On the more academic side of the conference, we were treated to a handful of lectures on Will Wright's Spore, including one on procedural music and user-generated content. (We didn't get a chance to write up the music lecture, which was a complex discussion on music theory and their in-house music editor based on Pure Data.) The user-generated content session (photos) provided, among other things, a glimpse at how to make a spaceship that looks like the PS3 "boomerang" controller and a GameCube.
Perhaps the most fascinating talk of the conference was also given at the worst possible venue. Will Wright talked about the importance of worlds, of community ownership and of escapism and the power of science fiction. It was a mind meld of information being thrown out, which you can view yourself here. Unfortunately, the speech was at a club and it seemed like half of the attendees seemed to either not know who Will Wright was or did not care and kept talking loudly over him.
Obligatory Street Fighter IV mention
Yeah, we played Street Fighter IV and walked away impressed. Also check out this interview with producer Yoshi Ono.
Nintendo's presence was a bit more subdued compared to last year -- not having the keynote speech tends to do that. There were announced dates for Wii Fit and WiiWare (May 19 and May 12, respectively). A lot of information came out about WiiWare, including titles LostWinds, Shantae and a non-Sam & Max episodic series from Telltale. (No promises on demos for any of the titles.) We also learned more about the Wii Menu from Nintendo's Takashi Aoyama, who taught us why the blue LED light glows in a certain rhythm. Aoyama also revealed a potential "Pay & Play" option for developers who want to charge for online (e.g. MMO developers).
In other Nintendo news, NWF writer JC Fletcher managed to sneak into a Smash Bros Brawl tournament for conference helpers (video) and one confused gentleman left his rock and discovered a "new" Nintendo interface.