The Capn’s Fearsome GDC Schedule o’ Doom

I wrote this up at the request of Jonric of the Vault Network so I thought I’d post it here, too.

This year it looks like I am the most prolific speaker at the Game Developers’ Conference, or GDC. I don’t think I get a prize — perhaps buying drinks for Meggan and the other poor GDC folks who had to schedule the event.

Monday and Tuesday I’ll be haunting the Independent Game Developers summit and the Casual Games summit. I’m speaking at both, a mini-lecture at 2pm for the Indies (probably a summary of Three Rings’ approach to development and our tawdry corporate history) and a couple of panels on business stuff (3pm Mon, 2pm Tues) for the casual summit. Tuesday night the parties start in earnest — I think I have five to go to, that night! Capn better put on his carousing boots!

Wednesday the ‘classic’ conference starts. Matt Mihaly of Iron Realms and I are moderating a roundtable on Free to Play, Pay for Stuff’ or microcurrency-based games. We did this last year and it was a lot of fun; I love roundtables because lots of people talk and you get a real exchange of ideas. We had folks from Habbo Hotel, Wizards of the Coast and Korean developers, people with real, concrete experience of the wacky world of virtual currency. Unfortunately nobody from IGE turned up, but their ears must have been burning! The roundtable is at 2.30pm Weds, then repeats at 4pm Thurs and 10am (ugh! Thanks Meggan!) Friday morning. Weds afternoon I am also on a panel with Gordon Walton, Raph Koster, Rob Pardo, Marc Kern and Mark Jacobs about the MMOs Past, Present and Future. I like controversial panels, and we have a mandate from Gordon to get into a fist fight, so we’ll see what trouble we can rustle up. Wednesday night is less terrifying on the party front, but there is the Minna Mingle which is a big woo-hah for the casual games space at the ‘upscale’ venue, Ruby Skye. I will be sure to wear a nice stripey shirt. Fortunately we hope to be high rollin’ with a few extra dollars in our pockets, having swept the board with Bang! Howdy at the Independent Games Festival earlier in the evening. Wish us luck!

Thursday is the big one. At 2.30pm I throw myself into the fray with a panel on Burning Man and its relevance for game developers. We did a similar session at the Austin Game Conference last September, fresh out of Burning Man, and I believe it’s an interesting topic, especially for player-created and community-oriented worlds. It doesn’t stop; after the roundtable it’s the main event at 5.30pm; Michael Bayne, Three Rings’ co-founder and CTO, and I will be making our annual presentation on Three Rings’ progress and unveiling our new project. The talk is called Pirates vs. Cowboys vs… Ninjas? MetaSoy and Player-created Content. Last year we showed off an early version of Bang! Howdy, this year we’ll be talking about how that’s doing, how Puzzle Pirates is getting on, and giving the public debut of the new new thing. This may all sound like a big ole product pitch for Three Rings, but in addition to demos we’re all about giving out real data (like revenues and player numbers), useful information on our development process, indie business tips and hard liquor. I leave it to the audience to decide which is most important, but they’ve enjoyed themselves the last couple of years.

I should be exhausted after this, but the day is just a warm-up for Three Rings’ infamous late-night, hard-drinking GDC party at a top secret location. The theme this year is Meta Science, so bring a labcoat and ping me or find me at the show if you want an invite.

My brains (mmm, brains!) will doubtless be hurtin’ when I finish up the conference on Friday with the roundtable and most likely the first opportunity I have to really dig into some other sessions. This is my twelfth GDC and it is always an exhausting whirlwind, but it’s also some of the best fun I have in the industry and always makes me happy that I make games. It’s a rare joy to work in a business where you actually *like* your colleagues in the industry. My father worked in films and believe me, it wasn’t like that for him. So I count my blessings and collapse for the weekend a happy Capn.

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