Saturday, March 28, 2009

GDC09: My Favorite Things

I have a ton of stuff to blog about this year's GDC, but a couple quick ones while I have a few moments.

Every year, despite all the ranting about games and gdc getting too Korporate, too crowded, etc, there are always a couple things that make me giddy, and that give us all a smack in the face and remind us just how fun, awe-inspiring, and uplifting games can be. Here are a couple examples:

  • Top Secret Dance Off: An ARG/MMO/SocialNetwork/InsertBuzzWordHere where players replace the clicking-grind of most MMOs by instead upleveling through the accomplishment of Top Secret Dance Quests, usually involving dancing in disguise in a specific way and/or place. For example, let us look at top secret dance quest #3: Dancing in a Crosswalk, and then acknowledge that Jane's just added a little pinch of awesomesauce added to the universe.


  • Miegakure: An EGW entry by Marc Ten Bosh, this was a prototype of a game taking place in four dimensions, and it broke the brain of about half the audience members. Tricky to explain without a video, but here's my attempt: The Kuju PSP game Crush (video) is a game taking place in a 3D world, but where players can play the world as a 2D game along a choice of axis (e.g. XY, XZ, or YZ). Miegakure takes the concept a step further by taking place in a FOUR dimensional world, but allowing the player to at any time play along three of these axis (e.g. XYZ, XYW, XZW, YZW). Rotating between spaces would cause the 3D world to sort of fold in upon itself before displaying the other view, and at that point my brain snapped. As Marc pointed out, the math for programming this kind of thing is kind of trivial, but I'd imagine getting your level designers to grok it would be trickier. I should note that both Jon Blow and Chris Hecker appeared absolutely giddy when Marc was demoing his game. Schoolgirl giddy.
  • Musaic Box: An IGF entry that at first glance looks like well-polished but generic casual puzzle game. However, it involves matching patterns, colors, shapes AND MUSIC. That last element makes it unique, and shows that there's plenty of room for innovation in the spaces where established genres meet.
  • OnLive: Lots of talk about this subscription-based, cloud-computed console entry. There's a bunch of reasons why I'm skeptical of their chances. A lengthy post on this in the future. However, I'm listing it as one of my favorite things because it's great that a startup can come out of stealth mode and surprise everyone with a credible entry into the console space. A great example of how there is always room for disruptive tech to shakeup a market.
More GDC posts on these subjects and others when I get some time...

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