*sings* On the third day of conference, GDC gave to me... a one-gig bullet flash D.
Actually that was the second day of GDC, but I forgot to mention it. It's a pretty sweet flash drive even if I had to disassemble it for airport security. I got it while standing in line at Blizzard - a website representative from GamersFirst.com was handing them out and chatting with us as we waited.
Highlights of the day...
Amnesia: the Dark Descent
- Met the guys who made it
- - - Even though I've rarely considered horror to be one of my favorite genres, Amnesia has become one of my most favorite PC games ever. I'm especially impressed by the game's lack of animation, design choices, artistic style, voices, gameplay, suspense, and story. They did it all so well that the game felt seamless (and therefore, more terrifying).
- - - A few of the guys who made the game were at the indie games booth with an Amnesia demo. Amanda and I went here first and talked directly to them, asked them questions, and watched people play the demo. One of my questions was 'How did you make the monster sound?' and he replied 'Well.. it'll ruin the scariness when you find out, haha. But there's a video on Youtube of our sound designer making all the sounds.'
- - - And sure enough:
Artist Roundtable Part 2
- This was the third and last session for the Artist Roundtable, but it was my second attendance. This time I dragged Amanda along, and she took much better notes than I. On this day, a lot of topics were repeated, but of course it had a unique flare. We talked primarily about communication (with marketing, artists, tech/tools/programmers, etc). This time around, however, we dove into some specifics, such as:
- - - Communicating that art/preproduction is important
It not only saves money and effort, but time as well. You don't want to start making a game only to find out that the prop designs horrendously clash with the characters'. Concept art is valuable in that it can quickly, efficiently show the visual result of the game so that everyone is on the same level. Reiterations of design for the characters, assets, vehicles, gameplay, and environments, can be rapidly gone through to find the most effective one.
- - - Getting reference for an art bible so everyone's on the same page
One of the attendees described his studio's setup. The artists printed out and placed gorgeous, inspiring concept art all over the walls of the work area. This allowed even the technical-minded to see what the eventual goal is: it gave them aim and drive.
Blizzard chillin' and Heavy Rain
- Amanda and I decided to go to the Heavy Rain talk after this. It took a bit of exploring to find the right place, and in our hectic search we met and began conversing with Chaz Head, a lead environment artist at Blizzard who worked on StarCraft II. After the talk, we (joined by Joe) received amazing portfolio reviews from him. He gave each of us an individualized, focused critique that helped us in our respective goals. Amanda's review is of course on her blog.
- The Heavy Rain talk itself was pretty eye-opening. I had no idea they used that many actors, animations, and effects in the game. Amanda, again, describes it in better detail because I was too busy staring dumbfounded at the screen, and listening to a French girl talk on her cell phone next to me (she eventually left). I don't think she realized I could understand her..
- At any rate, portfolio advice from Chaz:
- - - Keep going with the loose under-sketches, flowing forms, connecting shapes/movements
- - - Work on more color variety
- - - Liked the sketchbook more than the refined portfolio work. Good for concept art - include this ideation in the portfolio!
Overall, GDC was an amazing event that I almost can't believe I'd never been to before this year. It's incredibly valuable. One of the aspects I like most about it is the opportunity to be on your own. It's you, your art, and your dreams, all in a venture with some of the most brilliant minds of the industry. You are suddenly, abruptly, and temporarily thrown into the field. It was amazing to see how we behaved and reacted. The entire trip was fruitful, not only to learn about our prospective career, but about ourselves.