GDC 2014 was an incredible experience, not the least of which marked the first public release of my first game that wasn’t a tiny simple project. The days leading up to the conference were full-on crunch and panic as I tried to navigate the mysterious and strange process of submitting an app to the Apple App Store, but all is well that ends well, and this certainly has a happy ending.
In case you didn’t know, the Locanimals team ended up having a booth at GDC Play at the suggestion of a faculty member. We thought it would be a great way to get feedback and exposure for the game. The rest of the team had been in San Francisco for a few days, but my arrival coincided with the first day of the Play and Expo Floor. Getting the booth up and running was straightforward since they provide most of the things that any presenter would need (table, tablecloth, power, keyboard, mouse, monitor).
We had the opportunity to meet with so many people from the industry to talk about our game. It was incredibly rewarding to hear our ideas validated and see people excited by what we’ve made and with the potential of what’s to come. The fact that people were drawn to our booth because of our character designs was even more validation that we had done work to be proud of. Overall, we got a lot of great tips, added a bunch of players, and generally drew a lot of inspiration from GDC. It was incredible experience, and the Locanimals team is thankful for he opportunity.
I had a lot of memorable moments during my summer at Imagineering, but fortunately my favorite is one I can actually share with others:
At the D23 Expo, I was helping man the DISH at my group’s booth. Sometime in the afternoon, a young man in a motorized chair was next in line. His mother helped him ask me questions about my group, what we did, and what he was about to see. I found out he had recently started studying computer science at a local college and was very interested in computer music and music technology. Once there was enough room in the DISH, he and his mother went inside. They stayed in there for a long time, I believe watching each of the three videos that we had playing.
I looked up at the exit at the end of a video and saw him come out. As soon as he made eye contact with me, he flashed me a huge grin and gave me an enthusiastic thumbs up. Once the next group had gone inside, he and his mother came over again to thank me, and just before he left, he reached out to give me a handshake.
That moment made the rest of a long day (actually two, since I helped strike the next day) breeze by, and has really stuck with me through the entire internship. I am so grateful for the opportunity, and honored to wear the Sorcerer’s Hat, if only for a little while.
I was very lucky to get the chance to attend E3 this year. It has been a dream of mine for a long time, and everything came together so suddenly it didn’t really sink in that I’d actually be going to E3.
Then I stepped on the show floor.
People had thrown around the word “spectacle,” but you really don’t understand E3 until you’ve been there and seen the booths that are significantly larger than your home covered with lights, signs, and monitors all vying for attention. The expo is something to behold, and I think that any real fan of games should get the chance to see it at least once.
Instead of going on about how impressed I was, there were a few experiences and impressions that I wanted to share.
I’m pretty sure that EA and Ubisoft were having a competition to see whose booth could be louder. I’m going to have to say it was a draw, but both managed to near the pain threshold at points throughout the day. EA had quite the spectacle – 64 computers lined up for the Battlefield 4 demo, and a huge multi-screen display to show off commander mode. They also get bonus points for the absurdly hilarious Garden Warfare trailer.
My time was spent with a demo for a game called Contrast. I didn’t know what to expect, and though the demo was short and the gameplay relatively simple, I really enjoyed the theme and the shadow to real world interplay. This one should definitely be on everyone’s radar. The PS4 controller felt good in my hand. The triggers are much improved over the PS3 even if the joysticks are as soft as they ever have been. The new tops help keep your thumb in place, but I expected a lot more resistance than I felt. The PS4 hardware is gorgeous in person.
After my time with Sony’s new console, I headed over to the Xbox pavilion. It was significantly more crowded than the Sony exhibit, but it had a lot more space dedicated to demos or fixed areas. For example, this beauty greeted me as soon as I walked in.
My first demo here was Crimson Dragon. I never played any of the Panzer Dragoon games, but I’ve always been interested in this kind of shooter. The visuals were a treat, and the game was fun. At the end, I found my thumbs to be a bit sore. Specifically, the joysticks feel a bit too high to me. The rest of the controller is flawless, including and especially the new D-pad.
My next stop was Forza Motorsport 5. If you’ve played any previous Forza game, you know what you’re getting as far as gorgeous visuals, realistic handling, and simulation style driving. The newest addition comes from the new rumble motors located in the triggers. When accelerating or braking too hard, the motors will rumble at different intensities to let the player know that the braking or acceleration limit is being tested. I found this feature to be far more helpful than a generic controller rumble, and really improved awareness while driving. There were only a few cars and only one track, but Forza Motorsport 5 looks like everything one would expect a new Forza game to be.
I briefly played with a few other titles and watched a few demo presentations. This E3, from a games perspective, was definitely one of the most impressive. If all of these games live up to even half of their promises, it will be a great time to be a gamer. I’m looking forward to it.