Adrian At GDC!

This is the version of my game that I brought with me. Even if you’ve played it when I posted it previously, this has a bunch of improvements and additions.

I’m sitting on the last leg of my plane trip home after GDC, and I figured there was no better place to write out a nice little summary of my experience this year. This was my second year, and it could not have been more different than the first.

Last year I came in having just realized that I didn’t know the first thing about how games got made. I therefore saw the conference purely as a learning experience. This time around I had a portfolio project, Horizonticality, which had been eating most of my spare time since August. My goals were threefold:

1. Learn More

2. Get an internship

3. Get feedback on my project

Horizonticality was initially conceived and developed as a learning exercise and portfolio piece. I had no plans of developing the idea further after GDC, preferring to go back to working on narrative problems instead of spatial-reasoning games. In fact, there was a period during work when I was seriously concerned that I didn’t know enough about the minutia of action games to develop something worth pursuing.

I only spent about half my time at the conference going to sessions, since I needed go out of my way to get Horizonticality in front of people. This meant running around the career expo and stopping speakers after various panels. A special thanks goes out to Wes at the Microsoft booth who was the first to sit down and take a look at the project, and who also pointed me in various useful directions to get feedback. Anyway, the response was fantastic. As far as things that need changing, some features received consistent criticism (the controls), while others were more divisive (the “suicide” mechanic). I also encountered some surprises, like the emphasis that players placed on melee combat. However, one thing that everybody could agree upon was that the game has “good bones” as one onlooker put it. One designer went so far as to say that the game should have been showing at the IGF, though I think that’s getting a bit ahead of where the game really is. I’m still using character sprites taken from Contra III, and the game is still woefully under-iterated.

With all of that feedback and a lot more, I have decided that Horizonticality deserves to be built for real. This pretty much means starting from square one: the game needs to be completely recoded to work on the 360, a much more logical home for the multiplayer twin-stick shooter. I have a few people I’m going to talk to about joining me in the endeavour, and I’m on the lookout for a good artist to give the game the visual life that it deserves. This is one hell of a commitment for both me and whoever comes along for the ride. Wish me luck.

Oh yeah, the rest of GDC was awesome too. I shook the hands of many Volition employees, and I made several friends. People who like video games are great!

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