GDC 2011: Howling Moon's After Action Report

Andy KorthMar 08, 2011

The annual Game Developers Conference is a great experience for every sort of game developer, from AAA developers to indie desktop or iOS developers. With tens of thousands of attendees, GDC features lectures, tutorials, and roundtable talks by industry leaders. Every topic from art design to production, and business management to programming is covered at GDC.

Scott and I, being cost-conscious indie developers, opted for the $200 expo pass ticket. The All Access pass begins at $1475-$2100. As a result, we weren’t able to attend the lectures, but the most important parts of GDC happen behind the scene. However, the expo has great networking opportunities.

The GDC expo is filled with booths representing game companies. Many attendees visit the Activision Blizzard, Bethesda, Riot Games, and other booths hoping to find work in the game industry. Nintendo, Intel, NVidia, and other hardware manufacturers (basically everyone but Apple) are there, demonstrating their latest technology and platforms. The Independent Game Festival booth is a big highlight for indie developers. It features playable examples of all the games nominated for IGF awards, but more importantly, you have the opportunity to talk with the developers.

Networking is key to the GDC experience, and the discussions on the expo floor are just the beginning of the networking opportunities. Scott and I participated in a TIGSource indie game meetup at the San Fransisco library. This was a highlight for me, since we got to meet about 20 indie developers and really chat with them. You can sit down with developers and go through unreleased code and projects; you have an opportunity to delve into how features were implemented and the design decisions behind the game.

Touch Arcade hosted an iOS party at the Marriott hotel bar. They have my thanks for the open bar! This has been a big event for Scott and me, because we meet a lot of Chipmunk Physics users at this event. We get at least a dozen developers who notice our Chipmunk Physics t-shirts and stop by to say hi. It’s great to see where other people are using Chipmunk, and also to hear what people are looking for in future versions.

The next day, we spoke with representatives of Blackberry, Intel, and Nvidia to discuss Chipmunk on their mobile devices. We’re looking to optimize Chipmunk Physics for the Nvidia Tegra platform. Intel provided us with two Exo PC tablets to experiement with the AppUp store and the MeeGo platform. Even though they are late to the app store model, I think they’ve got some really exciting stuff going on that can fix some of the traditional problems developers have with Apple’s iTunes store.

Multiple cores in mobile devices was a major theme for us at GDC. For us, this means a lot of new interest in multithreaded Chipmunk Physics. Even hyperthreaded mobile devices with a single core can benefit from multithreaded code. So this will be one major feature we’ll be looking into for Chipmunk.

I’d be remiss to mention that I had the opportunity to meet Notch and chat briefly about java networking. GDC is a great place to meet your personal heroes. I talked to him and several other IGF finalists about Reclaimed and our other games, and the event is quite inspiring all around. We also had the chance to meet a few folks from iDevGames. Hopefully we’ll see more iDGs people next year!



About the Author

Howling Moon Software Andy Korth and Scott Lembcke are the creators of the Mac and iOS games Twilight Golf and Crayon Ball, as well as the developers behind the highly popular 2D Chipmunk Physics library.