I recently attended the Montreal International Game Summit. I volunteered for the first day and attended the second. I’ll share some the the photos here and some brief overviews of some of the talks. I apologize for my miserable camera skill. It was really dark too for the most part, so many of them didn’t come out very well. Here’s what I have:
Here was the general space (taken at 5:00 AM on the 18th). This is the main keynote speaker area, as well as the tradeshow (in the back there)
These rooms are where individual presentations were held.
The show floor.
The crowds assembled for the keynote speakers were fairly large.
I got to try a couple of new games. The new Tomb Raider (released when I was in attendance):
And the new Prince of Persia game, to be released on Dec. 5th I believe. Because this was in Montreal, and Ubisoft Montreal had just released it, the art style of this game was a bit of a hot topic at the event.
New Guitar hero, now more Rock bandish.
In addition to the games, there was quite a few new gadgets available for testing.
Microsoft showed off a nifty 4 monitor setup for people to play rock band on.
This was like the iToy that was released a couple of years ago. Here, this fellow is steering the car remotely by moving his arms. The webcam below the display picks up the motion.
This device is like a virtual skate board or snow board that people can control.
Here is a shot of the game being played in the previous photo.
This vest is for playing FPS games. It strikes the wearer with small burst of compressed air when the player is hit, and shoots a burst of air across their face on a miss.
Here is some realtime phenome software that accurately maps virtual characters mouth movements against their dialoge.
There was also a beautiful concept art exhibition.
Microsoft advertising their new renderfarm software in a speech.
This shot is of a small indie startup called Infinite Ammo. They were showcasing a small game they created for the GAMMA competition called Paper Moon. They drew a pretty large crowd, larger than Microsoft!
Here’s a little Eye Spy. Can you find my name?
This fellow (David Braben, designer of Lost winds for the Wii) spoke of what the new generation of games will be like. Basically, each cycle takes about 6 years to rollover (meaning we’re due for another in 2012), and the content of each depends largely on the technology available. His prediction is that things will move more towards the tactile games, a trend we already see with devices like the Wiimote and Guitar Hero and Rock Band instruments, as well as the virtual skate boards and other devices. He also spoke at length of how content will need to be distributed in the future. He does not subscribe to the downloadable media theory, because 1/4 of US homes still have either no internet or use 56k, so we cannot cut them out of the market. Looking at the way risk was distributed versus profit margins was another section. The renting that Gamestop and others do tends to damage the industry, and he suggested that the issue needs to be resolved swiftly.
This presentation sparked some controversy, or a least a discussion. It was given by Jonathan Blow, creator of Braid for the XBOX. His speech centered around the concept of games as art. He argued that stories in games are inherently poor, and cannot be improved enough to have the emotional impact that linear media (such as books, music, and movies) have, because of their interactivity. Even experiments in “dynamic stories” like Far Cry 2 are doomed to failure. Interesting fact is that the story writer for FC2 was in the audience. Instead, the interactivity that makes a traditional story impossible in games should be used to create what he coined “Dynamical Meaning”. In other words, the gameplay itself should tell a story through the meaning in the players actions and their interaction with the environment. His arguement that stories should not exist in games sparked quite the discussion. The full speech is available HERE.
Another interesting speech I attended (but could not take pictures of), was one given by J Jaques Belletete, lead artist at Ubisoft Montreal on the new Prince of Persia project. He spoke about the conflict between stylization and realism in games. His basic point was that there are two subsections of realism, the aesthetic, and the physical movement of an entity. He basically said that, despite the fact that many current-gen games shoot for realism, stylization may actually be more convincingly realistic for a simple reason: the more aesthetic detail there is, the more the viewer expectects that entitiy to behave perfectly, something impossibly difficult today. The example he used where the talking objects in Disney’s the Beauty and the Beast. They have next to no detail, but are incredibly lifelike and relatable through their animations and the way they behave. If those same characters were very lifelike, the human eye, designed to notice every detail of a person, would quickly determine them to be false.
After the second day, an event called GAMMA was held. GAMMA was a competition where the participants had to produce a stereoscopic game that lasts less than 5 minutes. They were displayed at an interesting party, and judged. The previously mentioned Paper Moon was an entrant. This competition occurs every year, and folks from BA should definately participate as it’s a very high profile opportunity for them. Many bigwigs were in attendence.
Here’s the building it was held in.
An example game, Fireflies.
Paper Moon again.
I did a large series of animations that were projected on the main wall. The animations depicted the GAMMA logo in various ways. I also produced their printed advertisement.
The main reason I created this thread was to encourage people on the eastern seaboard to attend. It’s a great opportunity and very cheap (a few hundred dollars, compared to GDC, which is a few thousand). If you volunteer, admission is free (volunteering is NOT fun, I wont be next year), and there are infinate networking opportunities. Events like GAMMA promote the indie scene as well, and they are very friendly to open source (there were at least 2 talks related directly to open source as a viable option). Plus, there’s a lot of free beer.
I hope to see some of you there next year.