A Week of GDC 2009

The week has ended and my flight home is but a few hours away. I am returning from San Francisco from a week at the annual Game Developers Conference. This is one of the most important conferences to attend for anyone involved in the game industry. I was fortunate enough to spend my first one as an official representative of Quest Online, LLC. for our MMO project, Alganon.

Besides the meetings with dozens of developers and media representatives, the conference also gave me the opportunity to explore potential for my own site, Events For Gamers. E4G is a media based website dedicated to the collection and tracking of game industry event news and announcements, so you don't have to do it manually via Google. It also tracks upcoming event dates, and archives events no longer in existence.

I was also able to explore all the games on display at the various booths scattered around the conference halls. As I reported at E4G in the days of posts about GDC news from around the web, games like Guitar Hero World Tour were covered by just about every media outlet. I took the opportunity to check them out myself, but came away with mixed feelings about many of the games I saw.

Has anything really changed in the industry? If there has been any sort of shifts over the past year in terms of growth and innovation, I didn't see a whole lot of it. Sure, there were the niche games that had potential for changing the industry... there always are. The question is will any of them make a significant impact on the future of the industry? One of my concerns is the flood of copies, expansions, and sequels that seem to drown out these potentials.

'Braid' is an Indie RPG introduced last year that smashed records on the Xbox Live platform for innovation, simplicity, and style. The best part about the game is it successfully pulls all this off while still offering the familiar. The designer obvious took a couple of pages from the gameplay book of Mario World. While this would immediately be frowned upon as copyright infringement, Braid uses it so well that I didn't even notice this familiarity until several minutes into the game.

Familiarity + Uniqueness = Success, Uniqueness + Uniqueness = Success, Familiarity + Familiarity = Laziness. Follow the first two formulas and perhaps we will see during GDC 2010, or even this upcoming E3 2009, more games worthy of my periodic $50 purchase decisions.

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