Live update from Imagina 2004

Alright, I finally have some net access. I can’t send emails, and my browser goes to the Imagina homepage every five minutes or so, but hey.

Monaco is great. I haven’t been in France for over two years, and not to the Cote d’Azur since I was a teenager. It’s great to be somewhere where the temperature is 15 degrees and I can smell the sea. Monaco reminds me of a bizarre mixture of Las Vegas (the artificiality), Vienna (pompous architecture, and the feeling of dated elegance), and the Cote d’Azur. It’s wonderful. And very, very expensive.

I’ve met some great people and had some stimulating discussions – it’s like a calmer version of the GDC in that respect. Noah Falstein is here. I met Geoff Foulds from Alias (I would like to take this opportunity to urge you to go out to the store and buy some Maya licenses. This has nothing to do with him buying dinner for six people, including myself. Honest.) I met Jesper Juul, Martin de Ronde and Jordan Mechner. And I had dinner with the charming Sophie Revillard, former game designer at Cryo and Delphine and now one of the organizers of the conference here. This morning I had breakfast with John Laird and Doug Church, and I think our panel discussion on the future of AI will go great. I expect that when Doug’s jetlag will have kicked in, he’ll be at about my energy level.

One of my most interesting meetings was with David Lanier, a former colleague from Kalisto Entertainment, who now has a small game tool development company. He showed me a tool he had developed for Ubisoft’s Splinter Cell Pandora Tomorrow Online, which basically allows you to do data-mining of user-testing data in 3DS MAX, i.e. see exactly where players in various test sessions went, where they looked, what they did, etc. and analyse it statistically. I’m a big fan of quantified analysis of test data and an empirical approach to game and level design, and I thought this was a great idea executed well.

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