GDCE 2004 - Non Technical Sessions- archive

Opening Keynote Speech - Rory Armes (Electronic Arts)

Rory predicts that Europe rather than the US will be the driving force behind the next generation of games. He feels the European studios (and the UK in particular) provides some exciting and imaginative titles. Accordingly EA are planning to recruit a large number of new developers to their European studios and bring in more developers under their partner program. Surprisingly he was also keen on not having movie and toy tie ins but instead develop their own IP. By next year he plans that Harry Potter will be the only external IP they use.

He then went on to describe six things he knows about games development:

  1. Never underestimate the universal joy of blowing things up - Burnout 3 demo shown here
  2. Nobody likes getting their ass kicked - don't make games too difficult. The designers job should be not to beat the player but to ensure they enjoy the game
  3. The first three minutes are critical - put your good stuff at the beginning rather than the end
  4. How many people are working on cool stuff? His argument here was that developers spend too much time working on extra features. He believes a game should be 60% game play, 20% presentation, 15% depth and 5% cool stuff.
  5. Never say Never - he was basically saying that any game is plausible and showed a trailer for Def Jam which will be a mature rated game and hence the first EA have done
  6. Stop worrying about the business and get back to making great games - perhaps nice in principal.

There were a few questions asked that were interesting. One person asked where do the female audience fit into these ideas - perhaps they do not like blowing things up? I thought his response was rather poor, he said that he was not a woman so did not understand what they wanted and did not even understand his wife. This does not bode well for expanding games to women.

There was surprisingly little talk about Renderware (EA had just acquired Criterium, the makers of Renderware) but talking to people at the conference I sensed a real worry about it. The idea that they will be licensing middleware from a competitor was not good and some worried that EA may suddenly hike the price. Many people were talking about going elsewhere for their middleware.

Playing all Platforms - Convergent Games Keynote Panel

The panel comprised Ian Livingstone (Eidos) as the chair, Mickey Kalifa (Open TV), Rio Caraeff (Sony) and Heikka Aura from Nokia .

The sales of PC games has been decreasing by 10% for each of the last two years however new platforms are appearing like phones, PDAs, web TV etc. Each panellist gave a short presentation in their area.

It was interesting to see the issues facing developers in these new areas like low memory, speed etc. The TV games was very interesting as I had not realised how many people play these games! The development time is only 3 months and so the old bedroom style coder could have an opportunity here, they welcome submissions. The UK is the best place in the world for TV based games mainly due to the near monopoly by SKY. However the continental and American markets are now growing.

The Nokia guy made some good points like what is it that everyone carries with them? He says that nowadays it is most likely to be a mobile phone and even a watch is becoming less common. The future of gaming on phones is positive.

The web as a games platform was also a difficult environment. The presentation discussed the development of the very popular Battlefield game developed for the BBC. It had to contain a strong educational content. Some notes

  • They can use Java, Shockwave and Flash.
  • Small size - in the end about 600k but 1 MB with all the assets
  • Over 90% of web users have the Flash plug in
  • Interpreted languages are very slow - he described how they worked around problems with things like A* route finding. In the end they gave units only a few squares to look at, in effect making them short sighted.
  • A link to his slides can be found here:


© 2004-2009 Keith Ditchburn  (A lecturer on the Games Programming Course at the University of Teesside)