The Game Developers’ Conference has come and gone, but we here at TotalPlayStation are still talking about it – Infamous 2, Resistance 3, The Darkness II, and, of course, Shenmue III. But much more than the particulars of this year’s specific show, there are the holistic generalities: what is the role of the conference in the structure that is known as public relations? Just how should the average gamer – and journo – perceive and interact with the event? And should something major be done to GDC, such as stripping the public at large of its access and rendering it a cabalistic, ritualistic affair?
Our victim… er… topic of conversation? This year’s GDC. It’s come and gone in the blink of an eye. And I know, based on comments I’ve heard, that some of you were more disappointed than others. So let loose – how disappointed are you? Was there anything at all for PlayStation fans to enjoy? Or was it all developer mumbo-jumbo?
I actually thought it was a really good show. Obviously, it’s never going to be E3 (or, at least, I hope that’s the case), but there were a few neat reveals that I’m churning through right now and there should be plenty for our readers to digest by the time they hear about our little conversation here. The reveal of The Darkness II took both JD and I by surprise; Digital Extremes is really embracing the comics side of things, and they’ve done a hell of a job with capturing a kind of semi-cartoony, exaggerated feel to the animation and cutscenes. It really does look like a comic brought to life, and any worries I had about Starbreeze not being on the project anymore were allayed by the short little demo they showed us.
Some of the other reveals, like Infamous 2’s Mission Creator, Resistance 3’s multiplayer stuff, just getting the chance to go hands-on with some of the single-player bits of both those games – plus final MotorStorm Apocalypse – seeing what Snowblind has been up to with their Lord of the Rings game, and seeing some indie stuff that we may or may not be actually getting on the PSN was really neat. Personally, I would have liked to have been able to jump into more sessions and just listen to devs talking about their stuff, but, overall, the show was surprisingly packed with updates and new information on a lot of games we knew were coming. E3’s the time for big reveals, but this was at least a nice way to catch up on a bunch of stuff.
Oh, and I need dat NGP action. It looks so very nice up-close.
I don’t know. As exciting as new details about Infamous 2 and other properties is, GDC doesn’t excite me. Ever. Ultimately, I care about the games, not what goes into them. I’m not a developer, so extensive talks about how to optimize lighting in a vacuum setting, featuring real-life numbers, means crap to me. Optimize all of the netcode you want; all I care about is the end result. And that is what a lot of people, from the shareholders to the eight-year-old getting his mom to buy him the Halos, care about.
That said, I totally give a crap about mention of Shenmue III. It was just a passing mention, but as a guy that enjoyed the original Shenmue (and narrowly escaped playing the sequel), the idea of bringing the franchise back is cool with me. Bring me HD ports (or even better, remakes) of the bat-crap crazy original entries, or just the conclusion, or something! Don’t just bring Ryo back for another Sonic cart racer – drop his name at GDC, and then produce nothing.
GDC is, at best, a place for developers to tease the on-looking internet trolls like us with the promise of something much greater to come. At worst, it is all about colleagues, friends, and students getting together and sharing great ideas with each other. But that is sort of backwards, isn’t it? “At best” should be the learning, and “at worst” should be the PR nonsense, teases, and everything else that is otherwise meaningless to the people that work on games. Of course, that is sort of a greater problem in today’s conference setting.
Marc N. Kleinhenz
GDC bored me this year. This, however, is not a bad thing in the slightest, for, as Ryan mentioned, the conference should be focused upon game development and should ignore publisher-induced media frenzies as much as possible.
Given that, however, I’m continued to be impressed by the 3DS. Although not major revelations, the announcements of Netflix support, the inclusion of Game Gear and TurboGrafx-16 games for the system’s version of the Virtual Console, and, of course, a new Super Mario game make a very happy handheld gamer, indeed. And I only have a little while left to wait for all the new services…
And Shenmue, one of the biggest – but certainly not the last – disappointments unleashed by the walking accident that is Sega, can remain dead, thank you very much.
I honestly don’t have too much to say about this topic, because, for whatever combination of reasons this year, I didn’t end up following GDC too closely. It really felt like it was over before I’d even noticed it had started. And reflecting back on it now, I can’t remember a single thing that was announced during the conference specifically, but that just might be my terrible memory.
I actually got to try out the 3DS at the SXSW Interactive thing, and I wasn’t terribly impressed. I played SSF4 3D, but mainly I was testing out the technology. It’s more like looking into a box than having stuff pop out of the screen towards you. The effect is kind of interesting, but it’s somewhat blurry (at least, to me), and I could see it being a nuisance more than anything after an extended amount of play time. In fact, I was able to get my hands on the demo unit so easily because a kid with glasses handed it over to me, saying that it was giving him a headache. I played around with it by looking at it from all different angles and messing with the slider, and my ultimate conclusion was that $250 is way too much for this thing.
And Marc, I oughtta castrate you for those comments on Sega and Shenmue! Damn yoooouuuuuuu!
Marc is just upset that he searched for years in Japan and never found Ryo’s home. He wanted to ransack it for the mint condition Sega Saturn inside of it.
There are some really neat ideas that will come out of developers talking about and working on 3D technology. This year, the only thing I remember even close to that was Crytek’s passive 3D engine. Companies are either working on glasses-less 3D or wear-your-own-prescription glasses 3D, but I have yet to find one that didn’t make people sick. Crytek seems like they are on to something, but they still have some work to do there. The 3DS might prove, on a larger scale, that “3D works but who cares?” Like Nathan said, it made him a little sick, and that has been a consistent response from people when using 3D devices. If it, at all, has the potential to make people ill, it might not be worth investing in.
Perhaps GDC this year was a good test to see if developers, save for their publishers, care about the technology.
To be honest, if I had my druthers, I’d probably go to GDC over any other “expo”-type event, simply because it is something a bit different. Sure, not a lot of info came out that was particularly titillating for the average gamer (save for the aforementioned Infamous 2 info), but the idea of developers getting together to share their ideas seems like it would have much better far-reaching effects for gamers in the long run. It’s also a much better opportunity for journalists to interact with the people who create the games we love, since they are not inundated with appointments and exhausted from the show floor.
That being said, I can’t deny the dearth of interesting info that came out of this year’s GDC. I think Sam put up a dozen previews here at the site, and while they were informative and interesting, I don’t think any of us got a lot of new info out of them. Even looking beyond the bounds of Sony, there still wasn’t a whole lot out there unless you were totally shocked that Nintendo is making more Zelda games or you
somehow hadn’t absorbed the barge full of information out there about the 3DS.
If there had been information about Shenmue III or even some sort of Shenmue MMO, that would have been pretty thrilling to me, despite
Marc’s stick-in-the-mud opinion.
Sure, GDC will never be the goldmine of new game announcements that E3 is, but, in the long run, I maintain that without GDC to plant the seeds of new innovations and ideas, E3 would never see those announcements, either.
Marc N. Kleinhenz
I think Ryo’s house was washed away in the tsunami. Too soon?
Given the more-or-less consistent sentiment regarding GDC, does anyone think that the conference would be best served by having it be closed completely to the public? Wouldn’t the most conducive environment to collaboration and development be one completely devoid of self-consciousness?
And, just for the record, I do miss my Dreamcast. Samba de Amigo is some of the most fun my wife and I have had with gaming – it’s kinda odd to think that Sega had Harmonix beat by some six years – and Chu Chu Rocket should definitely be a 3DS launch game (space cats in 3D? Oh, yeah, baby).
But one does have to admit that Sega is kind of the leper of the videogame industry – everything it touches tends to implode or otherwise decompose into a stinking heap of flesh. Or something.
Yakuza seems to be doing all right for them… it’s pretty much Shenmue for (slightly) less niche gamers.
I like GDC being semi-open. I think that giving a little transparency to the inner working of the industry is nice, and I shouldn’t have to be an “insider” to enjoy a talk form Will Wright about the Br0derbund days…
Aren’t E3 and the likes more like GPC in that sense – the Game Publishers’ Conference?
GDC is still very much about devs and people trying to break in. It’s “open” to the public in the sense that if someone has a couple hundred bucks, they can get into the sessions and the Career Pavilion, but it’s not like E3 where you have to be a part of the industry to get in. GDC as it is now is fantastic; the press stuff happens outside the conference itself in hotels and such around the area. So it’s actually a pretty decent trade-off right now. The industry can chat about making games with other people that make games, and the press folks can get updated impressions of stuff and maybe take away something from the odd keynote. Win-win.
Marc N. Kleinhenz