Sunday, April 23, 2006

Supanova Pop Culture Expo

Over the weekend I was on a panel at the Supanova convention, or “pop culture expo” as they call it.

I did a trivia contest both days where it was a number of developers versus a selection of audience members. First one person from each team would face off in a thrilling round of Mario Kart 64 on the Nintendo 64, then the winner having scored a point would get to pick the category of questions. The winning team got a bonus question worth one point and then the two teams would take turns answer 4 more questions. The categories were things like Multiple Choice, Screen Grab (screen shots of classic games with only a small square showing and you had to guess the game), Box Art (same as Screen Grab but with box covers instead of screen shots), general knowledge, and another that I can’t remember. The developers won both days, but just barely. I got beat in Mario Kart by a girl on the second day, oh the shame.

I also sat on a panel about game design. The questions from the audience were the basic “how can I get into the industry” type stuff. I gave a little speech that talked about what a game designer does. I have found that most people really don't have any clue as to what the 'meat' of game design really entails. Their pre-conceptions usually fall along the lines of what a writer or creative director does. That and then spend the rest of the time building levels. I pointed out that I have NEVER worked on a game that I had come up with the idea for. I have never even been asked to come up with a new game idea. I also haven’t built a level for a game in about 4 years.

My best (and new) example of what a designer does involves a bit I recently designed for our game where one group challenges another group to an arena match The interface is just picking a game and map type and yet that alone, just the interface for the challenge with nothing to do with the game play, came out to over 15 pages when documented. I explained briefly what about that simple task took 15 pages of work. I’m thinking maybe I’ll do a whole post about that in the near future.

I got a Serenity movie poster and comic signed by Summer Glau. Bruce Spence (Revenge of the Sith & Mad Max/Road Warrior), Patrick Kane (The Chronicles of Narnia) and John Schneider (Dukes of Hazzard and Smallville) were also there. The Summer Glau autographs were $30 bucks a piece.

Summer also hosted a screening of Serenity at “The Globe” one of the local dive theatres in the valley. The notice has said the screening was at 8:00, but what that really meant was the doors would be unlocked at 8 and then they would take over an hour to let people in, check your name off on the pre-purchased ticket list, and pack the place. Then Summer got up and did her intro. I asked what she was working on now and she said she was about to start filming a movie called “The Initiation of Sarah.” Though looking it up now I see that it is a remake of a 1978 horror movie and is being remade by the "ABC Family" cable channel.

The Summer left and they showed a 15 minute preview of a new sci-fi animated movie coming out called Renaissance. It is all black and white, black and white as in no shades of grey. Looks like it might be okay, I’d be willing to shell out a few bucks to see it.

Then they announced there would be a 30 minute intermission before the film and that their fully stocked bar was open. I think a lot of people complained that it was now about 10:00 for a movie that was supposed to have started at 8. I think some people went up and asked for their money back at this point. A few minutes later the manager came on and said they were starting the movie. I do have to say that seeing the movie with a room full of browncoats (Firefly/Serenity fans) is just awesome. I had seen the movie once before as a sneak peak before it was released with fans it was awesome then too.

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