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Final GDC notes

Okay, GDC is over, final notes from me about everything (including what I previously posted), what went right, wrong and what I would need to prepare for better :)

GDC conference

See my coverage of all the things I made notes on in this handy category, and I also have a gallery of pictures, many of which I didn’t use in my posts. Remember my only video too, of the Game Developers Rant, which I think it well worth watching.

The good:

  • I got to 90% of my intended sessions, missing one due to getting there early but it being full early.
  • I had some time to get around the Expo and career fair. (The career fair is light on the UK developers side but was non the less useful to get around)
  • There was good internet setup at the conference
  • There is enough travel time between sessions (half an hour) leaving some time to talk to people after their presentation or roundtable, which is great.
  • Got most of the pictures I intended to take, missed some at the IGDA party and a few other things. Helps to remember people via. photos for me, since I forget faces sometimes!
  • I got to a few roundtables. All were good, discussions are much more in depth then talks I think. The AI ones stood out of course, but I missed a few (due to clashes with other roundtables!) which sounded interesting too.

The bad:

  • Breakfast basically was bread and coffee. I missed it a few times and didn’t miss much. Lunch kept repeating itself, and didn’t have much variety, although the sandwich was edible at least. You can take some time to get to Westfield Mall’s food court, which might be a good idea.
  • Conflicting sessions – despite the fact there were few AI ones, there was a direct clash in one case (Friday) with the AI roundtable clashing with the Drakes Fortune AI session. Bad show! This I never understood…
  • The Digital Game Canon session was not accepted, which I am still annoyed about, so preservation got less attention then anything else. Ever. (lucky there was at least two roundtables!). Here’s glaring at you, GDC advisory board.
  • I didn’t organise to meet up with a few people, so missed an opportunity to see them. Prepare a time (lunchtimes are good) in advance to meet someone. It’s easy to suggest a place to meet too – start of the lunch line perhaps? :)
  • I didn’t go to the IGDA booth except my initial scholarship time there, which means I missed out on a few meetups and chances to relax there.
  • I suppose, I should have got more business cards off people. The ARG left a bitter taste in my mouth seeing people cash them in a few times (other scholarship guys and conference associates), but I wonder if it’s entirely a bad thing to not get hundreds, and not remember who was who or even if you talked to them! Next time I’ll try and swap them with those I did talk to however, since there’s a few people I talked to for a while I can’t get in contact with now.

Travel notes

The good:

  • DS and Macbook are good entertainment.
  • In flight entertainment wasn’t too bad. I saw Gone Baby Gone and rewatched bits of Michael Clayton, although the screen is a tad small and 4:3 cuts bits off, it is watchable.

The bad:

  • Security checks were boring, although I got to Heathrow so early it was quick there. They’re also draconian – shoe removal, and the like. I didn’t even bother with liquids or food or anything, since I couldn’t be bothered (the onboard stuff had to suffice). I also didn’t particularly like having my picture taken and fingerprints taken in the USA, but it seems the UK will be doing that now, and Japan, and lots of other places. Sigh.
  • Stupid technical problems can delay flights. Note to self: Take spare undergarments in travel luggage, and possibly avoid United Airlines next time (to be fair, when I booked it was cheaper then BA).
  • It’s not too comfortable. I never did get any sleep (be aware of the noise too. I think earplugs would be a good idea).
  • I probably should have taken a bigger initial bag, to take a waterproof item in, and perhaps so I’d not need to buy another one in San Francisco to carry my extra stuff back. You might want to buy one anyway; compared to the UK, the stuff is a lot cheaper (not just because of the exchange rate).

San Francisco, and tourism

I need more time to go to things! This is summed up as: all the things I did go see were good, if very tourist centric, and I should have had more time to get to the galleries (for me, preference is for non-modern-art) and other things. It was good seeing the Chinese New Year parade, and WonderCon too. Weather wise, I think I’ll be taking an umbrella minimum with me, or a light coat.

Buying a phone over there for USA use is a good idea, and Pay as You Go ones can be cheap. I got the AT&T plan for a certain charge for the first call, then cheaper per minute after that, rather then a higher per minute charge but no initial fee. For holidays, this is the best idea. It seems UK phones are not liked on their system there, I kept not getting calls until I got the replacement phone. DS games are also a must-buy, and I should have picked up a few PC games – although finding the shops is a tad hard (so make sure you know the locations beforehand), since I only found one EB games (soon to be GameStop) in the end. Cheap as chips compared to the UK!

Summary

A good time had by me, and most others I met it seems. I got told that being a conference associate (ie; pink shirted helper) isn’t bad, which makes me more willing to try that next year if I’m poor/not in a industry job.

I also suggest all students who want to try and get to GDC apply to the scholarship program – being able to meet the other scholarship people and get together with them at frequent opportunities helped immensely, and was great to discuss things with them over food and other activities.

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