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GDC Postmortem

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With my GDC coverage complete, it's that time of year again to look back at this past GDC and reflect on all aspects in order to be ready come next year.

The Good

Whoo hoo! Press-only wifi in the press lounge! Finally! The connection was so fast and constant that it was the one place in the conference I could remote connect to my desktop at home to check my email. Posting things from the press room was a no-hassle deal this year, at long last.

The Expo was consolidated in the expansive North Hall this year, instead of being split between North and West. Hells of a lot better, since last year I would have a press briefing in West Hall and then have to hoof over to North for another press briefing. What a pain that was. They also kept the Career Pavilion separate from the Expo in West Hall which was great because the Expo itself was less crowded and more focused but on the minuscule downside that meant all the cool graft was located elsewhere.

Hahaha - ping pong balls. I didn't hear as much buzz about them as I did with the gum last year, but I did hear a few mentionings about the coolness. At one point while on an escalator going down one bounced past me between the two escalators, and Tobi Saulner used em for Katamari starters at the IGDA booth.

Not having to worry about a kiosk or booth to staff really kept us unshackled this year, and I don't think any of us missed it or feel that we missed out on any opportunities because we didn't have it.

At the annual AI Dinner, I announced GDNet's donation of $550 to the Eric "Geta" Dybsand Scholarship Fund (part of the IGDA Foundation), and handed out a bunch of GDNet "I Make Games" t-shirts, which everyone wanted but not everyone got. That was fun.

The Game Developers Choice/IGF Awards were awesome. Again.

The Bad

Although the wifi press access was awesome, it obviously was only in the press lounge. This wouldn't be a terrible issue if the press lounge wasn't located at the top floor, way in the back corner of Moscone West. It actually would have been a bit farther back if the Game Connect expo had not been taking up the rear half of that floor. Sequestering the press lounge made it a pain to pop in between sessions and take advantage of the wifi. If they could locate the press lounge in a more central location, or even set up a satellite lounge at Moscone North, it would have been even better.

Not getting to see and spend time with everyone that I wanted to was regrettable as well. It's nice knowing so many people but not so nice when you don't get to see them all or all that often.

I didn't get a chance to try out the Emotiv neuro headset.

The Ugly

Besides the weather, which was crappy more often than not during GDC week, this was a pretty damn good year all things considered. I find that comforting.

What I Did Right

I made sure to leave some open space in my schedule each day for any opportunities that arose at the conference, which let me sit down for a talk with Introversion and several other people whom I didn't schedule time for in advance.

My photos this year were better than last, especially the awards show ones. I became a lot more comfortable with the manual focusing. I still had some issues with blurriness and improper lighting. I need to practice some more and maybe sign up for a seminar or something as well.

The way we handled the coverage this year, which I planned for last year, really helped us stay on track better and not be overwhelmed by the conference until after we got home, which was more manageable. At the same time it may have maybe let us all take on a bit too much than we could handle after getting back home and trying to summarize everything.

What I Did Wrong

I counted on wireless access too much while at the conference and the hotel (which didn't have a LAN port even though I remembered to bring a cable). Having to still go to specific areas to get online crippled me in several ways. Plus, none of the connections except in the press lounge were fast enough to let me log into my desktop to check my email, despite minimal remote connection settings. Even resorting to web-based email was bad thanks to all the spam (which my desktop filters). I also didn't keep up with my promise to Twitter regularly - I didn't activate my Twitter mobile access until practically the last day, which I knew wouldn't be hard to do yet I still waited anyways.

I still don't know how to properly utilize a digital voice recorder. I left it on its default settings all week long, when I definitely should have changed the microphone sensitivity. Set on High, it picked up way too much of everything. The sessions had horrible echo acoustics that made them hard to understand, and interviews in crowded areas were practically drowned out. Plus, my cell phone seemed to interfere horribly, causing intermittent buzzing static that made the audio indecipherable.

I totally mis-judged the work load I would have upon returning home thanks to the Indie Games Summit. A full-day seminar on a single topic is fairly easy to summarize, however the Summit featured numerous topics each day, and each required its own unique summary - two of them even topped 3,000 words!

I screwed up my scheduling by slotting things in the week the schedule was released - but I guess it wasn't "finalized" because when I got to GDC several of my sessions had been shuffled around. I've never had this happen to me before even though I know they hand out addendums when the conference starts. First time for everything.

What I Want To Do Next Year

Feedback and discussion on coverage is always valuable to us and the rest of the community, but it's never been prominent in our coverage. Next year I'll remember to tell Richard to work the comments directly into the article/picture pages at the bottom so that they are more visible and hopefully lead to more discussion.

RSS feed for the coverage updates. I'm not a big RSS user still so I never thought of this until Simon Carless from Gamasutra asked about it.

Take my DVR to a crowded area (like the mall) with a friend and sit down and talk, recording for a few minutes on different settings, then repeat the process in a quieter area and check the results so I'll know better what level of sensitivity to set the mic (I'll most likely do this before my next conference though). Oh and I'll also turn off my phone during sessions, or figure out how far away from the recorder to keep it so I don't get interference.

I want to cover the Indie Games Summit again, but I'll be much more picky about attending sessions from Wed-Fri so I don't over-extend myself again.

I'm definitely investing in an AirCard or similar device to hook up to the cellular network on my laptop when I can't access any wifi points. Again, this'll probably happen before next year since I have more conferences to attend.

Totally double-checking my schedule the week before and then again at the start of GDC to make sure that my sessions are still listed properly.

What I'm Looking Forward To Next Year

Hopefully taking another student scholar under my wing. This year was great getting to guide someone around, and even better that he didn't need a whole lot of help from me while actually at the conference. It was an experience I enjoyed greatly.

A scaled-down press corps. They're saying that GDC will definitely be invite-only for press next year, which I hope will make it easier for the press management team at GDC to provide services for us in attendance. I'm interested to see how this turns out, and how many people we'll be allowed to bring next year. Looking at our coverage so far though, I think we'll be fine.

More real-time updates via blogging/twitter/etc. I expect us all to be equipped with AirCard-like support (or maybe even able to access some sort of WiMAX by then??) so that logging in to post updates and even live-blogging will be possible at all times.

Finally, being able to attend the GDC in March again! February SUCKED!

What do you think?

If you have any comments on our coverage, please post them below!!
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