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Monday, September 17, 2007


So I've been back from Austin for a while, and now that I have a few spare minutes, I figured I'd hit some of the highlights of the truly Texalicious event.

-There was much gnashing of teeth and stamping of feet over the position of "narrative designer" (not really, but we need some drama here). If you don't know what a narrative designer is, join the club. Apparently, they're guys who don't actually write, but who are there for the life of the project and help the actual writer figure out the best way to write for that story...or something. I'm sure there's more to it than that, but it wasn't really clear to me. One of the speakers was Patrick Redding, a narrative designer for Ubisoft, but a lot of what he talked about seemed to focus on the idea of "flow" and how writing can help serve that purpose. What I understood sounded really interesting.

-A few guys with experience writing sequels, in addition to some great discussion about how to treat material with an established fanbase, had a small airing of grievances regarding production and their sometimes regrettably small place within it. Also, Tom Abernathy, writer for Destroy All Humans, got to present DAH2 to one of his bosses -- Bono from U2. Probably while drunk.

-Denis Dyack has given and taken a lot of shit in the industry, but he knows what the hell he's talking about. He had some really cool things to say about the nature of our medium and where he thinks it's heading. Also a few tidbits relating to his experience working with Nintendo and whatnot. Smarter than a lot of people give him credit for, I think.

-Speaker Matt Costello did magic tricks for us. Sure, they probably wouldn't have fooled a 4th grader, but dammit magic is cool!

-Speaker Chris Bateman led a discussion about breadcrumbs and funnels. Breadcrumbs being the little clues we leave in games to keep players on track, and funnels being the options we provide in case players decide our track sucks and clomp off into the wild. It seems like a basic idea, but it's really easy to overlook if you're not careful. Very interesting.

-Speaker Austin Grossman expounded on how most video game writing sucks (agreed) and why (ripping off direct-to-DVD action flicks). A very passionate man, to say the least. He took maybe 4 breaths during his hour-long sermon. It was a severe kick in the ass for game writers, and a very good way to end the conference.

All in all, it was very much worth the $0 I paid to go. Not much of it applied directly to my current job as a localization dude, but a huge shot in the arm for my plans to do stuff that doesn't involve me trying to find a 6th different way to translate "What?!"

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