GDC: Day 4

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The small amount of extra sleep I got really paid off. I felt rejuvenated and ready to take on the rest of GDC. To make my day even better, I came across a CA who was willing to trade her shift, “Sand Rendering in Journey,” for one of mine that morning. I was very excited.

I arrived early to work the shift and my CA friends gave me the opportunity to “prep the speaker.” This included introducing yourself, making sure all the needs of the speaker were met, communicating about how to go about signaling the end of the session, addressing audio concerns, etc. This was how I got to meet John Edwards, the lead engineer for thatgamecompany and the speaker for this session. As John described his process to achieve certain visual effects for the sand in Journey, I found myself to be enthralled. It was clear to me that John was well prepared for the talk. I definitely recommend watching it if you have access to the GDC Vault. Afterwards, I also met Sunni, the studio manager for thatgamecompany. I was already eyeing a studio manager position for another company, so I was really interested in hearing about the kind of responsibilities and tasks Sunni had to do as a studio manager herself. Both John and Sunni were incredibly friendly to talk to and I’m so glad I got the chance to talk with both of them.

I had a couple of hours before my next shift, so I spent it working on my resume. Getting some wonderful feedback from friends in in the CA Lounge, I was able to rework my resume to be geared towards getting a career in the game industry. The amazing thing was that I already had a ton of relevant experience and it was just a matter of wording it properly, adding projects I’ve worked on, and removing unnecessary content. I ended up reformatting my resume too. It looks fantastic now and it’s so much better than it was before. However, I couldn’t focus on doing final touches for too long because I wanted to arrive early for my next shift. That shift was for the session “Designing Journey.”

As I assumed, “Designing Journey” was extremely popular among attendees. Jenova Chen, the creative director of thatgamecompany, was the speaker. I saw Jenova’s 2013 D.I.C.E. keynote speech online, and like he warned at the beginning of his talk, that keynote and this session was very similar. However, the way Journey was conceptualized and designed is very fascinating to learn about. I still found this session to be one of my favorite talks of GDC.

After this session ended and I was relieved of my duties, me and some other CAs wanted to go visit Jenova, who was just outside in the hallway visiting people. There was a large crowd surrounding around him. Each person eagerly wanted a moment of his time. It was just a sign of how successful he and the rest of the team at thatgamecompany were at creating a game that touched the lives of many across the globe. John and Sunni were there too and I chatted with them while waiting. The group then started to head off towards a meeting and I had my chance to speak with Jenova. I mostly talked with him about his experience at the University of Southern California because I was interested in getting a graduate degree there like he did. He advised that I talk to someone who was more recently involved with the program because many changes could have occurred since he was a student. Not wishing to take up more of his time, I said my goodbyes to Jenova, John, and Sunni and headed back towards the CA Lounge to prepare for dinner.

It was during dinner that I got a text from friend I’ve been trying to meet. She stated that she was at the Game Audio Network Guild Awards, which I actually totally forgot about! Not feeling very hungry, I ended dinner right there and then and made my way over to where the G.A.N.G. Awards was being hosted. Upon entering the room I immediately found myself among friends and many of my video game music heroes/heroines. My friends in the audio side of game development are dear and close to me. If an opportunity popped up where I could work with them, I would definitely take it.

The G.A.N.G. Awards were pretty much dominated by Austin Wintory and his amazing soundtrack for Journey. It won five awards. I had the immense pleasure of meeting Austin afterwards who remembered me from online. He’s such a humble and intelligent person that I always find myself enjoying our talks. With his work for Journey coming full circle now, I highly look forward to seeing what he’ll create for his future projects. I can’t go on without mentioning Laura Intravia’s amazing vocal performance of a Journey arrangement during the ceremony. That really made my night.

Soon the G.A.N.G. crowd was heading over to their after-party and I decided to tag along. This was by far the best party I’ve attended at GDC (albeit I didn’t attend that many). I’m glad I prioritized this one over the immensely popular party being hosted by Notch. Nothing against the Secret Black Fedora party, I just felt like it was going to be another party full of loud music. At the G.A.N.G. after-party, I actually got to meet and talk with some amazingly talented people! Susie Seiter, who I saw conduct the Zelda Symphony in Atlanta, gave me some excellent advice about graduate school. It really helped to solidify my plans of diving straight into the field after graduation next year. Overall, it was fantastic end to a fantastic day.


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