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Balthazar Auger

Paris GDC 2008

2 min read

The reason I’ve been away from the blog lately is because I was attending the Paris GDC event, held at the “Coeur Défense” conference center. Let me tell you about it a little!

In many aspects less gargantuan than its american cousin(s), this conference was a quieter and more focused one. The conferences were divided in five tracks and occupied only six rooms of the conference center, with attendance hovering around 500 to 1000 people. This actually made it very easy to see exactly who and what you wanted, without having to choose between two simultaneous conferences you absolutely want to see, but who are in different buildings and probably already camped by hundreds of people. So finally I am pretty satisfied, as I managed to see everything I planned on seeing, plus some good unplanned surprises.

On monday morning, I attended Ralph Baer’s demo of the original brown box, the game console for “Ping Pong”. This was really an awesome way to kick off the conference, as Ralph is really a living piece of videogame history. He himself regretted that the gaming industry had no memory at all, often relying in imprecise knowledge passed around verbally. According to him, design documents for games or consoles should always be carefully and systematically preserved.

Along many other golden nuggets of game history, he showed us this video, an demo for the brown box made in 1969:

He was accompanied by his friend David, an early collector of game history who had helped Ralph recover the original documents for the brown box, who had been stored in a warehouse following a patent lawsuit. They hooked up the box to the projector and proceeded to play Ping Pong, at which Ralph totally rocked.

Ralph admitted he did not play much games now, except with his grandchildren. He also reminded the audience that he held over 170 patents worldwide, including the game Simon. SIMON!!

Right after Ralph, the creators of Little Big Planet, Alex Evans and Mark Healey took the stage to give a keynote presentation on user-created content in games. Their presentation was awesome, since they had prepared a LBP level for it, walking, running and driving through it to support their speech. They spoke mainly about how they developed the game and how they were planning to really put user-generated content in the core of the game experience, since small teams can’t afford to create much content themselves. For a more detailed version of what was said there, I suggest you head to the summary on Gamasutra (check out the title of the second paragraph!)

Later that day, Chris Kline spoke about how the development process for Bioshock was. This was a great talk and I think it really was necessary to people to have a little more insight on the title’s development process. Due to its awesome critical reception, people seem to think that the development was smooth and painless, and generally it’s quite the opposite, especially for good games. For a summary of the talk, again Gamasutra.

I had to do a little more booth work on Tuesday, as my school, the ENJMIN, was one of the conference’s sponsors, but I’m very glad I managed to see the Q&A session between Jamil Moledina and Blizzard’s V.P. of design, Rob Pardo. There’s really not a lot of possible things to comment, so for the last time, i’ll just link to the Gamasutra transcript of the talk.

Overall, a great conference, left me completely exhausted and eager to come back next year, so that’s a good thing.

Oh and thank you, Gamasutra!

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