Category Archives: GDC 2009

GDC 2010: I (probably) won’t see you there

Last month, I ran a novel panel session at Austin GDC, which was well-attended and (apparently) well-liked.

I came up with the format myself, very different from normal panels, and spent a couple of months fleshing it out with the panellists, discussing different ways we could improve on it, different approaches, etc. I made a lot of mistakes with it, but I was pleased with how it went for a first attempt.

We filled about 1/2 of the room, I think the capacity was around 200. I’d hoped for more – but … we were scheduled on the second-to-last slot, on the last day of the conference, when lots of people had already gone home.

We were also scheduled at the same time as Nicole Lazzaro, and Damion Schubert. They are both exceptional – and exceptionally popular – speakers.

So … I was pretty happy we got the crowd that we did :).

It all went so well that I thought the organizers of the “main” GDC – the one in San Francisco – might like something similar. So, I contacted them (not exact email, some details snipped):

I just ran a really good session at Austin GDC, and thought that something similar might work really well for GDC 2010. And several people who want something like this at GDC have asked me to at least try :).

It was a novel format that I came up with originally, and then hammered out the details with the panellists over a couple of months until we were happy with it. Now we’ve live-tested it, I could do it even better next time :).

Is it worth me taking this further? I’d have to find a new set of panellists, and work out a new topic appropriate to GDC (as opposed to AustinGDC).

Here’s the salient part of the response I got:

Thank you for your email. If you’ve already done this session I would advise against a repeat at GDC, especially if it’s a panel proposal because panels are very hard to advance to Phase 2 and get accepted.

(NB: the wording is “I would advise”, but the email itself didn’t provide any of the details or info I’d need on how to submit this panel, so I read this as a polite but fairly strong: “no”).

My first reaction was that I’m quite relieved NOT to spend all the time and effort it takes finding another 4 top-class speakers, persuading them to speak, working with them on format and content, and organizing everything in the months leading up to the conference.

(for which – unlike most industries – GDC speakers get nothing in return. Oh, you do get an invite to a party. But it’s just like the 15 other parties that all the non-speakers get to go to. So … not a huge benefit, really)

I’m not going to hassle them to try to change their minds.

But then I thought a bit more, and wondered why it was that the conference organizers aren’t biting my arm off, demanding that we do this again? (assuming the session was as well-received as I thought it was). They’re always deflecting criticisms of “poor” sessions with “we’re dependent on the quality of what gets submitted”. In the past year, I’ve also seen a couple of friends get some of the highest-rated feedback from past GDC’s and yet seemingly the organizers don’t want them back again.

So, I’m left wondering what the strategy is here. There must – surely – be *some* strategy for a money making machine like GDC (this thing is making 6-figure profits each year). I’m just confused as to what it is.

Also, as an aside, since I rarely go to conferences these days unless I’m speaking at them, I probably won’t be at GDC next year. This year, surprisingly many people asked me why I was bothering to go to GDC at all (despite the fact I was a speaker :)). By the tenth time of being asked, I’d realised that my justifications owed as much to nostalgia and socialisation as to a useful use of my time. I was already feeling dubious about turning up next year, even before I heard my proposals had been rejected. So, just to be clear: I’m not skipping it because of this response from the organizers, although if they’d been keen for me to give the talk, it would have forced my hand into going.

GDC09: Red Ocean or Blue Ocean

This talk was all about a theory of innovation/finding new markets known as Blue Ocean Strategy, from a book published in 2005. I first came across this book/theory when I joined NCsoft a few years ago (apparently, the CEO and board in Korea were very keen on it), which is quite ironic given NCsoft’s international activities of the past few years.

It was a good talk overall, with lots of honest and insightful comments from the panellists. The best bit was probably Q&A at the end – which I had to miss :(. Not everything they said was great, there were some dodgy bits, and I missed most of the second half, but it was clearly worth going to.

Bear in mind, though, that on the morning of this talk I was already considering an opportunity I’d seen that seemed to replace traditional games publishers and was looking like it might work extremely well. So … this talk was accidentally of a lot more relevance to me than I’d realised it would be :).

My own commentary in [ square brackets ], any mistakes/misunderstandings my own fault :).
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GDC09: Taking Spore seriously

Margaret Robertson

[ADAM: I missed the first quarter of the talk because I was at a long meeting, and missed the Q&A because I had to rush to another. Sigh]

Common Elements

  • No-one is using the game, they’re all using the creature-creator
  • Nearly all working with under-12 year-olds (7-12 years)
  • Teaching collaboratively because they can only afford one shared copy/laptop, so the whole class has to share
  • Exporting data digitally was key to making use of it – e.g.

Why are they not using the game?

  • no educational discounts from EA
  • too slow to play the game through and see the final effects of early choices [ADAM: it’s very non-casual – the game doesn’t allow you to jump in, doesn’t allow you to choose to play the bits you want, doesn’t let you speed up / fast-forward etc]
  • too complicated, user-interface keeps changing from game to game
  • prejudice against using “games” in the classrom
  • TTP (time-to-cock) is short enough that teachers are afraid of letting kids have that freedom in the classroom

Spore API

  • competition is still running [ADAM: also see my previous post on the API here]
  • it’s a laboratory, but not for the consumers: for *EA/Maxis* to learn how they could/should have made / should modify the game going forward [ADAM: it’s like an in-game-engine version of MMO forums where you get to see many things that players want, don’t want, how they are metagaming the intended game, etc]

What can crossover games learn?

  • subject-specific advocates are necessary pre-launch to avoid PR problems and knee-jerk reactionaryism from communities
  • teaching materials: pre-made save-games for teachers, etc
  • “free” saved not just teacher budgets, but also spared teachers from filing lots of paperwork to get sign-off for it. Free was overwhelmingly popular in education, but not as a philosophical thing, just a practical thing
  • lots of teachers couldn’t install the game on school PC’s because they’re not allowed admin rights [ADAM: this is amusing – Runescape learnt in 2002 that this made an orders-of-magnitude difference in success in schools. Ironically, Runescape was just a clone of an EA game (Ultima Online), but maybe EA still hasn’t learnt the lesson?]
  • it takes a long time to evaluate the outcomes and effects of using this in teaching. It’s going to take several years, not several months

What’s the most-requested feature from schools/educators?

  • easy to use, cross-game, machinima tools

GDC 2009: all transcripts / liveblogs

Here are all the liveblogs / transcripts I’ve found so far for the 2009 Game Developers Conference. If you want your blog posts to be included in the live RSS feed for future games industry conferences, let me or Darius know a week or so before the conference – we cover the big ones like GDC and AGDC, and some of the smaller ones.

I’ll edit this list as more appear – feel free to copy/paste any you find into the comments section and I’ll edit them in up here.

GDC09: Meaningful Social Reality Games

GDC09: ‘Winging It’ – Ups, Downs, Mistakes, Successes in the Making of LITTLEBIGPLANET

GDC09: Advanced Data Mining and Intelligence from Large-Scale Game Data

GDC Transcript: James Portnow, User Generated Story: The Promsie of Unsharded Worlds

The Indie Businessman

GDC: Games That Connect People

GDC09: Game Mechanics Without Rules

GDC09: Worlds In Motion Summit: Keynote

GDC09: Online Games: Europe Challenges

GDC09: Dragonslaying: Facebook lessons learned from Dungeons and Dragons Tiny Adventures

GDC09: How to sell Social Networking to your Publisher

GDC09: Building and Sustaining Successful Free to Play MMOs

GDC 2009: Role of games in personal and social change

GDC09: Post Mortem: Mission Architect for City of Heroes

GDC09: The Cruise Director of AZEROTH: Directed Gameplay within WORLD OF WARCRAFT

GDC09: From COUNTER-STRIKE to LEFT 4 DEAD: Creating Replayable Cooperative Experiences

GDC09: Meaning, Aesthetics, and User-Generated Content

GDC09: Taking Spore seriously

GDC09: From COUNTER-STRIKE to LEFT 4 DEAD: Creating Replayable Cooperative Experiences

GDC09: Red Oceans and Blue Oceans

NB: most of these were pulled from the shared Twitter feed we did this year, but I was afraid that might not remain live and working forever (a lot of sites cycle out their RSS data over time), so I wanted to capture it before it was too late!

Well done to all the bloggers who reported on the conference in such fine style! It’s great to see more people taking the plunge and adding their own professional opinions into the mix.

GDC09: Online Games: Europe Challenges

Thomas Bidaux, ICO Partners


Far too much information to be any kind of practical guide (there were at least 5 (maybe 10) slides I don’t even mention here, full of facts and figures, that were glossed over too fast to record). Although note that Thomas said he’d be posting the full slides on the ICO Partners website soon, so you should be able to go over the charts yourself once that goes up.

But I think it achieved something more useful: it gave a great taster of just how broad and deep this topic is, when publishers and developers (especially American ones, but even European ones) often massively underestimate it – and lose lots and lots of money as a result. It also gave some concrete examples of what can go wrong and how, especially on the ratings side of things.

I suggested after the talk that it would be awesome to also do a long standalone list of the concrete examples. They’re not only highly illustrative but also often very funny. Watch this space (ICO Partners blog)! (hint, hint).

NB: Thomas was my boss at NCsoft until he left at the start of 2008.
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GDC09: Dragonslaying: Facebook lessons learned from Dungeons and Dragons Tiny Adventures

Andrew Finch
Nik Davidson


Seemed very strange that it got killed as a project. It sounded as though WotC had “learnt from the experience” but it also sounded very foolish to have haemmhoraged the newly-trained/experienced personnel. That smells like some kind of political battle that got lost rather than a normal operating decision.

NB: The slot for this talk was half the normal length for GDC talks (speakers choose their alotted time period, usually), hence the short writeup – the speakers tried to cram a fair amount in the time they had.
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GDC09: How to sell Social Networking to your Publisher

Adam Martin, (me!)


I was giving this talk, so … no live writeup this time :).

The slides are up on slideshare here:

NB: I lost my voice the morning of the talk, and panicked, and rewrote the slides to include everything in words in case I couldn’t get my voice back (or if it cut out part way through). Hence the unusually dour presentation style. Sorry!

I have no voice and I must speak (tomorrow, at GDC)

This is going to be, um, … interesting. Darius lost his voice this week (some throat infection cominbed with lots of drinking, nonstop talking/networking, and then aggresive partying each night). Poor guy, he was totally inaudible yesterday.

And this morning I could hardly talk too, so I’m on a diet of “not speaking” and hoping it will clear up enough for my talks tomorrow, especially the midday “how to sell social networking to your publisher”.

Although … it would be awesome fun to have to do a talk without speaking a single word (I’ve seen it done before, deliberately). I think it would probably need a LOT more prepartion though than I have time for :(.

So … I’m not at the conference today, I’m chilling in SF and resting my poor beleaguered voice.

GDC09: Building and Sustaining Successful Free to Play MMOs

Don Choi, OGPlanet


Very little of interest in this talk. I think there is a *lot* more you could say, and it would be a lot valuable and interesting, on the topics covered. I have no idea why the talk was so content-light (mis-guessed the audience? speaker having to give someone else’s talk? lawyers insisted on removing info? nervous speaker?), the speaker seemed fine, it’s just that the content was … absent.
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GDC09: Making of Little Big Planet (ups, downs, mistakes, successes)

Alex Evans, Media Molecule
Mark Healey, Media Molecule


The MM guys are funny as ever, although Alex’s “I made it myself on the way here” presentation tool would perhaps have been more usefully replaced with something like Presi (or whatever it’s called – the “interactive” presentation tool that is like Alex’s thing, but on steroids. Ask Jussi, he’s a fan of it).

The overall impression I got is: here’s another studio that has “by trial and error and cunning and talent” independently discovered something very similar to Scrum. They don’t do Scrum, and I’m sure a lot of people will scream at me for even saying it, but … I went through similar “find a process that worked for game development” (not carried so far, and on much smaller projects), and I recognize a lot of the lessons they learnt and things they incorporated in their processes and approaches. And from my experience, I think they’d find it relatively easy to switch over to Scrum, and that they’d get a lot of benefit from having a more polished version of their processes. Not to say that Scrum is universally better – there’d be losses too – but for people considering their own processes to use – or trying to “understand” Scrum – you’d do well to read this liveblog and try to internalize some of the lessons and attitudes. And then consider this and scrum as alternative to each other, but both near-relatives. And … if you are *not* MM, and don’t have all the details of precisely how they work, you’d probably find it much easier and more effective to adopt the well-documented Scrum instead.
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GDC09: Meaningful Social Reality Games

Austin Hill, Akoha


Conference organizer introduced this as “during this first talk, think about the platform they’ve made, as much as you do the game; that could be especially interesting for this audience”.

I totally support the principles and the ideals. The game looks fun and interesting, and at the same time taking a very “Don’t worry, be crappy” approach to core game design: lots of classic mistakes made, obvious stuff. Is this a case of being brave enough to deliberately make the mistakes they understand (because they’re easy to fix later when you’re more successful – and it leaves you more spare time to focus on fixing/avoiding the mistakes you don’t understand yet) – or just naivety?

Interesting to hear the philosophy that fed into the creation of the game, the speaker’s personal journey and how it informed the design. On the other hand, I was a bit disappointed how little actual content there was in this talk. It was perhaps 50% or more made up of a few long video clips. They were long and very little was pulled-out / emphasised from them. Most had very little information content per minute. Worst example was a mildly entertaining video of one of their players giving an intro to the product – but, frankly, so what? This was “new” and “interesting” 4 or 5 years ago, but by now it’s happened thousands of times over, and we’ve all seen it for many games. I didn’t understand why we were watching it.

I have a sneaking suspicion that – given he’s a VC – the speaker was pitching that video stuff to show “look, we have players who love our game”. That’s interesting and exciting to investors who have little or no immersion in the online world, but IMHO for game developers that’s just par for the course these days. No?
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A Flying Start

4 hours sleep or less?

The main 8 hour event I’ve come for today “not listed” on conference programme?

The big posters-sized signs don’t list any of the summit locations?

The map claims that the giant room where the first session takes place “doesn’t exist”?

No coffee and breakfast today?
Check (argh!)

I guess it must be the first day of a conference, then :). Bring it on!

EDIT: Darius has set up the RSS aggregator for all GDC talk liveblogging, parties blogging, etc – only this year with Twitter integration –

GDC 2009 Parties

Lots of news sites and blogs have reported that the recession has affected GDC this year, with lot of cancelled parties and a big drop in attendees. I wouldn’t be surprised, given all the redundancies (although … wouldn’t that mean more people looking to recruit / be recruited?), but the first round of evidence – the volume of parties – shows no signs of recession so far:
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Don’t go to GDC; listen to “industry heavyweights” instead!

For a mere $600 (yes, that *is* going to double the cost of the GDC ticket that you already bought), you can go to this competing event on Tuesday next week:

“VentureBeat is teaming with industry heavy-weights.”

Ah, hubris, how we love you.

“You’ll learn how one of the most successful and rapidly growing sectors in the high-tech industry will be critical in the development of every major computing platform, including web, mobile and social media technologies.”

The thing about making such grandiose claims is that you’re going to look particularly stupid if you can’t live up to them. I read this far with interest, perhaps even a little excitement – what were they doing that they felt bold enough to go head to head with the world’s largest and most important games-industry annual event?

Hmm. Well. Let’s look at what these Industry Heavyweights are going to be saying:

8:45: 5 different Venture Capitalists talk about new business models, and which companies are going to “win” going forwards. This would be cool, except that VC’s love to say “if I thought I actually knew, I’d quit and found my own startup”. Probably a good session if you’ve not been to these guys’ VC panels before, just so you can get a bit of insight of how they think. However, the lack of anyone who would force them to be honest takes away most of the value of having them there; VC panels *always* need someone on them who’s post-funding, or a super angel, and not afraid to cry BS on them. Where’s Nabeel, or Susan, or one of the other bullish entrepreneurs with no iota of fear of VCs?

9:30: the man who was so unpopular at the ION conference last year he almost got booed / dragged off the stage is back to take credit for creating an MMO 12 years ago which his company has failed to equal since, and to claim to “launch a new breed of online games” that as we all know is is just a clone of other, bigger, games that came out 8 years ago. Colour me not impressed.

10:00: Someone from PlayStation Network is going to talk about how tough it is to focus on your consumers, and what you should do. This will be a short one; I predict she’ll say “just don’t do what we did, we’ve screwed up on every decision we ever made”. There’s also someone from Nokia, That Failed Mass Market Wannabe Game Company Who Never Saw What Was Right In Front Of Their Faces (as if nGage weren’t enough, they had to make another one to really seal their FAIL title). And a publisher trying to make a play for control of one of the “new platforms”, who’s probably going to be a teensy weensy bit biased. I’d say that Neil Young is going to be the one here worth listening to, bias included, because he might well reveal some interesting things about life as an iPhone publisher. I don’t think there’ll be much on-topic of value, though.

11:00: “Are the barriers to entry just too big with giants like Activision Blizzard using World of Warcraft as a continuous revenue stream to reinvest?”. This will be another short session, we – all – already know the answer: “yes”. That is why no-one sane is attempting it. Wasn’t Hellgate: London enough of a lesson for you? Although it would seem implicitly that at least two of the speakers on this panel are going ahead anyway. What I’d like to know is just where do those guys find the pants big enough?

12:00-16:00: these sessions seem mostly normal, the right kind of people speaking for the topics. Although I’m not sure exactly of the value of e.g. a 30 minute session with a non-game-developer talking about his dream game development studio. Great for him, if he knows what he wants and is getting it, that’s cool. But … what does that have to do with the “industry heavyweights”? Surely it would make more sense to get someone who’s made a whole series of studios answering that question? Maybe I’m missing something here, but IIRC he … hasn’t?

16:00: “Is what sells today going to be socially acceptable tomorrow?” and “If they are indeed becoming routine, then what comes next? And, how do companies make money from it?” – well, the companies speaking at these sessions are near *guaranteed* not to answer, because they’re all betting their own futures on “them knowing, and the rest of you not knowing”. Could be a short session…

16:45: I’m taking a wild guess here that you’ll see 3 Analysts show how little they know about the industry. You’ve got someone from DFC up there, the same DFC that published a report the other week which couldnt’ seem to remember the difference between a “company” and a “product”, or at least was keen to ignore it if it got in the way of producing a vague “top 10 list”. And what’s with this factor-of-3-guesswork at revenues? I’ve got much much more detailed info than that myself!


CMP/Think Services needn’t start sweating yet. It’s going to be a heck of a lot more successful than their own attempt at something similar a few years back (“GDC Prime”), but it’s really just a sideshow, even with all the big names in attendance. They’re names, but not industry heavyweights; the heavyweights are all at GDC, IMHO.

Although … the cunning move of holding this on the Tuesday might well draw a fair few people into going who don’t have 5-day tickets for GDC (have the cheaper 3-day ones). TS has deliberately kept Mondays and Tuesdays quiet by charging an extra fee for attendance. My advice personally would be not to bother with the VB event (if you’re not already on a 5-day GDC ticket) and to instead spend the day meeting up with random GDC attendees / attending meetings.

GDC rocks. I’ll see you there…

EDIT: PS: the rampant attempts to re-inforce elitism at GDC are beginning to really wind me up. GDC Prime was bad enough, but everyone’s got to experiment with their business model from time to time. There are reasons why the elitist, coke-addled, E3 died and the developer-driven, egalitarian GDC did not (there’s a clue there to my own thoughts on at least one of the big reasons ;)), and I don’t take kindly to attempts to turn GDC into “E3 … take two”. They won’t win, so long as TS keeps their heads about them, but … it’s just tacky to watch.

Need help – anyone in SF next week with an iPhone hardware unlock?

(seriously – otherwise I’ll be phoneless thoughout GDC :( )

I’ve had no interest in cracking my iPhone, so I haven’t.

Until I discovered the other day that my incompetent network (O2) won’t allow me to make calls in the USA on the agreement I have with them, so I need to use a local USA SIM while I’m there. Unsurprisingly, all O2’s own staff openly advised this as the only sane course of action. They were apologetic that this was necessary. O2 loses nothing if I unlock the phone.

And then I discover that Apple’s undocumented 2.2.1 update which I was bounced into installing has disabled all known unlock processes except for the hardware ones. If I had bothered to do the unlock a few months ago, it would have worked perfectly. Now, with less than a day until I leave the country, there’s nothing I can do.

Help? Anyone?

(NB: I’m not on a contract. I’m not even registered with the network. I’m sure the EU commission will sue Apple’s ass over this sooner or later and force them to stop retailing locked phones in the UK. That is of no help to me *today*)

(NB2: Apple’s lack of respect for their consumer continues to impress me every year. I know *why* they did it (network operators forced them to), but that doesn’t excuse screwing the consumer without warning them what you’re about to do to them. Undocumented updates are vicious)

GDC2009 Session Confirmed: Sell Social Networking to your Publisher

My GDC 2009 talk is up on the site – How to sell social-networking pitches/concepts to your Boss … and to your Publisher.

Now that the submission / selection process for GDC 09 is coming to an end, here’s a few thoughts on the new process (CMP / Think Services substantially reformed the conference-submission process this year):
(if you haven’t been following, I periodically write something about ways we can improve the games industry conferences)

  1. About this time of year I would normally be thinking “I really need to start on the details of my talk now. Given how busy I am, I’ll need 3 weeks to practice it, and do one final re-write before the conf”. Instead? I’m thinking: “my talk is already written. I have nothing left to do!”. Cool! It’s great to have one less big thing to do…
  2. …except, of course, there is something left to do: I need to add all the graphics and do a run through to make sure it all makes sense and flows. I hope the new process hasn’t lulled me into a false sense of security.
  3. …AND: usually when I get to a conference, I only got the final polish on the presentation 1-3 weeks earlier (depends how busy I was; sometimes I get fed up with it the night before, and I do some big changes a mere 3 hours before the talk. Especially true if I’m jetlagged and I wake up on the morning of the talk at 4 am anyway) – so it’s all fresh in my mind; I know this is common for a lot of speakers (we’re all busy people, and we don’t get paid for this, so have to fit it in around our day jobs). I have a semi-photographic memory, so I can usually give a talk even if I lost all the slides. This gets offset by the jetlag from flying 6,000 miles to California, and the inevitable hangovers from the GDC parties. In the end it all works out as “OK”; I wonder if it’ll be harder this year? (I wrote the whole talk 6 months before the conference!)
  4. CMP’s organization didn’t quite work this year – they missed their own deadlines for reviewing talks and getting back to speakers by 1-2 months. I’ve asked around among friends who are speaking too, from really niche talks to keynoters, and although there is some variation by “importance” of talk (the bigger name, the sooner you heard back, *mostly*), everyone got their responses much later than we were told we would. Shrug. We’re used to this :) – and this is a new way of handling the organization, so I’m sure there were lots of teething problems and unexpected holdups. We’ll just have to see if it goes closer-to-schedule next year, when they’ve debugged it a bit.
  5. The accidents that lead to CMP exposing on their website the earliest talks as they were confirmed made for a really interesting lead-up (for other speakers, who could briefly see what was appearing). I’ve already had 3 or 4 mass emails from CMP this year “announcing” batches of new talks that were “just confirmed”. This is standard marketing practice (and they do it each year). But it’s so 1990.
    • Howabout an RSS feed that shows each *individual* talk the moment it goes on the system? That would be awesome and … here’s a headsup to CMP: I would actually bother to read it!
    • These mass-emails of hilighted talks bore the tits off me: with 300+ talks, and one of your marketing dept picking 5-10 they “think” we’d all be interested in, for me as an individual, they get it wrong nearly every time … with all 10 of their picks. It’s statistically practically guaranteed! Theirs is a hopeless task, one I don’t envy. Give us an RSS feed! :)
    • BONUS: if you RSS feed it, you’ll *allow* the chance of news outlets picking up on each and every interesting talk as and when it’s announced. IMHO, you’d actually get overall more exposure. Since you wouldn’t need to “pick and choose”, you’d also be more likely to big-up the interesting talks by accident, since at the moment you just kill the news on them, instead of supporting it.

Also, this year I will once again be mobilizing every industry-insider I can to blog their own detailed writeups of every session they go to, via the Games Industry Conglomerate RSS Feed Of Awesomeness (feed will be updated nearer the time).

(FYI: we’re fed up of non-professionals reviewing conference talks, and either reporting what they’re told without realising when a developer is bullshitting them, or adding their own interesting but often uninformed opinions. We do love them for reporting it, and doing their best – but if you’ve never developed or published a game, there’s *so much* you can’t help but fail to appreciate about what you’re listening to. Sorry. This is not a marketing conference, its a development conference; we need developers reporting it (in addition to the journalists).

For a long period recently they didn’t even bother writing up transcripts of the sessions – so all the world was left with was a summary through the mind of someone who didn’t know what they were looking at. For some talks that’s fine, but at the world’s biggest game-conference for Professionals, with tons of detailed talks and subtle acts of brilliance, it’s just Not Enough.

No more! We transcript, and we comment, and some of us even like to bitch (and praise) quite openly about what’s being put out by the speaker.)