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GDC Wednesday

My first day at my first GDC ever and it’s been good. Let’s rewind a bit. I arrived in San Francisco at 8:40pm last night, hopped on the BART (that’s Bay Area Rapid Transit, which is to say, it’s the subway type train) and made it to downtown SF near Chinatown. My hotel is just outside the Chinatown gate, though Chinatown here is more like a street. Anyway, I walked around the city trying to find the hotel for about 40 minutes. When I finally did get to the hotel I figured out that I could’ve simply just walked down the street from where I got off the BART and I would’ve been fine. But, I had to get lost-ish.

I finally made it to the hotel around 10pm, ordered some Phad Thai from some Thai restaurant who I’m not going to name because they’re terrible and I don’t want to give them business. They managed to deliver my food to the hotel but forgot to supply me with a fork, or chopsticks, or even so much as a toothpick in order to eat the scrumptious looking food in front of me. So I had to ask the hotel lobby attendant if he had any. Luckily, he had an entire zip-lock bag full of them. I guess the restaurants here don’t like to give utensils on take out food. Meh. The food itself wasn’t bad, and it was quite filling. Then I went to bed around midnight after a couple games of Mahjong which was only fitting since I am just outside Chinatown.

I started the day off by waking up 1 hour late, which is to say that I woke up at 7:19 and then fell back asleep and woke up at 8:30. Threw on clothes from yesterday and went downstairs to get breakfast. The hotel only serves breakfast until 9am. It was pretty shabby really, some bread, jam, OJ. I’ll likely eat breakfast at a restaurant tomorrow. There’s a Subway just down the road a bit. Maybe I’ll do that. Anyway, did the usual hygienic stuff that one normally does and headed out toward Moscone Center, which is where GDC is. There are 3 buildings, West is where the Career Pavilion is, North is the Expo, and South is the Summits and Tutorials. All of them have talks somewhere or other.

I started off in the West, and hit up several companies that appeared to be hiring what I’m after, which is tools programming. Let’s see, I talked to WMS, they make slot machine games for casinos, based in Chicago. I have a friend with them, John Theiss, who I believe is still hunting zebras in the heart of Chicago with no luck, though he has come close. Next up I talked to Ubisoft and THQ. Ubisoft wasn’t terribly promising, but THQ was. I have many friends at THQ companies, so that could be a good lead, though the one company I really want to work at within THQ, Volition, isn’t hiring programmers at the moment. Then I spoke with CCP, who makes Eve Online. Apparently they have offices in Atlanta and they’re looking for interns for the summer. I’d prefer a full time position, but they are paid internships and they hire a lot of entry level from the internships. So it looks like I may have to do that for a bit if I want in on the games industry this year. Following that I talked to Sony Computer Entertainment America, which is pretty much the whole Playstation division of Sony, and they too are doing the internship thing. Lastly Microsoft, who is doing same. So that’s a few leads there.

Next up, I met with a friend for lunch and we went back to his hotel room to drop off some stuff and then wandered around there for a bit. He’s staying at the Hyatt, which is amazingly nice. We went all the way to top and wow, amazing view of the city. Then we went to Lori’s Diner for some good ole’ 50s style American dining. Ordered up a burger, which was pretty decent and kept me going for another 5 hours. After lunch, we headed over to Moscone North to check out the Expo (had to leave some Career Pavilioning for tomorrow y’know). Most of it was pretty standard showy hype. There was a few interesting tidbits that I’d like to share though. First, HeroEngine, created by Simutronics is being shown and I asked the guy about Hero’s Journey after he commented that there’s a bet between Bioware (used in The Old Republic) or some other company for getting the first HeroEngine game out. This saddens me just a little, because it means that Hero’s Journey won’t be coming out anytime soon. Oh well, I’ll just dabble in Gemstone IV every few years until it becomes reality. On the bright side, HeroEngine is pretty rad, so TOR should be interesting if anything.

I decided to continue on my merry way and found my way to NaturalPoint’s booth. NaturalPoint, for those that don’t know, and I certainly didn’t when I got there, make TrackIR. And for those who have no idea what TrackIR is, it allows you to look around in a virtual cockpit using a camera and 3 Infrared LEDs at varying heights and distances. I told them about you Bobby and I think they’re coming to Seattle to beat you up. You were warned. ;) But seriously, I did talk to the sales manager for the company, he was the only one free, and he’s pretty cool. He was a little disappointed when I told him we built one and apparently the program you’re using is equivalent to the F-bomb around the company, but he said that you should try TrackIR. So I did. It works a bit better than what you have going, and it’s mounted to a pair of headphones making it far smaller than your setup. They also have a monitor mounted 60 FPS camera which is a bit sturdier than having a Wiimote laying on your monitor. Anyway, my point is, it’s actually a nice product. I talked to this guy for about 20 minutes and I’m going to follow up with him after GDC.

Booth crawl time, free booze, woo! Okay, I only had one. I’m not the best drinker in the world. Met up with a ton of people from DigiPen just hanging out at the DigiPen booth and rested our legs from all that walking. There’s the German Game Developer Association right across the way, so we pretended we were them. It was fun. Time came to go to the Independent Games Festival/Game Developer’s Choice Awards. Had a whole crowd of DigiPen folks taking up some 2 rows where I sat. Being the kind of people we are, we were cheering on Tag: The Power Of Paint to win the Student Showcase and so they did. And it was good. In case you’re wondering, Fallout 3 took the GDCA Game of the Year. I guess maybe I have to actually finish it now.

After the show, we went out to dinner. Imagine 13 people crowded around one table in a 50s themed diner. Yeah, there was barely any room around us. This time around it was Mel’s Drive-in. Just north-ish one block up the street from Moscone West in case you want to go there if you’re in SF. I had the largest chicken pot pie I’ve ever seen in my life. And it was great.

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    One Response to “GDC Wednesday”

  1. Bobby Moretti Says:

    Glad you’re having a good time at GDC.

    NaturalPoint is more than a little evil, though. They use all sorts of tactics to preserve their monopoly. They are afraid of competition. Really, they have only themselves to be disappointed in. If they wanted to compete for my dollar, they could have offered a competitive price, or made the product so much better that it was worth it. It’s a nice product, but not $120 nice. And plus, it was much more fun and I learned a lot more from building my own.

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