Friday, September 18, 2009

AGDC: The Loner

I made one session amidst the day of mind-numbing negotiations, and that was Damion Schubert's "The Loner":
"This talk explores one of the more interesting puzzles of massively multiplayer game design: why do so many people choose to play these games alone? How should designers reach these customers? How important is solo play to games? Should game designers try to entice solo players to enjoy group mechanics like raiding, sieges or PvP? Or are MMOs destined to become 'massively single-player games'?"
I've known Damion (casually) for years, and I'm constantly impressed by his digging into the tougher (and/ or more important) game design challenges, with concrete takeaways. I don't like to summarize his talks, because theres so much rich content there. But I will anyway. Check out is blog,, for more of wisdom and wittyisms.

This talk was about the shift over the last five years in MMOs toward providing (really, requiring) solo play in addition to the "massive". He identified several types of "Loner" - both legitimate (personality type or good game design) and illegitimate (broken game states). Damion offered a large number of concrete design techniques that could help make great games (and avoid game-killing design mistakes)

Damion made an important observation that the "massive" is the differentiation for MMOs - "We can't compete in any other area". Despite this, it's not even an option to create an MMO without a solo aspect.

He also covered bits of psychology and usability -- like, many people don't want to learn publicly; but even more, they don't want to be embarrassed publicly.

Damion made some important real-world data analogies to MMO design (traffic, bars, casino design) that would serve game designers well to consider.

There are also gradations of solo players. Many people (like me) choose to play socially with friends, but solo if friends aren't online

Sociopaths, at their simplest, don't recognize social norms for the space they're in. But everyone who's new to a given MMO is a sociopath, until the designer explicitly trains them otherwise (you don't know the social norms for the new space until you're taught them, and they're ingrained). People who don't change or don't care need to be retrained, channeled, or booted.

From a game design perspective, being "a Loner" is OK; forced into being lonely is not, and is a borked game state.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

AGDC: Wizard101 - Lions and Tigers and Ninja Pigs, Oh My!

After a wicked busy (but productive) burst of partner and Customer meetings, I went to the post mortem for licensee KingsIsle's title, Wizard101 - "Wizard101 - Lions and Tigers and Ninja Pigs, Oh My!":
"In this post-mortem, WIZARD101 creator J. Todd Coleman discussed the challenges of making a kid-focused MMO, and the role of iterative design in discovering a games personality. How do you blend family-friendly characters, a cinematic combat system, and a collectible card game into a cohesive virtual world? Find out as the director discusses what worked (and what didn't) in KingsIsle's quest to introduce persistent world gaming to a new generation of gamers."
The game is tween MMO that runs lightweight on a PC, it's an 8 Mb download, and streams.

You might have seen the Game Developers Magazine article on the Wizard101 post mortem, but if you haven't, I encourage you to check it out.

One of the things I found particularly interesting from a planning / pre-production standpoint was their plan to create a game that had 3 areas of focus -- and if some 800-pound gorilla launched during their 3-year cycle, they would shift their focus to 1 or two of the other areas of focus. Very savvy from a risk-mitigation perspective.

What's Unique:
  • Personality (the game's got flavor)
  • Combat (card-based)
  • The World (The "spiral mechanic" - which allows for creation of oddly themed expansion worlds and side quests - is brilliant)
  • The story (At the same time, there is a single narrative thread-- as opposed to the typical MMO trope of multiple mini stories -- that keeps things cohesive
The game is ultimately about saving the world, with stark lines between good and evil, and each player is the hero.

Persistence? Respawning? Who cares? It's all about keeping it fun for the individual kid player.

The names in Wizard101 may be the greatest part of the game (Samoorai? Sherlock Bones? Meowriarty? Awesome.)

Combat is turn-based, cinematic, and uses a card collecting mechanic (the goal was approachable like Toontown, looks like Yu Gi O, plays like older Final Fantasy).

On the progression of the battle system, Coleman said they created a physical card game for focus testing with kids (sounds like they did a lot of focus testing throughout pre- and production). Next was a 2D prototype that let them further focus test the gameplay, and the AI. Then they did a canned cinematic to show how it would work together. Then they integrated everything.

What Went Right:
  • Scope - 30 people, and linear play made for needing less assets
  • Prototyping helped refine mechanics
  • Digital download/FTP mechanism for distribution
  • Minimum spec machine - Coleman asserts that kids get the lowest quality machine in a household; interestingly, he said this also enabled them to unexpectedly hit a chunk of the burgeoning netbook market
  • Steady, ongoing launch (as opposed to running up to a launch, getting big numbers, then dropping off sharply)
He showed comparative stats via that I'm going to have to dig into a bit more.

What Went Wrong:
  • Modular world building (bland, and the supposed re-use that drove the decision wasn't worth it)
  • Micropayment model (not enough variety at launch, not enough price points at launch)
  • Stats & Metrics ("too much is as bad as too little"; they had to many probes everywhere)
  • Design for growth (technology is scalable, but the design is not; this is due to things like using % for growth rather than absolute numbers, which causes problems when you need to raise your level cap)

There are social differences in a kids MMO - like for kids, everyone is a friend - but it's different (they'll friend you, but they won't socialize).

They offer a family pricing plan (Yay! Console service providers? Can you please do this?)

AGDC: Lead with Your Gut: How Courage and Common Sense Improve Efficiency

I had to duck out early for a partner meeting, but I wasn't going to miss an opportunity to catch any bits I could get from the AGDC session, "Lead with Your Gut: How Courage and Common Sense Improve Efficiency":
"This session provides insight into how studios can gain project efficiencies by communicating more effectively and engaging in constructive conflict. Using the trials and successes at Next Level Games, learn how efficiency drops and work gets derailed when people work in silos, don't communicate or 'assume' they know what's going on. Getting questions on the table at the beginning and throughout the project, along with planning for more face time, creates efficiencies that will reclaim hundreds of lost hours. Attendees will learn how common sense and the commitment to applying these principles consistently will put their team in a better position to turn out a superior product. It may sound simple, but if it was so easy, why isn't everyone doing it?"
Edoardo De Martin, Studio General Manager of Next Level Games, is an impressive fella. He was honest about his own experiences, shortcomings, and costs of genuine leadership (and the lack thereof).

He was a non-gaming leader poached into Black Box Games (then EA). Kudos to BB for recognizing talent outside the industry and hiring it into a senior position. Doesn't happen nearly enough.

Edoardo was actually going to leave the game industry and its burnout work ethos, until Next Level approached him -- and he said he wouldn't unless they did things differently.

This "differently" largely revolves around what Edoardo calls coaching, but not the touchy feely vapid non-coaching that tends to give the vocation and skill set a bad rap. What he described is akin to what I probably called mentoring leadership for the development teams I managed in past lives.

Other principals of his:
  • Avoid the "squish" (neither upper management or staff are happy with you) - naiive guys take it, but good leaders leave
  • Make then accountable (requires respect, integrity, constructive conflict, continuous learning)
  • Lead through action (have an idea? Act on it - quickly and consistently)
Edoardo reduced leadership in the games industry to business leadership (too often reduced/compartmentalized as producer) and creative leadership (same for game director) - which really requires purposeful conflicts to create genuine collaboration and work two very differnet leadership styles.

(Then I had to leave. So I didn't get all the "how to fix its". I need to call Edoardo.)

AGDC: The Universe Behind World of Warcraft

Day 2 of AGDC started with the Blizzard keynote, "The Universe Behind World of Warcraft":
"Design and implementation is only part of the process in running a massively multiplayer game. Maintaining the player base and achieving sustained growth requires a collective and consistent effort from numerous departments beyond the development team. This discussion will offer an in-depth look at the operational complexities of running a large-scale MMO, including some specific lessons Blizzard Entertainment has learned with World of Warcraft."
This was the third in a 3-year Blizzard series, starting 2 years ago with a design principles, followed up a year ago with the business side, and this year with the development and operational side. I've been at all 3. There should be an achievement for that.

Interestingly, the Warcraft team was working on now-defunct title, Nomad. Ithink I'd heard this before, but seeing the concept art again made me whistful for what might have been.

The talk revolved around detailed descriptions, charts, and numbers of all of the Blizzard WoW teams. While all of that is hugely interesting to me, more interesting is Blizzard's cultural principle of building the organization (and each department, and each team) around the individuals - not just slotting people into rigid org chart slots (no matter how often they may change).

I jotted down a bunch of the numbers and detailed org charts, and might post those later (maybe; that takes work). But the main takeaway is the structuring principle above, along with a recognition of the sheer complexity of the company which requires several discreet business units - which are uniquely organized, and appropriately (numbers-wise) staffed to successfully accomplish their charter.

And this was just about the Warcraft organization, Diablo and Starcraft have equivalent teams. One cool tidbit was the concept of strike teams from other game teams making sure game teams aren't getting too close to their game - at the game's expense.

And despite Blizzcon tickets being sold, the event operates at a significant loss - but to huge marketing gain.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

2009 Game Developers Conference Austin: Day 1

Another video, now that the Game Developers Conference Austin has kicked off?

Sure. Why not.

AGDC: Making an XBLA Game in 6 Months: A Splosion Man Postmortem

(Placeholder; full post coming when I get back to a PC.)

My final session of the day was "Making an XBLA Game in 6 Months: A Splosion Man Postmortem":

"Coming off the award-winning PC and Xbox Live Arcade title, THE MAW, Austin-based indie developer Twisted Pixel embarked on an unconventional XBLA title called SPLOSION MAN. In this in-depth postmortem, the lead programmer and lead designer look at how the splode-happy gameplay of the title evolved, including what went right and wrong during the project?s hyper-aggressive 6 month schedule, and lessons for indies wanting to make console downloadable games."

I'm a big fan of this game, so I was stoked to attend.

There were 4 full-time, 4 part-time people on the team for 6 months.

What went well: Iteration, Prototyping, Focus, Experience, and "One Level"

They had the game playable
The entire game is playable in the tools

"Ugly and quick"

Had room for only one in the schedule, so they chose "polish".

For milestones, they put harsh internal deadlines that were independent of the publisher milestones.

They made tough cuts (from 75 to 50 levels) prioritized, and (if necessary) re-prioritized.

Folks on the team were experienced, and people responded to that experience, check egos, and be open to criticism.

"One Level"
(Basically the vertical slice)

What went wrong
[I'll update this soon.]

AGDC: Emerging Trends in Gameplay: The Blurring Lines Between Casual And Hardcore

After a needed break from sessions for work meetings on the Exhibition floor, I ducked in to "AGDC: Emerging Trends in Gameplay: The Blurring Lines Between Casual And Hardcore":

"The line between what has traditionally been thought of as 'casual gamer' and 'hardcore gamer' has blurred considerably over the past few years, forcing developers to re-examine various gamer groups and their approach to marketing. Jon Radoff presents new behavioral gameplay data across multiple platforms and gamer groups, challenging the tired dichotomy of 'casual versus hardcore' and illustrating that gamers are more diverse than ever before. Providing analysis of current behavioral data, Jon will also help to answer the question of how to more effectively deliver and market a product to these various gamer groups."

While the info that the classification of games ("casual" versus "hardcore", etc.) isn't new news, Radoff had some great data, a la

While not a hardcore user, I've been on gamerDNA since I think the beginning, and I have been continuously impressed with their broad scope of intelligent data collection and data mining, and what they do with it (have you seen their Twitter heatmap?).

Radoff separated gamers into different segments for discussion, like social gamers. Play time for guild members in an MMO, for example, is far far higher than non-guild members. In addition, social gaming shows up in unexpected places (like Rock Band, as opposed to, say, Guitar Hero 3).

This resonates with me, because I'm a very social gamer. If I'm not playing a single-player title, I'm playing a multiplayer title because I want to touch-base with people -- to reconnect.

He also suggested breaking games into thematic segments, rather than gameplay types. His example was Bioshock, which should essentially have been a core game, but had play trends more akin to Rock Band interest.

His follow-on was each game has its own segmentation (social versus non-social, thematic tastes, brand-loyal and genre-loyal, competitive).

Radoff showed some great data for Halo 3 that is gold for biz dev, community management, and marketing folks. For example, DLC caused measurable spikes in player interest, but not as much among genre or franchise fans.

Interesting side tidbit: of the top 10 games also played by World of Warcraft players were Fallout 3 and Warhammer Online. Interestingly, Left4Dead consistently charted as a highly also-played among MMO players

Since 5/31/2009, Twitter has had a 7.6% weekly compound growth in tweets about games. That is phenomenal data. Just think about the analogy of a mutual fund.

AGDC: From Dragons and Daggers to Kart Racing, Cooking and Concerts...It's a Whole New MMO World

AGDC kicked off in earnest with the keynote, "From Dragons and Daggers to Kart Racing, Cooking and Concerts...It's a Whole New MMO World":

"In MMO development, companies can slip into habitual processes derived from targeting the same audience over and over. This session will explore Sony Online Entertainment's first tween/teen title, Free Realms, including market research, focus testing, business intelligence, online and retail distribution, and customer acquisition and retention strategies. Attendees will learn about the challenges and lessons learned when creating a full-blown MMO for kids together with a ground-breaking new business model; and how developers can re-educate their teams to move from stagnant and dated MMO design toward mass market success."

I like John Smedley - I think he's a sharp guy who's accomplished a ton for SOE and for the game industry (gamer gripes for Star Wars Galaxies aside).

To set context, Smedley shared some traditional MMO statistics (a la games like EverQuest) - like 33 is the average age of players, 85% are male, 15% are female, and SOE wanted to tap into more of the female / kid gamer market - thus birthing Free Realms, a free-to-play tween MMO, which represents a significant portion of SOE's new direction (DC Universe Online notwithstanding).

Free Realms is fascinating to me for a number of reasons.

First, I like the blue ocean(ish) aspirational aspect of the title.

Secondly, Smedley and a lot of the folks working on the game are family folks with kids, working to create a safe game that everyone can play. I appreciate they're working to keep it safe.

I like how serious SOE is about monetizing Free Realms as a free-to-play, genuine powerhouse of a worldwide brand, and paying attention to the significant differences in this gamer market.

To this end, they've really pushed formal usability testing (daily use of an on-campus focus testing lab, changing interfaces and user experience quickly to adapt to what the data indicates, etc.).

FR is a micro-transaction-based, with in-game items (clothes to pets to items that help your chosen profession, etc.), and I was surprised that they're doing back-end revenue share with retailers - which evidently is going very well. There is also in-game advertising, that seems to be tastefully handled, and largely within the Sony family.

There were also some compelling stats and anecdotes for the efficacy of TV ads for their target demographic.

Age breakdown of Free Realms players (to compare to traditional numbers above):
  • <13:51%
  • 13-17:29%
  • 18-24:12%
  • 25-34:5%
  • 35-44:2%
  • 45+:1%
Smedley could not emphasize enough how much data mining they do. Sounds like they're doing the business intelligence analysis to do something cool with it.

There's also some interesting gender data in the mining they've done. Boys and Girls are different. Shocking. (But not as shocking as those who pretend they're not. <flame/>)

AGDC: The Blurst of Times: How to Make a (Shader-Heavy, Physics-Based, 3D) Game in 8-Weeks

Heading back to the indie summit, I attended the very polished (and perhaps most important) session so far, "The Blurst of Times: How to Make a (Shader-Heavy, Physics-Based, 3D) Game in 8-Weeks":
"Matthew Wegner and Steve Swink of (Flashbang Studios) discuss how it is possible to create games like MINOTAUR CHINA SHOP and OFF-ROAD VELOCIRAPTOR SAFARI in an 8-week production cycle. You'll be surprised to learn that each Blurst game includes a two-week prototyping phase, multiple publicly playable beta versions, rigorous user testing, and detailed stat tracking and analysis. Perhaps more surprising is the fact that each game is produced with the team working 10am-3pm, Monday through Thursday. It's AAA game development in microcosm; each game is an experiment, both in production and design. Come reap the intellectual benefits of the results of's rapid fire approach."

The company is 6 people, and they, for example, spent 4 months on one of their bigger games, Jetpack Brontosaurus.

But this 8-week production cycle as the norm (goal?) is impressive, and is broken into 2-week prototyping, 5-week production, 1-week launch segments. That's a wicked little amount of time, and the company has to be laser-focused to make it.

Granted, you can arguably do quite a bit with a 6-person company, but there are principles that apply regardless of company size. (Think "The Four-Hour Work Week" or "The Cluetrain Manifesto".)

Flashbang Studios really seen to have a holistic attitude toward the company and employee quality of life (cross-fit memberships, etc.), a ridiculous amount of fun and respect, and (outside-in) seems to be the kind of company to which all companies should aspire. That may just be due to Wegner and Swink, but as a company's leadership goes, so goes the company.

Blurst puts a lot of emphasis on higher-level working efficiency, high-intensity work blocks.

They implemented 10:05-3:30, Monday-Thursday work days for 8-weeks, which created intense focus and productivity (Fridays are Google-style personal development days).

Along with this they recommend 48-minute time-boxing (not unique to them, but their discipline with them might be), Growl as a communication tool, real-time source control commits and notifications, company-wide stand-up meetings (with goals captured individually via custom Google widget and shared publicly, including how you do against them), pivotaltracker (which is rigidly Agile-based, but worked for them), an open office layout where everyone could talk to each other and collaborate instantly, etc. (they don't use bug reporting software, which is unique).

I had to leave the session early, which bums me out, so I hope to catch up with the guys at the show later.

(Blergh. This post doesn't capture the awesome of the session. Need to think how to do that.)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

AGDC: Effective Marketing For Indie Game Developers

The final indie summit session I attended was "AGDC: Effective Marketing For Indie Game Developers":

"How do you use your own website, social networking channels (from Twitter
through IRC and beyond), independent editorial content, and even pre-release
versions of your tools to build a robust community around your game before it
even ships? Wolfire's COO, John Graham,
explains in depth how his company has been building momentum around PC indie
title Overgrowth, what has worked, and what hasn't."

This was a decent little session, though it's probably better couched as case study of a small (4-person?) indie studio figuring out what worked and what didn't, and how they used what works.

It was interesting, not least of which because it's an be an advocacy for a formal PR function within an indie environment.

Graham's a sharp guy, and it's impressive to see what the team has done to build buzz and put out useful content for their community. I'd really like to understand the details and timeline of their core business, technology, and game, to have context on how the PR maps to the reality of the project.

Someone needs to do an in-depth case study on there guys (they'd totally do it).

AGDC: How To Operate Your Indie Game Business - For Fun And Profit!

Finally breaking free from the toy job shenanigans (don't get me wrong, I'm grateful), I gave the independent games summit again - glad I did.

The session was "How To Operate Your Indie Game Business - For Fun And Profit!":

"One of the most stable indies out there, Ninjabee has made a large number of very diverse games for digital download. They?ve released games from CLONING CLYDE to A KINGDOM FOR KEFLINGS. These games were developed for XLA, WiiWare, PC, and iPhone. The down-to-earth Fox, talks about how NinjaBee can maintain the creative indie edge and still stay in business. He discusses how they handle contracting vs. self-funded games and compares development and success on various platforms. Hear tips and tricks on pitching your games to publishers or getting them approved from gatekeepers like Microsoft for XLA and much more on practical matters of interest to every indie game developer."

Brent Fox, from NinjaBee / Wahoo Studios, was a wealth of knowledge.

Starting out in weird way -- talking about the employees, all of their young kids, their need for insurance -- had a purpose. There is a higher need (speaking from experience, sometimes desperation) to provide for families that forces a company to run itself like a business and drive to profitability faster than what indie studios of a bunch of single folks might do. The game industry has been slowly moving this direction as the workforce matures, any way. Slowly.

(Blergh. The rest of this post has been deleted. I'll try to find it or reconstruct it from my notes.)

AGDC: The Super Heroes' Journey: Storytelling in MARVEL ULTIMATE ALLIANCE 2

Taking a selfish break from the business tracks to feed my internal fanboy with "The Super Heroes' Journey: Storytelling in MARVEL ULTIMATE ALLIANCE 2", which comes out today:

"Building a strong narrative for video gaming's largest army of super heroes
requires a unique fusion of writing techniques, tools, and production
strategies. Join Lead Writer Evan Skolnick and Narrative Designer, Jonathan
Mintz, as they take a deep dive into storytelling for a modern, large-scale
Action RPG. You'll learn how they worked with the team to plan the narrative,
develop the game's characters and world, and integrate story with gameplay
They'll share best practices for creating and organizing the wealth of content
that modern games require - along with some hard-earned tips about pitfalls to

I wanted to attend this session not just because I'm a franchise fan. I was curious how the team was going to tighten the gameplay and cutscene storytelling depending on who you pick for your teams (a challenge in the first title), while ratcheting up the mechanics (a la the fusion mechanic) and maturity level, complexity, and player choice and cost.

Secondly (and work-related), I was curious as to how the narrative design informed the tools and production pipeline (more on that later).

Evan Skolnick, lead writer, and Jonathan Mintz, Narrative Designer were the session speakers, and did a stellar job of speaking, keeping content moving, and answering questions.

Vicarious Visions had a roughly 120-person development team for the project, which took
2.5 years to make, and adapted Disney's Marvel's "Secret War" and "Civil War" arcs.

It sounds like VV and Marvel did a good job of adapting Marvel's "What If" trope to the stories, and have better represented the two sides of conflicts so that no one's "wrong" and the player can honestly "choose a side".

VV has done some smart stuff with handling in-game conversations, and I really dig in concept the implementation of their dialog tree.

I had a pretty good sense of what the Narrative Designer's role was, based on conversations with Jonathan after MUA1, but the team has really refined the role, and genuinely leveraged the Narrative Designer and Lead Writer roles in a collaborative division of labor whose sum was greater than the parts.

On the tools side, they created an Excel tool for the Writing Workbook, for the mission designer, lead writer, and narrative designer. More than just a project plan, this has a very slick multi-purpose XML output, used to create text-to-speech placeholder audio, VO scripts, gameplay pacing, descriptive text cues, etc. Very nice process.

They also used that data to prioritize mission scope, complexity, and features to avoid headaches (or at least as many). Coming out of a formal requirements background, I was impressed with their application of prioritization to mission structure.

Surprisingly, there was a very nice mini-post mortem as part of the presentation -- very cool, given the game shipped today.

Aside -- I also got to chat with DB Cooper, one of the best voice over professionals in the business (and one of the most accessible and gracious), and AGDC is one of the places I get to see her in person each year. She's good peoples. Even better to run into her since a con call made me miss her session (damn you, toy job that keeps me employed!).

AGDC: The Bit.Trip Series: Holistic Indie Console Game Design

After a brief intro of the whys and wherefores of the Independent Game Festival and related Independent Games Summit, the summit kicked off with Gaijin Games Mike Roush's session, "AGDC: The BitTrip Series: Holistic Indie Console Game Design":

"Having created the Bit.Trip series for WiiWare to significant acclaim, Gaijin
Games has melded retro game design aesthetics with a unified, holistic-feeling
style to create games with a special feel. In this design talk, Gaijin Games'
Art Director Mike Roush discusses how they created the retro-infused series,
giving tips on standing out on WiiWare and how to intelligently mine classic
gaming for a unique look."

I use "kicked off", but it more like shuffled along.

I like Gaijin Games and those folks (and what they've accomplished), but Roush is pretty relaxed, which isn't the best for an early morning game development talk (hey, it was also his first presentation of the type, so he gets a lot of slack).

The talk boiled down to leveraging all parts of a team (art, design, programming) as joint stakeholders in pre- and production to make a high-caliber indie game in 3 months (impressive).

The talk was too light on actionable details, but Q&A opened things up a bit -- like a little more process detail as to how the team resolves collaborative deadlock (domain experts can trump in their areas). Etc.

AGDC: The New Indie Hotness

Next up was "The New Indie Hotness", from Offworld's Brandon Boyer:

"Want to know what?s sparklingly new and fantastic in the world of independent games? Using his sekrit underground contacts, Indie Games Summit Austin board member Brandon Boyer (Offworld) will look at the top technical and gameplay trends out there, with plenty of audiovisual reference to games and experiments that enchant or confound."

The session revolved around Boyer playing various indie games (Spelunky, Glum Buster,Alpinist, Time Donkey, Captain Forever, Tuning), and taking about why they are significant.

I'm a big fan of indie titles, but this session was tedious. It would have been better served with pre-packaged video and narrative explanation ("Spelunky is significant because of it's procedurally generated levels").

I am glad Boyer showed titles like Time Donkey, to show the diversity and ambition in indie game development. Also, the indie community needs to get the attention of publishers, and the diversity, adoption, and demonstrative community excitement is key to that.

It was very cool to see Cactus's not-yet-released new platformer, Tuning.

As a very cool surprise, Polytron's new title, Fez, was demoed for the first time. It's a 2D/3D platformer, with a game story concept similar to the classic book, "Flatland". Very slick, innovative game mechanics.

Monday, September 14, 2009

2009 Game Developers Conference Austin

I'm in my home stomping grounds of Texas for the Game Developers Conference Austin.

Rather than spend words on it, here's a half-a$$ed video intro to the week. I'm hoping to do several travelog / videolog entries this week, but things are so crazy busy with meetings, this intro may stand as the pathetic, orphaned intro to the series that never was.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Emergent updates

I'm gearing up for the Game Developers Conference in Austin (I'm in TX now), prepping presentations for new stuff that's coming down the pipe for stuff from the company.

Catch up with us while we're in the Capital City, and contact me if you need to.

A few new games are out (or will be relatively soon).

Hidden Path Entertainment's Defense Grid: The Awakening, out for a while on Steam, is now out on XBLA. I've fawned about (on?) this game before, and it's now doing well on Microsoft's service, too.

Monkey Labs is a new educational video game from Larian Studios -- the same folks making Divine Divinity 2: Ego Draconis. I so dig the diversity of this studio, building a top-tier RPG and the next generation of edutainment titles.

While not new, Wizard101, from KingsIsle Entertainment, Inc., is doing wicked well, and seems to be everywhere. This multi-age MMO is celebrating a year, touting millions of users, has a post mortem in this month's Game Developer Magazine, and is doing a session or two at GDC Austin.

That's good for now. Catch up with me in Austin if you can.