xxxxxfaThe first day of the first ever Fantastic Fest Fantastic Arcade has been something of a interesting ride. I’m again basically flying solo covering an industry event in Austin doing some cross-platform coverage for The Game Reviews, XBLA Fans and (surprisingly) Yahoo! Associated Content. Being I haven’t shown my family the love since July, I’d figured I’d toss some of I didn’t get around to during South by Southwest and present four of my personal takeaways in short form each day of the conference.
1. I’m sitting in a press table with a VIP badge. Granted it’s an outdoors table Texas heat but all the same. It’s a press table and I’m wearing a VIP badge awaiting the a nightcap of interviewing Richard Garriott. In most cases, my act like you’ve been here before instinct would be kicking in. But you know what, I got laid off a month ago and I’m doing this all freshly into a Salvation Army shelter. I’m going to take a moment to be unprofessional and enjoy feeling great about something.
2. Community. Maybe it is Fantastic Arcade’s feel of an indie game celebration as Fantastic Fest is an indie movie convention. But community became one of the many running themes of the first day. Industry icon and Portalarium’s Richard Garriott made mention of the importance of both in his keynote and my interview with him. Burnie Burns spoke of how the online community has kept Rooster Teeth going as an independent film studio doing Red vs. Blue. Monaco developer Andy Schatz spoke of how and what community feedback helps shape design decisions (and how some will be featured voice actors in the game). Dialogue and the ability to make a community feel involved remains a need in the developers and filmmakers to being successful both in games and film as indies.
3. GameSalad as a development tool intrigues me on several different levels. Aside from simplifying the process of writing the game by eliminating the need to learn coding language, I see it as a tool beyond just the average that always wanting a simple gateway into designing a game he always wanted to see. I’m thinking schools. Early education. Catching kids early on with the idea creating a very simple game or an interactive story (which has already been done with the tool) seems like an very good way to catch the interest of children and their imaginations and could be a great gateway into getting more people interested in design at an early age.
For the record, this idea is far from new to them.
4. Richard Garriott is a development rock star. This really isn’t a surprise considering he is an Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences Hall of Famer and his creation Ultima Online will received with first Game Developers Choice Online Hall of Fame Induction. But I have to say I was quite surprised not at the reverence of level of reverence he seemed to receive. Mind you, I didn’t grow up a PC gamer so I never grew up with the same awe and appreciation the Ultima franchise in the time it grew into what it has become over the years. So to receive just even the congratulations to get his time (for which I got over an hour) let alone some of the comments of people being nervous speaking with him or having grown up rating oneself by Ultima’s 8 virtues (Schatz) surprised me.
Then you get to speak with the man and it all makes sense. Being in a room and just listening to the Garriott is both very entertaining and incredibly informative. Just watching and experiencing him explain his design philosophies is something of a learning experience and show.
It’s 11:00. The Arcade is open for a new day and I have stuff to write, play and attend. Hopefully I can get Pt. 2 out day-of today. Happy Bitmobbing.