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Saturday, March 11th

From Geoff Howland:

Lectures and the expo floor continued today, and for people who have been at the conference from the beginning there seems to be a general consensus of being wiped out, burned out, and a bit anxious at all the work that awaits them when its finally over after Sunday night.

The high point of today was definitely the "Mardi Gras" party at Six Flags: Great America, which is a theme-park location with rollercoasters etc. They only had one rollercoaster (my favorite of the park's selection) and the bumper cars open, but I really think thats all they needed. Lines were much shorter than you'd ever see them on a normal park night and the real highlight of the evening was the "Programmer Challenge" which was made up of Chris Hecker, Michael Abrash, Jeff Lander, Jonathon Blow, Brain Sharp, Marc LeBlanc and two other good players whose names are unfortunately eluding me at the moment...

The game was played like Jeopardy, except with 4 person teams (respectively in the above order) of the 'West Coast' and 'World'. The questions mixed between extremely hard programming, game or comp history topics of serious and humorous natures a like (with more of a heavy hand toward the humor) and was a great deal of fun just to watch. If they duplicate one thing at next year's GDC, I hope it's this!

For those who need to know every detail, the West Coast team won by about 15%.

From Dave Astle:

My day kicked off with a lecture from Jonathan Blow of Bolt Action Software and Seumas McNally of IGF winner Longbow Digital Arts covering advanced terrain methods they've developed for their games. Their methods were different, but both produce results that are quite pleasing visually and can be done at high framerates. Though I can't go into the techniques in detail here, we're going to try to have both Jonathan and Seumas write something up for us.

The highlight of the day for me was Peter Molyneux's keynote. He talked briefly about his past games (namely Populous, Power Monger, Magic Carpet, Theme Park, and Dungeon Keeper) and the things he learned from them. The main points were 1) that gameplay is not enough, games also need a good story backing them, and 2) the interface needs to be simple and intuitive. He then went on to show how he had addressed those things in Black and White, and proceeded to give the most in depth preview of the game that has yet been given. Although we are not a game review site, I will say that the game is nothing short of amazing. The goal was to allow the player to do anything, and it looks like they succeeded. The game is a masterpiece in both design and cutting-edge artificial intelligence, and it could cause an AI technological revolution in much the same way Quake began a graphics revolution.

I also want to echo Geoff's opinion of the Mardi Gras party. It more than made up for the disappointing opening night party.