GDC Notebook: Day 1: The PS4, Far Cry 3 and the Accidental Movie Star

A few of us are in San Francisco for the Game Developers Conference this year. Thousands of people who make video games show up to this thing.

Here are some observations and personal follies from Day 1…

  • Just like last year, smack in the middle of the Moscone Center complex where they're staging GDC, Apple will be holding a big showcase for their next big thing. (see photo above!) This time it's for iPad 3 or iPad HD or whatever they're calling it. I snapped a photo of the place where they'll be showing it off. The Apple event is not affiliated with GDC. So, Apple shows up at a big game-making event without really showing up at it. I think that sums up their relationship to the rest of the video game industry.
  • People (developers, reporters) talk about the PlayStation 4 as if it's a real thing at this GDC. At least over drinks. They didn't do that last year.
  • There was a screening for Indie Game: The Movie. A person who attended informed me that I'm in the movie. I had no idea. "What do I do in it?" I asked this person. Response, more or less: "You're playing Fez and being yourself." Ok, then!
  • There was an event to showcase a few game studios that have been purchased by Ubisoft. Press attendees were promised there would be no news, but you never know. David Polfeldt, managing director at Massive, said his studio, formerly behind World in Conflict and the first-person sequences in Assassin's Creed Revelations is doing the multiplayer for Far Cry 3, wants to make it so that players feel connected to that experience all the time (perhaps through other devices) and is looking at techniques from indie games to pull that off. And they're making an MMO. But I think the story Ubi was hoping we'd get out of this is that Massive and the heads of Red Lynx (Trials HD) and Nadeo (Trackmania), say they feel more independent since being acquired by Ubisoft, since they don't fret about money anymore and just think about game-making. (Bonus detail: Ubisoft's "New IP Editorial Director", Tommy Francois, wears a kilt, furthering the idea that Ubisoft is the least-corporate-seeming giant video game corporation.)
  • I can't remember faces very well. People see my nametag. They say hello. My mind races. But was the guy who was out for a jog right through the crowds outside GDC really saying hello? Did I know him, too? I give up!
  • I was introduced to the great Silent Hill composer Akira Yamaoka outside of a Lollipop Chainsaw event. The introducer was tipsy... told Yamaoka that he's the greatest. Yamaoka was flattered, thanked him, then turned and headed down the street. He seemed pumped.
  • Number of people who wanted to talk to me about game journalism on Day 1: 2