Crayon Physics

GDC Debrief

A screenshot from “Crayon Physics.”
A screenshot from “Crayon Physics.”

The Game Developers Conference occupied the West and North Halls of Moscone Center in San Francisco. Lecture and expo spaces took up both halls.

This was not like E3, where publishers try to outdo each other in the elaborateness of their booths and the beauty of their “Booth Babes.” The expos were packed with people, and the crowd was a little more diverse than I expected, with women and people of color represented if not well, then at least noticeably.

Despite some glamour and glitz, the flavor of GDC was unmistakably that of a trade show, just like many I’ve been to before. The only difference was that the products, services, and opportunities on display were actually ones that excite me, because they are about games.

The North Hall Expo space was mainly filled with companies selling game-making tools, like graphics engines, motion capture rigs and drawing tablets for artists. The space in the West Hall was called the Career Pavilion and was devoted to recruiting and meeting spaces. Because the games industry is growing so quickly, many companies simply need warm bodies to fill empty chairs. Hiring was aggressive.

One of the more stoke-worthy places within the GDC expo was the Independent Games Festival presentation area. These were individual demonstrations of interesting independent games made in the last year. Because of their small, sometimes nonexistent budgets and frequently single-person development teams, these games typically have more individual character and flavor.

Even more exciting is that the developer was usually standing around explaining their game and the thinking behind it.

The winner of the IGF was Crayon Physics Deluxe, a delightful game where the shapes you draw on the screen are modeled as physical objects that you can use to meet the game objective. The game was also shown at the Experimental Gameplay Workshop, an annual and very popular seminar that highlights new and different ideas in game design.

More GDC highlights to come.