From December 5th to 7th, the Game Developer Conference China 2010 took place in Shanghai, China. I attended, even if only partially. It was my first time personally attending such an event and well, it was just too f*cking bad I couldn’t properly check out all the talks. My pass was a Tutorials and Summits pass. I pretty much had to miss out on the first day due to complications with getting to Shanghai, and of course, all the tutorial sessions took part on that first day. Shit.
Second day and I sat in the Independent Games Summit, which I found the most interesting sessions of all that I saw. To my great regret I was not allowed to sit in Bill Roper’s keynote (or any other keynote for that matter) because of my inferior pass. Damn.
Anyways, in the Independent Games Summit, I most of all enjoyed the talk of Steve Swink, the developer of the up and coming game “Shadow Physics”. His talk was about the experimental approach to game design, and how a truly good gameplay mechanic should be discovered and fleshed out by experimentation, pretty much by feeling out the possibilities and limitations of a mechanic. This approach then must lead to a game that does not contain filler content and thus does not waste the player’s time. It is as good as it can be.
I support that approach and think that’s a really good way of making games. Examples of games created this way are Braid, Portal and his Shadow Physics. He demoed it for the audience and I was blown away. You have to see it in motion yourself to really comprehend the awesomeness of the mechanic. Basically, it’s a 2d platformer, but the platforms and the entire level are shadows of 3D objects in the foreground of the view of the game world. The game world is 3D, the objects are in front of a light source and the shadows cast on the wall are the actual game world. The hero is a shadow, too, but unlike the other shadows, does not have a representative 3D object that it’s a projection of. It’s sounds weird if just read here, but I encourage you to check out this video:
The game was at a lot more advanced stage at the time Swink presented it on GDC. This is a fresh design and I don’t think I need to praise it more for now. Just get it when it is released. What struck me though is games like these fully embody the meaning of interactivity. The playful exploration of a concept (i.e. the nature of light and shadow) that can sometimes only be understood by engaging with it. Puzzle games or, like Shadow Physics, platformers can very well incorporate that interactivity because they’re mainly “physical” games as opposed to mainly narrative games. Anyways, I thought about this and some more and decided to try and complete a strongly narrative game in the span of one week, using the experimental approach of Swink. Let’s see what comes out of it!
In any case, going to GDC was indeed interesting, but again, regrettable that I couldn’t get a better pass and some of the circumstances were bad. Oh well, next time, eh?Share Share