Wednesday, March 11, 2015

GDC 2015: Playing Games, Eating Food and Making New Friends!

This year at GDC we were all thankful to just be going for business/pleasure, and not having to man another booth. Not that we don't love our booths - but that's exhausting! We took it easy this year and met up with new and old friends from around the industry for lunches, dinners, and more. 

It was also the first time in over a year where we were all able to actually PLAY a lot of the games on the expo floors. Needless to say, we had a blast :)

Day 0 - Monday

James and I, along with our friend Jason Wishnov from Iridium Studios, drove up from LA to the San Jose area on Monday. We stayed at James' parents' house just like last year, which is about an hour from the convention center. That night we were welcomed by James' mom and dad, along with 2 hilarious cats.

Inkspot is rambunctious and playful, and for whatever reason, fascinated by the shower faucet.
We found him in the tub multiple times.

Day 1 - Tuesday

On Tuesday James, Jason and I slept in for some much needed R&R. Around 3 we headed over to Japan Town to eat and play before the GDC Parties that night. (John and Speedo would be flying in later that night)

James and Jason High-Five
(There's a great series of these photos that I took, where you can see Jason's phone flying from his pocket and slowly hitting the ground. Don't worry, it wasn't damaged.)

We visited the arcade and Jason got his jam on.

Jason and I fought for the salmon plates.
Revolving sushi bar! My favorite!!
That night after sushi we headed over to the Humble Bundle Party, and next the Oculus/WIGI party. Both were fun, and we were able to make more new friends. At the Oculus party, they had demos set up for the Gear VR, as well as demos of their short film called lost by Story Studio using the Crescent Bay HMDs. The VR film was just 6 minutes long, but made a great impact. *spoilers* Just imagine walking around in a tall, dark forest with the Iron Giant :)

Oculus/WIGI Party
After the parties we drove back to San Jose to pick up John and our good friend Speedo near the airport. They had since moved to a Denny's, where they were eating and joking around until we showed up. We all Got back to the house around 12-1am that night, and went right to sleep - since Jason needed to get back to San Francisco early in the morning for a talk he was giving.

Day 2 - Wednesday

Wednesday was arguably the most important day of GDC. We met up with a lot of friends, and were booked throughout the day with meetings. It was also the day that most companies decided to hold their big parties. Decisions decisions. 

First day on the Expo floor!

Team selfie!

We found some giant XING art on the Epic booth! Wooo! :) There's another picture we took later with all of us in front of it. So proud :)
We were some of the first to head directly to the Epic booth to meet up with our friends from Epic. As such, the line for their Smaug in VR demo (titled Thief in the Shadows) was not very long. And man, was that demo worth it!

Afterwards, all of us agreed that it was our favorite demo we had seen on the Crescent Bay HMD thus far.
Speedo using the Oculus Crescent Bay HMD for the first time!

John in the treasure room, looking up at the dragon!

Running around the show floor between meetings.

Quixel! Naturally, we were admiring their jungle assets..

Right before lunch we got to play this game called Ori and the Blind Forest in the Microsoft lounge.
It's a beautiful and challenging platformer, and it just came out today! Steam Page

The guys having fun playing Ori and the Blind Forest
For lunch on Wednesday we met up with the guys from Cyan (you know, the company that made MYST), who are currently working on their next big title Obduction. We had a great time talking about making puzzle games while working with Unreal Engine 4 and VR, and sharing our approaches and techniques for building a memorable world.

Lunch with Cyan!

Jason tries our a demo controlled by moving your arms around and actually "grabbing" things in VR.

This sweet dog Gunner was walking around the floor :)


This is for you, Adam Rote!

We only had about 30 minutes at the end of the day to explore the GDC Play area (which we were in all last year), and told ourselves we'd be back the next day. Here's James and Speedo playing Heavy Gear Assault (also made using UE4).
That night we went to an adventure gamers and developers meet up for dinner. We saw our buddies from Cyan again and had more fun talking about development. Then we all headed over together to the Epic Games party, which had a huge line to get in the door! Luckily, we all got in before they closed the doors! We danced the night away until around 12, and then decided to make the drive back to our place.
"Epic" Epic Games Party :)

Found this on our walk back to the car. We always joke about having free advertising everywhere! ;)

Cat #2, the slow and methodical Griswold. For some reason he also took an interest in bathtubs.
The cats definitely kept us entertained here!

Day 3 - Thursday

Thursday was a bit more relaxed than the previous day. We still had some meetings here and there, but we were able to slow down a bit, which was nice. Jason was living and driving with us too, but we only saw him for maybe 30 minutes each day. 

I found this as a came out of the ladies room. Beautiful.

Some interesting devices on the GDC Play floor, like this Feel Real attachment to the Oculus Rift. 

James playing Seasons after Fall. We were naturally drawn to this game due to it's beautiful art style and the mechanic that lets you change the seasons!

Trying out lots of games in the GDC Play area.

We had a blast playing this hilarious fast-paced platformer for the WiiU called Runbow!

We were playing with the full 9-Player capacity!

Birthday Dinner for our friend Jacob Pernell (standing in the middle) :)

That night we also got to see the Unreal Devs Speak Video, which features XING for a short bit!

Day 4 - Friday

Friday morning we were pretty tired, but I still got up early to shower and curl my hair. After that we had breakfast and were on our way back to the convention center. The first area we visited was the Indie Megabooth area, which we had yet to explore. 

James using his calm and focus to try to win.

John and I plugged in.

So focused!

Over at the IGF Pavillion back on the main floor, Speedo became a "Great Artist in Just 10 Seconds" - which actually turned out to be about 2 minutes.

John kicking a car a bunch to wreck it!

Me playing the "beat the crap out of this car" game, using a ball of energy and pushing t towards the car.
It was actually pretty fun!
Some awesome 3-D Prints by Sandboxr:

Team photo in front of the giant XING screenshot!

It was only when I got home that I realized I should have asked to keep the art. Oh well...

Goodbye GDC! See You next year!

Final Selfie with the team, including Speedo...and an enthusiastic photobomber :)
Friday afternoon we drove back in terrible traffic, but once we walked in the doors we were ready to relax.

John, Speedo and James had pulled out James' old Playstation with a few games the night before, and we played those again for a while. Notably, a game called Reel Fishing. A simple fishing game really, not even as fun as the fishing portion of Zelda OOT - but it was entertaining. Unfortunately, we left the game running through dinner, and came back to dead fish we had caught previously.
RIP Kleebor
After dinner we all watched the first few episodes of Sword Art Online (because, you know, Virtual Reality). This was John's first time seeing it and it was still quite enjoyable for the rest of us.

As we headed to bed, we talked about all the things we needed to get done in the next several months to get our game out. The news of the Steam VR HMD earlier in the week threw in a whole other platform for us to think about and try to support, along with many other considerations for us. It's a long and difficult journey making a game, so it was nice having this sort of "vacation" week to chat in person about everything that is going on.

Now it's already Tuesday, and we already have our noses to the grindstone once again. Thanks for reading!