GDC and gamescom were both great! gamescom was huge, and our school had its booth in the same halls as Blizzard, EA, Square-Enix among others! We only had one computer, at a sort of bad spot, but it worked. Our most important lesson from the event was that some In-Arcade help is probably needed! You can’t really expect people at a place like that to play through the tutorial…
Some people actually did, though, and the vast majority of those who learned the game really enjoyed it!
My three personal favourites of GDC/gamescom was (in no particular order):
1. Don Daglow
Don Daglow (http://en NULL.wikipedia NULL.org/wiki/Don_Daglow)‘s session about how to target a game was extraordinary in many ways. Not only was it informative and inspiring, but Daglow is also very funny. Seriously! Some parts of his presentation was almost stand-up-material, without compromising the integrity of his message.
2. ArenaNet and Guild Wars 2
I had a late encounter with the first Guild Wars, and quite liked how it stood out from all WoW-clones out there. When I heard there was a sequel in the making, I got really curious. Since then, ArenaNet has made several bold announcements on how they’re going to approach the design – no regular quests, no “evil vs good”-player factions, scaling encounters and so forth.
Some of these choises either didn’t quite make sense to me, or made me worry that they wouldn’t be able to pull it off. Looking through the schedule for the GDC sessions, I noticed ArenaNet would have an hour for explaining the design behind the Dynamic Event system, for which I quickly reserved some free time.
The session was very interesting, and was not just some defense speech, but a detailed walkthrough regarding the design process. Eric and Colin explained the reasoning behind certain decisions, their method of iteration and discussed issues that arose as well as their solutions. The first thing I did when gamescom started (and all the exhibitors had the place for themselves), was to try it out. To make it short: it really works. If the huge gamescom demo was any indication, Guild Wars 2 will be one badass game!
3. The Parties
The four hours each day on the floor was compensated by great parties pretty much every night! What was great about these was not the frequent open bars (which was pretty sweet too), but rather the chance to talk to some really interesting people! Robin is one hell of a mingle master, so we managed to strike up good conversations with lots of cool people, including a live-producer from BioWare, and Eric & Colin from the Guild Wars 2-team!
All in all, it was a great trip, with lots of fun! A tip if you want to save some money when there: buy water as far away from the fair as possible! On site you can buy water for €7 / litre and eat at Subway for €10, or you can take a free tram ride and have a monster kebab with drink for €5, and then buy 1 litre of cool water for €0.25!