GDC 2012

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The Game Developer’s Conference 2012 … it begins:

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GDC is an amazing conference for game developers. Imagine a film conference where Steven Spielberg’s keynote is likely to be followed by an indie filmmaker roundtable discussing how you could shoot on the cheap without a license, where almost everyone at all levels is hobnobbing on the same floors. Translate to games … and you get the idea.

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I come for the AI Summit, which is generally of very high quality. I won’t post any pictures of teh slides, except the one above, which gives you a flavor of the kinds of talks they’ve had over the past few years (not just at the AI summit, of course, but usually in the programming tracks). Ok, wait, I will post one more to give you a little more flavor:

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A lot of the people in game AI say “they don’t do AI”—one of them said today Academic AI and Game AI share only two letters—but I’m afraid I can’t agree. I’m interested in Game AI because it’s AI that has to work, which is refreshing after years of arguments between symbolic/neural fuzzy/scruffy mathy/empirical logical/architectural oh would you all please shut up about how you’re better than each other and make something that WORKS and get back to me thank you very much. Not a problem at GDC!

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On the first two tutorial days (Monday and Tuesday) it isn’t so bad (oh and hey there Apple logo! Nobody’s fooled that you’re trying to horn in on our event for free publicity), and it never gets like Comic-Con … but by the end of the week it becomes a zoo. Here are a few tips to surviving it. First, if you want lunch at Chevy’s, sneak out during the Q&A of the pre-lunch session before it ends up looking like this:

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Second, park in the 5th and Mission garage, and if you do, it has many food options. Skip the uber-long lines at the Starbucks in the morning (sorry, guys!) and either hit Mel’s Diner (with the fastest bussers in the West) or grab a bite inside the Moscone Center itself. Also, note the excellent ‘wichcraft sandwich shop across the street as another food option.

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While the snacks in the Moscone Center are good, my kerfinicky stomach does not leave me able to recommend the (actually not bad) lunch they provide on site, so I usually forage for food, at Chevy’s, ‘wichcraft, Mel’s, the restaurants of the Metreon next door, and if you parked at 5th and Mission, note the Bloomingdale’s across the street? That’s actually part of a huge Westfield mall, with an excellent, giant food court hidden therein that somehow I’ve missed all these years.

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There are more tips … like hit the GDC Bookstore the first day to pick up t-shirts and schwag, but wait until the Exhibit Hall opens later in the week to score deals direct from the publishers and only go back to the GDC Bookstore if the publishers are missing something (they will be) … like make sure you give yourself four to six hours to hit the Exhibit Halls, that you check out the Independent Games demos, and be sure to hit the AI Roundtables if you’re into that sort of thing, which is a gateway into the AI Programmer’s dinner, which led to me being able to ask the developer of some of the software I use a question today because she knew me from previous years. So be sociable! That’s half of what this conference is for!

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But the biggest tip for someone like me, who lives an hour and ten minutes away in no traffic, or two hours in morning traffic?

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Get a hotel right up the street.

More news as it happens. The AI Summit has been very quoteworthy so far and I’ve taken a lot of notes.

-the Centaur