I am currently located in Belgium, which has a relatively small game development community (focused more on games for portable phones and social networking sites). Besides my efforts to expand my experience locally (like this), I've recently been travelling abroad to places that play a larger role in the game industry. One such excursion led me to both attend and volunteer at this year's Eurogamer Expo in London. It was a marvellous experience and a definite recommendation for anyone trying to break into the business, whichever aspect thereof is one's focus.
Walking around as a regular gaming enthusiast on Saturday gave me a slew of impressions. As a PC gamer, it felt unnatural to grab hold of a controller (I swear I'll never get used to biaxial aiming), so I focused mainly on the indie games (Gemini Rue and Fractal were especially striking), Brink (which looks set to be a very polished narrative-driven online shooter) and the career fair (with excellent 15-minute talks with developers organised by BAFTA). I only found out on my arrival there that Deus Ex: Human Revolution was one of the games featured in the developer sessions of the day before. Hence, my biggest regret is missing out on seeing it in action, accompanied by the words of its art director, Jonathan Jacques-Belletete. I maintain a cautious optimism that this game will live up to its originator's name, as evidenced in part by this write-up.
I volunteered on Sunday, the final day of the Expo. Fortunately enough, I managed to get a position where I was placed inside the auditorium for each developer session, arranging seating and handling the microphone for the Q&As that followed. This allowed me to sit in on every session, which was a very exciting proposition, because this gave me the chance to speak with such eclectic developers as Tameem Antoniades (Ninja Theory, working on Enslaved), Edward Stern (Splash Damage, working on Brink), Tim Willits (id Software, working on Rage) and Georg Backer (Lionhead Studios, working on Fable III). Since every developer session was headed by the creative minds behind each game being presented, the focus was largely on some of the thinking that led to the decisions made before and during the development process.
The Eurogamer staff was also present on and around the floor, and they were an absolute joy to talk to and work with. They also hosted a session of their own, expounding on the inner workings of the Eurogamer site and how they see it going into the future. It's always a pleasure to see people who not only like what they do, but also have enough of a sense of humour to engage in a little self-mockery on occasion. If by next year I'm not yet an established Narrative Designer (ho hum), I'll definitely be volunteering again.
In other news, now that my schedule has cleared up somewhat, I can finally get down to playing Mafia 2 and giving it its Short Script treatment. I'll also be going back to a few older games that will be getting sequels (or prequels) soon, so keep an eye on the Upcoming Scripts tab to see what's in store.
Welcome to Playthroughline, a design team composed of writer Joannes Truyens and web developer Matei Stanca. We are working on Neurocracy, an interactive narrative experience that allows you to solve a murder in a near-future world by diving into the Wikipedia of that world.