Move over Austin Game Developers Conference - there's a new show in town. In this case, our town: Raleigh, North Carolina, home to world-class tobacco growers, research universities and, for the last decade and a half, some of the most respected game developers in the industry. The inaugural Triangle Game Conference, which kicked off early this morning at the Raleigh Marriott City Center, is giving local game industry professionals a chance to share knowledge, interact with fans and show off their hard work to the public. And as the official media partner of the conference, we're covering TGC from the show floor, reporting on panels, keynotes and random conversations with local developers. In case you didn't get a chance to attend, here are some of our highlights of the conference so far.
"Gamespot and IGN are white noise."
That was how Vicious Cycle's Eric Peterson categorized certain game sites' approach to doing reviews. Peterson was just one member of the panel "Teaching to the Test: The Impact of Reviews on Game Development," moderated by The Escapist's own Julianne Greer. He was joined by Epic Games' Dana Cowley, Juan Benito from Atomic, and Insomniac's Shaun McCabe, who all agreed that some sites and reviewers simply try to do too much by reviewing every game possible as fast as possible, resulting in them not doing justice either to the games or the people who play them. "Focus on quality, not quantity," said Peterson. The panelists were pretty universal in their frustration that reviewers all too frequently play games they don't care about, don't play games enough to have any clue what they're really talking about, and that reviewers all too frequently seem out of touch with the actual playing audience. In other words, they see the exact same flaws in the current system that you do.
Fixing the system is problematic, though, because as much as developers want reviewers to take their time with a game, they still need those reviews to appear in a timely manner if they want the game to do well. "You cannot sell games without good marketing," said Cowley, and good reviews can be an integral part of that marketing. A good review, even a great review, that comes too late may as well not come at all. "By then you've missed the boat. It's not news," she said.
As someone who's spent the majority of the past ten years reviewing videogames, it was somewhat heartening to hear that the folks who make the games are just as frustrated as I am with the way the industry currently handles reviews. The machine is flawed as hell, but has so much momentum at this point that sometimes it seems like we'll never be able to shift it off its current course. But we keep trying anyway.