Hello everyone! We got everyone at the studio to put together a list of their favorite games from GDC.
(Plus Kevin and Kameron too!)
I didn’t go to GDC with a particular goal. I rarely go to conferences and conventions with an objective, unless I’m showing something. That said, I have always managed to get something good out of the experience. This being my third year of attending GDC, I had a rough idea of what I would encounter throughout the week: cool people making cool things, interesting talks, and some rad parties. However, I generally try to make it a point to do something new each year as well. This year’s big new thing was going on the Train Jam.
I have done quite a few game jams in the past (Global Game Jam, Ludum Dare, etc.), but Train Jam was a wholly new experience for me. Spending 52 hours on a train created a challenging environment for making a game, as the swaying of the cars and the lack of internet worked against all attempts at productivity, but simultaneously pushed everyone to think creatively and work around these obstacles. Amanda Hudgins and I worked with two people we had never met before, Andrada Tudor and Jeremiah Watts, to make Techno Dad: Hot Tub Party, a game about fitting a bunch of dads into a hot tub that is too small to keep them warm in an arctic climate, which would be on display with the 61 other games at the Train Jam booth at GDC.
Frequently in narrative design we discuss the “illusion of choice.” There are only so many branches a writer can write, only so many words. Each additional branch adds a new series of text, a new series of choices. This is why so often, decisions are merely short forks in a single linear path. If this is done well, however, the reader may not even realize that their choices were not their own — that these decisions were pre-written for them.
80 Days, a narrative game from Inkle, has as much text as the Lord of the Rings series plus the Silmarillion. Each new choice adds more text to an already dense piece of work, so it’s little surprise that the long history of narrative games is about giving readers an illusion of choice rather than actual decisions. At a GDC talk this past week, Jim Brown of Epic Games discussed this concept as it related to level design.
If you’ve never been to a con before (or maybe you have) there are things you have to keep in mind. Pack some snacks, make sure to have bottled water, and bring an extra adaptor for your phone so that when it dies (because it will) you can charge it.
But what often gets left out of the discussion is what to do if you’re also someone who happens to be managing chronic pain. Maybe sometimes it’s incredibly difficult to get up in the morning. Maybe it feels like every muscle in your back is actually a separate rubber band that is creaking against a wooden frame as it tries not to snap. The idea of standing for eight hours on end at a booth sounds as close to a level of hell as you can imagine.
I have what my doctor calls a “relatively minor” case of scoliosis, and so what works for me may not work for you. When I asked another chronic pain sufferer what they did for conventions, they told me they just “endured it.” In many cases, this is basically what you have to do, and there’s little to no way around it. However, there are some steps that I’ve taken in the past that can help alleviate the pain a little bit.
This year, all the members of Super Soul will be attending GDC (yay!) and I’ll be attending as well, as a GDC Scholarship attendee through the fantastic organization #INeedDiverseGames. It’s difficult to talk about yourself, so instead I’ll talk about the organization.
#INeedDiverseGames is a pretty fantastic organization which is dedicated to increasing diversity, not just in the forms of characters but in the back rooms. They want a more diverse group of people to make games and they’re supporting programs to do that. This scholarship was designed for people who are from marginalized communities (members of the LGBTQIA spectrum, women, minorities, etc) and people who working with those marginalized communities to help increase diversity in the workplace and in games themselves. If you haven’t checked out #INeedDiverseGames, definitely give them a look on their website.
So how does this apply to me?
There’s some of the obvious ways, in that I’m a woman. Additionally, one of the pushes that Super Soul has been making in the last year has been towards creating educational initiatives that are targeting women and minority communities in Kentucky. Game development is becoming more democratic and we’re working on some pretty great projects to help bring those programs to life. I’m really excited to have this opportunity to go to GDC, as I wasn’t entirely sure how I was going to get a ticket otherwise, and I’m excited to do so with as great a program as #INeedDiverseGames.
Additionally, while I’ve managed to arrange my travel to and from GDC already (as Super Soul is attending the Train Jam this year) several people who’ve received the same scholarship are going to have a more difficult time getting there and paying for food in San Francisco (which ain’t cheap.) Thankfully #INeedDiverseGames is putting together a crowd-funding campaign to try and give a small stipend to their scholarship recipients. Every little bit counts, so if you’re able, be sure to contribute: Link here.
This semester we were very lucky to have three interns from the University of Kentucky’s MAS program. These three interns — Jeff Wright, Stephen Smith and Matt Hudgins — all contributed a great deal to the projects that we worked on this month.
To celebrate the work that we’ve done this semester as well as the fact that two of our interns (Jeff and Stephen) are graduating, we took them out for a night at Gatti Town.
The night was full of skee ball, Japanese Derby horse training games, a potentially pirated copy of Mario Kart and average pizza. Thank you to everyone who came out to celebrate our final hurrah with our interns, as well as the interns who made this an enjoyable and productive semester.
If you’re interested in an internship, be sure to contact firstname.lastname@example.org .
This year, Super Soul attended OGDE as a part of the game development group RunJumpDev, who was a sponsor for the event. Throughout the weekend, the RunJumpDev booth alternatively showed off work from both Super Soul, as well as Ralph VR’s Daydream Blue. On the final day, mildmojo also set up a guerrilla booth for his fascinating alternative controller exhibit Disc Jockey Jockey.
OGDE is a regional exposition for game developers in the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana area, and there were a lot of great development teams from the area showing off all of their work. In addition to that, we were able to meet a decent selection of new people. The conference is a great opportunity to network with other developers, show off the work that we’ve managed in the past year, and to just see some great games from regional developers.
Super Soul will be attending the third annual Train Jam!
For those not in the know, Train Jam is an annual event where developers from around the world take the California Zephyr from Chicago to San Francisco, arriving just in time for GDC. This year, the train tickets managed to sell out in just 35 seconds (seriously) but somehow every member of Super Soul has managed to find their way onto the train! We’ve also really excited to hear that 11 OHINKY (Ohio/Indiana/Kentucky) developers are going to be on the train with us.
This year, John will be attending for the first time along with one of our contractors Jeff Wright and Amanda Wallace, who will be attending for her second year. The Train Jam is an excellent opportunity that we’re excited to be afforded, and we hope to meet and network with interesting developers and designers!
See you at GDC 2016!
Below is the sixth and final in a series of posts documenting the final development of Deluxe Turbo Racing 360 for GDC. Due to a crazy schedule we did not roll out posts during GDC, but over the next few weeks we will post up blogs from the trip.
With five posts already written and a month since GDC, I reckon it is time to finally get to GDC itself with a good ol’ fashioned post mortem.
Below is the fifth in a series of posts documenting the final development of Deluxe Turbo Racing 360 for GDC. Due to a crazy schedule we did not roll out posts during GDC, but over the next few weeks we will post up blogs from the trip.
This week on Super Soul at GDC…
drama in the hotel room!!!