State of the Buffoonian

This issue marks the conclusion of Volume 3 of the JCGD. It’s been three years now: 20 issues, some 260 pages of editorial content. I’ve probably written about 100 pages of that. Whew!

The Conference
This last year has been so successful, it’s almost boring. The fourth Computer Game Developers’ Conference was held in April, and everything went swimmingly. We had 479 registrations to the conference. Here’s the growth curve for attendees:

Conf Date Attendees Growth
I 4/88 26
II 9/88 175 673%
III 5/89 308 176%
IV 4/90 479 156%

This is an impressive growth pattern, and although such rapid growth is unlikely to continue, there can be no question that the CGDC is now an industry institution. I mean, rully, dahling, everybody who’s anybody is there. If you’ve been missing the conference, perhaps you should reconsider. This is the annual event for computer game developers.

The fifth Computer Game Developers’ Conference will be held on March 9-12, Saturday through Tuesday, 1991, at the San Jose Hyatt Hotel. The conference committee solicits proposals for lectures, panels, or round tables to be delivered at the conference. The deadline for proposals is November 1, 1990. A proposal should be one page long and should outline the content of the proposed session in several paragraphs. Send proposals to:

Computer Game Developers’ Conference
5339 Prospect Road, Suite 289 - J
San Jose, CA 95129-5020

If you have questions about the proposals, you can call Nicky Robinson or Brenda Laurel. Remember, all proposals must be in our hands by November 1st to receive consideration.

The other big success of the year was our migration to GEnie. The JCGD RT opened up for business last fall. We’ve been running it for nearly a year now, and there is no question that the RT is a big success. We’ve got about 80 active users and another 80 occasional users. The discussions have rambled over the entire conceptual space of computer game design. We’ve commiserated about AB3280 (discussed in another article in this issue), argued about the role of graphics in games, parsers, endgame graphics, and the very definition of the word "game". There’s been lots of good gossip, rumors, talk with designers about their plans, feedback from customers, stories about publishers, and other illuminating material. It’s all been great good fun.

For the most part, we’ve been a polite group. Yes, there’s been a little flaming (of course, when I do it, it’s hard-hitting, incisive analysis) but the Topic FireMen swoop down quickly when things get out of hand. The more common complaint is that some discussions drift from the issue at hand, which is itself a measure of the intellectual vigor of the participants.

If you aren’t partaking of the GEnie experience, you’re missing out on a great opportunity. I strongly urge every subscriber to get on-line NOW! In case you’ve forgotten, I have reproduced the basic instructions on pages 4 and 5.

As part of our first-year self-analysis, there are some changes coming. On October 1st, we will perform housecleaning on our free flag list. Anybody who is not a current subscriber of the Journal will have their free flag revoked. If your subscription lapses with this issue, you had better get your subscription renewal in to me now!

The Journal
Which brings me to the state of health of the Journal. We are currently running 290 paid subscriptions and 50 free subscriptions. That’s up slightly from last year (262 paid, 55 free). All in all, the Journal seems to be doing well. The biggest problem, as always, is the dearth of article submissions. Every issue I end up cranking out extra pages of material to make up the shortfall. This issue is the worst in a long time: I wrote eight of fourteen pages of material, and my wife provided another two pages. That’s only four pages of outside material! I must admit, I don’t spend much time beating the bushes for articles. My experience has been that it takes so long to cajole articles out of people that it’s faster just to write them myself. Still, the Journal could use some different faces, so if you’ve been thinking about writing something, please do so!

Many of you have your subscription renewals come due this issue. Please, if your mailing label indicates that it’s time to renew (the expiration date is 90/08), take the time to renew now. I only send out one reminder.

As far as editorial content goes, I intend to have at least one article on self-publishing in every issue of volume 4. After trying it myself, I am convinced that this is an important option for developers. Moreover, I suspect that the main thing stopping most developers from self-publishing is ignorance.

I am also tempted to write some articles on software technology, in particular some graphics algorithms I have been cooking up, more details on face display, and how to write an inverse parser. I just have to overcome my anal tendencies.

A New Service
I have a new service in mind for the Journal. It seems to me that we lack a central repository for documents. It would be nice if we had a single source for the various references, papers, and items that only game designers would be interested in. So I will offer this service, starting with the next issue. I will put together a catalogue of the various documents of interest to game designers, get some inventory, and start taking orders. Like the Journal, I do not intend to make this a profit center. Instead, I’ll just charge my cost plus a shipping and handling fee.

Here’s where you come in: I want you to provide me with suggestions or requests for items to put into the JCGD Library. Send your suggestions to me by snail mail, by MCI, or over GEnie. Just tell me what you would like to see in the Library and give me some idea of how I can acquire it.

If you have some product that you think would be of interest to game developers, you can place it in the JCGD Library on a consignment basis. Remember that the purpose of the Library is not primarily commercial, but rather to provide developers with easy access to rare or hard-to-find materials. Contact me and we’ll arrange something.

I note with sadness the departure of two of our own from the industry: Gordon Walton and John Reego. They had different reasons for leaving the industry (although they both ended up in Chicago working in different non-game companies.) We wish you guys well and hope you’ll come back someday!

Public Service Message
And lastly, a commercial message from our sponsor -- me. I’m starting up a studio and I am looking for a full-time IBM programmer. If you’re interested in working for Zee Greatest Game Designer in Zee Universe (and you have the patience to deal with Zee Largest Ego in Zee Universe) send a resume and cover letter.