Just came back from joint conferences GDC Canada and Future Play, a combination of events that I would like to call the perfect game-industry-academia cocktail mixed by some very talented Canadians. I had the pleasure to speak at both events about the subject I am passionate about: Psychophysiological Player Testing and Metrical Game Research.
But back to topic: The first annual Game Developers Conference Canada was held from May 12-13 at the Vancouver Convention Center and apparently evolved into this event from the Vancouver International Game Summit (according to NextGen Player). The motto of the conference was “learn, network, inspire” and for me it lived up to this promise. It started very casual with a keynote interview with Don Mattrick, who is a legend among Canadian developers and has been in this industry from its early beginnings (evidenced by some excellent past/geekhood pictures in a video introducing his career).
Next session I ended up in was the “Army of Two” postmortem by Reid Schneider of EA Montreal, who talked about production stuff, but more importantly about the metrics logging system that Electronic Arts uses, which is integrated in a debugging technology called JUICE. Looked somewhat similar to Microsoft’s TRUE system, but less sophisticated. He showed some heatmaps (death maps) of their test levels and talked about the data that are used to check levels, apparently consisting of events like player death, player wounded, player unconscious, partner AI death, partner AI wounded, partner AI unconscious, NPC death, player death, game over, etc. – Reminded me of the stuff I did for one of my papers (Log who’s playing). Anyway, was very excited to see game metrics logging in action at EA.
Next, I should have gone to Clive Chandler’s Emotion talk, but instead went one floor up to check on fellow academics presenting at the parallel Future Play event. Had a sneak peak into Doris Rusch‘s workshop on Making Deep Games, where she talked among other things about love in games. Somewhat artsy for me, but very interesting nonetheless. Had to leave early to set up stuff for my own talk at GDC Canada titled Next Generation Testing: Biometric Analysis of Player Experience. I had a very nice audience with good questions at the end. See the slides below:
Next up was an interesting talk about what game developers can learn from the German car masters at BMW. Just had to see that one. Started fairly slow, but was full of metaphors and comparisons and ultimately a very valuable talk from Otto Ottosson of Threewave. It even featured game metrics and heatmaps from their testing system (frequent and early testing is apparently something you can learn from BMW). Seems like every company is doing some sort of level metrics for game testing now! Awesome! Great way to end the first day of GDC Canada sessions.