Thursday, March 03, 2011

GDC 2011 - Wednesday

I started out on Wednesday by attending the keynote by Iwata-san from Nintendo. The main take-away that I got from this talk is that successful games are creative and unique, not necessarily technically superior. Also, Iwata gave a pretty powerful warning about the number of games being created for mobile devices and how many developers are stressing quantity over quality - a problem that he considers to be dangerous for the industry.

Next I attended a session about some of the animation techniques used in Halo: Reach. I was really impressed with the system they developed for blending between walk and run and turning in place. Their foot fitting system was fantastic for making sure that the feet where always planted nicely on the ground - even when walking on various slopes. And their system for blending between jump animations of various heights and distances to best fit the current jump distance was beautiful.

After attending these two talks, I had lunched and hooked up with Aaron Otstott to prepare for our talk. We went through our notes one last time and put in a few last minute comments - and we were ready. I felt like our talk went really well. We were able to confidently deliver the material that we had prepared. Aaron and I presented 5 elements from our lighting system that we have added in order to achieve our goals of achieving the artistic vision, seperating the characters from the background, and automating the process of quality lighting. We presented in a very large room that was more than 75% full and when the talk was over, we received lots of insightful questions. Overall I was happy with the experience.

Next, I attended a talk by Dan Baker from Firaxis on a method he helped to develop for creating better specular highlights. It's called LEAN mapping. It's something that I'd really like to investigate further for reducing specular sparkles.

My final talk of the day was given by the art director at Cryptic Studios on the systems they developed for character customization in Champions Online and the Star Trek MMO. This was pretty impressive stuff, and I was blown away by the vast array of options that the provide to users for customizing their characters.

To finish off the day, I hooked up with the other guys from BioWare and we all went out to eat at The Empress of China. This has become a bit of a tradition for me at GDC, and since my old friends from Vicious Cycle weren't here to share it with me, it was fun to take a new group out for the experience.


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