4 min read

GDC 2011 - Monday Morn - Augmented. Expensive. Balls.

After downing thick porridge, one man returns to GDC 2011 full. Finds augmented reality attainable, facebook competition unbeatable, and balls.
GDC 2011 - Monday Morning
10-11 - Mobile Augmented Reality - What's Possible
Jay Wright (Qualcomm)

"i guess this is the start of the Mobile Game conference"
now THAT's how you start a conference.

The Qualcomm SDK makes building augmented reality games easy. Free, no strings attached. Qualcomm makes money selling chipsets. More AR games = More demand for Qualcomm chipsets. Viagra should provide McDonald's french fries for free.

Qualcomm processes the video that comes through the camera, recognizes the objects, and integrates your graphics tightly with those objects. Showed virtual bee flying around a physical cereal box. Greatest technology on the planet, shilling honey nut cheerios.

"i think gaming & play are sort of why we're all here today"

Could use your iphone to show tiny people living in a physical dollhouse ... "tell kids the people were ALWAYS in the dollhouse"

Video featured giant letters "SAMPLE APP", along with some amazing sample apps. Showed player laying virtual dominoes on a physical table, then knocking them over in PHYSICAL space.

Sample Game: Paparazzi. Won 1st place at recent Qualcomm game contest. $125,000 prize might give IGF pause. Game took 2 people 6 weeks (using Qualcomm and Unity). Developer wanted to create two way connection between the player and the augmented world. Succeeded. Game is genius, and disconcerting.

Girl beside me took notes with pen & paper.
When session finished, she unpacked iPad to check e-mail.

11:15-11:40 - Care and Feeding of Your Independent Game Studio
Arthur Humphrey (Last Day of Work)

Solid business expertise.
Why is this at the Indie Game Summit?

Last Day of Work is a husband and wife team that scales up to 10-12 people during projects (mostly virtual). Best known for Virtual Villagers series and Fish Tycoon.

Microphone not working. Immediately replaced.
Little IGS is all growed up.

Things cost more and make less.
Early Days: Fish Tycoon cost 50,000 - made 600,000.
Later Days: Virtual Villagers 4 cost 250,000 - made 600,000.
(all figures approximate)

Distribute your game on every platform imaginable. It's easy to do and you never know what platform sticks. There's no one stop shop. Instead make a little money from everything. Change the business model as necessary (download, facebook, freemium). Keep your damn IP.

"How many of you are making your first indie game on facebook?"
Question met with awkward silence.
No hands raised.
Forgot where he was?

"On Facebook, you need to buy users." The major players pay players virtual currency to try freemium games. What is your broke indie ass capable of offering?

"Coercive Conversion"
The free version of Little Pocket Pet had everything EXCEPT medication (only available in the paid version). The player would raise a pet and after a week or so it would get sick. The player had 24 hours to cure it. LPP sold really well.

Ryan: "Surprised he didn't get lynched."

Discovered they couldn't outsource design. If Arthur isn't on the critical path of a game, that game sucks. Hence, they need to keep things small.

11:50-12:15 Game Design by Accidents
Steph Thirion (Game Designer)

Intense musical introduction - similar to Mission impossible theme.
"i don't know why i did that"

coding as an idea generator.
coding as a framework for coming up with new ideas.

Tetris was discovered when Alexey tried to build a computerized version of pentominoes. Braid was influenced by Jonathan's earlier Oracle Billiards. Are there any indie games besides Braid and World of Goo?

Steph's about the journey - not the destination.
Muchos time spent on pentominoes, Tetris reveal mumbled.
Muchos time spent on Oracle Billiards, Braid a brief bullet point.

Students with no coding experience had 6 hours to modify a version of Breakout (written in Processing). They made some pretty amazing stuff - mostly by accident (they weren't coders). Played the entire video. Mild applause, no shouts of woo.

"I guess designers can code and they're just fucking lazy."
"Designers could definitely explore coding as a tool."
IGS checklist: fuck checkbox ticked.

Coding makes you stumble onto ideas. If you're coding and you discover something, when you see that idea working, you can see it's potential.

Pudding Proof
Steph built a ball, then turned it into balls. "Kind of distracting calling these balls, I'll call them circles." Changed background to red. Tried changing the balls to black. "I'll move the balls - still feel uncomfortable." Made moving balls partially transparent, transforming them into a single trembling black cloud. "They're not balls anymore... it's just stuff inside the balls. AUGH!"

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