A Very Special GDC Event

At the Game Developers Conference on Thursday March 8th, I will be hosting an unusual session called Nuances of Design. The session is a collection of four presentations by four different speakers; the unusual thing is that you play the speakers’ games during the presentations. The idea is that by playing, you can more directly share in experience they are trying to express than you would as a passive listener at a lecture.

The speakers are:

  • Raph Koster, with his experiences developing the Andean Bird game, which is about what it feels like to fly;
  • Chaim Gingold, with a prototype he used to develop the touch and feel of Spore’s cell game, how “programming and touching is believing”, and various tricks he learned.
  • Rod Humble, with his games The Marriage and A Walk With Max, which are about expressing emotions directly through gameplay;
  • Jonathan Blow, with some experiments about how small changes in a game design can greatly influence a player’s intention and play experience.

I hope plenty of folks will come and help make this session a success. To fully participate in the session, please bring a laptop running windows XP

… with a graphics processor that can do OpenGL / Direct3D-ish stuff. It doesn’t have to be anything too crazy fast; I have a Radeon Mobility 7500 in my laptop, and that’s plenty. Also, please bring a pair of in-ear headphones so that you can plug one into an ear and leave the other one hanging out, to hear what the speakers have to say. Though come to think of it, maybe only one of the games has sound. We’ll see.

This session involves installing some software! So please arrive a little early to get it installed and test things out.

The link on the GDC’s web site, with extended information, is here.

10 thoughts on “A Very Special GDC Event”

  1. Hey Johathan (+ other panel members), I just wanted to say thanks for trusting a room full of strangers with your prototype / confidential ideas, being able to try out the games instead of just watching someone play+explain them imo really helped convey their sense of feeling and the nuances if you will of what made them unique.

    The prototype you showed (the one with 2d flatten sphere objects), I’m curious to know if you used any mathematics+HCI models in determining the different sizes, speeds, colors etc in the game.

  2. You’re welcome! We all enjoyed hosting the session very much, and I hope to set up another one in the future.

    For that game, I didn’t use any HCI models, so far it has just come down to an intuitive feel of what I want at any given time. I think it would be good to explore the literature in that area to influece the game design, but right now I am not quite settled on what the final design will be; so, I want to finish with the fundamental changes before I start thinking about tweaks to things like size and speed.

  3. Wish I could attend :). My life is video games and we are in the process of making the gaming world a whole lot more social. Between yourself and those listed I’m sure it was a great event.

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