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GDC thoughts

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Well, I'm back. If you haven't seen my GDC handiwork, check it out here and here. Yes, I know that the interview with MathEngine was awfully short. I just wanted to give the readers a quickie overview of what MathEngine was, not really an in-depth discussion of how it worked.

Since I did it last year, I'm gonna re-borrow a trite metaphor and give out. . .

John Hattan's GDC 2000 Good, Bad, and Ugly!

The Good

The food. Feeding 7000 developers can't be easy, but the box-lunches were plentiful and good. The sandwiches were big enough to be filling, and the sides were good. The only loser of the bunch was a vegetarian box-lunch I grabbed one day, which was a mushy sandwich with leathery mushrooms.

The Shuttle buses. The GDC hired two or three Greyhound buses to shuttle from the outlying hotels to the show. They were running about every 15-30 minutes, and they were quite convenient. A person could easily get by without a car.

The expo floor. Despite the annoying music and constant bevy of booth-babes to constantly remind me that the main difference between a game development convention and a Star Trek convention is the amount of money behind it, there was plenty to see and do. Once again, I preferred the smaller outlying booths. The genuinely interesting new technologies tended to be far from the gigantic video-card pavilions.

The IGF contest. I've never cared much about the whole IGF concept, and previous efforts at awards were poorly done, so I wasn't holding out hope that they'd do it right this year. This year, though, they located the contest in a good spot, and it worked much better. It was quiet enough to get to know the developers, and the actual award-ceremony wasn't a packed mob.

Cool as TreadMarks looks, my favorite of the set was Blix. It's more my speed :)

Chu Chu Rocket! It was in a couple of places, running on Dreamcast. Despite the very silly premise, it's a terrific puzzle game, and I expect to see several new puzzle games of this type show up soon.

Mason McCuskey. Seemed like a nice guy, and his game at the IGF was cool. He laughed when I correctly speculated that his game pieces were done with the Kai's Power Tools Spheroid tool, as they bore a striking resemblance to the pieces in some of my games.

Maybe we should team up and write Secrets of the Discount Rack Gurus :)

The Bad

Much as I hate to say it, GameDev.net's coverage was miserable. I think my conversation with the guy from DVDReporter summed it up. . .

Him: Hey, you've been taking a lot of pictures. Where can I check 'em out?

Me: They're at www.gamedev.net

[after five minutes of checking out the site]

Him: Looks good. What have the rest of your friends been doing?

Me: I guess they'll be putting up coverage on Monday

Him: Isn't that too late?

Me: *sigh* Yep.

I'd be surprised if we are invited back as press. They didn't get their money's worth out of us.

The Ugly

The lectures. Half of the lectures were stuff that had played year after year. Programming lectures were down, and general business lectures were up. On the whole, there were only about four lectures that I really wanted to see. Since the lectures are the core of the GDC, that's a big problem. They're gonna have to dump most of the lectures that repeat year-after-year and get in some fresh stuff.

My z50 laptop. Crapped out with video problems after unpacking it from my suitcase. Thankfully, I threw in my cheesy old 386sx laptop at the last minute, so I had something to write up the picture captions. I later sold the laptop to TANSTAAFL for $27, so I didn't have to lug it home. I guess that's a mixed blessing :)

The booth for Happy Puppy and Computer Games Strategy Plus. They appear to have gone in together on a small outlying booth. The first day, they had a banner and a pile of magazines. The second day, they just had a banner. The third day, there was nothing. I guess they just thought it'd be a good way to lose industry respect and $3500 booth rental at the same time

The handheld presence. Palm was there the first day with a small booth, but later disappeared. Windows CE was only mentioned in the same sentence as Dreamcast. If it's a market that's exploding as the pundits claim, you don't see it here.

I'm certain I'll be posting more bits as I think of it, but that's my report for now.
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