GDC09: Best of show (to me)

Shawn Schuster
S. Schuster|03.29.09

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Shawn Schuster
March 29th, 2009
GDC09: Best of show (to me)

This year's Game Developers Conference has come to a close, and I just wanted to take a second here to reflect on what I got out of the show. I literally can't count the number of times I've been asked, "So what was the best thing you saw so far?". I was even asked this by a random guy in the Men's restroom at one point. Dude, I'm trying to pee, seriously.

So these questions inspired me to write up my thoughts on what I enjoyed the most. This isn't meant to be a complete review of every single panel and every single game company present at the convention. It's an opinionated, slightly biased rundown of the best and brightest from an old jaded gamer who doesn't pay any attention to anything but MMO news. So ... there's that.
Best Demo: The Secret World. Sadly, there's not much more I can say about it until early April, but above all else, this game is amazing. If it releases with everything promised, TSW will be the most refreshing thing we've seen in a long time.

Best Interview: Frogster/Runes of Magic. Extremely down-to-Earth guys who weren't afraid to tell me whatever I wanted to know (and more!) about upcoming features in the game. We laughed, we cried, we were insta-killed by high-level dungeon bosses. It was a blast.

Best Panel: Dazed and Confused in the MMO World with Paul Barnett. I have to be honest, I didn't get a chance to see too many panels, so the list of nominees is short for me. But I can't really imagine anything more entertaining and insightful than a panel held by Paul. He has a special way of making a point in a roundabout kinda way. Bringing nostalgia into any conversation is an easy way to win my heart, especially when it concerns the Commodore 64. He had me at "I really hate GDC".

Biggest News Potentially Affecting the Future of MMOs: OnLive. Streaming games to an internet appliance without worrying about hardware requirements? Are you kidding me? If it works, it will be amazing and a giant leap forward in the compatibility wars. If it flops, then we'll all just sigh and move on to the next form of Jetsons technology. Automated sidewalks, anyone?? Oh wait...

Most Reoccurring Theme of the Next-Gen MMO: Mini games and sci-fi. Seriously, everyone is putting mini games into their MMOs. Gatheryn, Free Realms, Twin Skies and unnamed others all have them! In light of Fable II's success with their own mini games, this should come as no surprise to anyone.

And sci-fi? Yeah, I love me some good sci-fi, and we're due for some good sci-fi in the MMO world. But I'm not sure if everyone making a sci-fi MMO right now realizes that everyone else is too. That said, there are certainly some stand-outs.

Biggest Surprise: The Awesomeness of Hero Engine. It's not so much the greatness of what a game with the Hero Engine will be, because that's entirely up to each design studio. Yet the functionality of Hero Engine will revolutionize how games are made, how studios are formed and how games are updated. Look for our complete exclusive GDC interview coming soon!

Best Celebrity Citing: Jarett Cale. While I was keeping one eye open for Brian Fargo the whole time, an unexpected lunch guest turned up on Thursday. You may know Jarett better as Jeremy from Pure Pwnage. Very cool guy who blessed us with a heart-warming story that was not exactly appropriate while eating. But that's why we love him.

Most Anticipated New Game for 2009: Global Agenda. This was a tough one because there were SO MANY, but Global Agenda is just so polished and it will be successful at what it's meant to do: let people have fun. I mean, isn't that why we play games, anyway?%Gallery-48610%
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