Today begins the annual Game Developers Conference, and with it the sublime Vernal days of gaming conferences which, every year, are fraught with conflict, competition, and, um, conferencing. We here at GWJ were all set to send someone to cover the conference directly, but it came quickly to our attention that we probably wouldn't get through the front door, which is fine because we're not entirely sure where it is in the first place, and the GWJ official Dodge Dart needs a new alternator. So, like you, we sit in our comfy chair, and watch happily from the warm confines of our own home as conference time begins. I smell spring in the air! At least, I hope that's spring I smell.
One of the things I'll be watching out for this year is information about the growing Indie Gaming movement. I'm working on a new series of articles here at GWJ that will focus on the Independent Gaming scene, looking at what's being developed in the shadow of massive publishing houses, talking to independent developers, and occasionally reviewing games that you might never have otherwise heard of. We, as gamers, expend a whole lot of breath ,or more precisely caloric energy in whizzing our fingers across keyboards, bemoaning the state of the industry, the senseless monopolistic nature of publishers, and the lack of innovation in the games we buy. Then, sadly, we turn around and shell out fifty simoleans for Super Rehashed Gameplay Ultra X-4.
I'm pretty sure that if I took a bus load of gamers to a fancy restaurant that we would be kicked out. BUT, if we weren't kicked out, those gamers would look over the menu, pick the dinner they hated most - perhaps a squid consomme with zest of lemon and cilantro - complain bitterly about how awful it sounded, and then unanimously order it for dinner. Then, eating their lemon zested squid soup, they would rail at one another over what a poor choice squid soup had been, and how the cook should be shot or sued (whichever is worse).
Ok, so it's a flawed analogy, but instead of nitpicking note the point. Gamers tend to give lip service to the idea that they want innovation in games, but the moment their favorite developer strays in classic Robert Frost fashion from Design Path More Traveled, the word suck begins to be tossed about like a garden salad prepared by a paint mixer - sorry guys, it's been a long week and my simile construction seems to be scraping a perilous low. The problem I have with this (the gamers, not the simile) is that there are a ton of innovative titles being worked on by dedicated gamers just outside the normal scope of the media, and with just a little bit of exploration you might find some amazing games. For example, have you heard of even one of the games up for the Seumas McNally Award for Independent Game of the Year at this years Fifth Annual Independent Games Festival? Probably not.
So, while we're excited to cover all the big announcements certain to slink out of this year's GDC, you should be on the lookout here for a little bit of press on the Indie side of things as well. I know I'm having a terrific time doing the 'research', and many of these guys deserve our respect, and maybe just a little bit of the cash we were going to spend on replaying the same game we've played a thousand times before.