GDC Canada 2010: Day 1
The feedback on the day's events
GDC Canada officially kicked off in Vancouver, returning for the second year. The show’s focus this year, according to the organizers, was on providing developers with tips and tools to develop successful franchises for consoles, IPhone, and mobile games. The show floor ran for a full 8 hours today, with over 15 sessions also taking place during the day. I got a chance to check out some of these sessions, as well as chat with the developers on the show floor.
The first lecture of the day was hosted by Christopher Stott, a software engineer at EA Blackbox. The session, entitled “Building Game UI with Webkit” was focused on introducing the Webkit and how it was used in Skate 3. The Webkit itself is a software tool that is commonly used in popular browsers such as Google Chrome, and in popular tech like the IPhone. However, EA was the first to implement and adapt the Webkit to the consoles, allowing the developers to treat Skate’s interactive user menus as if they were web pages, allowing for increased productivity and flexibility. Using the Webkit increased speed and ease of updating content and promoting features to the players, as if they are viewing an interactive web page. The developers took no chances with this implementation, so there is still a lot of potential in the future to optimize and enhance the Webkit for video games.
After a quick break and a few quick meetings with the many aspiring students and developers at the conference, I continued on to the next lecture, “Character Voices”. The talk was hosted by Zach Hanks, a talented voice actor who appeared in a wide variety of titles such as STALKER, Dawn of War 2, Company of Heroes, Brutal Legend and many more. Now, Zach owns a voice talent company Soundawg, which helps developers seek out actors that are right for the role in their games. Zach’s lecture was easily the most entertaining one of the day, and contained many interesting and applicable tales from the world of voice acting. The three phases of voice acting were discussed, which were Conceptualization, Casting and Session. Interesting topics were presented by Zach, such as the idea of a Vocal point of reference. The consumers already have expectations how various language dialects and accents should sound, because they hear it every day in the media and movies. These accents may not be realistic or factual, but they are recognizable by the audience, and so the voice actors must present the accents that their listeners can recognize. If an actor attempts to do a realistic accent, which may differ from what the media has portrayed that accent to be, the audience will assume that the voice actor was doing poorly and become extracted from the game experience. It was noted by Zach that the best practice is to hire native speakers for English language dialects, as opposed to foreign dialects. Zach’s presentation was very enjoyable due to its casual atmosphere and the many impressions that he was able to do for the audience to really showcase his abilities.
For the next few afternoon hours, I decided to go down to the show floor and meet some of the companies presenting. The folks from Blue Castle Games were showcasing their latest work, the upcoming zombie action game Dead Rising 2. The company took on the sequel with Capcom, and the game looks like a ton of fun judging by the trailers being shown. Little airplane models were given away as part of the swag, though they had to be put together out of the box. Across the floor, Sony has setup four PS3s running Mod Nation Racers. The racing title is complete, and is arriving in stores at the end of the month. I was invited to the Press event for the game a day earlier, so look to our Preview next week.
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