Thursday, April 30, 2015

GDC 2015: A Wonderful Opportunity!

This year I had the wonderful opportunity to go to the Game Developer's Conference in San Francisco, California! I was invited to join a couple of my Iron Ninja Games teammates, Dave and Lance. I had never been to a GDC before, so I had heard great stories of all the great people and things to learn and see. And my goodness was I still pleasantly surprised!

Bri Leahy, Dave Feldman, and Lance Lockwood at GDC 2015, San Francisco

Thanks to my team, I was able to attend tons of talks, and the variety and wealth of information given was so inspiring! The two presentations that really stood out to me were:

"The Art of Firewatch" 
with speaker Jane Ng

This talk was one of the first art talks I attended, and was so well constructed. In addition to showing tons of behind the scenes art development Campo Santo did to create the beautiful "Firewatch", Jane Ng did a lovely job tying in how small developers can use or modify their methods for success in their own games. It was a seamless blend of both types of presentation, and I so appreciated the accessibility of her talk for everyone. I was so glad for such an in-depth art talk, at what I thought was going to be a programming dominated environment. It surprised me in such a positive way, and I wanted to test out their methods as soon as I was out of the conference room.

"A Live Art Demonstration of Creating Worlds through Design Thinking" 
with speaker Feng Zhu

This was the very last talk I went to, and I am so glad that even after an exhausting, mind boggling few days, I still made it to this one. For many of the same reasons I loved the fire "Firewatch" talk, I also really enjoyed Feng Zhu's talk on Design Thinking. While Jane Ng talked a lot about teams of artists achieveing beautiful art from beginning to end of the visual development process, Feng Zhu's talk spoke more to the individual artist and freelancers working for games, with a focus in the beginning stages of development. He talked about his experiences working for large studios and indie, and he impressed upon us all of the importance of creative thinking to better generate interesting, unique visuals. His style was so much more casual, like a personal mentor, which reminded me of my favorite professors from college. He showed us a phenomenal live demonstration of digital painting as well, and it was very informative to watch him work.

There were so many awesome talks in between, but if I wrote about all of them I fear I would end up with a novel instead of a blog post! As a whole, the conference was such an invaluable experience. I went to talks that expanded my knowledge of the game industry, of how the combined skills of programmers and artists on a team can create such unique things in games and problem solve together. I met tons of other enthusiastic creatives, and could not have loved the environment of positive, creative thinking and perseverance more. A truly inspired group of people to surround yourself with. Everyone should experience it at least once if you are interested in the field!