One way to start off on the wrong foot is to simply be unable to wake up. Of course, that's what happened today. No matter how hard I tried to drag myself out of bed, it was passed 8AM before I succeeded. That worked for today, since our first meeting of the day is not until 10AM, but it will not fly tomorrow.
This is the part of the journal where I prove I have no sense of direction, but a good sense of adventure. I walked from the hotel to the convention center again... except I didn't quite make it. I ended up a few blocks off from my destination before giving up and asking someone. Fortunately, the first person I asked knew right where to go. If I wasn't under a time crunch, I had to wonder how long I would wander until I fessed up for being lost. Let's not dwell on that.
Once inside North Hall, I learn that this hall doesn't open for about 25 minutes. Even though the West Hall opened at 9AM, the North Hall is delayed an hour for some reason. I get in line to enter and whip out my PSP. For those that don't listen to the podcast, I've been able to get my hands on a Crisis Core edition of the PSP slim, or as I casually call it: The silver, sexy beast. I loaded up Itadaki and resumed my game. I noticed a couple people glancing my way, either because of the game or the PSP, I can't be sure. After about 10 minutes, the guy next to me asks me a couple questions about the PSP in general, but then asks me to view his trailer on his PSP.
This is something that hasn't happened to me before. A homebrew developer wants my opinion because he wants another point of view he likely can't get easily. I've never thought about how GDC stands out from other conferences until this very moment. I viewed his trailer and answered a few questions. It was a vague trailer, but it had some interesting promise, for a homebrew game especially. He made it clear, while it's not an RPG, he was very interested in what someone outside the target genre would think. I couldn't tell you exactly what the game was about (it was very early in dev; the trailer was basically the entire progress), but it looked like a story from the 'hood probably involving graffiti. If this sounds interesting, you can see more at windowcutters.com.
Finally the doors open and we're herded into the hall. We arrive at our first meeting with TN Games. The main draw to this company is an accessory, a vest with impact response. They already have a shooter version of the vest out and this is what I got to try. I'm hardly an FPS player, but I've played enough I could test the vest. The impact points were subtle, but you did feel it. It was another way to discern where the attack came from. This was almost surreal. Why does this matter, though? They are working on two new types of vests: A racing prototype that Carrie tested out, but also a vest designed for RPGs. They want to emulate slashes, stabs and maybe even magic hits. This is still a ways off. We could only get an expected release date of 2009. I guess we'll hope to see it next year.
After this, Carrie and I were free to wander. I wanted to stop at Vivox and see how that's progressing. I saw them last year where I was able to pick up smaller games into development using the Vivox voice chat. This year, they had major titles and none of the smaller games were seen. I think this makes sense for them, but it was a good exposure to find upcoming games. On the other hand, none of those games came to fruition. Go with what works.
The voice fonts were really well done. They took Carrie's voice and made it into a male, an elf, a dragon, and then an orc. Not all the voices work for her, but they said that's expected. Voices vary enough that not every font is going to work for everyone. In Carrie's case, the dragon and the orc sounded the same. The downside of this was that the fonts have to be supported by either the game, or the Vivox Connector. They did not have plans to use it for the chat programs out there, such as TeamSpeak or Ventrillo, which I found disappointing. I know that my linkshells and other groups are not going to just jump chat programs just so some people can use voice fonts. It's not an importance for them. At least with SOE on board, the number of games where this is possible is a lot larger than it was.
The biggest difference I'm seeing from last year is the lack of games to actually play. Sure, there are games, don't get me wrong. There are simply not rows and rows of them like other places. On the other hand, there are also no huge lines for the games that are available, so what is here is playable in a short amount of time. Still, this year has returned to a much more subdued event, which is awkward for someone like me who is not a hardcore developer.
Our last meeting of the day comes to bear. It's with Queensland Games. We had originally scheduled the meeting to talk about Fury, but the CEO talked with us for ten minutes before ushering us onward to talk about a new title: Edge of Twilight. In three words: It looks sweet. The mention that it might be out this year was also very exciting. I feel part of the meeting was to sell Brisbane as a place to have people develop games, but I'm a bit too tied down to even think about that kind of thing.
Thus, the first day of GDC came to a close. The fact I can't really mind much to remark on in the halls is someone startling to me. The West hall is entirely for developers and companies to find each other, so that leaves just the North Hall for media to explore for things to cover. No plans tonight except to work on all the coverage, so I'll end today's journal. Tomorrow is going to be a long day.