Another cool AGC. I got a lot of ideas from the panels and presentations over the 3-day conference. I expect to be expounding on those over the next week or two, but here's a very general summary of my AGC experience for now.
Just as important as the presentations is being able to meet other folks in and around the industry. Unfortunately, I didn't make much headway there, as I let my AS get the better of me. I do just fine in conversations with just two or three people, but I tend to go quiet in larger groups when the conversation is more small-talk than intellectual stuff. What can I say? I'm a social-idiot.
Though I didn't talk much with them, there were a few people who I was really impressed by while just observing them.
Seeing Raph Koster in person allowed me to see the side of him that's generally missing from his online persona. He seemed like a really cheerful and relaxed guy -- a gamer; not all business, like his blogsite sometimes makes him seem.
Sanya Weathers and Alan "Brenlo" Crosby really stood out as two very pleasant and intelligent people. They're funny as can be when put together, and both very friendly. Sanya was kind enough to strike up a conversation with me while I was in "quiet mode". She suggested that it probably would have been easier to remember where she knew me from (I've posted on her site and others she knows) if I had used my "hallower" screenname instead of "Aaron" when I post. Perhaps I should start doing that, but using my real name seems more personal; and I like to speak to everyone as a friend.
Unfortunately, I never ran into Brian Green or Cindy Bowens, both whom I was hoping to say hi to.
I got to talk a little shop with Erik Hyrkas, Brent's friend from Granite Games. Erik had an interesting perspective, as a director and programmer for an indie MMO project. His story sounded similar to some of Green's tales of start-up troubles and determination. He enlightened me to some of the ways indie projects tend to differ from big-dollar projects; like the challenge of recording and studying player-metrics when you're already bogged down with so many other things to do.
Evil forces conspired to keep me from Maggie Mae's (the AGC drinking party), or else I probably would have met more people. I still owe Brent and Tami some drinks (sorry, guys).
I had multiple chances to meet up with Brent, Tami, Craig, and Michael. Cuppy's just as energetic in person as she is online. Brent seemed to be excited and in his element as well. I didn't realize he had worked on a game before. I think Craig and I are both the sort who are better at expressing our thoughts through slow and careful writing, rather than impulsive conversation in person. It's funny how quickly I turn into a muttering fool if I'm trying to pay attention to social cues while speaking. Michael seemed like a cool guy, though I didn't get much chance to speak with him.
Predictably, my plans got rearranged somewhat between last week and the conference. Here are the sessions I attended, most of which I'll probably write about in the coming weeks (the titles are abbreviated):
Michael Morhaime: 10 Lessons
Evan Skolnick: Learning from Star Trek
Patrick Redding: Familiarity Breeds Contempt
Panel: Community Influencers
Anderson and Snell: Metrics
Sulka Haro: Habbo
Matt Costello: Story and Gameplay Together
Damion Schubert: Zen of Design
Panel: Alternative Media
Bioware group: Writing the Bioware Way
Chris Bateman: Narrative Guiding Players
Austin Grossman: Game Writing Can Improve
Last year, I enjoyed nearly all of the sessions I attended. This year's was hit-and-miss. Ironically, Sulka Haro's session was one of the most interesting, though I only attended it when the writers session at that time was cancelled. I've got to agree with Raph that it's a shame more developers were not there to hear it.
Anyway, the details will have to wait until tomorrow. Stay tuned.