This morning I went to Valve's talk on Playtesting, which turned out to reflect a surprising amount of tips and techniques that we use at the ETC and at Schell Games. The things that we don't do which I find super interesting are the physiological tests - monitoring heartrates and EEGs and eye-tracking and such. It made me think of Scott, who was wondering if there was a role in the game-industry for a full-time scientist. So it would appear! At least on the front of collecting playtesting data. That sort of thing, however, is way way expensive, and likely out of the scope of the ETC (though I can imagine a future project working with the psychology department on main campus and what that might yield).
Afterwards, I got to meet up with Colin, who was my lead from the summer. I love Colin! He is one of the awesomest of people, and we strolled about the Expo floor for awhile whiles't catching up on one another's adventures. I am ever grateful for Colin's trust in me over the summer, which gave me a huge confidence boost, and transformed me from pre-Insomniac Lisa to post-Insomniac Lisa. It was delightful to spend time with him once more.
In the afternoon I went to Blizzard's talk about how their quest system evolved from Vanilla WoW through WotLK. It was pretty interesting! I especially liked the "lessons learned/mistakes" portion of the talk, where they went over problem points that needed to be improved, and how they were problematic from a design standpoint. At some point I will have to type up the notes I jotted down during all these talks.
Today was a day for reunions, and in the evening I met up with Steph, seeing her for the first time in 4 years! Amusingly, the last time we were able to visit we were both in New England, and now we both happened to be on the West Coast. I went out with her and some of her friends to Bucca de Beppo, and was graced with the delightful gift of two of her print book collections! (You can take a look via her art blog: http://stephsketches.blogspot.com/ ) So good! It was wonderful to catch up, and hopefully I'll get to hang out with her more tomorrow.
The night ended with a very pleasant gathering in the 5th floor lounge of the Palomar. Comprised mostly of ETCers, and joined later by Drew, there was a lot of catching up and story-swapping. Also, there was the revelation of the app that makes it so I MUST OWN AN IPHONE.
Sooooo good! Bryan Cash said that I was reaching some point of Critical Delight while playing with it, and feared an explosion. I managed to contain myself, though.
I've really had a splendid GDC so far, and I hope it will finish out strong. We shall see!