[Here, Gamasutra news editor Frank Cifaldi looks back on last week’s GDC Online and presents some of the most notable quotes from the Austin-based show.]
Last week’s record-breaking GDC Online conference in Austin, Texas saw so much insight, knowledge, advice, and discussion that even the most ardent attendee missed a wealth of valuable information.
While we couldn’t have possibly given proper attention to all 145 lectures, Gamasutra’s extensive coverage is a valuable resource for those who couldn’t make it out to the show last week.
We’ve rounded up a few of our favorite quotes from the show — part of the UBM TechWeb Game Network. Our 25 favorites are presented below, in no particular order.
“A few Kotaku articles and IGN front pages do not make a hit game.”
-BioWare San Francisco’s Ethan Levy, from an insightful and open talk about how the studio’s social game Dragon Age Legends attracted a lot of temporary Facebook likes, yet wasn’t a big hit.
“That’s bullshit. Are we going to start hiring 10 year old kids to make games for 10 year old kids?”
-Veteran MMO developer and former Free Realms creative lead Laralyn McWilliams (who recently joined iWin) discusses the flaw in thinking the only path to attracting more female gamers is to hire more female developers. Instead, she says, stop making games for yourself and learn to give your audience what it needs.
“What they’re doing looks a lot more like e-commerce than game design.”
-EA Playfish’s Tom Mapham on how analysts and product managers are running usability tests and market research on over a terabyte of daily data generated by players of The Sims Social.
“We like living here because we’re wizards!”
-Veteran MMO developer and current Playdom VP of creative design Raph Koster describing game development is like a fairytale. His Thursday talk encouraged the game dev wizards in attendance to embrace their powers and take back control instead of constantly trying to keep up with the real world.
“A community is not a customer.”
–Club Penguin executive producer Nicole Thompson explains the finer points of fostering a community at GDC Online’s first ever Community Management track. If your community doesn’t feel involved, it’s not really a community at all, she stressed.
“We also ignored MySpace.”
-PopCap co-founder John Vechey lists off several of the reasons PopCap has remained a success, and how he sees the company going for at least another 30 years.
“I’m inherently super-duper lazy, so if I think of something, it’s going in.”
Valve writer Eric Wolpaw responds when asked if he has a larger vision of his games’ worlds than what players experience on screen. Teammate Marc Laidlaw agreed, saying that creating things that don’t make it into the game is “kind of counterproductive.”
“Rarely waste an opportunity to fire a brilliant jackass.”
-Jeremy Gaffner, executive producer at Wildstar MMO developer Carbine Studios, on how an “irreplaceable” employee who does solid work but is abrasive to everyone in the studio might not be so irreplaceable after all.
“Designers are really worried that their great idea is going to be misunderstood or unfairly judged if it’s seen too early.”
–League of Legends design director Tom Cadwell, stressing that providing feedback early and often, even if something isn’t “ready,” is a great way to avoid design pitfalls.
“My job is to get everyone on the internet to want to have a beer with me.”
-Sega community manager Kellie Parker who, along with Microsoft’s Kathleen Sanders, provided an insightful overview on the role of community manager, the differentiation between community and PR, and how to best deliver bad news.
“They would be insane not to.”
-Gaikai’s David Perry responds when asked if the next generation of consoles would implement cloud gaming capabilities.
“We really wanted to solve the Candy Land problem.”
-Amazing Society VP and founder Jason Robar on how Marvel Super Hero Squad Online was designed so that if your child asks you to play with them, you might actually enjoy it instead of wincing in pain.
“If you’re engrossed in the minutia of running your team, who’s actually saying, ‘Well what are we going to do next? What are the threats, and how are we going to mitigate them?'”
–League of Legends lead producer Travis S. George warns that one of the worst things a game producer can do when a game is in trouble is to dive in and take control instead of delegating.
“I basically play Halo 3 in solo non-network mode for 45 minute stretches, a few times a week.”
-Author Neal Stephenson (Snow Crash, REAMDE) explains his gaming habits: playing Bungie’s first-person shooter while on an elliptical machine.
“If you don’t make it fun in the first three minutes, you’ve failed.”
-Blizzard SVP of creative development Chris Metzen on engaging your players through proper storytelling.
“I tell you, it’s not easy.”
-Eidos Montreal’s Mary DeMarle discusses the incredible Excel spreadsheet that contained the entirety of the studio’s multi-faceted Deus Ex: Human Revolution in one document.
“Players are genius at missing stuff.”
-BioWare’s Gordon Walton discussing with community experts how there’s “always an opportunity to help” new players.
“Theme is the oxygen of narrative. You don’t need to see it to notice when it’s missing.”
-BioWare Austin writer Hall Hood (Star Wars: The Old Republic) on how a story’s theme can be even more important than characters, plot and dialog.
“Last year, we came here and told you that everything had to be a farm.”
-Playdom’s Dave Rohrl who, along with co-worker Steve Meretzky, provided their annual humorous talk on social gaming trends. Unfortunately, it seems like too many people listened to them, as they said that the mechanic has been overdone now.
“You click through everything until it explodes with blood and treasure.”
-Blizzard’s Kevin Martens’ mantra for the upcoming Diablo III. He, along with several other writers and designers, provided a fast and off-the-cuff talk about their inspirations and what makes a great gaming moment.
“If you dock a ship and you’re wearing a monocle, people come and fight you.”
-CCP Games’ Ben Cockerill outlines the strong pushback from EVE Online players after the company introduced controversial in-game items.
“On iOS you have 10 phones you have to care about, on Android it’s over 100.”
-PopCap’s Giordano Bruno Contestabile on mobile development essentials. One hundred may sound like a big number to someone new to mobile development, but it’s nothing like the bad old J2ME days!
“Writers don’t often get to sit at the adults table.”
-Game writer and Extra Lives author Tom Bissell calls for writers to be ingrained deeper in the development process.
“It’s pretty easy for a sandbox to turn into a desert.”
-Telltale Games’ design director Dave Grossman finds the balance between giving a player total freedom and having their fates dictated to them.
“Everyone who’s had a shower has had a good idea.”
-Atari co-founder Nolan Bushnell reinforces his belief that creativity is not about having great ideas, but owning them.