Monday, April 12, 2004

Big fun at RPI's Game Fest!

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY

RPI logoGoing to events just kind of snowballs sometimes. I first noticed Kathleen Ruiz because her web page turned up in a list of university professors who were recommending Game Architecture and Design, the precursor to Rollings and Adams. Then I bumped into her at the Level Up conference in Utrecht, and she invited me to come visit Rensselaer Polytechnic. So in April I went to their Game Fest, an event held in honor of a new game program they're starting... and there, I got to meet Tim Stellmach (shown below), the designer of Thief, because we sat on a panel together.

I gave my lecture "Exploring the Fringes" (although for PR purposes it was renamed "Expanding the Boundaries"). This was followed by Katie Salen's lecture, which was topically similar to mine -- fortunately there wasn't much overlap, and she told us about some interesting stuff going on in machinima, among other things. After that there was a panel with me, Katie, and a couple of the guys from Vicarious Visions, a company formed by RPI grads. Afterwards we wandered around the student exhibition and looked at all the games they were working on. Some were essentially clones, but most of them were quite innovative.

The following day I gave a game design workshop with the help of Katherine Ruiz and Marc Destefano. It was huge, about 45 people, rivaling the one I did at Michigan State last year -- but that one drew people from all over the area, and this one was made up of RPI students and VV employees alone. Some fun ideas; the team that got the dream of being a cowboy actually started designing cow AI.

I really liked the people I met there, and I hope to be invited back someday.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Keynote at the Computer Game Technology Conference

Toronto, Canada

This was my second visit to the CGT Conference in Canada, which is now three days long. It has also moved from Sault Ste. Marie to Toronto, and so attracts a lot more people. It's still sponsored by Algoma University College, though, so they reap all the publicity from it.

This year's CGT was extremely informative. I heard an excellent lecture on level design by Rick Knowles and Joseph Ganetakos of Pseudo Interactive, and another one on the future of the industry, particularly on-line games, by Jim TerKeurst of the University of Abertay. You can download all the slides (except mine, which are proprietary) here.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Teaching at the Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design, and Technology

Dun Laoghaire, Ireland

IADT logoDun Laoghaire is a town a little bit to the south of Dublin, along the coast. It's pronounced Dunleary, which is a good thing because otherwise all those vowels would be impossible. Anyway, it's the home of the Institute of Art, Design, and Technology, which invited me to come give a game design workshop, and also to attend a meeting to discuss the logistics of setting up a game development program. The workshop went well, and the meeting was useful to them, I hope. The difficulty with creating a game program in an academic setting is that it's so enormously cross-disciplinary. There are often a lot of vested interests that have to be overcome, and people whose cooperation that must be secured. It's unlikely that the people in the music department of an art school are all that used to dealing with computer scientists, for example. I'm not saying that IADT has these problems; I just warned them that these are the sorts of issues that they face.