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|    Game 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.

Arrow Search for all Design Track sessions


History and Game Design
Chris King (Paradox Interactive)
The trade-off between history and gameplay is one of the biggest challenges when it comes to designing a historical game. Not all history naturally lends itself to good mechanics, and thus you need to develop solutions to bring history into your game, while at the same time ensuring you have a fun and compelling gameplay. This talk will look at some of the solutions Paradox Development Studio use to solve this problem.
Skill, Matchmaking, and Ranking Systems Design
Josh Menke (Activision Publishing)
With the establishment of professional online gaming, high quality matchmaking and ranking systems have become expected components of competitive multiplayer games. The following covers skill determination, matchmaking, ranking, how they relate, and direction for the future. It will cover what can be expected out of the latest state-of-the-art skill determination systems. It will discuss how skill can be properly used for matchmaking and how good matchmaking can free gameplay designers to design with depth. It will suggest best practices for ranking systems, and discuss how ranking interacts with matchmaking, pointing out pitfalls to watch out for in their design. It will draw from industry experience working on competitive systems in the World of Warcraft, Starcraft 2, and Call of Duty franchises.
Gods and Dumps: Attribute Tuning in Pillars of Eternity
Josh Sawyer (Obsidian Entertainment)
Pillars of Eternity was a crowfunded game inspired by A/D&D classics like Baldur's Gate, Icewind Dale, and Planescape: Torment. To stay true to backers' expectations, one of their early constraints was a classic six attribute spread - a constraint that doesn't always play well with different classes and character concepts. In the classic games, it was easy to build a non-viable character - even if the player didn't realize it until they were 10 hours deep. Conversely, in Pillars of Eternity, the team often deviated too far from convention for player tastes. This talk will explore the specific RPG mechanic as it was in the classic games, as they developed it through the Pillars of Eternity beta, and how they continued to use player feedback to tune it post-launch. The talk will also take a look back across the project as a whole to see how the design of attributes influenced other game systems and the player experience in the long run.
Fallout 4's Modular Level Design
Joel Burgess (Bethesda Game Studios)
Nathan Purkeypile (Bethesda Game Studios)
Large, open-world games like Fallout 4 require an efficient approach to creating many high-quality locations in relatively short period of development. Modular art kits and an iterative level design process are essential to the team at Bethesda Game Studios. This presentation provides an in-depth analysis of the techniques used to create art kits, the level design workflow which takes advantage of them, and the production approach which empowers a relatively small content team to make an enormous world.
The Gamer's Brain, Part 2: UX of Onboarding and Player Engagement
Celia Hodent (Epic Games)
Engaging your audience within the first minutes of play is a delicate endeavor, and has become a critical aspect of development in the era of free-to-play games. If the developers fail to captivate their audience's attention quickly, there won't even be any retention challenges to care about. This talk will cover the common onboarding pitfalls, provide guidelines from User Experience (UX), and discuss best-practices by using knowledge of how the brain learns. It will provide examples from various titles (including insights from the development of Epic Games' Fortnite) to help you improve player engagement during early exposure with your game.
Rules of the Game: Five More Techniques from Quite Inventive Designers
Richard Rouse III (Paranoid Productions)
Michael De Plater (Monolith Productions)
Emily Short (Independent)
Liz England (Insomniac Games)
Jason VandenBerghe (Ubisoft)
Lee Perry (Independent)
There's no absolute "rule book" for the art of game design, yet every designer has a personal set of techniques they call their own. The popular "Rules of the Game" session returns to present five highly accomplished designers who each share a key rule-of-thumb that they employ when designing a game. Each speaker gets ten minutes to present a rule and go into detail about how they've used it on some of their most successful projects. These are unique and personal techniques that are not commonly held design wisdom and may well challenge the way you think about design. Speakers talk honestly about the pluses and minuses of each technique, helping the audience understand where the rules apply and where they may not. Come to hear novel and useful game design concepts while also learning how some very interesting designers go about making great games.