GDC 2017 | February 27 — March 3, 2017 | Moscone Convention Center | San Francisco, California

CONFERENCE  

|    Game Design
    DESIGN

Creating compelling, immersive games requires understanding, visualizing, demonstrating, and tuning the interactions of an ever-increasing number of game tools and systems. While game designers need to understand and exploit the possibilities of new technologies such as realistic physics, facial expressions, and lighting techniques; they must also continue to master the traditional disciplines of drama, game play, and psychology.

The Design Track explores the challenges and ramifications of the interaction between new technologies and established techniques.

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2017 HIGHLIGHTED SESSIONS

Prompto's Facebook: How a Buddy-AI Auto-Snapshots Your Adventure in FFXV
Prasert Prasertvithyakarn (Square Enix Co., Ltd.)
Photos are what make a trip. In 'Final Fantasy XV', one of your camera-maniac best buddies, Prompto, will automatically take a picture of your adventure in the game for you. The snapshot he takes is not the classic screenshot that most users are familiar with. Instead it is a picture what Prompto actually sees in the game, enhanced with some fun features. Since no one does the same play, no one will have the same picture as you; the image represents your unique adventure. So, just as you do after a trip with your friends, you can share these photos on social media such as Facebook. This new feature changes the whole user experience of 'Final Fantasy XV' and is introducing the world to a new concept of gameplay sharing. This session will describe the design behind the system, through both UX and technical perspectives.
Let Your Players Do the Talking! (Why Player Stories Matter)
Eric Dodds (Blizzard Entertainment)
Game designers like to tell stories with their games, but their narrative is much less compelling than the stories their players are telling each other. As game designers, they should focus on providing tools that enable their players to tell their own awesome stories. This talk will focus on why player stories are important and then about three of the tools that can be used to generate more and better player stories with examples taken from 'Hearthstone' and 'World of Warcraft'.
Authored vs. Systemic: Finding a Balance for Combat AI in 'Uncharted 4'
Matthew Gallant (Naughty Dog)
While combat in the 'Uncharted' series has historically been tightly authored by the design team, Naughty Dog knew early in development that 'Uncharted 4' was going to be different. The open-ended gameplay and large complex environments led them to explore a more systems-driven approach to artificial intelligence. After over-steering in that direction, they ultimately found a balance between authored content and systemic behaviors. This talk explores the development process of 'Uncharted 4', and the lessons they learned about partitioning control of the AI between design and engineering.
'RimWorld': Contrarian, Ridiculous, and Impossible Game Design Methods
Tynan Sylvester (Ludeon Studios)
'RimWorld' hit Steam in summer 2016 to remarkable success, despite being developed by a tiny team and entering a genre littered with failures. But how? This talk looks at how, as a developer, to find unique value by doing things that are commonly assumed to be wrong, impossible, or ridiculous. Specific focuses include: How Ludeon Games defined 'RimWorld' not as a game, but as a story generator, and how forcing ourselves into this frame opened up entirely new mechanisms for creating compelling play. How, by strategically leaving out features, they made players engage with features and story elements that aren't actually there. How they made better decisions by not planning despite everyone wanting them to plan. How they shipped with many seemingly-critical features missing, but nobody cared, because they used a special methodology for selecting features that actually matter instead of the ones that commonly assumed to be necessary.
Solving Titan Sized Problems: Evolving Titan Combat in 'Titanfall 2'
Carlos Pineda (Respawn Entertainment)
'Titanfall' presents a unique problem space for shooters in that Titan fights could last minutes, compared to more typical shooter engagements which tend to be below 5 seconds. The lessons of low-time-to-kill shooters no longer apply here, so the team had to draw from other genres to find new sources of depth. Fighting games, MOBAs and MMOs became new sources of inspiration.

This talk will explore the process by which Respawn breaks down the shooter combat formula, and applies lessons from other genres to create a unique combat experience. Carlos will explore the problems of high-time-to-kill shooter combat and the solutions used to create depth in 'Titanfall 2'.
Systems Make Statements: Simulations and Intentional Design
Elizabeth Sampat (SYBO Games)
Games are systems, and systems are often seen as cold and unfeeling; the opposite of emotional or provocative. Often the goal is to design a purely neutral system, completely free of bias, but since no one is free of bias, is that realistic? Instead of striving for neutrality, the first step to truly affecting game design is to realize that nothing is neutral: what is seen as a lack of bias is one's own blindness to the circumstances one lives within.

In this session, Elizabeth Sampat discusses the 'SimCity' franchise and its politics, and how design decisions both deliberate and unconscious make statements about how the world works, and how you can use the knowledge of your own biases and philosophies to make more compelling, coherent games.