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December 03, 2004

AGDC: Highlights so far (for me)

I've spent the last two days flitting between work and AGDC. There have been some great talks so far this year, not technical stuff but much more basic things about working in the games industry.

A couple of Highlights so far:
#1 - Bill Roper, CEO Flagship Studios.
Bill is a goddamn legend, Diablo/Warcraft/Starcraft - say no more!. He's given two talks, one was todays keynote on Morale in which he talked about a multitude of things that can be done to improve morale in a games company (or keep it high). The sad thing is that generally the people that need to be convinced are not the people who turn up to these talks at conferences :-( Still, we can all do our bit to make things better (and remember that we make games, it's meant to be fun!)
I had the chance to speak to Bill after the talk and he's got a great handle on the balance between morale and coorporate reality in the games industry.

#2 - Jason Rubin, Ex-President Naughty Dog
Jason gave a great talk on all the really bad realities about next-generation game development. Most people left the talk with a kind of "we're all doomed" look on their faces, but quite a few caught his point that you need to be making AAA titles to avoid doom, and we'd better start right now, because someone else can always make a lesser title cheaper and faster than you can (e.g. China)

#3 - Robin Walker, Valve
Robin will be talking tomorrow (Saturday) about "The Design and Production of Halflife2". It's not even a keynote :-) I think the organisers have underestimated that one. I chatted with Robin yesterday about Halflife2 and Steam, I think he's going to have some great stuff to talk about in his talk.

The "Unsigned Games" are more polished than last year, especially when you consider they are made by students in (generally) only a few months. In contrast I spent Wednesday out at LaTrobe University looking at the work their students had done and noted that only two or three of the games had been polished (i.e. had been made presentable to outsiders) even though the work itself was quite good.

Funniest thing I've heard: Sean Jenkin (Microsoft) telling us about a game that was delayed because focus testing showed it was only "74% fun", and they knew it needed to be "85% fun" to sell well. Sadly Sean didn't share the formula with us (and they were right, the game in question sold a bazillion copies)

Posted by Zaph at December 3, 2004 07:29 PM

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