From software developers to artists, storytellers to board game developers, and CEOs to Project Managers. This year\'s Christian Game Developer Conference (CGDC) had a full range of people all interested in proving Christian and quality go hand in hand. Sure. The word cheezy came up a few times over the weekend, but that is all in the past. Last year\'s conference displayed some extremely NON-cheezy games and that seems to be a main focus, and trend, as the community moves forward. The emphasis is on Christians creating exciting, immersive, and quality games. The weekend began with presenter Scott Scholler. He emphasized how \'we need to be light\'. With tears in his eyes, he told us a story of a 51-year old man who called Ralph Bagley (CEO of N-Lightning Software). This man had open-heart surgery. While recovering, his daughter decided to bring her non-Christian dad one of the N-Lightning games for him to play. While playing the game it caused him to start thinking and asking questions. This man began attending church, and has since become a believer in Christ. That, to me, makes this all worth fighting for. But the weekend wasn\'t all cutesy Christian stories; there were tough challenges too. Scott\'s presentation described the challenges involved in creating Christian games. I don\'t think one person in there would disagree it\'s difficult competing against the secular community. Scott presented a challenge to the developers. He proposed rather than having 20 separate, 5 person companies, why not band together as 2 or 3 big, powerhouse companies. The talent was definitely in the room. From talented youngens looking to start their game development years, to professionals with 20 years of experience at EA, Sierra, Dynamix, and The Learning Company. The challenge was not taken lightly, but brought forth many questions and concerns. Mackenzie Ponech, from Two Guys Software gave a quick synopsis on creating Eternal Wars: Shadow of Light. He touched on some very key things. His main emphasis was on talking to God about EVERYTHING regarding the game. Consult Him for direction and keep your focus on Him through the whole process. They have had a nice little success and are ramping up on their next game. They now have a 16-person development team! The letters they receive are really encouraging. People enjoyed the first game so much, they have been demanding \'more of the same\'. As a result, their next game will be a continuation of the first game. One of the most interesting topics was presented by David Llewellyn and Susan Spann. They discussed legal issues and protecting your game company. David was clear on our devotion to Christ through the whole process. Susan focused more on the actual legal issues. They helped to lay a foundational understanding of what is all involved. I think people were highly impressed with this topic as it covered a lot of ideas, concepts, and thoughts many had probably never thought about. We had several other speakers in addition to many workshops. The workshops covered aspects from testing software, to marketing, and project management to audio production. There were even workshops on 2D engine design and particle engines. There were actually so many workshops, you had to pick and choose which ones you wanted to go to, forcing you to choose between several interesting topics. One of my personal favorite speakers was Troy Lyndon (CEO Left Behind Games). He told us how he got started in the company and how God is moving within his life. Troy explained how many of the original ideas and thoughts regarding the company and development process have really turned into God?s ideas. It has truly been an amazing ride of giving up, so God may move. It was like one of the amazing stories out of \'Experiencing God\'. As always, a big highlight is just regular old fellowship. Meeting others. Finding answers from others who have solved problems. Hearing about the days working at Sierra. Or just talking about the latest game we bought. I listened as Gerald told me about his work on many of the old Sierra games (You may have even played against him in Hoyle). I laughed as Jay told us about his Driver\'s Education software over at Dynamix. The warehouse was filled with steering wheels. And intrigued by the guys at Shine Studios telling me how their game idea has ended up becoming a computer animation. From talking about our families, to our favorite movies, and chowing down with a huge Saturday night meal. The fellowship is a rich time that will not be forgotten. And now I present a challenge to you. The gaming community. The conference left me, personally, with a challenge I would like to present to you. Last year\'s conference got me really pumped up. My goal was to help out the development community by making announcements and reviewing more Christian games. I did that, to some extent, but I don\'t think it was enough. I feel a bigger calling this year. Mackenzie (Two Guys Software) really touched my heart when he described how excited he is to get e-mails. Especially from other developers. Even just to say \'Hi\'. This began a little flame in me. I realized I need to be even more proactive this year by becoming an encourager through e-mail. I need to maintain those contacts I made this year (and last year) and continue them through e-mail. Later, Troy Lyndon made a request for help. Not just for Left Behind Games, but for Christian game developers in general. This continued the flame started by Mackenzie. What can I do to help? It made me realize how many ways I can offer to help. Through e-mail, through prayer, through my software development skills, through testing...I\'m still continuing to think of more ways. How can YOU help? If you want to help in some way, let us know, or send me a private message. We\'d love to hear from you. Well, that wraps it up for this year\'s conference. It was another successful conference and I can hardly wait for next year\'s. I want to conclude with a bible verse. Ecclesiastes 4:12(b) states: ?and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.? I know it\'s been overused, but it\'s so true here. The conference is about brothers and sisters coming together in Christ and intertwining our weak strands to form a tight bond. It\'s what the fellowship time is all about and how this community will move forward. Let?s all pray for these teams and for God?s direction on our community. --SSquared In Part 2 of this article, I will give a quick overview of the games and previews we saw at the conference.


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