AGDC 2007 – Day 1

I spent the week at AGDC 2007 catching up with people, attending sessions, having meetings, and eating. Lots of eating. This is a summary of the sessions I attended. I hear that you can pay tons of money for the audio to these sessions. IMHO, only four were really worth it.

Day 1 was actually Wednesday of last week, and it’s taking me a while to get all my thoughts written down, so I’m going to go ahead and post the first day’s comments today. Two more posts to come on this subject…

9:30am Wednesday – How to Rule the World (of Warcraft): Ten Lessons

Michael Morhaime – Blizzard

This session was mostly a waste of time. Michael Morhaime told us a bunch of stuff everyone who pays any attention to MMO development already knows: test servers are a good idea, managing your community is a lot of work, you will want a live team that is separate from your dev team. Also, Blizzard loves to polish their games even if that means missing Christmas. Also, they really value their brand. The one useful tidbit was that they make no effort to localize games apart from translation. They don’t think it’s valuable to make gameplay or setting changes for a specific market.

11:00am Wednesday – Designing for Everywhere

Raph Koster – Areae

Raph’s talk has been live-blogged in a bunch of places. You can find the slides here. This was one of the worthwhile ones, so just go buy the audio or read the slides. Gamasutra has a pretty good write-up.

1:30pm Wednesday – Business lessons for Post-WOW Games

Gordon Walton – Bioware

I showed up at the start of this talk, but the room was full so I didn’t get in. I saw Rich Vogel and Raph Koster also not getting in. Rich and Gordon are both on the AGDC advisory board, so I’m guessing one of them caused all future talks in this room to move to the keynote room. This is one example of the overcrowding Scott Jennings described.

1:30 Wednesday – Embracing Web 2.0: Applying Web 2.0 Success to the MMO Space (try 2)

Rick Luevanos – K2 Network

Well I missed Gordon’s talk, but this was a close second choice, so I went upstairs to this one instead. What? I also can’t go in here because this talk is full too? WTF!

1:30 Wednesday – Familiarity Breeds Contempt: Building Game Stories that Flow

Patrick Redding – Ubisoft

This was really a game design talk masquerading as a writing talk. It discussed the need to integrate the story INTO the game rather than just layering it on top. This post on Patrick’s blog covers all the high points. After wandering all over the convention center looking for a lecture I could get into, I missed the first part of this one. What I did see was one of the better talks of the conference though.

Update: Patrick has posted his slides.

3:00pm Wednesday – World Class Networking Infrastructure

Ruben Cortez – Bioware

The speaker was head of operations for Ultima Online. From there he went on to be responsible for network infrastructure for Sims Online, Pogo.com, EA.com, and EA’s corporate network. This was a meaty talk full of operations goodness. After spending the last six months talking to our own operations people, none of it was strictly new, but reinforcement is always nice.

4:30pm Wednesday – The Latest Learning – Database Solutions

Doug Mellencamp – Bioware
Jay Lee – Trion World Network
Raphael Cedeno – Multiverse

The panelists spent the first half of the hour talking over the standard object to relational DB mapping techniques and what their companies are doing to solve the problem. Not much was in here that wasn’t in Doug’s talk from last year. This is a big opportunity for a middleware company. Every MMO company does a ton of work in this area.

~Joe


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