Sorry it took so long to get this post out. I know GDC was two weeks ago now, but those were some pretty hectic two weeks honestly and various other excuses people probably don’t care about. Hell, I don’t even really have a sense of who is reading this thing, beyond my parents occasionally (love you two). I swear after this will be a return to my journal following my New Year’s resolution to avoid killing in games, with Majora’s Mask: Part 2. Anyways, onwards.
Honestly not really sure where to begin with this one. I guess I want to start by saying that this talk was not a lecture. In that it was interactive, or at the very least pervasive. The role of the audience member within the talk was that of a player entering the experience being design for them. It was really interesting and unique. I would love to see this technique more, especially considering these are talks from game developers, treating the audience like player should come pretty naturally.
The talk began with Rami instructing the audience in the basic… let’s say “mechanics” of the Arabic language for an as of yet unknown purpose. (I apologize, as I genuinely can no longer recall if it was the Egyptian version or the other one.) Having had fairly recently spent nine month acting as a QA tester for a language learning software company, I had the tiniest bit of understand before walking in. In that I knew it was a scripted language, and I knew it was read right to left, but that’s it.
Through out the process I genuinely believe Rami wanted to make sure the audience understood what he was teaching, but from the audience’s grumbles it seemed like people were happier to accept their ignorance then to impede the pace of the class. So already I think the audience, myself included, was getting a tiny piece of the discouraging feels held by english second language peoples. At this point my understand was existent, but I wasn’t confident.
This eventually lead to knowing the word for hotel, which is written as fndq in the Arabic alphabet and pronounced like “funduck” (kind of). I tried to past the word in here in the Arabic alphabet, but it keeps messing with my formatting so after I write this post I’ll past it right here…
He then presented an image for a very high budget video game, set in and Arabic speaking setting. I’ve been looking online for a couple hours now trying to find the image, with out any luck. With my relative grasp of the lesson, my reaction was something along the lines of “Wait…..I can’t be reading that right?……. No way!?…….. WTF!”
Edit: After I posted this piece, Rami sent me the image. So here it is…
The image was of the exterior of a hotel. On the building in english read the word “Hotel” and just above it in arabic letters was the word “qdnf.” (Remember, Arabic is read right to left.) Slowly rolling over the crowd was waves of comprehension, signaled by grumbles, some small laughs, people slapping themselves on the forehead, and every other way a person can physically or quietly to themselves convey a mixture of disappointment and embarrassment.
Now realize it was maybe a 15 minute lesson that educated a majority of the room into understanding just how egregious a mistake this was.
Following this reveal, was the announcement of gamedev.world, a site dedicated to cataloging translated game development documentation. After the experience the audience had just went through, we fully grasped the necessity of such an endeavor, and displayed so through a well earned standing ovation. I look forward to following the progress and success of this project (potentially releasing in April?)
So first off, Adventure is easily one of my favorite games. I first played it in college. Well into the throes of my senior year capstone video game project, playing any game felt like either work, or a waste of time that should have been aimed towards work… except for Adventure. Adventure was history. I even found the fabled easter egg with a friend, but it was changed since we were playing on a port of the game.
A portion of the talk just broke down each of the game mechanics, noting how it was all able to fit in only 4 KB. I big take away from this was how there are no modern constraints that excuse a declared game maker from not making game. Not just because of the tools available, but just because this game really proves what creativity is still possible with huge constraints, requiring relatively simple mechanics and programming. It reinforced the notion from my question to Anthony Burch, of understanding the tools available to you and finding creative ways to use them, instead of worrying about finding better tools.
Also I learned Adventure almost was converter into a Superman game to be released in time with the first film. So anyone who knows me will not be surprised that I am now announcing my new startup company focussing on developing Stargate technology for exploring parallel universe. The universe where there is a Superman Adventure game will be the destination of the maiden voyager (followed by the universe where Superman Lives was produced to completion).
First off, I just want to say… Dude, this was a very formative piece of work. I took a lot of inspiration from it….
Honestly I don’t know how to do this talk justice. Half of it is a story that rides the fence between game dev culture shamanic legend and game dev culture fan fiction. Tim Schaffer may or may not have originally designed a prototype that looked a lot like The Stanley Parable, before it went missing. Steve Gaynor may or may not be the avatar of a great games narrative shinto spirit.
Just watch it ok. As soon as it become publicly available, watch it. If I remember, I will try to link it below when it’s becomes available online. I probably will remember, as I know I will be re-watching this talk at least 3 times after it is released.
So that was my GDC for the most part. We will now officially commence returning to being posts about my New Year’s resolution to avoid killing in video games. The next post will be Majora’s Mask: Part 2 as promised. After that might be Battlefield: Hardlines. Fallout: New Vegas was recommended by Anthony Burch, so that’ll happen eventually. I’d like to be doing a few posts about experimenting with gamification apps at some point too. Till then (insert witty closing statement here, because endings are hard.)
-Eric John E