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GDC Losing Focus In E3's Wake?

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the a-gdc-too-far dept.

Games 42

In the wake of E3's breakup, developers and attendees going to the annual Game Developer's Conference this week are wondering out loud: is the event losing its focus? As GDC expands, what was once (even just a few years ago) a somewhat quiet and intimate affair is taking on the airs of the now-deceased videogame extravaganza. The key for the Conference this year, the first post-E3, is going to be to make sure that the community aspect of the event remains intact in the face of over 12,000 attendees. As conference director Jamil Moledina points out, "The main lesson from (the transition of E3) is that we have to stick to what we do best: providing learning and inspiration to independent developers." Here's hoping the coming week bears that out.

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Interesting (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18234996)

No, wait. That other word. Tedious.

Re:Interesting (3, Insightful)

Samuel_Gompers (1071856) | more than 7 years ago | (#18235032)

spend a grand or two after hotels and passes, see same old windbags talk about the same stale ideas, silently chuckle to self that everyone seems to claim expertise in what is probably their weakest area, make weak effort to pass out business cards and ignore the fact that conglomerates are sucking the life out of the business as surely as they did to the music business in the past ten years, silently cry at seeing the 15th copycat game of what was an original idea ten years ago, drink, sleep, repeat, go home

Re:Interesting (3, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#18235384)

And that's different from any other conference in what way?

It's pretty much the same for about any kind of conference I know, that's not limited to game development. You have the same in hardware, databases, ... ok, some security cons are different. But then, those tend to be not public.

Re:Interesting (1)

Samuel_Gompers (1071856) | more than 7 years ago | (#18243476)

there was a very brief golden era when E3 came to LA when the ps2 was young, the suits/marketers hadn't started to outnumber the devs, and the industry in general seemed to have more ideas, more mavericks, more indy productions, the kind of revenge-of-the-nerds anarchy which brought us 'the promised lot'. more juvenile, but also more creative and fun. now, it is just another industry, and the conferences reflect that. people are more out to market their personal 'brand' than to celebrate the fact that they've gotten away with another year in a non-job.

Re:Interesting (1)

Xman73x (1032330) | more than 7 years ago | (#18240000)

Stupid! Now us gamers will be kept in the dark by Sony Computer Entertainment Of America Or should I say there new name is Phony Entertainment! LMAO! Sorry but if the game companies keep us in the dark then screw you all for being a greedy son of a bitch! This wasn't like this in the past 12,000 Attendees?.lol yeah right!-Man now I wish I could go back to when things were simple!Is this the future?.Damn the PS3 to hell for all I care! The people who invented it need to seriously get there asses kicked and thats Kaz Hirai,Ken Katuragi,Jack Treton The price is Ridiculous anyway and its not selling at WalMart etc-The last time I called Kmart and WalMart was last week and they told me they have 60 PS3's in the back of there storage room!:Man even SCEA's webmaster if I saw him right now I'd kick his ass and tell him to do his freaking job! I bet all he's doing at his job is looking at porn on his Computer when he's supposed to be doing his duty to kick out the Flamers, and cheaters! Jes now look at the problems Sony has with Socom Combined Assault!-Lag Switchers etc-Code 9-Jes whats next!.lol-

GDC Never Had A Focus (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18235008)

The main reason you go to GDC was to give a passing head nod to guys you used to work with but didn't like enough to bother getting their number when or they left the company.

Or job hunting.

The lectures/presentations are nothing more than public ego masturbations. The last thing the vast majority of game developers want to do with the cutting edge tech we've developed is stand up in front of the entire game development world and talk about it.

Re:GDC Never Had A Focus (5, Informative)

Anubis333 (103791) | more than 7 years ago | (#18237748)

As someone presenting at GDC who works Crytek, a very tech heavy developer that many believe sometimes defines the 'cutting edge'. I would like you to know that there are some companies who work hard to foster understanding of 'cutting edge' tech, and share knowledge with others, even when it can be detrimental to them.

We are doing lectures and tutorials. Our graphics/programming tutorials are very in depth and not only offer a behind the scenes look, but code examples as well. We also author articles in many shader/game programming texts to offer a decent level of transparency in the work we do. Lastly, when we released Far Cry, it came with an SDK and many of the assets on their non compiled forms (3dsmax files).

Though yes, this hurts us sometimes. For instance, another large developer has mirrored a lot of the feature set we have shown in the past two years, with only about a 6 month lag, then put the R&D money into a large marketing campaign, to make people think that the features (renamed) are original, and their own.

The game development community, and sharing knowledge matters a lot to us. Game developers don't have to act in the manner you described; many just choose to. We are presenting some really great stuff this year, if you are in SF you should check it out!

Re:GDC Never Had A Focus (1)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 7 years ago | (#18238146)

Dunno about you, but the AI and gamne design lectures I attended where in-depth, well thought out and cutting-edge (at least with respect to dev shops). Yeah, I had just finished my masters in AI and most of that stuff was old hat to me, but for anyone who hadn't specialized in AI and wanted to find out more about it, the lectures were the place to go: a quick primer on what works and what doesn't, and what to bone up on if you want to improve your games.

Maybe I went to the lectures who weren't given by people with too much ego and too little interest in helping otherss.

Re:GDC Never Had A Focus (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18238382)

Who's "we"? The defining aspect of those actually at the cutting edge is that they will happily talk about it because it's what they did 18 months ago. Pettiness about sharing knowledge is usually confined to people who received the knowledge from the internet or books in the first place.

GDC = E3? (2, Interesting)

Baddas (243852) | more than 7 years ago | (#18235010)

Well, someone has to fill in for E3. Why exactly did they stop having E3 anyway? Seems silly.

GDC != E3, but some possible alternatives (5, Informative)

jchenx (267053) | more than 7 years ago | (#18235138)

Well, someone has to fill in for E3. Why exactly did they stop having E3 anyway? Seems silly.
As someone who's been to a few E3s, I can definitely tell you that it's not all it's cracked up to be. Every year, it's like an arms race, with all the companies trying to build these larger, and larger booths. However, the venue itself was a horrible place to show off your game to retailers/press, since it's loud, crowded, lots of distractions, and rarely do you have time to honestly try out a product or talk to representatives. Thus, lots of companies started actually hosting their own private functions at hotels outside of the main E3 venue.

To a lesser extent, E3 always put a lot of demand on developers for having that E3 build ready for demo. Eliminating E3, or at least having it moved later, theoretically makes things easier. Some would argue, though, that having E3 as a milestone isn't necessarily a bad thing, and for many companies, they'll continue to have some sort of early milestone build target anyway (if you won't show it at E3, you can always show it off at other events, or private showings).

Back to GDC, that's not really an appropriate 1-for-1 replacement of E3. GDC really is supposed to be a gathering for developers, not just one big marketing bonanza. There are some E3 replacement ideas being kicked around, such as the Entertainment for All [] show, which is actually open to everyone (not just those in the games industry). There is also the Penny-Arcade Expo [] , a gathering of gaming fans that's getting larger and larger each year. Personally, I think those are better fits for a true "E3 replacement", but one that's really focused towards the fanbase.

Sony Is Having An Insane E3ish GDC Week (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18235108)

Sony Home - This is the one to watch for. 4 []

Heavenly Sword: [] [] []

Warhawk - Downloadable Playstation Network Game
32 players online play with dedicated servers 6 [] /693580/ignweekly_episode38_flvlowwide.flv []

Tekken 5DR - Downloadable 1080p Playstation Network Game 20 bucks []

God of War PS2 tml [] []

Motorstorm []

And Virtua Fighter 5, Flow, it's going to be quite a week for Sony.

Re:Sony Is Having An Insane E3ish GDC Week (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18235470)

And Virtua Fighter 5, Flow, it's going to be quite a week for Sony.

What, are they releasing a new rootkit?

Re:Sony Is Having An Insane E3ish GDC Week (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18235528)

Awww, how cute! It's like seeing someone still trying to do BSOD jokes.

Re:Sony Is Having An Insane E3ish GDC Week (1)

Rycross (836649) | more than 7 years ago | (#18240236)

If Warhawk turns out to be good, then that would be a tick for me in the PS3 camp. 32 player sounds pretty good.

Of course, if Sony really wants my money, they'd convince Kojima to make Zone of the Enders 3. Number 2 is still one of my favorite PS2 games.

I'm not sure why people are hyping up Flow. It's an OK game, but lost my interest after about 15 minutes. And you can already play it online for free.

Pointless article (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18235136)

GDC has very little in common with E3 and the atmosphere is completely different. The main purpose of GDC is for developers to interact with other developers and publishers and for the talent to exchange ideas, and for recruiting purposes.

E3 was a tradeshow for the publishers to interact with the distributors and the media. The problem was that because that was where all the new product is unveiled, it was overrun with people who must have that sneak peak, yet are inconsequential to any potential business opportunites that are to be had. Distributors like Wal-Mart and Best Buy were complaining that they couldn't get business done because the place is just so damned packed with college students, bloggers, and low level game industry employees who weren't there on business.

Big publishers, mostly Sony and EA, looked at the millions they spend preparing for the show, the amount of manhours involved, and compared it to how little was actually accomplished and they said 'screw it'. They realized they could fly all the journalists, executives, and sales people first class to their own offices, wine and dine them, developing a one on one personal relationship rather than being in a flimsy cubicle at E3, yelling at one another because DDR is blasting full volume behind you and Paris Hilton is throwing t-shirts for a game she's endorsing, but can't remember the name.

Why have game shows? (1)

Mythrix (779875) | more than 7 years ago | (#18235146)

With all current-gen game consoles having internet capabilities, the game companies should just feed game trailers and info to the consoles.

We'd watch it.

Wii might need more storage space though.

Re:Why have game shows? (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 7 years ago | (#18235296)

Problem is that won't hype those that don't put their console online.

Re:Why have game shows? (1)

Tim Browse (9263) | more than 7 years ago | (#18235530)

Because GDC is not for you. The clue is in the name.

Re:Why have game shows? (1)

Andrew Kismet (955764) | more than 7 years ago | (#18235534)

Wii has 2GB SD cards available for it. And there's technically 8GB SD cards out there, and the numbers are getting bigger each year. Storage shouldn't be a problem for Wii.

Re:Why have game shows? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18236502)

Xbox 360 already has this service for free, demos, trailers, etc... Just download it, try it, and delete it if it's crap. Damn Microsoft for doing something so... helpful.

dinosaur (3, Insightful)

mrshowtime (562809) | more than 7 years ago | (#18235194)

The GDC was in many ways the direct opposite of the E3 and should always remain that way. In this day and age of instant information, are trade shows for videogames even necessary? I would say up until now the CES (previously) and the E3 was necessary, but now it's no longer important. If Sony, for example wants to announce the PS4 in five years, they won't be doing it at an "E3." Why spend all of that money when they can just call up and invite a few of the big news agencies, important bloggers, etc., to their corporate headquarters and then announce the big announcement in a controlled environment? It's not 1983, technology is not changing every five seconds like it was back then. Sure, there are new gadgets/cell phones/gizmos, but the "wow" factor of technology is not like it was in the 80's and early 90's.

Isn't it obvious? (3, Interesting)

Ka D'Argo (857749) | more than 7 years ago | (#18235256)

Ok, so they chucked E3 (to later be replaced anyway) cause it wasn't focusing on the industry and it's people more so than the average day gamer getting into it, and all the hype etc They are saying GDC is becoming the same, more flashy big name stuff rather than it's usual routine.

It's simple, and obvious, make a gaming/technology industry show, that is for the people. Developers, businesses etc are all welcome regardless, and could setup booths of their own. I know, someone will quote me PAX but for every video game or console promoting itself there, there are another couple hundred people sitting around playing CCG's and such which while cool in their own right wouldn't fit in too much with a video game themed place such as an E3-like show. So you host this show, stick it some place neutral for god sakes, no West Coast, no East Coast. Make'em meet in the middle, hold the shit somewhere in north Texas or something. A large building, open to the public via purchased tickets, booths to be rented. No need to fake some industry connection to get in. Keep the booth babes but tame them up some, other wise you run the risk of having your show being labeled as adults only, which would cut into the fan base that could attend.

It would suck, as an idea, if no companies came out for it. If Nintendo, MS, Sony and others didn't show up, you'd basically just have one giant LAN party where people walked around from console demo unit to demo unit playing various games. But it could work. It would solve the "omg E3 ain't what it used to be, cancel it" or the "omg GDC is turning into E3" bullshit and make way for a more open E3-style show that is more accessible to the entire country.

Is Nintendo Talking About Anything? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18235272)

Nintendo really needs to start talking about their 2007 plans because right now me and many other Wii owners are starting to wonder if we all paid 250 dollars for another GameCube. Last year Nintendo wouldn't stop talking about how they were going to revolutionize the console world with the Wii and ever since Christmas its like the company forgot they were competing in the console market.

The online stuff appears to be in shambles.
The Wii games so far have been underwelming. Zelda was good, and stuff like Wii Sport only last so long.
The 2007 release list for the Wii is about half to third the size of the 360 and PS3 lists.

Outside of two or three first party Nintendo games I can't think of anything due out for the Wii that isn't crappy PS2 ports or mediocre minigame stuff we already have enough of. We really need to hear from Nintendo about when exactly online games will be out and some news about non-Nintendo game support.

Re:Is Nintendo Talking About Anything? (2, Insightful)

miro f (944325) | more than 7 years ago | (#18236248)

it seems to have taken third parties a while to get on board the Wii, look for their releases around the end of 2007 and the start of 2008

Nintendo needs to support their developers more, these rumours of no third party Mii support and no online till 2008 don't make me happy =/

Re:Is Nintendo Talking About Anything? (1)

Daimando (842740) | more than 7 years ago | (#18238312)

From what I heard, they are unable to talk about any of their new stuff at the GDC due to an impending stock trade(And apparently, Japanese law forbids companies from talking about anything new during this stock trade, fearing the stock may take a plunge.)

Re:Is Nintendo Talking About Anything? (1)

Rycross (836649) | more than 7 years ago | (#18240270)

The situation with ports is definitely disappointing. I'm hoping there's some great announcements around the corner for the system.

FrIst stop? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18235300)

Bill Gates And CES (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18235366)

I remember for years how Bill Gates and Microsoft would be the center of attention at shows like CES but when it comes to games its like they are just another company. You would think that Microsoft would want to really push the Xbox 360 as part of their home media strategy. But instead it's like everyone has forgotten about the 360 and are completely focused on the Wii and PS3.

I don't see why Gates doesn't pay whatever it takes to give the main keynote at GDC and try to get the 360 back in the minds of developers.

Re:Bill Gates And CES (1)

JoelMartinez (916445) | more than 7 years ago | (#18240548)

They tried that at a GDC a few years back where they ended up giving a good number of the attendees free HD tvs. Do a google search for Greg Costikyan's GDC rant for a bit of what that resulted in. that being said, I'm pretty durn excited about XNA [] . I think that may change things going forward

Its all in the name (4, Interesting)

MMaestro (585010) | more than 7 years ago | (#18235412)

GDC: Game Developer's Conference

E3 (previously): Electronic Entertainment Expo.

The focus of each event seems to be pretty clearly stated in their names.

Re:Its all in the name (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 7 years ago | (#18237874)

Well that's exactly the point of TFA, that so many posters seem to be missing. Will the GDC become more like E3 due to E3 being kaput?

Are the GDC organizers making sure that GDC sticks to what it should be?

Red Herring (1)

bazald (886779) | more than 7 years ago | (#18235488)

E3, while brought up in the article, has little to do with the main point of the article. This isn't about a fear that the event will now become what E3 is trying to move away from being. This is about GDC becoming too big in its own right.

"Now that the industry is big enough to sustain (several other) segment-, market- or platform-specific developer conferences, will GDC still continue to be mecca for game developers? We'll see," Pallister said.

It is still all about the developers.

obligatory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18236148)

It is still all about the developers...

developers developers developers []

WOL? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18235542)

developers and attendees[...] are wondering out loud
Is that like laughing out loud?

I am Essjay (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18236140)

I am posting this from behind Tor [] due to a concern for my life. The truth is that I am a member of the Gay Nigger Assocation of America [] . This is both a religion and a lifestyle for me, and I was working my way up to the top of Wikipedia as a sleeper agent [] to be used in a time of need.

My role for the GNAA was to rig the structure of Wikipedia like a chain of dominoes, so that when the time was right our leader could push over the first one of sorts, in whichever form it might take, merely by erecting his black member; we would replace every article with an icon [] , and make national news [] in the process.

I tell all of you this as my failure has re-inspired my belief in god, and in the idea that one day that white men such as many of us might not all end up as dead, uprooted links in the ultimate evolution of the human race [] . Thank you and god bless.

Big names say yes, everyone else says what? (1)

kinglink (195330) | more than 7 years ago | (#18237962)

GDC is similar to what E3 was supposed to be, private. It works that way because of the price of the show, it costs almost 1K to do anything worth while. However at the same time GDC is slowly going the way of E3. The focus isn't on the game developers as much any more as the focus is now on the big names and what they will bring.

We have Sony going all out to start a pissing contest in the Expo room (something that will likely come up next year when EA, Activision, and Microsoft jump on that bandwagon and then the year after when all four of them bitch about spending so much money. Nintendo will probably have a bigger presence at some point but It's likely the other group that will cause the annoyance).

The sad thing is that no one is going to buy Sony's BS, everyone knows exactly where they stand with Sony, but the other guys will have to try to keep up. This is just going to turn the entire expo part of the conference into an E3esque problem, however the remainder of the conference (the lectures) are going to remain pretty much the same.

GDC less technical now, because the industry is. (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 7 years ago | (#18239530)

The GDC used to be more technical, but that's because the field is more mature now.

Back in the late 1990s, people were struggling with trying to get game physics, programmable shaders, NPC control, and MMORPG services to work at all. So there were heavy technical sessions on subjects like that. Most of those problems have been solved now; improvements continue, but the basic problems are understood.

Today, most of the problems in game development aren't algorithm-related. They're more concerned with scaling issues: more users, more terrain, more detail, more staff to coordinate. There's more concern about the production pipeline and less about algorithms.

There are some harder-core conferences than GDC for game developers. I once went to a "Hardcore Physics" conference for game developers. Three days in an airport Marriott, with people filling up white boards with math. No exhibits, no distractions, no fanboys, no suits, but all the top people in game physics were there. That's where the real work gets done.

It's been an extravaganza for 7+ years (1)

Junks Jerzey (54586) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242948)

Sure it keeps getting bigger, but it's been a long time since a get together in Chris Crawford's living room.

It can't all be done online... (1)

Dutch Gun (899105) | more than 7 years ago | (#18243534)

GDC is more than just about disseminating information, although that's the basic pretense for getting everyone together. Obviously, all that information could simply be transmitted online.

One of the biggest draws for developers is the opportunity to network among their industry peers. For individual developers, it's a chance to meet other devs and industry reps. Smaller game studios have an opportunity to talk to publishers. Vendors can meet-and-greet their clients and potential clients. Game development is a business like anything else, and personal connections are very important. This also gives developers a chance to feel like they're a part of a community as well. The Internet can still be somewhat isolating, and meeting someone in person is still a lot more interesting to most than exchanging e-mails.

Even the presentations are quite a bit different live than when captured digitally. Sitting amongst some of the top AI programmers in the industry and discussing where the state of AI is going was inspiring to me as a young developer. I got a chance to listen to Miyamoto speak - possibly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. GDC gave me a chance to casually chat with other developers both as a fan of their work and as a collegue. I even took the opportunity to meet up with an artist friend for a session of life-drawing exercises, something I had never tried before. For me, the personal inspiration was just as important as the technical presentation.

That aside, I've found the sessions at GDC to be highly informative and well presented in general - naturally, there are always a few duds - it also depends a great deal on which sessions you choose. Perhaps this is because people are putting their professional reputations on the line when giving a presentation. It's a far cry from the typical fare you see on the net or even in books, which often written by academics or amateur game developers (nothing against these, but it tends to make the material slightly less relevant to professional developers). And, of course, there's the obvious benefit of an interactive Q&A session.

I suppose it's easy to be cynical and dismissive, but I think this is more reflective of an individual's attitude. Just like most endeavors in life, what you get out of GDC depends a great deal on what you're willing to put into it.

ASFT post count in this story: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18247924)

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