GDC 2010: Tuesday

The Game Developers Conference 2010 began today in San Francisco, and i’m back in my hotel room to give you a recap of what i saw and learned.

The first two days of the show are Summits days, with clusters of panels and talks in certain narrow or niche segments of the industry. This year, the casual games and virtual worlds summits were combined and enhanced to form the Social & Online Games Summit. There was also an iPhone summit (which last year was called the Mobile Games Summit … telling?), the AI (Artificial Intelligence) Summit, and the Let Me Tell You Summit, which was for British people.

Generally, i was disappointed. This is the fourth year i’ve been at the show, and i almost worry i’m getting too smart for GDC. I don’t want that to sound pompous … i’m just wondering if, having spent an entire year reading and researching, following excellent Twitter posters like @retrogamer4ever, and cramming so much stuff into my brain, that i’ve outpaced the more general-interest tone of the conference?

It’s also … this is kind of weird, but i think it’s valid … the few Indie Games Summit talks i attended are in a cavernous and very dimly-lit room, as opposed to last year’s brighter, cheerier room. The mood in the place is almost ominous or sombre. But i could very well be crazy.

Click on the headers that interest you to read more about the sessions i attended!

Meeting with Push Button Labs

The State of Social Gaming: Industry Overview and Update

From Big Studio to Small Indie: Guerilla Tactics from Hello Games

Postmortem: The Design & Business Behind Fantastic Contraption

Standing in Line for a Free Phone

Rapidly Developing Farmville: How We Created and Scaled a #1 Facebook Game in 5 Weeks

i’m hoping there’s more in it for me during tomorrow’s Summit day. Wednesday also culminates in the Canada Games party – your tax dollars hard at work. It’s there that Canadian game devs can get industry folks liquored up and ready to shake on some deals, and/or eat poutine. i, for one, will be there for the poutine.

17 thoughts on “GDC 2010: Tuesday

  1. Snottlebocket

    What does Amitt mean exactly when he says farmville functions ‘on the cloud’ instead of a database? I thought I had a somewhat decent grasp on the concept of ‘the cloud’ but considering Farmville deals with microtransactions, wouldn’t there need to be a database somewhere to keep track of peoples paid content?

    1. Ryan

      Snottlebocket – yeah, that really blew my mind too. They’re using tech i’ll admit i’ve never heard of. They store everything on memcache, which is a cache that’s stored in RAM across their servers. Since RAM is not completely stable and reliable, they use databases as a safety net. The databases are sharded based on user ID. Amitt had a really great slide with the server architecture. i took a picture, but i don’t have a camera xfer cable with me to put it up. Maybe i’ll beg one from someone at the show to satisfy your curiosity.

  2. David (Critters) Scott

    I agree on feeling too smart… I always flew from the UK to SF to attend the GDC and now I live here I have little interest in going. The same things get said over and over and people are always far to general in the information they share.

    Oh and I was in the scaling Farmville talk, missed you again!
    Tomorrow I am attending ‘WHY DO PEOPLE BUY VIRTUAL GOODS? TEN ATTRIBUTES TO INFLUENCE DESIRABILITY’ @ 11:45, you going to be in or around that one?

    1. Ryan

      David – i’ll try to make it. Maybe i’ll ask a question at the mic so you can find me easily. i’ll be like “Your talk was very interesting, and it brought a few important questions to mind. Do you know where David Scott is sitting?”

  3. David (Critters) Scott

    @Snottlebocket They use memcache servers to cache the database reads and they use ‘lazy writes’. Different database servers deal with different blocks of facebook ids’ It was all a bit over my head, but they had a nice diagram which I am sure will be online soon or in some blog already, somewhere.

  4. Facebook Indie Games

    This is an excellent write up. Thanks man.

    It’d be even better if you shared some of the practical tips these presenters throw out. Or do I need to buy my own ticket before I get to learn about that?

  5. Rasmus Wriedt Larsen

    Thanks for the read. AS colm I really enjoy reading these write ups, very nice for us who couldn’t be there.

    How about that PushButton meeting – did you talk about the engine? Or did you just stuck in a loop thinking “Awesome” after Jeff said he played your game? Are you considering using the PBE ? (I know I am after the presentation at FGS).

    1. Ryan

      Rasmus – you were at FGS? CrapDAMMIT! i missed meeting so many people!

      i didn’t catch the PBE session. What do you like about it?

      i don’t know if what Jeff and friends talked about is private or public. They’re building a bunch of Facebookstuff, and they want to surround themselves with pals who are also creating high-quality Facebook stuff. (Hi-qual is the key)

  6. Rasmus Wriedt Larsen

    No I weren’t at FGS. thought I said both in this comment and in the one from yesterday… But if I make some buckaroos on my games, I’ll be there next year :)

    About the BPE session: It really just blew my mind in a way, it has a whole new way of dealing with functionality and inheritance (go watch the video when you get home, if you don’t feel like sitting though the whole thing, skip to about 13:00) It also seem to have some cool add-on libraries for it, such as networking (he was talking about stuff for making real-time multiplayer games… haven’t looked into it yet) and I can’t remember anything else.

  7. Rasmus Wriedt Larsen

    Ryan – to straighten things out: I tried entering, but as you can see on my avatar, I’m actually a floating blue ghost, and by some reason they didn’t allow those. So I had to fly all the way back to ghost town. I have no idea how you got in, being a red monster with only one doodle hair. Maybe it’s all the poems you made.

  8. Snottlebocket

    @Ryan & David Thanks. I got a pretty decent explanation of this type of architecture this afternoon when I talked about it with a co-worker. Nothing too in depth but at least I get the concept now. Pretty nifty stuff.

  9. Pingback: » GDC 2010 – Wednesday

  10. Ben Garney

    It was good to meet you, Ryan!

    As far as are-sessions-worth-it, I’ve got slightly more GDCs under my belt than you, and this year, I spent zero dollars on GDC passes. Just did meetings the whole time, and “borrowed” an expo pass so I could visit people on the show floor. Speaking also cut my costs, as it got me into FGS for free. I find that any session that’s worth while, will be summarized or posted on the internet somewhere.

    1. Ryan

      Ben – yeah, i hear you. So far, i lack the discipline to hunt down all the info after the fact, and i find that videos of session talks are INCREDIBLY dull and hard to endure. Usually, when i return to look at presentations, i just see the slides, and (depending on the presenter’s style), the slides are often incomprehensible without audio. i’ve never shelled out the cash for the GDC tapes, but i just learned that the Vault is included with the All-Access pass that i bought, so i’ll definitely make the most of that this year.


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