Indie Games at GDC

Posted: Sun, 18 Mar 2007 18:41:02 PDT

GDC 2007. Moscone Center. San Francisco, CA. Part 2

“So how was GDC?”

One could answer this question in so many ways. “It was a blast!” “AWESOME” “pretty good”. But to really define the GDC experience it can’t be done in one sentence. There was just too much good stuff. So much to see and lots to learn. There were new and upcoming games…
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket..Serious Games and Independent games…and Some of my current favorite games even had their own sessions(Ouendan! and Castlevania: Portrait of a Ruin) or just mentioned in relation to another topic during a session.
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Brain Age, for example, was mentioned in the session about Serious Games. And speaking of Brain Age – the next version will include a Dr. Mario type Brain game

GDC Keynotes, sessions, awards, the expo(Wed-Fri) and of course GDC involved networking all throughout. You were guaranteed to meet new people at GDC, either from lunchtime conversations or just during a session while waiting for it to start. At the Careers Expo pavillion, it was expected that you approach the different booths and ask about the company or even just to say thanks for the drink(free food and drink was available during Wednesday’s Expo Booth Crawl, although I didn’t see much food.).

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketThree halls make up the Moscone Center, something I didn’t realize until I got there.

West Hall was where I spent most of Wednesday, South Hall was the location for the keynotes and the IGF Awards and then there is North Hall. This is where you could pick up your free GDC 2007 shirt, available to all attendees upon taking a survey about the conference. You could take the survey in the North Hall if you wanted, but the West hall had a much shorter line so I took advantage of that. The I am 8 bit gallery had a few pieces on preview in
the North Hall too. I always wondered what the artwork is judged on, some of them were really impressive while others were meh, okay. Their new exhibit starts in LA Apr 17. Most of my sessions were in North Hall on Thursday, so I also got a chance to check out the North Hall Expo which featured the Independent Games Festival Booths.
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Independent Games

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketThere was plenty of support for Indie Game Developers especially the students who came from Digipen, GuildHall at SMU, Stanford University and other schools from all over the world. A few of these games were a breath of fresh air. The passion from these students was obvious and hearing about the all the blood, sweat and tears that went into the game creation was inspirational. But no matter how popular some of their games were they were all very modest. It was awesome to see and play the games that won awards from the night before. Here are just a few of the games that you had a chance to play at the IGF Booth.

Toblo!was the first game that I tried at the booth. Created by Digipen students, I got a chance to ask about the school itself. The game creator that was there said something along the lines of “Digipen’s a lot of hard work but they pump out good people”. Almost everyone involved in Toblo! now have jobs. Toblo! involved picking up blocks and destroying the block buildings. There was also a capture the flag element where you had to avoid a few enemies.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketAnother game that caught my eye was Sungkyunkwan University’s Rooms by the HandMadeGame team. Lead designer and programmer Kim Jonghwa’s postmortem was featured on the Game Career Guide. In 2006 his first project, Palette, was the IGF Student Winner. His second project, Rooms, uses the concept of a sliding puzzle and real images for the game, the character used was captured in front of a blue screen. This gives the game an eerie, mysterious type feel. Reminiscent of games that included cinematic sequences, the object of the game is to escape from a mysterious mansion by arranging the pieces of the room shown. Players can only use items that lie inside the room and use that item at the right time.
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The first ever GDC Korea will soon be taking place in September right after the Tokyo Game Show. If this is any indication of the creativitiy of Korean developers, then GDC Korea will definitely be a sight to see.

Aquaria, I tried only briefly because I wasn’t sure where to go, and during the time I was at their display, the Bit Blob team must have been taking a break so no one was available to talk about the game. Aquaria is a 2d side-scrolling game where you explore an underwater world and can morph into different versions of the character. I was really impressed by the look of the game. The underwater world is really gorgeous.

Everyday Warrior, won an award but didn’t have anyone to talk about the game when I came by. Another curious GDC attendee was playing and got stuck. She wasn’t sure how to leave the current room she was in and kept trying to click on the door. After trying for a few minutes she gave up and I gave it a try. It reminded me an old sci-fi movie where you wake up and aren’t sure who you are, because you have to talk to different characters who tell you where you’re supposed to be and who you should go talk to. The controls could use some work but the game’s storyline was interesting.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketAnd yet it Moves, taking inspiration from Loco Roco was a challenging game to get used to. The levels were designed to look like ripped up paper put together, and the character couldn’t stand long drops, so I ended up starting over more than a few times. While waiting to play I ran into Wayne who met Rez the other day at Ouendan. He saw my blog on Planning for GDC sessions and decided to come to GDC himself! Kind of ironic that we ended up going to the Loco Roco session right after trying “And yet it Moves”.

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Here’s Wayne and I with the “And Yet It Moves” Developers

There were many more Independent Games to see as I found out later that day after talking with others at Suite Night but I never got a chance to go back to the Independent Games booth on Friday..be sure to check out Rez’ blog for more on the innovative Independent Games found at GDC, like Racing Pitch by Skinflake Games.

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