GDC Postmortem

GDC was this last week and it was very enjoyable. One of my instructors gave me some good advice at the end of the week and told me to do a postmortem of the experience. Think of things that I did during the conference and analyze the good and the bad things. With those in mind, I can make things better and then progress as a developer and a producer. I also thought that it would make a great blog post.

So here’s my list of how my experience was at GDC:

The Good:
– I spoke with more people that I thought I would.

– I met some great people that work on the production side of video game development and got some advice on how to market myself as a producer with programming skills.

– I had the opportunity to pitch my thesis game concept to other students and game dev professionals. Also was able to pitch other games from my cohort when asked if students build games for the Oculus Rift.

– I went to more networking events than I thought I would. I actually made contacts at the event. Usually in large noisy crowds my introvert side takes over but I was able to maintain composure and take to game devs.

The Bad:

– I am going to plan out my week better. I want to attend sessions and talks next year. I also would like to attend more parties and networking events. With a little more scheduling and a better pass I can accomplish this.

– I had a hard time approaching people that weren’t at a booth or at a party. When it came to seeing Game devs from companies I like or seeing names I’m familiar with, I was hesitant to talk to them. I missed several opportunities to speak with Game devs that have been an inspiration to me.

– This is a generic note for me, but I need to have more confidence in who I am and what I can do. I am aware of what I can do and what I can contribute to a studio. Sometimes I’m just a little to hard on myself.

The Ugly:

– The Career Pavilion. Looking for an internship was more of  a distant prayer and finding a job wasn’t a walk in the park either. The only use I saw in the career pavilion was to have professionals look over your resume/ portfolio and give tips.

 

Well there you have it.   I don’t have my time to cover all of my doings while at GDC, but I think this is a good basic overview of some of the things I learned from my GDC experience. Now we start on the Thesis Project. I have Unreal Engine 4 Downloaded and now it’s time to make some magic happen!

Hard lessons right out of the gate

This last week has been a rollercoaster. To start the week, we had 100+ game ideas as a team and were ready to start narrowing it down. Our professors gave us the challenge Tuesday to spend some time among other cohort members pitching ideas and finding the ideas that spark the most interest. With lots of work, our team had 5 ideas by the end of the class period Tuesday. We were also told that by Thursday we would need 5 documents for each of the 6 ideas. Game Brief, Comparative Analysis, Mood Board, Tech Analysis, Game Scope, and a Game Design Document.

Our deadline was in two days. We only had brief ideas that couldn’t create full documents. Tuesday night was spent with as many of the team as we could get to create some Game Brief documents for each game so that we could start creating the other documents. We were overwhelmed but we went to work on getting some concrete ideas to not only be able to turn in the documents, but to also go through a round of 2 min pitches with these games. By the end of Tuesday our artists had a couple of pictures gathered for the mood boards and we had some basic game ideas. Still nothing that we knew enough to pitch. Wednesday became a day of chaos in the lab with only part of the team being able to spend some time in the lab to flesh out the ideas. The artists got the mood boards done and the engineers got the tech documents done which left 4 more documents to get done Wednesday and also get ready for pitching the ideas. With a full day in the lab and as much communication of ideas and finalized ideas to the team we had the documents done by 1am Thursday morning. This morning we decided who we were going to have pitch which idea and had an hour to go over our small 2 minute pitches. We decided as a team to show our mood boards on the screen instead of a powerpoint or the game document. We watched and listened to the other teams pitch their awesome games. The pitching process was rough. Many pitches were with rough powerpoints and not complete ideas. It was very evident that we were all pushed for time. We were also all nervous because one of these five ideas could potentially be our thesis game that would be a year and a half project. At the end of the pitching the professors took the producers aside to talk to us. Through some talking and some constructive criticism we all starting realizing that though we all took on the challenge given to us it was unrealistic and as producers we should have seen it and probably asked for more time or something. The task wasn’t meant to be realistic, but that’s the way it ended up. As a producer we are the advocate for the games we are organizing. We should always do what is best for the game. Wednesday we all felt that we would not be able to do the game justice with the short amount of time we had and also we knew we couldn’t get the full teams input on the game ideas. (unlike every other team our team tried to get as many member’s input on every idea instead of dividing the games to small groups) Our professors are trying to help us be junior colleague and not be a student checking off task lists.

Also another lesson was about playing to the strengths of when pitching and take every pitch seriously. There was no reason for powerpoint presentations that are 2 minutes long didn’t help us. Our team actually got a minimal note of praise for only using the mood boards in our pitches, though we should have been a lot more enthusiastic about our ideas and be even more concrete on our ideas. One the other side of playing to our strengths, I think I need to find my strengths when it comes to producing and pitching/talking to people about games. I’m not funny and I’m not a very powerful enthusiastic public speaker. So I’m going to be on a never ending hunt for what my strengths are.

Now we are still on the path to the thesis project. Our next steps are to collect ourselves and get communication of the game ideas to be the same among the whole team. Then once we have a cohesive idea for all the games we can pitch the remaining ideas that survive this cutting phase.

Deep breathe and go!