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Feature: 'Postcards From The 2005 Austin Game Conference'

In today's feature, and following the completion of the 2005 Austin Game Conference, which was held from October 27 to October 28 at the Austin Convention Center, Gamasut...
In today's feature, and following the completion of the 2005 Austin Game Conference, which was held from October 27 to October 28 at the Austin Convention Center, Gamasutra is pleased to present an extended multi-author compilation of its 'postcards' from the largely MMO, mobile gaming, and game writing-focused summit. Many of these articles previously appeared as news stories on the site, but feature here in extended versions with new photographs and information. In addition, we present the 'Casual Game Evolution Summit' write-up from Austin for the first time on Gamasutra. One of the most interesting parts of the conference was the 'MMO Rant' lecture, and this extract catches Jessica Mulligan in full flow: "Mulligan's rant boiled down to a repeated “you suck,” aimed at nearly everyone in the room: Carnegie Mellon students, developers of MMOGs, developers of the games' content and themes, and even Gordon Walton. “I am so frustrated after the last 20 years of making the same mistakes over and over and over,” Mulligan said, citing examples such as coding before designing, changing a game after launch, ignoring the community of players, launching before the game and team is ready, and shoddily established billing systems. “Don't start coding before the design is fleshed out,” she said. “Before the ship sails out from the dock, you've got to know where you destination is.” Mulligan, not concerned about naming names, added: “ World of WarCraft has some of the worst community relations situations I've ever seen,” stressing the importance of not only supporting your community, but listening to them to find out what will satisfy them as players and as paying customers. To the World of WarCraft developers, Mulligan added, “Why dont you just tell [your players], ‘You're all a bunch of f---ing nerds and we want your money.'” About launching before you're ready, Mulligan turned momentarily serious. “I understand the considerations. Sometimes the money runs out. Sometimes you work for a public company. This can be helped by designing better, learning from history and also putting in customer services in place.” And on bad billing programs: “I thought that we were over this as an industry. I actually worked on a game where the billing program was written three days before launch. It was tested exactly once with only one credit card.” And there were presales for that game. “That's one of the first interactions your players have with you,” said Mulligan about billing. “Don't keep making the same mistakes.” Walton, taking hold of the room then announced, “We've managed to put ourselves in the spiral of mediocrity.” Mulligan, with impeccable timing, called out the action of the audience: “And all the guys from Sony start clapping!”" You can now read the full Gamasutra feature on the subject, including a total of seven write-ups and the most detailed coverage of the Austin Game Conference of any website (no registration required, please feel free to link to the article from external websites).

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