Sunday, March 2, 2008

GDC: Game Design Workshop

I attended the Game Design Workshop on Monday and Tuesday of the GDC this year. It was a fantastic experience, where the participants did lots of hands-on creation of games in limited amounts of time. Highlights included making a SiSSYFIGHT variant (using custom cards) based on viral evolution, tweaking a boss battle AI to create the maximum amount of drama, being given a set of unknown items and creating a game out of those items only (Think Iron Chef meets game design), taking apart Mario Kart 64 into a card game that gets at the core of the Mario Kart experience, and creating a card game based on one of the Seven Deadly Sins (Pride for the group I was in).

That final exercise was run by Clint Hocking, and he's written up his thoughts on his blog on how his elective went. You should read it to see how the team who had the sin of gluttony created a card game that really gave the player the sense of what it meant to be glutenous. They did a phenomenal job. What you may not realize is that literally the groups had less than an hour to make a game, test it, re-design and come up with something that worked.

The Game Design Workshop was, without a doubt, the most inspiring and mentally draining experience I had at GDC. Everyone involved in the workshop, from the organizers to the participants, did a fantastic job. There were few, if any, bad seeds who were letting their egos or personalities get in the way of the task at hand. It was true collaboration by groups of strangers. I hope to attend the workshop again regularly, and encourage any of you who may get a chance to go to the GDC to go to this workshop at least once.

For anyone interested in some of the workshop course materials, Marc LeBlanc has previous course materials up on his website. They are pretty similar to the materials used in this years course, and honestly 14 of the 16 hours were spent in groups working together on problems, instead of listening to the organizers lecture. This interactivity is what made the workshop work so well.

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