Post GDC

From counting business cards, I'd say I met with and talked to about 60 people at GDC. It was a very different experience from last year. Last year I was looking for work and spent a lot of time in the career pavilion and hanging out with other people looking for work. This year, I never even saw the career pavilion and spent most my time talking to investors, middleware developers, and other game companies. Since Loki's Planet was the only company there with a booth that reviewed other games, coupled with the fact we were surrounded by game companies, you can imagine a lot of companies wanted to meet with us. Since I'm the Editor in Chief at Loki's Planet, that means they wanted to meet with me.

Several companies let me know they'd be sending me codes so I could get early access to their games in development so I'd be able to review them. To be honest, I really don't have time to play games all day long so luckily we have about a dozen writers on the Loki's Planet team to be able to cover them, then I'll be organizing that team. This is why it's good to be the Editor in Chief.

I'm a very good journalist, and through writer critique groups I've been part of for nearly 20 years, I'm highly qualified to be an editor. Since I know a lot about game development, this makes me fairly unique. By game development, I mean programming wise, I know the difference between passing by reference and passing by value and on the art side, I know the difference between a bump map and a displacement map. How many game journalists do you think can say the same? Anyway, I'm not technically a game journalist. I know far more about which game companies are doing what than the average gamer does, but I still feel like I should know more. For example, BigPoint Games is a big and important game studio. But when they asked me if I was familiar with other Bigpoint games aside from Game of Thrones in development, I had no idea. It was a little embarrassing. But you know, you have to be honest. If you don't know something, be honest about it.

My average day at GDC went like this: wake up around 7am to get to spend an hour getting ready then meet with the Loki crew to talk about what we were doing for the day. At 9am, we'd walk or take a taxi to GDC. It was usually faster to just walk than to wait 30+ mins for a taxi. I'd get there at 10am and pretty much have meetings all day until 6pm. At 6pm, we'd go out and get something to eat which was sometimes the only meal I would get that day(due to time constraints, not budget). We would then go out to a networking party that would end at 9 or 10pm, then go to another that would end at 2am. I'm not really sure why so many clubs in SF would kick a huge crowd of drinkers out of their club at 9pm and then close down for the night. It made no sense to me, but it meant we usually ended up hitting at least two different parties that night. A couple times, we would get something to eat then, and get back to the hotel around 3am. I had a really hard time sleeping at the hotel, so I'd average about an hour of sleep. I'm usually not a drinker, but I certainly got pretty intoxicated each night.

I'm not going to talk about how things went on the business side of things for Loki's Planet, though I would love to go on and on about that. It's not my place to do so, so I will leave it be. I can say that I found it very encouraging. I can also say that I have a much better understanding of what exactly Loki's Planet is trying to accomplish, and I think it's a really good idea. I went in thinking this week would be one big party. It was, but it was so much more. We got a lot of business done as well. The lack of sleep never slowed me down. I don't drink coffee and I avoid caffeine. I was running on pure adrenaline and excitement all week. Talking business and games with representatives of multimillion dollar companies and big time investors made me feel like I was home. This is exactly where I was supposed to be.

Hmm, a few other highlights. So I talked to this huge company. I don't want to say who. But they cover credit card transactions and related customer service. They took me out to lunch to a pretty nice place to talk about Stigma Games. Their account manager was telling me about how he used to work for EA Games and how it was his job to find game studios for EA to acquire. When I told him I started Stigma Games so I could ensure my place as a writer for our products, he thought that was a little weird. He told me he'd never heard of a full time writer, that when he hired writers at game companies, it was for short term, contract positions. He went on to say that he didn't think establishing the story first before the artwork was a good idea. He said it would bog down production and cause the design phase to take too long.

I mention this because I want people to understand how radically different the Dawnshine Project is. Writers, story... that's all after thought stuff to the other 99.9% of game studios out there. The term "story driven" gets thrown around so much by people that don't even know what that means, that it no longer means anything.

BioWare is one of the few exceptions to this rule. They tend to have excellent story elements in their games, and are an inspiration to the rest of us writers in the industry of what the future of RPGs can be like.

So our engine is working again. At GDC, I talked to Cooper and Herb from the company that makes the HeroEngine, and they explained the issue. I won't say exactly what it was because it's a little on the scary side. Someone on our team accidentally uploaded some Windows System files. I know I accidentally did this in late 2011 when I was trying to sync the asset library with my C drive so I could upload art assets. I created a virtual drive so it would only upload from a specific folder, but it reverted to my C drive for some reason and started uploading my Windows files. I deleted the files that got uploaded, but somehow they got restored. So either I inadvertently caused the problem when my deleted files accidentally got restored, or someone else did the same thing.

I don't want to give too much information out there to the public on this in case this is a persistent security risk, but from here, we were affecting servers related to our virtual server, which, had we been hacking on purpose, we could have done some damage to their network. I swear, we're not master hackers.

When I walked up to Herb and told him I was from Stigma Games, he told me that over 6k people have HeroEngine accounts, so he didn't know who I was. I told him I used to work on an MMO that gets a lot of press and who's screen shots from the game are still on HeroEngine's website. He told me he had nothing to do with marketing or their own website, so he still had no idea who I was. I said that our HE account was crashing one of their servers, and he said, "Oh, you guys!" and started telling me about how they've been scrambling to figure out how we did what we did.

Cooper, who's the Project Manager for the HeroEngine, spent a good amount of time talking to us. He seemed pretty flexible with some of the licensing agreements we'd like to work out with him. All and all, I was pretty happy with my meetings with them both. It's nice to be able to meet the people behind the engine we're using and know they're good people.

So GDC was a blast, and I hope I'll be able to announce big plans from the Loki's Planet camp that might affect Stigma Games soon. But aside from that, it's time to get back to work on Dawnshine.

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