GameX: A Retrospective

26 10 2009

So today I got back from GameX, a combination game and game industry convention that was taking place in the Greater Philadelphia area. I did do a couple tweets on what I had done while I was there but clearly that was insufficent. Since my laptop was way too broken to be of much use I’m going to have to condense everything I did/saw/found interesting into a blog post right here. Of course since this is really the first convention of any kind that I’ve been to I probably didn’t do enough things that people would deem sufficient for a con-goer, but oh well. More after the jump

Friday
Friday was the first day of the game convention and the Industry Summit, which I had a ticket to, hadn’t started yet. The ticket did allow me full access to the rest of the con though. I decided to use this day mostly to get the lay of the land (so to speak) and of course get my ticket since it’d been sent to Will-Call because they were late in getting mine mailed to me (memo to USPS, you’re getting slow and you wonder why you’re losing money). So basically I just walked the show floor for a bit, which to be fair I would’ve done more of and probably gone to a few things happening this day if I had gotten up a bit earlier and not been a total wuss. In any event the show itself wasn’t overly crowded, mostly because I believe this is the first year for GameX as a convention. That’s not to say there wasn’t anything good there. High-Rez studios was letting people play the beta (or possibly post-alpha) version of their new MMORPG/FPS “Global Agenda”, which I’ll get back to in a bit, there were also booths from EA/Mythic (Warhammer Online), EA/Visceral (Dante’s Inferno), Sega (Bayonetta), and others. The media, both gaming and non, was represented as well with a booth from NBC 10 (since they were partially sponsoring the show) and The Escapist.

Saturday
Saturday is when the Industry Summit started up, which is where I spent the bulk of my time that day. I listened to a varied set of presentations ranging from topics like Cinematics, Composing, and how to capture the 83% of the gaming market that isn’t RPG players with new kinds of MMOs (rather than trying to make the next WoW). I also sat down and played a couple rounds in Global Agenda, which was really the only game being demoed that I had an interest in. Mostly because it was the only one I hadn’t heard anything about so far. All I knew from what I had seen on Friday was that it kinda looked UT3-ish (which is a fair assessment for a first glance since it uses the same engine). Basically the game uses RPG-style conventions like leveling up your character, having multiple character classes (there are four: Assault, Scout, Medic, and Robotics), various skills, and equipment upgrades. However the gameplay itself is pretty much a straight-up objective-based team shooter. Over the course of Saturday and Sunday I only experienced two of the possible match types: “Push” which is basically an assault-style of match where you have to capture points sequentially (or defend them until time runs out), and another type whose name escapes me that played like a traditional territories match. I found the game really easy to get into, the controls were intuitive enough and the level of customization fairly deep (we were given level 40 characters and a gigantic amount of credits to kit out characters if we felt like it). Only thing I’d have to say against it is High-Rez’s choice of mice. Maybe it’s just me but I severly dislike using Razer mice, especially when I’m trying to snipe. Too sensitive. Aside from that though I liked the game enough that I submitted my name for a chance at getting into the closed beta.

I finished out the evening by attending a screening of a film called “Resident Horror”. Created by an improv group called X-strike Studios, the movie is essentially a parody of the Resident Evil series. It’s quite low-budget but that’s part of its charm, as well as the self-awareness of many of the tropes and common elements amongst the RE games. There are numerous shoutouts to silly lines, silly mechanics, and so on. Even though I’m not the biggest follower of Resident Evil I still found it a very hilarious and affectionate parody of the games as a whole. X-Strike claims boldly that they do video game movies right, and I’d have to agree. In addition to Resident Horror they’ve also made movies paying tribute to Metal Gear Solid, River City Ransom, Silent Hill, and Parappa the Rapper. Granted Resident Horror is the only project by theirs I’ve seen but it proves that, as long as you don’t take the subject matter too seriously, you can make a movie about a game that puts in enough of the conventions while still feeling like an actual film.

Sunday
Sunday was a big day, since I spent some time at the Career Forum going on. First I pitched one of my game ideas to a panel of developers who would then critique it. They liked the idea I presented, and gave me some good constructive feedback on it, which will be good to remember when I start to prototype it (first I need to learn Flash).

Then it was back to the Industry summit to hear some more talks on things like narrative design, creating ragdolls in 3DS Max using PhysX (really glad the presenter of this one gave a link to where we could find his tutorial because there was a lot to take in), and the afternoon Keynote which explored the differences between homages and outright ripoffs. Still consider it funny that one of the bigger laughs for that particular talk was more about the fact that Daikatana was featured on a 1997 and 1998 cover of magazines he used for examples of what the first-person-shooter used to be called. Not that Daikatana had anything to do with the talk itself, people just see that name and laugh, something that Penny Arcade proved in its early years.

Then I went to get my resume critiqued for the first time since leaving college. I did this mostly because since I’ve yet to find a job I figured my resume could use some polishing. Turns out I was right and again I got some very constructive feedback. In fact the first thing I did when I got home, after unpacking anyway, was go and fix up my resume a bit.

Lastly I closed out the day by playing some more Global Agenda and then attented the last talk of the day at the Industry Summit. Technically though it wasn’t really a talk. It was more of an interactive design session wherin about 20 people, myself included, created a pen-and-paper RPG in an hour. Of course not everything is ironed out on it but a bare-bones version of the rules and mechanics will eventually be put up as a free download. When that happens I’ll be sure to provide a link.

So all in all it was pretty good. I feel a bit bad I didn’t do more “conventiony” things, but there’s always a chance for that when PAX East rolls around this upcoming March. Since that’s in Boston I’m going to be attending it for sure.

Oh yeah also I got within 5 feet of Yahtzee but it was like his second day there and as much as I wanted to say “sir I may not agree with you a lot but at least you’re honest” I figure he had gotten that enough.

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