It’s mid-day Saturday. I’m on a plane in less than 20 hours bound for San Francisco, to join the celebration that is GDC (the Game Developer’s Conference).
It’s a packed week for me. The past couple years I attended back-to-back Indie Game Summit talks on Monday+Tuesday, but this year I’m planning to jump around a bit more. My iPod touch calendar is filled with the most interesting talks that my Summits pass will let me in to, including some Wednesday->Friday. Should be fun.
Tuesday night, we’re having another Ludum Dare meetup at GDC, detail here.
Friday we’re looking to have an impromptu GameJam. We’re still ironing out the details, but check the Ludum Dare site for details.
That, plus various talks, meetings, and good ‘ol hanging-out/chatting with fellow developers. I’m looking forward to this year being a nice somewhat relaxed GDC for me – No managing an exhibit booth, or getting (*ahem*) confident for 3x on camera interviews – Just straight-up GDC’ing.
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Looking briefly at my prior post, it does seem I’m well behind schedule (hehe). Lots has been going on, but none of it finished yet, so here the blog sat for nearly 2 months. I’m literally writing this post just to get something in for February, hehe. I wish I had something to photograph and show, but I’m just not ready to announce some of the crazy new stuff yet.
And it’s that time again too. Ludum Dare #17 is coming up next weekend. If the idea of crunching together a game from scratch in 48 hours interests you, check us out.
Now, this compo has been a little different. We announced our date nice and early, so the people at GDC would know about it, and to save us from silly “when will the compo be?” questions. So really, it was probably our best pre-announcement for a compo date to date.
I even made labels!
Then something happened.
Watching Twitter as I often do, I catch an offhand remark from Nelson, a friend and former coworker of mine.
TOJam #5 (http://www.tojam.ca) happening April 23 to 25th at George Brown College – not officially, but I have an inside source.
Now that’s a familiar date.
At GDC 2009 I had the chance to hang out and get to know some of the ToJam guys. Jim, Mike, etc. So GDC 2010 was rather funny to meet up with these guys again, like “Hey, I like 2 hours away, but I only ever see you in San Fransisco”. Jim and I regular some of the same forums and sites, so we do hear from each-other in passing throughout the year.
And then, there was the date conflict.
When I first learned about, I was totally thinking to myself “Dude! We totally have to play this up!”. Fortunately, Jim did not disappoint, and began this e-mail exchange.
On Fri, Apr 9, 2010 at 12:32 PM, Jim McGinley wrote:
Subject: TOJam #5 – April 23 to April 25
Registrations >just< went live.
Makes Ludum feel like Dulum.
To say 2010 has been a busy year would be an understatement.
While we were all waiting for Apple to confirm the existence of the iPad, I was busy tweaking, improving, and porting my game Smiles to a bunch of new platforms. The most significant portby far was to Netbook PCs for Intel’s AppUp Center, a brand new App Store coming soon to Netbooks everywhere.
To say Intel and AppUp have been good to me, that would be another understatement.
Since last year, Intel has been running a contest to attract developers to their platform, and you might say, I hit a grand slam with them. Intel ran 3 rounds of prize giveaways, and I won something awesome in every round!
Late January, I received a note informing me that I came 2nd Place in their Early Bird Deadline contest. The Early Bird contest featured 5 prizes; 3 home entertainment packages, and 2 cars!
This is somewhat appropriate. A car won with a cheerful game called Smiles. Even the car is smiling.
iPhone Smiles is small enough to be downloaded 2x over 3G, and you can fit 2 of my cars in a parking space.
Above you can see my new 2010 “Smart for Two” smart-car, in a very bright shade of yellow. So if you’re in London Ontario Canada, and you see this little yellow beast drive by, that might be me.
Talk about kicking 2010 off with a bang!
I was totally giddy; Cheering, laughing, celebrating the fact that I won a car making games. It’s just such a weird yet awesome thing to happen, and such a fun story to be able to share. What a fantastic start to a very futuristic sounding decade.
Then it happened again!
Around the middle of February, I get ANOTHER e-mail, this time telling me my game Smiles won the “Elegance in Design” award. That was 1 of 2 prizes everyone was gunning for (the other award was “Most Innovative App” which went to FXpansion for GURU). And what was the prize? Oh, an all expense paid trip to GDC!
I don't know about you, but I really did have TWICE the GDC as everyone else
Now I already had my travel and hotel arranged for the conference, but when Intel decides to pay your way and put you in a fancy hotel, you don’t say no. 🙂
So, holy cow again! Two months in to 2010, and I’m already 1 car and 1 trip ahead of last year on the awesome scale. If I was to think in terms of gameshow prizes, aside from crazy cash, what haven’t I won yet?
How about a free computer?
The final giveaway from Intel was for the first 100 approved apps. I made the Early Bird deadline, so I caught this one easily. Free “top of the line” Netbook!
Smiles on my new Netbook
This worked out really great for me. My old laptop was an original Aspire One Netbook running Windows XP, but I’ve used it enough that the batteries barely give me an hour and a half on a full charge. My latest prize was a brand new Eee PC running Windows 7 Starter, this time with a claimed 10.5 hours of battery life. In practice I get a bit over 7 hours, but wow, that’s a huge step up from the 2-3 hours I used to get from my Aspire One. Excellent!
So, holy crap! That’s a lot of awesome! Clearly I am the happiest game maker in Canada right now with my car, computer, and everything PR wise that goes with winning an awesome contest like this.
Oh hey, there’s actually more!
Submit an app and actually use their site, score a free book. Not bad.
As part of Intel’s dev program, submitting an app and participating in the community scores you points, which earn you belts. When you reach certain belt rankings, you get stuff. As you can see above, I got 2 books from Intel. The first for becoming a brown belt, and the 2nd for becoming a red belt. Also as part of the red belt, I’m getting a free year extension on my dev program membership. Nice.
Oh, and at GDC, I grabbed one of these from the Intel booth too. One of the cooler pieces of GDC shwag, now a permanent desk ornament.
Shake it and it changes colors, while the confetti swirls around the gel.
So really, it’s almost overwhelming how well things have gone. Without a doubt, I can definitely recommend other developers check out what Intel is up to with the AppUp Center. They’re running new contests now with even bigger prizes, you don’t want to miss it.
Heh, so really, how do you say “thanks” for being treated so well?
Well so far, I passed a note on to our people in the Ludum Dare community. I got pretty big response there, having several e-mail and IRC conversations with people. We’re a pretty large community of game makers, and like the sales pitch says, we made over 400 games last year! Wow!
Then at GDC, I scheduled 3 video interviews; Two with Intel, and one with NetbookNews.
The most “INTENSE” of the interviews was a live broadcast from GDC. Intel set up a small TV studio inside their GDC both with all the fixings; Multiple cameras (3), BIG HUGE lights (2), and a crew of 2 guys monitoring the video and audio. On the stage there was me, the host (Arti), and a guest host (Bob).
The interview was for Intel’s gaming and graphics show Visualize This. That’s online and archived now, so check it out.
And there’s one more video interview with Netbook News, buuut I can’t seem to find it online yet. I did notice the host (Nicole Scott) just now started following me on Twitter, so I can imagine that video will be up soon.
However, Smiles did make appearance on Netbook News, in their CES report:
An interview, but at the same time, a very technical rant on the stuff I do to keep my game code and assets portable. I’ve talked about this stuff here on my blog and in my book chapter, but we cover a lot of ground in a short article. I think it’s some good context for those looking for some insight in to porting to AppUp, but it’s just an article, you still have to do all the work! 🙂
So, holy cow! GDC was absolutely insane! I almost don’t know where to start, but lets start from the beginning.
First thing first, I won again!!
Argh! They used that squished photo again! I even sent them a square one!
Yes, as if winning a free car wasn’t enough, I also won a free trip to GDC. So Intel ended up covering my flight, putting me up in a fancy hotel, gave me some spending money, treating me to dinner, AND giving me nearly front row seats to a San Jose Sharks hockey game! Whoa!
Left: Good Hotel | Right: Parc 55
The picture above is a comparison of my Hotel last year and this year. Last year I was staying at the Good Hotel (yes, that’s actually its name). It was an enjoyably quirky little establishment that’s also probably the cheapest hotel within walking distance of Moscone. I’m not exactly rolling in the dough, so I need to keep my costs low, splitting rooms and everything. You know, being responsible with my money. 🙂
Then this year, thanks to Intel, I’m on the top floor (32) of this crazy 4 star hotel just a few blocks from Moscone. Staying in luxury and all that.
Not my photo, but my room looked pretty much like this
Seeing how we were on the upper few floors, we had access to special “club lounge”. Now sure, while hanging out in a classy “lounge” for the social elite would be cool, the part that was really awesome was that the lounge featured free food! A continental breakfast in the morning, then hors d’œuvres and desert in the evening.
Fruit, Yogurt, Croissants, etc. Bagels, juice, coffee were off to the side
So wow, quite exquisite.
Oh, and did I mention? I had a driver! He even had a “Michael Kasprzak” sign with him when he picked me up at the airport!?! Wild.
Even I admit I really look out of place in this photo
But of course, I was down in San Fran for the Game Developers Conference. It’s the one time of the year us game making nerds from all around the world can all get together in one place, discuss our craft, and get drunk together. So yeah, the other thing Intel did for me was give me a better conference pass.
I don't know about you, but I really did have TWICE the GDC as you
Tuesday and Wednesday I spent the majority of my days at the Independent Games Summit. I did sneak in to an Android talk Google was giving, but for the most part I was on the indie side.
The danger of being an indie, other indies might give you gifts! Photo by Ted Martens of Intuition Games
Thursday and Friday, in between talks and roaming the expo center, I ended up doing a few interviews. Two with Intel (one in their “made just for GDC” mini TV studio), and one with an enthusiast site Netbook News. I’ll post the interviews here once they go live.
Not the best pose to be caught in, but still awesome to have Photo by Ichiro Lambe of Dejobaan Games
But GDC for me is all about the social. Getting to hang out and chat with your friends and peers you only ever get to speak to via the internet. Real live people! Wow!
The Ludum Dare Meetup. Wow! I actually helped organize this! Wild!
Jani of Secret Exit is totally awesome (not seen here). He was my next door neighbor exhibiting in the IGF Mobile last year, and brought me along to the VIP area of the IGF Awards this year. You rock Jani! This photo is of the IGF DJ, since it was the best photo I took from the inside.
Indie Art Jam. Yet another shot where I'm making an odd face Photo by Bekah Saltsman
Just like last year, I left San Fransisco filled with truck-loads of inspiration. The indie games community is such an amazing group of people, words can’t describe it. I’m humbled to be a part of it.
Even though Smiles is a great product (as evident from all the winning), I can’t help but feel that I have to step up my game even more. That I need to create something truly fantastic main competition IGF worthy, just to pay my respects to the community. I leave San Fransisco filled to the brim with excitement for game making, and telling myself “Lets get this business stuff out of the way so I can pay back the awesome with my own awesome”. So very inspiring.
For the benefit of friends and people I’m meeting at the show, here’s a run down of my itinerary for GDC. I’ll also be tweeting and watching twitter while I’m down for any impromptu meets, hang-outs, and whatever with people I know. If the twitter says “totally bored”, then you know. 🙂
If anybody I know needs my cell number, send me a quick e-mail (mike AT sykhronics dot com). It’s not my usual cell, but it’ll be my number whilst I’m in San Fran.
Flight To: Air Canada 757 out of Toronto (Monday 09:25 AM)
Flight Back: Air Canada 756 to Toronto (Sunday 12:55 PM)
– Arrive at around 1 PM
– Meet Phil and Check in to Hotel by around 3 PM
– Do early GDC registration between 5 PM and 7 PM
– Find something to do 😀
– Indie Game Summit Day 1. 10 AM to 5 PM
– Eat Lunch (a good idea)
– ???? 6 PM to X PM (i.e. unavailable)
– Indie Game Summit Day 2. 10 AM to 5 PM
– Eat Lunch (also a good idea)
– Ludum Dare Meetup @ Metreon – 5:30 PM to “whenever we all leave”
– Dinner with Intel 7 PM
– “Maybe” attend the NVidia Tegra talk at 9 AM
– Scheduled Interview 1 PM
– “Maybe” attend the Sony Motion Controller talk at 3 PM
– IGF/GD Choice Awards Ceremony at 6 PM
– Indie Art Jam after IGF/GD Choice (assuming I can get in)
– Building Games for Netbooks talk at 9 AM
– Scheduled Interview 2 PM
– Palm PDK Talk at 3 PM (if I can make it)
– Some talk about mind reading through your thumbs, 4:30 PM
– Indie Gamer Forum Dinner at 6 PM
– Rest of night TBD 🙂
– Auditioning and casting Actors talk at 9 AM
– San Jose Sharks Hockey game (11 AM to about 4 PM)
– Totally bored! 😀
Ordinarily, greeting someone by glancing at their chest might be seen as a little rude (especially a lady), but at GDC it’s encouraged! Yes I’m talking about the passes, not making a pass.
The passes do a good job of helping you connect a face to a name, and even a company, but you don’t always know who made or represents what. GDC passes include a relatively large pocket, so you could either make something to insert behind your name card, or cover the pass with some strategically placed stickers.
Mike the walking Ludum Dare advertisement
My stickers I made are 2.2 inches by 0.7 inches each, then printed on inkjet sticker paper. At that size you can fit 2 above the Game Developers Conference label (assuming they’re the same as last years), and a 3rd in the gap between the clips. If you need more space, you can always cover the logo; And if you are, you may as well make 1 big sticker to save the cutting effort.
Pro Tip: Put spare business cards behind everything in your GDC pass pocket. That way they’re easy to reach and give to people.
tooNormal is the digital notebook of Mike Kasprzak. Some may call it a blog, but it's more a collection of notes and thoughts, when Twitter just isn't verbose enough.
Mike is a long time veteran game developer, having done time at various game studios plus "the indie thing" for well over a decade. He owns and operates SYKRONICS. He also organizes and runs Ludum Dare with some awesome people.