GDC and the Adventures through the Drinking Glass

First Person Drinker

Game Developers' Conference Through The Drinking Glass

There's lots to see at GDC, but the most popular game at the show was overlooked on the show floor. It's a dynamic non-alternate reality game with multiple paths to get to the end. Kind of like the game Flower, the objective of the game is unclear and it's all about the journey getting there.

Below you'll find a walkthru of my valiant attempt to experience this game for the readers at the sacrifice of my liver. Mind you, while this walkthru does contain spoilers, this game is SO dynamic that every user has a different experience.

Day 1, Level 1 – EA Sports

Location – Fancypants

Drink of Choice – Red Wine

Starting at the fanciest point possible. I began in the sophisticated environs of the Press Club in San Francisco. After an initial scuffle between my teammate A.I., Blake, and a wine steward over whether there were drinks other than expensive wine, I was able to enjoy a fine glass of a red wine called Titan while watching EA show off their latest. I was totally amazed that an EA Sports presentation in a World Cup year didn't mention soccer at all, but I digress. This level was a perfect beginner level and well designed to both feed me and get me prepared for the next challenge.

Day 1, Level 2 – Capcom Fight Club

Location – Not allowed to talk about it

Drink of Choice – Makoto Punch

No, I did not make that drink up. The fine designers of this level had the most themed drink list of the whole game. Isn't that typical? I mean, designers put all the detail in the early levels to get you hooked, then slack off as the game nears the end. In any case, since this was a Fight Club, I'm not allowed to talk about it for fear of Tyler Durden.

Day 1, Level 3 – True Crime

Location – Hong Kong Bam Bam Club

Drink of Choice – Jack and Ginger

A very well designed level, with some impressive… graphics. It is here that I unlocked several achievements, enhancing my enjoyment and guaranteeing that I would continue playing this game to its completion. This is the best screenshot achievement since my zombie “erotic” pictures in Dead Rising. I even got a bonus achievement for getting her email… to send her the pictures of course… this game is rated M, not AO, you pervert.

Day 2, Level 4 – The Great White North

Location – Pool Hall

Drink of Choice – Lebatt Blue

In a devilish bit of design, I encountered the first evil boss character at the door to the Canadian party. Don't let them convince you that all Canadians are nice and friendly; this women was downright mean and ornery. Using a bit of patience and charm, I dodged around the boss and made my way into a wonderful party where I got a Nova Scotia scarf, talked to a cute PR woman, and looked at a fun bulletporn game called Duality ZF on XBL indie games for $1. I put the scarf in my inventory as I figured I would need it for a puzzle later on in the adventure.

Day 2, Level 5 – Imagination Technologies

Location – Sitting at a table

Drink of Choice – IPA

In another twist of design, I was able to rest my character for a good few minutes at a brew pub thanks to the makers of PowerVR. Unfortunately, this is where the team A.I. begins to break down. My teammate stopped moving for a bit, no matter what buttons I pressed. I thought I hit the pause menu, but looking around everything else was still moving. The bug soon corrected itself and we were back on track to advance to the next level.

Day 2, Level 6 – Telltale Games

Location – Cartoon Art Museum

Drink of Choice – Cabernet

There are no drinking buddies as good as Sam and Max. They're always there for you… except when they're not. I also met these four interesting midgets there. While they were nice at first, they kept going on and on about the “one ring” and how they needed to get some mountain for some ceremony. I'm think it had something to do with gay marriage…

Day 2, Level 7 – Women in Gaming

Location – Another Art Museum

Drink of Choice – Jack and Coke

The designers goofed on this party, starting with the name. While there were more women at this party than most of the others, it was still predominantly guys. I expect to see annual patches that improve this party as the years go on. I made my first mistake in the adventure by completely mispronouncing my friend's name to her face. (SORRY!) I did find a cheat for this level, however. When you enter the level, take as many drink tickets from the pile at the doorway as you can. No one will stop you.

Day 2, Level 8 – Wild Pockets Party Bus

Location – Drivers seat

Drink of Choice – Silver Bullet

Okay, even I think this level is a bad idea. Not only do I lack the proper driver's license for a vehicle that size, but I couldn't find a cupholder that would fit my beer! While I was told there was a full bar at the back of the bus, the designers packed way too many people on board, making movement really difficult. Crap, we're being pulled over… Excuse me, occifer? No, I'm sotally tober.

Day 2, Level 9 – Rock Band

Location – Far Away

Drink of Choice – Not sure at this point

A unique feature of this game is that as you progress in the evening, the graphics tend to get fuzzier. That's a good thing when it comes to this party, however, as a shirtless, pasty white geek singing Green Day is not something you need to see in high resolution. They did us all a favor in drowning out the singing with the master track, however. A solid end to a long Day 2.

Day 3, Bonus Level – Sushi

Location – Bait shop

Drink of Choice – Warm Sake

Still recovering from the previous level, the designers were kind enough to provide another recharging station. You are given the choice of restaurants to eat at, but may I recommend sushi as one of the best things for a night of drinking. Nothing like rice to soak up all your vices. Of course, the recharge is less effective after the second or third sake.

Day 3, Level 10 – Gamespy

Location – Hotel

Drink of Choice – Vodka Cranberry

At this point, my teammate A.I. totally broke down. With one teammate completely unaware of his surroundings [In hindsight, "Benadryl and Bourbon" was an unwise cocktail. ~Ed] and another devoting his processor cycles to corralling his drunken friend, I was left to my own devices. A teacher of photography from the Academy of Art saw the adventure I was on and insisted she could do it better. An insistence proved wrong when she kept putting the drink behind the camera and then getting confused as to why it wasn't in the shot. I did get to see Blake slapped by a tranny though…

Day 3, Level 11 – Cheap Ass Scandinavians

Location – Crappy Club

Drink of Choice – Most Expensive Jack and Coke EVER

Due to uncooperative A.I. at the last party, I was stuck on the previous level for too long and again arrived late to this Nordic level. This level was added by Gunnar, who showed me a great multiplayer XBLA shooter called Lead and Gold. However, unlike previous instances of drink tickets at the door, this party had gone from free to pay-your-own-way without telling anyone. $9 for a Jack and Coke? Are you serious? I blame Gunnar, who doesn't drink and doesn't understand my pain.

Day 4, Level 12 – Mafia II

Location – A Diorama

Drink of Choice – Martini

What an awesome level! I ran into this one blonde female character with a red dress who couldn't stop staring at me. The hosts could tell she was into me and let me go into the VIP section where she was with all her friends. I could tell she was totally into me when I was talking about video games and she didn't run away. I was just getting to know her, however, when I realized that the guy next to her was her date. He had a Tommygun in his lap and he was definitely not happy to see me. As I backed away, I took a second look at the graphics and realized we still have a long way to cross the uncanny valley.

Day 4, Level 13 – Destructoid

Location – The Ghetto

Drink of Choice – Case of Beer

Arriving at the door to the final level, we were greeting by a man in black at the door declaring that they were full. At that moment, a taxi pulled up and a guy jumped out, opened the back, and proceeded to yell to his friends for help bringing in more beer. Understanding this to be a scripted event, I stepped up and grabbed two cases, carrying them past the bouncer and right into the party. I'm sure there were multiple ways around the bouncer, but none make you as popular with the robots than bringing in cases of beer.

And so, I reached the end of the adventure. Though I believe the target audience for this game skews a bit younger (I'm too old for this pain), it is truly a game for all adults. Available now at your corner liquor store, with plenty of reasonably priced downloadable content available almost anywhere.

Do I declare victory? I'm not sure. Though there are many paths to take through this game, though most of them end in the same place.

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