Archive for March, 2010
Game Developers Conference is the “Mecha” for many game developers. It features the up and coming, the new common trends, and the stuff you already knew about but now get to see in action. This holy land that developers migrate to has been long been a staple of passion and a way to display achievements in the past year, and every year they open it up to students for 1 day. One may wonder… well… what do they offer students. Upon entering and completing registration I realized there were only 4 talks I could attend. I really had wished to attend “C++ is a bad language to make games in… so what should we use,” but no such luck was afforded, and in fact student passes couldn’t even get “free coffee.”
Despite these barriers and initial disappointment I went to 3 talks, of which I really enjoyed one, enjoyed parts of one and utterly despised the other. I had wished to hear about some cool new design practices or whats new in the world of game development; however, as students, this apparently over our heads.
The first talk I attended was enjoyable. The speaker talked about what it takes to make it in the Game Industry; however, his advice was more general and about what it takes to live a happy life and have a job. It is all about the passion and about honing your craft was essentially the gist of it. Later in the day during recall him saying such things, but it wasn’t new information. I have been telling computer science students for the past 2-3 years that if they are not passionate they should find something they love or else they will be miserable.
The next talk was amazing though. I really enjoyed this one, and it actually made looking back at the entire experience a pleasing one. They brought 4 developers from popular indie game studios (including developers of Flow/flower, pb winter bottom and portal) that recently made it big in the industry. These speakers talked about their successes, the challenges they faced and how to potentially make it. Once again the deciding factor is passion and actually going for it. My big take away was perhaps I should actually drop everything and pursue the games I am trying to make more seriously rather than make them back burner things. Later in the day as I other events impacted me I kept drawing back to this talk. Perhaps the life of the indie developer, the developer that wears many hats is the life for me…
The final talk I attended was just about resumes and interviewing. Once again no new info. They really just stated please be passionate and don’t lie. It somewhat irritated me. All their resume critics seemed fairly obvious.
Between the talks I attended I strolled over to the Expo. On the floor I hear people cheering and then see them huddling in a massive group around the Intel booth. I turned left and see the Unity booth and played with that for a while (Unity is essentially a really powerful 3d game engine with dev once deploy everywhere philosophies). I saw the guys from Mono (.net for any platform) and recognized one of them that I met at Mix last year. They gave me a monkey with a Mono t-shirt, I think it was their last one, and definitely the best piece of swag I received. I saw the giant hamster ball in which people played a first person shooter. This was right next to the Indie Game Festival booth which showcased their best of show.
Finally, on the floor, companies set up booths for job opportunities; however, almost none of them were taking resumes (sounds like a career fair at SJSU). They told everyone to sign up online. I walked over to the Blizzard booth, trying to initially start up friendly conversation, which then turned into me getting slightly told off. “No do not sign up for Senior or intermediate game developer positions at Blizzard.” They only hire people who have worked on other AAA titles or pull people up from QA. If you ask me though why would you pull up someone from QA if he is doing an awesome job there. In any case, I refuse to start off as QA. It wasn’t even the good QA where you can script. All they would want me to do is fill out bug reports and a be a game master.
So let me ask you “forum” where does that leave the Computer Science student with passion for video game development who has been putting in extra hours developing games whenever he gets a chance? Where does it put the person who has worked with graphics algorithms and really honing that skill for at least 1.5 years if not more? Why does the industry put these “senior level” positions at such a high pedestal. I can write a report, I can develop, anything I don’t know I can learn in a few hours.
For some reason many companies in this world assume every person exiting college is a completely useless. In reality we are the ones with new ideas, the passion and the excitement to get things done. So am I going to ever apply to Blizzard. Well maybe. For now that I am giving the imaginary middle finger and I think I am going to go off and build my own games.
I am not trying to fight the system, and I know I am definitely hire-able despite how rejection feels. I just think with amount of experience candidates like myself have, and with amount of passion and potential we have we should be given the benefit of the doubt more often than not. Like the speakers kept saying… At the end of the day it is about the passion. Would I recommend going to GDC for other students? Yes. I just think if they are giving us a student pass we should actually “learn” something, and not be “lectured at”.
About a week ago I participated in this one competition know as Glorious Trainwrecks. This competition was about creating at least 351 games in a matter of 48 hours. You may ask… “why 351 games” and apparently the reason is because another competition known as Global Game Jam made 350 in the same time period with many more people participating. Rather than try to create the most amazing, massive, epic games possible this competition was more about creating quick, dirty and basically horrible games that are entertaining for about 30 seconds . Our team at SJSU (from the game development club) made 30 games of the total 520 that were submitted. Of those 30 games, I made sound for 2 games. I had also created a game using Scratch that was rather stupid and hilarious but I couldn’t figure out how to get it to run without going through the Scratch website in time.
The first game I worked on was called “Partisan Politics“. It essentially describes how the US is split in to two parties and you (mega man) are getting pulled from one side to the other into the spikes. The second game was known as “A Normal RPG” (although I prefer the name Revenge of the Something, but whatever ). Click on the links to download them (you need flash).
You guys should also check out the full list of games the Game Dev Club made at http://www.glorioustrainwrecks.com/taxonomy/term/514 . Many of which are pretty hilarious a few of my favorites include Noby Noby Lol and Skittles: the Aftermath (make sure to play the first version briefly).
In other news I am going to GDC this weekend. I will take pics and report back! Also I am going to socialize at GibHub’s headquarters tonight, I will make sure to take many many pics and report back!