Dual coverage - Retaining publishers and Scrum myths
I dropped my voice recorder off with Jason Della Rocca, who was moderating a panel including Tom Buscaglia on how to court and retain publishers for game studios. So that's on tape, I'll be listening to that and writing that up when I get home. Then I took my notebook to Clinton Keith's session on Scrum myths and covered it the old-fashioned way. Clint gave a brief overview of what Scrum is and then proceeded to cover a number of myths surrounding Scrum, like people thinking you don't need competent management with Scrum, or that Scrum is the silver bullet for producing good games or that Scrum is just another production methodology. Then he wraps up with what Scrum actually is and how to get your studio using Scrum without a huge culture upset in the way things are done.
Game audio in game design
Duncan Watt, founder of contract audio house FastestManInTheWorld, gave a talk on how game audio can be used in game design, covering various types of in-game audio like ambient/reactive sounds, which play in the background and help to create mood or setting; source sounds, which come from an in-game objects like the radio from Portal; creative sounds, like using sound as the actual gameplay such as Guitar Gero. He gave a lot of examples from games like Fable 2, Mario Kart, LittleBigPlanet, Resident Evil 4, and more, that demonstrated the various types of music. Duncan's main goal was to enlighten designers and make them start to think about cool ways to use game music to enhance the player experience rather than just including it because running around in silence is boring.
Diary of a studio startup
Stephane (pronounced Stefan) D'Astous, General Manager of Eidos Montreal, gave a lengthy talk into how the studio was born and what he and the rest of the team had to go through along the way over the past 18 months of the studio's existence. In the beginning of course it was just Stephane, working at home at his desk scouting out an office location, talent, and going through the red tape of setting up a new company. Then they brought on the core team for their first development group (of three planned) and moved into some temporary offices in the building they ended up actually leasing their main offices. After the main offices were constructed then they began hiring in earnest, announcing their first project - DeusEx 3. Phase II of the company involved knocking down some walls and building out the floor to accept upwards of 300 people, and they started building their second development team, which would be working on the "T" project - a game that begins with a T (if you're an Eidos fan this shouldn't be hard to decipher. Hint: it is a franchise).
Stephane provided tons of pictures and a lot more inside information with regards to the studio forming, such as the huge upset at the Eidos headquarters over in the UK that went down in 2007. He also wrapped up with a large 14-item list of goals he defined when starting the studio, that have helped to lead Montreal Eidos to a successful conclusion at this date.
I went out to dinner with some friends after the conference was over for the day, but upon returning to my hotel room to drop off my stuff before heading out to the conference party, I suddenly felt so tired I just decided to stay in a pass out - I slept for like 10 hours. Isn't it amazing how tired you can be after sitting on your ass all day? Well, that and I only got about 4-5 hours sleep the night before.