Week 8: Greasing the Gears

GDC Note

Last week five our of our team of six went to the Game Developer’s Conference in San Francisco. Our time was spent doing a variety of activities. Sarvesh and Maya had full conference passes and spent a lot of time attending sessions on various topics. Though we were able to attend a couple sessions, Tony, Guangya, and myself spent most of our time on the expo floor since we had expo-only passes.

The expo floor had a lot of awesome areas we were able to check out. Most notably for our project, Amazon has a very large presence on the floor with many of their key experts on hand talking about Lumberyard and its tools. With nearly unfettered access to these professionals, we spent considerable time in the Amazon area. Sarvesh was able to have conversations around many different facets of his work and ask some questions to further his understanding of Lumberyard and how it’s tools work. Maya was able to talk to a few tech artists and learn a few new things about some of the ways Lumberyard handles the art pipeline. Guangya was able to talk with several concept artists and get a better feel on how professionals design and use concept artwork. Tony spent time chatting with several people getting a strong overview on upcoming Lumberyard features, but also spent time talking with some of the designers there to find out their processes in lieu of working on Lumberyard. I spent a lot of time checking out different features Lumberyard has coming in the future. It was also really helpful talking to as many people as I could about production practices at both Amazon Game Studios as well as the couple studios they had demoing projects on Lumberyard in the booth.

The private meetings we had with various people were extremely helpful. We had to private meetings with folks from Twitch, one was with a lead from the Developer Success Team, the other was one of the Vice Presidents at Amazon who is responsible for Twitch. From the Developer Success meeting, we learned a bit more about the direction that Twitch wants to explore with streamers and games. As they look at the Twitch environment and communities, they want to see streamers be able to grow their audiences, and want to provide them with new possibilities on how that looks from a game developer standpoint. Our meeting with the Vice President gave us a good perspective on areas that Twitch wants to explore, particularly around the areas of audience participation and how that interacts with broadcast media. In one statement, the Vice President said, “I believe in five years it will be very common for designers to consider viewer interaction with the gameplay in their design” He also mentioned that the space we are building in is “before the future” as we look at how to build and design in a space that not only engages the player, but those who watch them play. Working in a field that few in the world are working in is both exciting and frightening at the same time. However with the support and resources from our client, the ‘exciting’ part heavily outweighs any fears as we get to plunge headfirst into new regions of entertainment. Our team is thriving off the exploration, and in the words of a famous captain “to boldly go where no man has gone before.”

Week Summary

This week our team has been focusing on a couple different things. Firstly, there were a couple days of decompressing from GDC. Coming back from a conference about things you love leaves the team on a bit of a high and stepping back into the project room required a re-focus on the realities that are about to come. Next week is our spring break, the week after is Halves; the semester mid-point when we give full presentations to all the faculty and students on the state of the project. Since this is still academia, and grades are required, this is the point when our team gets their first big team grade. To prepare for this, Sarvesh and Le have been working on refining their demo, making sure it’s a bit more polished for the week of presentations. Maya and Guangya are working on art pieces trying to get some work done that they can show off. Tony is preparing slides and presentation content, as well as doing design work with me. I am currently working on planning out some of the remaining work on the semester and currently writing up a design document for some of the user stories we have for our game so that the programmers can begin building more and new features when Halves is over.

Over spring break, many of us will be gone for a few days. Some are visiting friends, other interviewing, and others will be hanging around and working on internship and job searches. As we enter the second half of the semester, we will be able to focus more on prototyping the implementation of our ideas. We have a lot of the most difficult parts of the technology worked out, so now we can refine and build which means that the coming months will be full of more work and exciting discoveries.

Thanks for stopping by! – Cody