Next week, the Joystiq crew will pack their precious belongings (a laptop, some clothes, and a towel) before flying off to the 2008 Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. So now seems about as good a time as any to reflect back on last year's GDC for a taste of what's to come. Sure, there's a dearth of playable demos when compared to E3 or TGS, but what other trade show can say they redefined the role of adhesive in internet conversations?
Keep reading for our remembrances of the keynotes (what's Game 3.0 again?), last year's big news (Harmonix and EA are doing what?), the sessions and interviews (the Wii is how many Gamecubes duct-taped together?), and the whole culture of GDC (Miyamoto made quite a splash). Phil Harrison and Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto were the keynote speakers in 2007. Before Sony's keynote began, the company threw out giant bouncy soccer balls for the attendees to enjoy. Harrison later noted this "audience participation" was key to their concept of Game 3.0 (which is kind of like Web 2.0, but one numerical value better).
That theme encompassed the three major announcements for Sony: Home, LittleBigPlanet and Singstar. Note the irony, as we suspect these to also play a big role in Sony's GDC presence this year, given that two of those titles (LBP and Home) have yet to see the light of day and the other (Singstar) is still unavailable in North America.
Following a four-player LittleBIgPlanet demonstration with developer Media Molecule, Harrison concluded, "So let's go back to our final slide here. You've seen today the industry is on the threshold of a new era of creativity, collaboration, community, commerce... We think this represents tremendous opportunities for the game developers and the gamers... It's going to be a very exciting journey ahead of you and ahead of us."
Nintendo's keynote presentation was – at least from a news-hungry journalist's standpoint – less exciting. Legendary designer Shigeru Miyamoto gave a rousing speech noting that it was his first GDC appearance in eight years. The creator of Mario talked with satisfaction about how the Nintendo Wii was reaching out to gamers and non-gamers alike. The introductory focal point of Miyamoto's career seems to be the Wife-O-Meter, inspired by how much his wife likes the game. Nintendogs and Brain Age, for example, registered high on the wife-o-meter.
at E3 and become the "Check Mii Out" channel that launched this past November. Referencing the oft-discussed Mario 128, Miyamoto said that we had already been playing it under a different name: Pikmin. Other aspects from the game later turned into Super Mario Galaxy, a trailer of which was then shown. Although the Galaxy footage was impressive, after Sony's announcement-heavy keynote, we were left wanting.
After the trailer, Miyamoto parted with a few quick words. "Your vision doesn't have to be my vision," Miyamoto says. "You should apply your own visions. You've given me a lot of faith about the future of our industry. True success will mean breaking out of the industry and becoming part of the larger culture. With Nintendo's tools and visions, we can make it happen.
"We must always remember the human touch. After all," he joked, "if we can convert my wife, we can convert anyone, right?"
GDCA and Independent Games Festival awards, also known "Schafer Watch 2007" for those who worship the ground on which Tim "Brutal" Schafer walks. So aside from screaming "more Psychonauts please," what did we get from the night? During the IGF portion, we saw a plethora of great speeches from Everyday Shooter creator Jonathan Mak, and the gang from Introversion gave out the Seamus McNally prize to Aquaria, which was just released in December.
The GDCA awards had Richard "Lord British" Garriott present Miyamoto with a Lifetime Achievement Award. "I have a translator, so now I can speak a lot," he said, smiling all the while. "I've done quite a lot of embarrassing things over the years." Miyamoto used that speaking power to reveal that would not retire anytime soon, given that he is, in fact, a vampire. "While I've been doing this for a long time, I've been surrounded by a lot of young people such as yourselves. And I've sucked up a lot of their life force in the process."
The grand prize went to Gears of War, which prompted designer CliffyB to exclaim "holy shit!" as he accepted the honor. Say what you will about the major keynotes, this was our favorite night of the conference.