GDC 2011 Recap: Part 2

This is Part 2 of my GDC 2011 recap. If you missed Part 1, you can read it here.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Tuesday was an all GDC day. We did not have anything scheduled for the IGDA Scholar program. This gave us Scholars time to sit it on some of the summits and tutorials. For Tuesday, I chose to sit in on the Producer Boot Camp.

At the Boot Camp, there were several speakers including Rod Fergusson from Epic, Rich Vogel from BioWare, as well as speakers from Crytek and ngmoco:).Producer Boot Camp Rating Form

The entire tutorial session was really an enlightening and amazing experience for me. First off, I actually knew what the hell they were talking about. It was really one of the first times that I felt I was actually a part of the industry. Sure we’ve been building games at FIEA, but Rick, Ron and the faculty certainly do a hell of a job teaching us industry terminology and techniques and it was apparent how much I had already learned in my six months at FIEA.

Rod Fergusson’s talk in particular hit home for me. He talked about how the Producer should be the one to do whatever it takes to get to “ship.” The Producer should buy the pizza, be the last one out of the building, or even do coffee runs. These are some of my core tenets. I’ll do whatever is required of me and I will buy the team food, or just stay there with them, whatever it takes to help them out. The talk was a confidence booster for me as I could say, hey, I guess I am doing something right.

Rod Fergusson’s talk was first and from there we went to Caryl Shaw from ngmoco:). She discussed how different it was from producing large scale games for EA and Maxis to producing smaller iPhone games. While there are certainly similarities, there are also a lot of differences. It was interesting to see the different challenges and problems she faced as a producer on iPhone games. Smaller team sizes, shorter development times and just overall platform differences.

The folks at Crytek had an interesting talk about what the difference was between a Project Manager and a Producer and how each both have roles on a project and that both must work together during development. Picture of Producer Boot Camp Screen

Rich Vogel’s talk was also interesting. He discussed Agile development and Scrum in particular and how they used it at BioWare. This was a really great talk, and once again it was great to see the things we are learning in class appear at GDC.

The Producer Boot Camp taught me a lot about what a producer should be doing in industry and how being a producer varies from company to company and from platform to platform. I came out of those talks feeling really good about being a producer and I felt that FIEA is definitely preparing me for industry.

After that I actually met up with Ron Weaver and met with John Austin the Managing Director at Joystick Labs in Durham, NC. After talking with him briefly, and showing him a video of Nexus, he had to run, and so did Ron and I.

Ron and I then met up with a fellow FIEAn from Cohort 1, Carlos Barbosa, who is currently a Designer at EA Tiburon. We had dinner and then went off to do some partying. As I said in Part 1 of this GDC recap, Tuesday was my main partying night.

First off we went to the Zynga party. Holy crap, this was a pretty awesome party. There were free drinks for starters, but there was just a lot of people and it had a very nice expensive flair. With how much money they are making these days, I am sure Zynga can afford it.

At the party I had the chance to meet the General Manager of Zynga, Jeremy Verba. Ron and I talked to him for a bit about some of the Flash games we were working on for Prod II. We also bumped into Andres Cantor, another fellow FIEAn, from Cohort 5. He is working at Zynga and we had a brief chance to talk.

The Zynga party was pretty wild, but eventually calmed down and we soon left. After that I hung around with Carlos some more as we went to the Marriott hotel where we met up with some Nvidia people.

This was a pretty awesome experience. I really got to see the life a producer. Carlos spent most of the time talking to the Nvidia guys about ways to help each other out. I will keep what was discussed private, but it was just really interesting to see what is required of a producer sometimes as Carlos discussed a great deal with the Nvidia reps. Even during drinks and partying, it was still business.

After hanging out with the Nvidia guys for a while, the night was at an end. I headed back to the hotel and promptly crashed. But it was really an informative day. I learned a lot about being a producer on Tuesday.

With that said, that is it for Part 2. Thanks for reading and look for Part 3 soon.

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