- Overall I really enjoyed the show. There was a lot of really great content - maybe too much - and got to see all but one of the sessions that I really wanted to get into. Even that one I managed to catch the tail end of.
- Having lots of contacts from GDNet helped open a few doors. I got to hang out in the press lounge a couple times because I could walk in "for a meeting with GDNet" - which also meant free access to the exclusive press-only wireless, which was a lot smoother (and more secure) than the open conference WLAN.
- Being bold with networking works well. I talked to several people about Epoch and worked my way into the annual AI programmers' dinner just by being willing to fight through the crowd and say something relevant. I think a lot of the "luminary" types appreciate it when someone comes up to them to truly talk shop rather than just bask in their glow, so to speak. I know I would in their position.
- I scheduled extra days on either end of the show. It was really important I think to help get acclimated to the area beforehand, and decompress a bit before dealing with the trip home afterwards. Plus I got to play tourist for a day, which was good clean fun. I will definitely be doing this again for future GDCs.
- I aggressively scheduled the entire week ahead of time, leaving slots to go explore the expo hall, time to just relax, and so on. I knew all of my sessions and had a complete plan for where I had to be at any given time of the day, all in my Palm. This proved to be extremely useful since by the end of the week I didn't have the mental energy to deal with such things; I could just rely on my plan and be comfortable knowing I'd end up in the right place.
- My laptop battery had no life left in it, and wouldn't hold a charge. This meant I was chained to wall sockets if I wanted to take notes or hit the internet. Wall sockets are a very, very valuable resource at GDC, so I didn't get to use my laptop very much. Most of the time it was just dead weight I had to lug around (17" notebooks aren't exactly portable). Thankfully, there was plenty of free note paper and pens available, so I got all my note-taking done anyways - just with a very sore hand afterwards.
- The weather was total crap. I hear next year will be in March, which should hopefully alleviate some of that. Maybe.
- I stayed at a hotel (the Westin St. Francis, for those who may attend in the future) which offered no free wireless. In the year 2008, when the hobos on the street offer free wireless access from their little fire barrels, it is absolutely idiotic that a nice hotel demands money to get on the internet. Screw the Westin. Next year I'll pick a better hotel, preferably the same one where everyone else is staying, so that we can party and such more effectively.
- I didn't budget very carefully and nearly killed my checking account. Next year I need to prepare a much better budget and make sure I have transferred enough money from savings into checking before making the trip. I'm too paranoid to use my online banking to do this on the road, so it needs to be done ahead of time.
- My voice recorder (just a cheap Sansa thing) didn't handle much of anything real well. It works fine for journalism-style recording where you talk directly at the little tiny mic, but for trying to record a session in a large room, it just didn't cut it. I might look at the settings to see if I can reconfigure it and try again, but overall, I was better served by just writing fast.
I'm definitely going back next year if I can. The experience was great and highly productive. Most everything went about as smoothly as can be expected, so I don't have any major plans for change for next time around.
Now I just have to find the patience to wait a whole bloody year for the next one [grin]