GDC 2016 - Learning from our peers
At Capcom Vancouver making games goes beyond a job, it's our passion. Game development isn't a normal nine-to-five sort of job but a career where the best developers are constantly learning and growing both their knowledge and skills. One of the ways we improve is by learning from our fellow developers, the people at other studios around the world making the games that we as game fans ourselves love.
The annual Game Developers Conference (GDC) is one of the best opportunities for us to do just that, as developers from around the world gather in San Francisco to talk about making games.
This year five developers from Capcom Vancouver attended the conference and returned to the studio with valuable insights that will help us improve the games that we're working on today and in the future.
Software Engineer Dee Jay Randall, who had been to the conference previously, made sure to cram as many learning sessions in as possible:
"At GDC 2016 I learned: reward videos can be profitable, how RuneScape ships every Monday, to be spiky when making original IP, how to build a global content delivery network for $18/month, good leadership trumps everything, how to get a game greenlit at King, how SpaceX builds spacecraft UI, how to make bad free to play games, how to accept cash payments for mobile games, how a World of Tanks crash looks like 1-2 seconds of lag to users, what Student's t-test and Mann-Whitney test accomplish, and finally, how to motivate a team using autonomy, mastery and purpose."
Lead Game Designer Robert Baxter saw both how massive the games industry has become and contradictory how small the industry and the community is.
"The biggest take-away I had during GDC was that we have an obligation to the player. Empathy, enjoyment, and fun are our trade. We are entertainers, and the best way to entertain is to tightly target the experiences we provide to our players. Maximum enjoyment for maximum product footprint. The best way to do this – based on the existing industry data – is to identify and profile our players in order to better understand their needs."
"The ultimate aim of doing so is to target our games in a holistic psychological sense. We need to build games that are easy to learn and yet deeply connect to player needs. In doing so, we create experiences that not only fulfill surface level wants, but also merge with a player’s sense of purpose and identity. If we build engagement, we build a relationship. Our objective needs to be giving the player the opportunity to form a lasting friendship with the experiences we provide."
"One of the biggest impressions I took from GDC, is that we work in an industry that is both incredibly big, and incredibly small at the same time. Every time I walked along the crowded plazas and hallways of the Moscone Center there was someone I knew. Seeing old friends and their own growth in the industry over the years was eye-opening. Seeing how prosperous our industry is made me realize that while our industry is small, it’s filled with massive opportunities. We’re really fortunate to work in a sector that embraces creativity, growth, and adventure."
Ryan Sisson, a technical artist at the studio, saw GDC as being a look into where the industry is today and where it hopes to go tomorrow.
"I think the most interesting thing about GDC is that it’s a snapshot of the gaming zeitgeist at this point in time, and right now there were lots of talks and info about VR and monetizing/testing games – the science and data analysis of games, which is tangential to the actual games themselves, but it’s crazy how quickly we are becoming so sophisticated about how to make the games that people will engage with, it’s a science. Video games have always been where art and design and technology intersect, but it feels like now there’s a fourth pillar and that’s the data science aspect."
"And VR, VR was everywhere! Sony had a party that was totally VR, everyone at the party had to wear a VR headset and interact with each other in a fantasy VR world…ok, that part’s not true, but there was a lot of VR stuff and big lineups to try anything VR out. So, it’s really exciting to see how VR grows going forward."
The trip to San Francisco also served as a bonding experience, helping to bring together five of our developers from different disciplines working on different projects.
Like all good things it eventually came to an end and as Dee Jay explained, "Three days and 35 kilometers of walking later, I was back on a plane to Vancouver."
The lessons learned at GDC will be shared with the studio, making our future projects stronger and helping us to make better games and be better developers.