Sunday, November 12, 2006

MIGS06 Wrap-up

Sorry for the blogosilence. Last week was a whirlwind of action between attending the Montreal International Games Summit, getting in visits to friends and family, and trying to keep up with goings on at the office. Didn't leave a lot of time for posting.

I gave a presentation at the summit which I'll do a lengthier post about when time allows.

Summarizing the summit itself, there are a few things worth noting.

First off, the conference is rapidly growing, as it appears the montreal gaming industry is, and this year it definitely reached a critical mass, popping its head above the radar of the mainstream press (at least in Canada).

I don't know what attendance was recorded, but it was definitely larger than last year. If I had to hazard a guess, I'd say 800 or so attendees.

The scene in monteal is buzzing. EA has 150 to 200 people there, Ubisoft has well over a thousand with plans to grow to over 2000 in the near future. Artificial Mind and Movement (often referred to by the sure-to-get-more-googlejuice-for-all-the-wrong-reasons acronym of A2M) has over 300 people. Over three hundred! Where did that come from?!

Add to that Softimage, Quazal, and a host of other middleware and service companies (not to mention my alma mater Matrox Graphics, who is Montreal-based and was exhibiting at MIGS :-).

Anyhow, games is growing in montreal and people are taking note. Lots of government folks floating around, lots of tax breaks for those looking to grow businesses or facilities there.

The exhibition hall was small, but had a few booths of significance. The Nintendo booth was the hit of the show, with a large queue lining up to play Zelda and tennis, as well s the offroad racing game.

Between meetings, press interviews, my session and the prep for it (more on this later), I only had a chance to attend a few sessions, only two of which were of note:

Reid Schneider and Vanderlei Caballero's talk entitled "Building New IP and Innovation in Games, How to Break Out of the Box" was the first, and Chris Hecker and Chaim Gingold's "Advanced Prototyping" keynote .

You can find blogged summaries here: Schneider/Caballero: link. Hecker/Gingold: link, link.

In many ways, they were the same talk. The Hecker/Gingold talk was about the method of prototyping they use at Maxis on Spore, and how they wrapped some thinking and methodology around how and why to prototype ideas in an interactive medium. Basically, prototyping is how you implement the scientific method in game development. Hypothesis, experiment, results. Rinse, repeat.

The Schneider/Caballero talk was around how they used prototyping to innovate in a bunch of areas in the development of Army of Two. Or more to the point, how they used prototypes to sell people (including themselves) on a bunch of really crazy out-of-the-box ideas around co-op gameplay that otherwise NEVER would have been ok'd.

Two things to note:

(1) I wish I'd seen the Hecker talk first (it was actually more or less a repeat of a GDC 2006 talk), as it was more the 'theory' talk, and the other was the 'theory applied' talk.
(2) Army of Two *really* looks awesome. Some very cool, innovative stuff here.

That's it for now. MOre on the summit and on my talk there in a later post. I have some day-job stuff I have to get to first!

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