Wednesday, March 8th
Here we have Geoff Howland's account of the first day of the GDC:
So far the first day seemed like a better turn out than last year in terms of people. None of the vendors were present, except Sound Blaster and their $2.25 coke booth. The first two days are set up as full 8 hour courses, and I spent my time in Noah Falstein's game design lecture which covered a lot of the basics that anyone wants to know what life as a game designer is like, with a few pearls of wisdom for the already initiated designers as well.
Guest speaker Brian Upton, designer of Rainbow 6 at Red Storm Entertainment, discussed and then answered Q&A on the design process behind Rainbow 6, their earlier titles and post-Rainbow 6, giving a detailed account of different methods they've tried in combating the entropy that is game design and implementation.
Noah finished up the day's scheduled lecture with a group session on brainstorming ideas for designs.
The conference kicked off with me attending Noah Falstein's introductory game design tutorial. As a long time veteran of the industry, Noah had lots of information for game designers of all levels. Notably, he addressed a couple of questions that come up frequently here. The first was whether or not a great idea was enough to make it as a game designer. His response was a definite no; in fact, he said that the statement "ideas are a dime a dozen" really overvalues them. Besides the fact that being an effective designer really requires that you have a background in at least one production area of game development, he said that designers must be able to come up with good ideas on a continual basis, and one or a few great ideas is just not enough to make it.
On a related note, he talked about the various paths to get into a game design position. As just stated, it's almost impossible to move straight into game design without any previous experience. Although it is possible to move into design from an art, testing, writing, producing, or other position, the most common path is through programming.