(For Part 1, go here.)
So, what was once GDC Austin is turning into GDC Online. What do you see as the big trends in terms of these games and these companies that are focusing strictly online. They’re not working on physical releases that come out on discs anymore. Do you feel like that’s changed the development styles away from the cycles that were used for disc-based games or physical media games?
Oh, yeah, yeah. The reason there continues to be a massive change. I think one of the hints to this is the fact that we have a new track called the Live track this year. And that’s a track of programming. But we understand, it used to be perhaps, you made a game for a long period of time. You didn’t necessarily show it even to anyone. Obviously, you tested it and then you released it. It used to be the case where you would spend a long time working on a game when you wouldn’t really, other than patch Beta testers, a few internal ones. And obviously some focus testing.
You wouldn’t show it quite so much to the entire world. Whereas now, there are social and online games that launch with a relatively small amount of the their content complete, and they’re really shaped over many years by the player, and by people continuously playing them and giving feedback on them. So there’s been this big shift in development cycles. I don’t think that means that we’re moving away from the auteur model. I think there’s still a lot of opportunity for creativity within that. It’s definitely good for designers to see in real time how the public is responding to their games, because you can make significant and great changes. So that’s why we have the Live track within GDC Online, and that’s a big focus for us.
Another thing you guys will be focusing on at GDC Online is going to be iPad. I feel like even after iPhone gaming started, it took you guys a little while longer to start up a programming track specific to that. Whereas now, the device is not even a year old yet and you are already creating a programming track for that. Do you feel like the device has real legs as a gaming platform? Do you feel like games content on other tablets–like ones running Android–will have as much success as iPad games?
We are actually talking about how we continue to build this. Because we realize, within GDC Online, we have definitely the iPhone summit, and the iPad gaming summit, but within it, in fact, we do have things about other platforms. In fact, within the iPad summit even, we have alternative mobile platforms for your games with a number of examples.
Obviously, iPhone and iPad are the dominant platforms in the market right now. But, clearly, devices like Android on both the phone and the pad side, are coming through. There’s a whole set of design, marketing and business challenges around making touchscreen games, and having them available on stuff like application stores. So that’s really what we’re aiming to target. At GDC Online, we chose to do it in the form of an iPhone gaming summit.
That’s what we want to lead with but we are also are trying to give information for everything else, for other platforms, that may be in the market or coming through, because we think most the touch screen phone/device, the small form device, and the pad/mid form device, mid size device rather, are two platforms we see continuing to grow very significantly.
And it’s great that there’s a much lower barrier-to-entry which allows independent designers as much, if not more, opportunity than these larger corporate entities as well.
Yeah, I think something we definitely feel is we are very supportive of the independent scene. Obviously, we run the Independent Games Festival and Indiegames.com. The App Store ecosystem is definitely good for indies. If you look in the top 10 or 20 at any given point, sure there’s some licensed titles. Titles that have IPs that are well known in other markets, often stuff like Scrabble and things like that. But there’s a lot of games that are original games which have really interesting design and have actually come from much smaller teams, and that really does seem to happen.
So, as long as people can work out how to make a continued living from these kind of markets that tend to be quite sometimes hit-driven, then I think, it’s really an exciting place to be in the indie space.