A first-timer’s GDC take-away
Not a particularly hefty guy, I was truly surprised to find that I’d lost 3 pounds while attending the Game Developers Conference (GDC 2010) in San Francisco. 3 pounds in 6 days. As many people would kill to know how to do that (and I don’t much like killing), I thought I’d elucidate the three steps of my accidental accomplishment.
Step one; Walk.
Walk to the conference center through beautiful Yerba Buena park, watching Japanese men and women doing morning Tai Chi and Chi Gong.
Walk to a lecture or panel or competition or awards show. This one is actually harder than you’d think because the list of talented presenters seems endless and you always have to choose to miss something interesting to attend something else. Particularly worth the walk were “The Recipe of Emotion” with an amazing panel led by Tom Salta; “Scoring Hell” a post mortem by Garry Schyman and Paul Gorman; “Adaptive Music” by Sony’s Clint Bajakian and, of course, the very entertaining GANG awards.
Walk the expo floor, stopping to play a new game (especially in the amazing indy game section where people beat all the odds by creating surprising new games you’d NEVER think of); stopping to look at a new audio middleware that might make it much easier for composers and sound designers to help developers with tricky integration solutions… making everyone look like a hero.
Walk to the GANG Composer Challenge or Demo derby and hear great works by fine new talent like Joe Thwaites, Jeff Ball, Jeff Schmidt… pretty much anyone whose name starts with “J”. Really there were just too many inspiring people to mention them all by name.
Walk with friends new and old to a meal, a drink, a pinball museum, a party.
Walk (or weave gently) back to your accommodations.
Step Two; Be Animated
Be animated when talking with person after person, each one fascinating in their own right and each one infinitely passionate about things you love too. Gesticulate wildly as you discuss music (Tony Plog, the Pixies and Van Halen), audio, video games, programming, the Hammond B-3, mic cables and national internet speeds in descending order starting with South Korea (20mbps avg. per capita). Oh, and audio.
Be animated with school boy enthusiasm when chatting with people who’s work has had an impact on you like Marty O’Donnell (score composer of Halo).
Be animated as you play hours of Rock Band with anyone you can. Then ask the team from Harmonix which of them did the RB2 menu selection sound design so that you might hug them.
Be animated when trying to hold up your end of a conversion with Mick Gordon or Duncan Watt.
Step Three; Eat Smart.
Go to lunch at Whole Foods with the wonderful Dren McDonald on Saturday so that you don’t feel guilty about ending a week filled with three meals at Mel’s, one in Chinatown, a couple of hasty pastrami sandwiches and about a case of really great beer.
Actually, the weight loss came as a sort of bonus. After all, I learned an incredible amount about integrating audio into an adaptive music system and ways that I might look ahead throughout the production process to make editing and implementation a painless process for all involved.
I learned some tricks for establishing a compositional color pallet at the outset of projects that might well have hours of music before the end, reminding me that constancy is rarely an accident and to plan ahead on even deeper levels at the start of a big endeavor.
And I learned that I belonged at GDC, and with a community of talented people who thrive in an environment of openness and sharing…. as long as I didn’t ask what they are working on or with whom they were meeting at lunch.
Thanks to all my new friends. I look forward to years of collaborating ahead and hope to have recovered from my exertions in time for GDC 2011!