GDC 2012 Journal: Day 2 – Land of Confusion

Yeah, I hate that cut-rate Genesis song too, but unfortunately, it accurately represents the way my second day at the conference went. This is the first year I tried to drop the habit of using an Excel printout of my schedule in favor of doing what everyone else does–using their phone calendars. Not good.

I literally bungled the entire day and missed three separate meetings. I should be high on the PR shit list by now. Other than (or because of) hosing my schedule, it was a fairly uneventful day. The high point was grabbing lunch with an ex-coworker, friend and game design coach, who can be seen here, giving phone instructions to his live-in cat nanny. Game designers are weird.

Things were going fairly well until the powers that be denied me a free GDC t-shirt. Every year they give them away and I’ve been collecting them for a while. I was standing in line waiting to claim this year’s, when an eagle-eyed volunteer saw me and outed me–all the way out of the line in fact–in front of everyone. A weensy bit embarrassing maybe, but no biggie. Things didn’t go downhill until I realized that everywhere I went, I was faced with this:

–impenetrable walls of slow-moving humanity. Guess I’m becoming crowd-phobic in my old age. Still, with the help of determination and plenty of free press room coffee, I soldiered on. I attended an interesting talk by the folks at DoubleFine where they discussed their new development strategy (smaller teams, smaller games) and some of the cool titles that have already come out of it like Stacking and Costume Quest.

Tim Schafer made wry jokes but was also completely forthright about the fact that these little games saved the company from annihilation when Brutal Legend 2 was given the axe. The DoubleFine brand has hence been redefined as anything, any kind of game that exhibits: originality, personality, great characters and the element of surprise.

The afternoon was mostly talks but evening was all about the Independent Games Festival (for a list of winners, look here) and the Game Developer Awards which were just as entertaining and awkward as ever. It’s not easy to follow Tim Schafer (who hosted the latter last year) and this year, Cliff “Cliffy B” Blezinski did his best and fell terribly flat. The jokes he made elicited a sort of squirmy silence from the audience and in fact, his funniest bit was a series of photos he got from Tim Schafer, pretending to bathe, smoke, blow his nose on, cuddle and wipe his butt with, the nearly 2.5 million dollars he just got from Kickstarter donations. Hilarious!

After the awards, as I was headed down the 101 and I had yet another replay of what I’d been encountering all damn day.

When I took this picture, a policeman behind me, who I hadn’t even seen, turned his lights on and I nearly had a heart attack. He wasn’t after me though, which was a relief. I’d always imagined if I spent a night in jail at GDC, it’d be for something a lot more scandalous.

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