On Thursday I woke up a little later due to having accomplished most of what I came for already. I spent the first hour or two of the day over at the Career Pavilion chatting it up with a few more companies, namely Activision (well known), Telltale Games (Sam & Max series, Strongbad’s Cool Game for Attractive People, and Wallace and Gromit’s Grand Adventures) and Vicious Cycle (Dead Head Fred and Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard, marketed with a whole bunch of fictional games with the word Hazard in the title.) Fortunately all three of those companies, more really since Activision is a publishing company, have entry level openings that I will attempt to fill.
I then headed over to the Expo to talk with some more Vicious Cycle guys about their engine, Vicious Engine, and what it’s like working there. This one is pretty promising all told. I also talked with some more motion capture companies just out of curiosity and all of them are setting their system up in different ways. For example, Xsens’ MVN system uses MEMS coupled with accelerometers and gyroscopes to track motion of a human body. This would work for any animal really, but they only have a human suit right now. Though it wouldn’t be hard to make a suit to position all the sensors. Anyway, this one works really well but it requires that you have a bone structure in place on your 3d model. Most do though. The other guys I talked to, PhaseSpace, were far more traditional opting to use the standard LED and camera system. The advantage to that system, of course, is that you don’t need to have bones at all, so it’d work great for something like say… a snake. As I talked about before, NaturalPoint uses an IR LED system. All of them are very good and which you use depends on the job as everything always does. I just talked to them to satisfy my own curiosity.
Then I went over to the IGF booths and took a look at some games. First up, The Graveyard, which isn’t really a game as much as interactive art, but if the creators want to call it a game who am I to say otherwise? I happened across them just as Hideo Kojima, of Metal Gear Solid fame, was talking to them about their project. Who knows, we might be seeing some kind of game or project from Kojima building off that project. Also, I did the right thing, which was shut up and listen. Thank you Brenda Braithwaite. Then I went over to the Machinarium booth and played around with that for a while. It’s an adventure game in Flash that looks incredibly good. They did a bit of a new take on it though, you can’t just sweep your mouse across the screen and find things to interact with, you have to actually walk around because the cursor will only change when you’re close enough. The puzzles are well done and the art style is amazing. All the usable items are done in the same style and fit seemlessly in the world, with possibly the exception of the yellow wedge on the third screen, which I thought stood out just a little bit too much.
I had some time to kill so at this point I just wandered around the small part of the city I was in and explored. There was a Virgin Megastore (who knew that Virgin owned electronics stores?) that was going out of business so I bought a Deadly Creatures for the Wii at a good price. You play as a tarantula and then later as a scorpion, flip flopping between them at various points in their adventure to try to kill each other. There’s also an overarching human plot going on and I’m pretty sure that in the end you kill at least one of the humans. It’s pretty well done and enjoyable, though the gesture system with the Wiimote and Nunchuck is a little bit slow to respond to actions. Sometimes it requires you to do that action a good 3 times to get it to work. Which is sad, because it would be so much better if I could launch a spin attack with my tarantula without having to fling my hand all over the place.
Right… so… back to GDC. At around 7pm there was a party at one of the local bars and so I attempted to go to that only to get lost on my way there. See, the address is 661 Howard St and so I naturally assumed that it was on 6th and Howard. How wrong I was. Seattle is set up like this but apparently that convention doesn’t extend to other parts of the country. Anyway, it would appear that the bar I was looking for was actually on 2nd and Howard, so I made this long U turn and finally made it, a little late and slightly fashionably. A great time was had by all and I got to catch up with people I hadn’t seen in about 4-5 years. All of them seem to be doing well for themselves and that’s about as much as we can hope for. I headed back to my hotel around midnight and an hour later there was a shooting right outside the hotel. I guess I’m lucky I came back when I did because there was a huge emergency response team covering the block just minutes later.
On Friday I didn’t really have anything to do at all, so I woke up a little later than normal, had breakfast, and headed to the airport. The ride on the BART was pretty nice. Going in the night I couldn’t really see anything to appreciate, but now that I rode it during the day, some of the views are nice and the environment is quite beautiful at times, mostly when it’s not a bunch of old rundown buildings. The world is truly small by the way, on the flight I sat just in front of none other than Pikmin Master Bruce Dawson, who is a former teacher of mine from DigiPen. Also, he rides the STP on a unicycle, which is just plain awesome. A couple hours later I was back home in Redmond. I got home about 20 minutes before the family dinner which meant I didn’t have any time at all to do anything but drop my things off, go downstairs, and eat food, help funnel trash from opening wedding gifts, and try not to dominate my little brother-in-law, he’s 9, in Super Smash Brothers Brawl. It was a good night.
Oh, naturally I told lots of people about the Microvision Show and more than I thought possible knew exactly what I was talking about. This was an awesome thing.
That concludes the best 2 days of my year. I look forward to many more GDCs in the future!
My first day at my first GDC ever and it’s been good. Let’s rewind a bit. I arrived in San Francisco at 8:40pm last night, hopped on the BART (that’s Bay Area Rapid Transit, which is to say, it’s the subway type train) and made it to downtown SF near Chinatown. My hotel is just outside the Chinatown gate, though Chinatown here is more like a street. Anyway, I walked around the city trying to find the hotel for about 40 minutes. When I finally did get to the hotel I figured out that I could’ve simply just walked down the street from where I got off the BART and I would’ve been fine. But, I had to get lost-ish.
I finally made it to the hotel around 10pm, ordered some Phad Thai from some Thai restaurant who I’m not going to name because they’re terrible and I don’t want to give them business. They managed to deliver my food to the hotel but forgot to supply me with a fork, or chopsticks, or even so much as a toothpick in order to eat the scrumptious looking food in front of me. So I had to ask the hotel lobby attendant if he had any. Luckily, he had an entire zip-lock bag full of them. I guess the restaurants here don’t like to give utensils on take out food. Meh. The food itself wasn’t bad, and it was quite filling. Then I went to bed around midnight after a couple games of Mahjong which was only fitting since I am just outside Chinatown.
I started the day off by waking up 1 hour late, which is to say that I woke up at 7:19 and then fell back asleep and woke up at 8:30. Threw on clothes from yesterday and went downstairs to get breakfast. The hotel only serves breakfast until 9am. It was pretty shabby really, some bread, jam, OJ. I’ll likely eat breakfast at a restaurant tomorrow. There’s a Subway just down the road a bit. Maybe I’ll do that. Anyway, did the usual hygienic stuff that one normally does and headed out toward Moscone Center, which is where GDC is. There are 3 buildings, West is where the Career Pavilion is, North is the Expo, and South is the Summits and Tutorials. All of them have talks somewhere or other.
I started off in the West, and hit up several companies that appeared to be hiring what I’m after, which is tools programming. Let’s see, I talked to WMS, they make slot machine games for casinos, based in Chicago. I have a friend with them, John Theiss, who I believe is still hunting zebras in the heart of Chicago with no luck, though he has come close. Next up I talked to Ubisoft and THQ. Ubisoft wasn’t terribly promising, but THQ was. I have many friends at THQ companies, so that could be a good lead, though the one company I really want to work at within THQ, Volition, isn’t hiring programmers at the moment. Then I spoke with CCP, who makes Eve Online. Apparently they have offices in Atlanta and they’re looking for interns for the summer. I’d prefer a full time position, but they are paid internships and they hire a lot of entry level from the internships. So it looks like I may have to do that for a bit if I want in on the games industry this year. Following that I talked to Sony Computer Entertainment America, which is pretty much the whole Playstation division of Sony, and they too are doing the internship thing. Lastly Microsoft, who is doing same. So that’s a few leads there.
Next up, I met with a friend for lunch and we went back to his hotel room to drop off some stuff and then wandered around there for a bit. He’s staying at the Hyatt, which is amazingly nice. We went all the way to top and wow, amazing view of the city. Then we went to Lori’s Diner for some good ole’ 50s style American dining. Ordered up a burger, which was pretty decent and kept me going for another 5 hours. After lunch, we headed over to Moscone North to check out the Expo (had to leave some Career Pavilioning for tomorrow y’know). Most of it was pretty standard showy hype. There was a few interesting tidbits that I’d like to share though. First, HeroEngine, created by Simutronics is being shown and I asked the guy about Hero’s Journey after he commented that there’s a bet between Bioware (used in The Old Republic) or some other company for getting the first HeroEngine game out. This saddens me just a little, because it means that Hero’s Journey won’t be coming out anytime soon. Oh well, I’ll just dabble in Gemstone IV every few years until it becomes reality. On the bright side, HeroEngine is pretty rad, so TOR should be interesting if anything.
I decided to continue on my merry way and found my way to NaturalPoint’s booth. NaturalPoint, for those that don’t know, and I certainly didn’t when I got there, make TrackIR. And for those who have no idea what TrackIR is, it allows you to look around in a virtual cockpit using a camera and 3 Infrared LEDs at varying heights and distances. I told them about you Bobby and I think they’re coming to Seattle to beat you up. You were warned. But seriously, I did talk to the sales manager for the company, he was the only one free, and he’s pretty cool. He was a little disappointed when I told him we built one and apparently the program you’re using is equivalent to the F-bomb around the company, but he said that you should try TrackIR. So I did. It works a bit better than what you have going, and it’s mounted to a pair of headphones making it far smaller than your setup. They also have a monitor mounted 60 FPS camera which is a bit sturdier than having a Wiimote laying on your monitor. Anyway, my point is, it’s actually a nice product. I talked to this guy for about 20 minutes and I’m going to follow up with him after GDC.
Booth crawl time, free booze, woo! Okay, I only had one. I’m not the best drinker in the world. Met up with a ton of people from DigiPen just hanging out at the DigiPen booth and rested our legs from all that walking. There’s the German Game Developer Association right across the way, so we pretended we were them. It was fun. Time came to go to the Independent Games Festival/Game Developer’s Choice Awards. Had a whole crowd of DigiPen folks taking up some 2 rows where I sat. Being the kind of people we are, we were cheering on Tag: The Power Of Paint to win the Student Showcase and so they did. And it was good. In case you’re wondering, Fallout 3 took the GDCA Game of the Year. I guess maybe I have to actually finish it now.
After the show, we went out to dinner. Imagine 13 people crowded around one table in a 50s themed diner. Yeah, there was barely any room around us. This time around it was Mel’s Drive-in. Just north-ish one block up the street from Moscone West in case you want to go there if you’re in SF. I had the largest chicken pot pie I’ve ever seen in my life. And it was great.
I’m slowly updating my site to add more content. So far, you can view (and sometimes download) some of the projects I’ve worked on in the past. Also, a listing of projects I’m currently involved with.
I’ll likely add my resume up here somewhere, and then I think that will be all for now.
So, I’ve been busy with holidays and such, but I graduated from DigiPen last December! So, there’s that. Lessons learned. Now to find a job. With the current market that is sucking the big one. I have some leads though, so hopefully those come through.
6 down, 0 to go.
Update: Another one bites the dust.
Update2: Yeah, I added one. I decided to take the optional final in one of my classes.
Update3: Internship Post Mortem too.
Now that I know I successfully completed GAM 400, I’m searching for an internship (or part time job) in the games industry for the fall. There are a number of companies in the area, and I have at least one friend/acquaintance at most of them. Hopefully I’ll find something soon.
I completed summer semester as well as I could’ve hoped for. I got an A in my CS300 class (that’s my second 4.0 so far, but the other one was from an art class, drawing to be exact.) Also, I was doing an independent study for GAM400, so I completed that today. A grade for that should be in within the next few days.
As a treat, I watched a movie tonight. Hot Fuzz, by the creators of Shaun of the Dead. It was a hilariously bloody movie, and just plain rocked. Lots of language though, so if you don’t like that stuff, then stay away.
My schedule for the Summer 2008 semester:
I promised elaboration, so here it is.
I passed 2/3 of my classes, grades on the graduation plan. The class that I failed, an elective, was because I sacrificed it to do better in CS250 and ultimately pass that one, which is a required class. All three classes were required really, but CS381 wasn’t required to progress in my graduation plan. I will replace CS381 with CS370, Image Analysis, in the Fall. I will make a page in the next few days that will contain the last projects from CS250 and MAT300, they are interesting to look at/play with.
(Elaboration to come after many hours of sleep. Oh, and hi! *wave*)
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