Google on.

In the small bits of downtime I had, I managed to catch up with an old work friend, went to see the new Tomb Raider movie, and wander around SF a bit.

All in all, it was a really great week. I really hope that I can make it back again next year.  In the meantime, I'll be attending my second Unity conference (first in Europe) this June at Unite Berlin! I hope to have the game I'm working on formally announced by then!

2016 Microsoft HoloLens Hackathon Boston

2016 Microsoft HoloLens Hackathon Boston

A while back I found out about a hackathon sponsored by the Boston AR and Boston VR groups.  Microsoft had agreed to bring in a bunch of the developer headsets and let us hack up some new apps for them over the course of the weekend.  My coworker and I both applied.  I had almost forgotten about the whole thing until we both got invites the weekend before the event.  I'm so glad we did, because it was an absolute blast.

Friday night we were introduced to the platform and given an overview of how to use them, what the goals of the weekend were.  Shortly after we were turned loose to eat dinner and form our teams - which involved walking around pitching our idea to potential team members.

 Scott, a walking, idea pitching, billboard, and myself.

Scott, a walking, idea pitching, billboard, and myself.

Our original idea was to have sort of a virtual therapy animal.  A hologram animal you could interact with, talk to, and play games with to help deal with stress and anxiety.  We started out with the idea of a bird and somewhere along the way added the idea of a jelly fish.

Scottie and I found ourselves working with two incredibly fun artists - Costas Frost and Derek Johnson. And not only were they awesome artists, but they also brought some fantastic ideas to the team. One of which was our final character, Squiddy.  But the other ideas pushed us to adding an emotional reading feature to help autistic people who have difficult time reading emotions.  This was done by taking a picture using the webcam and using Microsoft's cognitive services Emotion API to read the faces.  Squiddy would then act out the emotion in an exaggerated fashion to help convey it to the user.

So that's what we set out to build over the course of the next 36ish hours. There was a lot of laughing, a bit of cursing, and a lot of bad-assery.  The result was a demo that had many people who tried it giggling with delight.

Here's a short demo of our CompAnimal, Squiddy, in action.  Sadly we weren't able to capture the emotion reading; but please take my word for it, it was awesome.

Here is our presentation deck.

If there was any doubt about how cool the HoloLens is check out this video of me playing Robo Raid on it. The robots just bust through the walls!