March 27th, 2006


America's Guest

Hey, honey - I'm home!

Things I've done, which may not be interesting, but they're getting bullet points anyway:

  • Tuesday - got a last little bit of work done before getting on a Southward-facing plane. Several of my ex-cow-orkers were also on the plane, and so we went through the ritual of "how's working at home going, Dave?". Pretty well, it turns out. Or so my story seemed to converge after several tellings.

  • Wednesday, Day 1 (for me) of the 2006 Game Developers' Conference (GDC) - saw a talk on simulating objects tumbling in wind - just in case I need to drop 1000 business cards over a featureless plane. Attended a lecture given by Ronald D. Moore about the process of taking an established fiction and reinterpreting it. This is a familiar process for computer game developers - many of us have had the dubious pleasure of adapting a movie or TV show into a computer game. I would say that most such adaptations are unsatisfactory, whereas the Battlestar Galactica adaptation (from a 1978 flash in the pan featuring Boxy and a Dagget to a grittier anchor of SciFi's lineup) is at least as good as the original, even if you don't agree with the people who think it's the best thing on TV.

    I also attended the Experimental Gameplay Workshop. This was fun, but not as good as some years. 3 years ago, I think, I caught my first glimpse of Katamari Damacy at that year's EGW. I saw some interesting things this year, and I'm thinking of hosting an Indie Game Jam in my dining room - 24 hours to take a theme and turn it into something playable, and maybe fun.

  • Thursday, GDC Day 2 - Saw Satoru Iwata's keynote about how great Nintendo is, and how great he is, and how his development team could be made to work very hard because the schedule was so aggressive that they didn't have time to complain. Didn't I interview with this company? I hope that had they offered me a job, I would have had the good sense to decline it. At the end of that keynote, Nintendo gave out copies of Brain Age DS. I've seen at least one copy up on eBay - I'm a little surprised there aren't more.

    Saw Chris Hecker and another guy talk about how to prototype games more intelligently. There were some good tips there, but nothing spectacular. Also saw Will Wright's talk about Astrobiology and/or Game Design. It's hard to know how to describe, much less categorize, Wright's talks. They jump around a great deal, from giant German mining vehicles to the Russian space program, to the number of star systems that have been reached by the elecromagnetic broadcast waves carrying "The Dukes of Hazzard". (140, if I recall correctly.)

    Saw a talk given by a guy working on Microsoft's Flight Simulator - I did not expect much from this talk, but it turns out there's a lot of good information to be used here.

  • Friday, GDC Day 3 - packed up and checked out of the hotel, saw Ernest Adams talk about the decision tree architecture (remember Choose Your Own Adventure books?) and how there are problems beyond combinatorial explosions with this approach, but the railroad non-splitting architecture still has problems. He suggested using character-agnostic situations (his term, I think). This isn't terribly revolutionary, but I think it could be put to good use in a game project of mine.

    I wanted to see Craig Reynolds talk about flocking behaviors on the PS3, as much of my bachelor's thesis was based on Reynolds's work from the 80s. Unfortunately, his room was full when I got there, so I went to the airport early. I think I got home around 10.

  • Saturday - and woke up around 4. Back to the airport, this time pointed Denverward. It was around 12:20 when I was in my rental car, and about an hour later when I pulled up to the curb in Tray and Tim's neighborhood. Probably closer to 1:40, really.

    There was wind and sun and happy people and crying and a sweet, personal ceremony. And then there was dancing and cupcakes and more sun. I got to listen in as cute women talked about ODBC and network data appliances.

  • Sunday - brunched, had 3 kinds of breakfast meat. Also breakfast pizza.

    Tagged along with Tray and family taking in the sights of the town. Rolled up a bunch of household stuff with Tim in some cooperative Katamari Damacy. I think I helped clean up some real household stuff, too. That wasn't as much fun, but at least The King of the Cosmos didn't give me a hard time if I didn't roll up all the kitchen chairs.

  • Monday - 3:30AM, got up, checked out of the hotel, started driving back to the airport. I suppose I'm glad that airports are so very secure, but I wish the security checkpoint process was less odious.

    10:00AM - back home just in time for work.

    11:00PM - a trip isn't really complete until it shows up on the internet, right?

Time for me to reacquaint myself with my own bed. Good night.