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Postcard From GDC 2004: The Fourth Annual Game Developers Choice Awards

A near-capacity crowd filled the San Jose Civic Auditorium last night. Developers from all over the world gathered to celebrate the best of the best in game design, graphics, audio, writing, programming, and more. The Fourth Annual Game Developers Choice Awards ceremony, presented by the IGDA and sponsored by Nvidia, the CMP Game Group, G4, and the Future Games network, held few surprises and some hilarious animated moments.

A near-capacity crowd filled the San Jose Civic Auditorium last night. Developers from all over the world gathered to celebrate the best of the best in game design, graphics, audio, writing, programming, and more. The Fourth Annual Game Developers Choice Awards ceremony, presented by the IGDA and sponsored by Nvidia, the CMP Game Group, G4, and the Future Games network, held few surprises and some hilarious animated moments.

After some pithy opening remarks by IGDA Program Director Jason Della Rocca and GDC Director Alan Yu, the two presented Sony Computer Entertainment Europe with a Game Innovation Spotlight award for Eyetoy: Play.

Ubisoft's Clint Hocking and Double Fine's Tim Schafer presented The Rookie Studio of the Year award to some not-so-rookie developers who'd spent years at EA before forming Infinity Ward, the rookie studio responsible for developing Call of Duty.

David Gaider, Drew Karpyshyn, Luke Kristjanson and Peter Thomas were then presented with the Excellence in Writing prize for their work on Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. Ancel and Exertier, along with Frederic Houde and Sebastian Morin were also finalists in the Excellence in Game Design category, though it was another team from Ubisoft--David Chateauneuf, Patrice Desilets, Jordan Mechner, and company--won for Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time.

EA's Chris Cross and Halo composer Marty O'Donnell presented the award for Excellence in Audio to Chuck Russom for his sound design work in Call of Duty.

The First Penguin Award, which recognizes valorous developers who test the water, sink or swim, was awarded to the brilliant beat artistry of Masaya Matsuura. The Penguin recipient is selected by the 19 members of the Awards Advisory Board.

Dev Maden and Jade Raymond of Suckerpunch and There Inc., respectively, presented the Excellence in Visual Arts award to Nintendo's Masanao Arimoto, Yoshiki Haruhana and Satoru Takizawa for art direction in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, and the Original Character of the Year award to HK-47, the droid from Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.

IGDA Chairperson Kathy Schoback presented the IGDA Award for Community Contribution to BioWare's Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk for their generosity within the game development community and with charitable organizations.

The exuberant Eric Zimmerman of gameLab and Laura Fryer of Xbox ATG presented PopCap Games' Brian Fiete, Jason Kapalka, and John Vechey with the Maverick Award, for designing insanely addictive online games soccer moms love to play.

Dominic Couture, Feng Quan Wang, and their team at Ubisoft took top honors in the Excellence in Programming category for their work on Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time.

In one of the evening's many high points, the legendary Will Wright (creator of all things Sim) presented the legendary Mark Cerny (Marble Madness) with the Lifetime Achievement Award. Cerny's body of work was showcased in a video, replete with testimonials from his many collaborators to rousing applause.

And finally, Ion Storm's Warren Spector announced Bioware's Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic as Game of the Year.

Oh, and that hilarious animated moment we mentioned? It featured a gut-busting Strong Bad skit created specially for the show by Homestarrunner.com (http://www.homestarrunner.com); wish we could show you the video. It was awesome, as were all this year's Choice Awards finalists and winners.

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