This intensive two-day workshop will explore the day-to-day craft of game design through hands-on activities, group discussion, analysis, and critique. Attendees will immerse themselves in the iterative process of refining a game design, and discover design concepts that will help them think more clearly about their designs and make better games. The workshop presents a formal approach to game design in which games are viewed as systems, and analyzed in terms of their mechanics, dynamics, and aesthetics. Before we can even begin to design a game we need to understand our aesthetic goals. In other words, we need to enumerate all the kinds of "fun" that we hope the game will provide its users. We can formalize our understanding of our game's aesthetic goals by formulating an aesthetic model for each goal - a formal description of the goal that identifies its criteria for success and possible modes of failure.
The workshop will present a handful of aesthetic models as examples and encourage attendees to formulate their own. During the game design exercises, attendees will use aesthetic models as a yardstick to measure their progress throughout the design process. Working in small groups, attendees will be given specific games to play and will analyze them in terms of aesthetic goals and models. Several different games will be explored and common game design themes will be identified as different groups share their results.
For each game that they analyze, attendees will be presented with a concrete design exercise to undertake. An exercise might involve adding a new feature, accommodating a new goal or requirement, or fixing a design flaw. These exercises will challenge attendees to analyze and identify the design principles at work in a game, and to think flexibly and creatively while working within design constraints. They will serve as a starting point for discussing how the iterative design applies to games in digital and non-digital media. In addition to these analysis-and-revision exercises, attendees will gain further practical experience working with these models through brief collaborative design projects, brainstorming sessions, critical analysis, and discussion.
Game Design Workshop Sessions:
Day 1 (10:00am-6:00pm)
Day 2 (10:00am-6:00pm)
Brought to you with the collaboration of the industry's leading hardware and software vendors, this day-long tutorial provides an in-depth look at the Direct3D technologies used in DirectX 11, and how they can be applied to cutting-edge PC game graphics. This year we will focus on DirectX 11, 11.1 and 11.2, and examine a variety of special effects that illustrate their use in real game content. This will include detailed presentations from AMD and NVIDIA's demo and developer relations teams, as well as some of the top game developers who ship real games into the marketplace. In addition to illustrating the details of rendering advanced real-time visual effects, this tutorial will cover a series of vendor-neutral optimizations that developers need to keep in mind when designing their engines and shaders.
Advanced Visual Effects with DirectX 11 Sessions:
Tessellation in Call of Duty: Ghosts (10:00-11:00am)
Real Virtual Texturing - Taking Advantage of DirectX 11.2 Tiled Resources (11:15-11:45am)
Computer-Based GPU Particle Systems (11:45am-12:15pm)
DX11 Software Tessellation (1:45-2:45pm)
Vertex Shader Tricks - New Ways to Use the Vertex Shader to Improve Performance (3:00-3:30pm)
Efficient Work Submission in Direct3D (3:30-4:00pm)
From Terrain to Godrays - Better Use of DirectX11 (4:30-5:15pm)
Grass, Fur and Hair (5:15-6:00pm)
Game animation has had a bigger and brighter spotlight placed upon it as both technology and narrative in games have allowed more fully realized characters. However, that spotlight has also revealed an industry-wide gap in the sharing of game animation knowledge, the application of the craft and its involvement in the industry at large. Bringing together a group of experienced and specialized animators across AAA and indie, this bootcamp will be a daylong gathering to rally animators from all over the industry, with a focus on deeper discussions into the needs of game animation. The day will start with a traditional look at the craft by focusing on establishing and conveying a character's performance. Then, throughout the day, we will transition into how to best apply that knowledge to game development through different tools and disciplines, showing how the unique constraints and demands of games are creating the need for a new breed of animator.
Animation Bootcamp Sessions:
Intro & Achieving a Believable Performance (10:00-11:15am)
Establishing an Ecology for NPCs (11:15-11:45am)
Fluid and Powerful Animation within Frame Restrictions (11:45am-12:15pm)
Animating the Spy Fantasy in Splinter Cell (1:45-2:45pm)
Animation Prototyping for Games (3:00-4:00pm)
An Indie Approach to Procedural Animation (4:00-4:30pm)
Using the Power of Layered Animation to Expand Premium Content in Battlefield 4 (4:30-5:00pm)
Animating Cameras for Games (5:00-5:30pm)
Animator's Approach to Directing an Idea (5:30-6:00pm)
A one-day crash course in making iOS games primarily for those who are new to the platform. Includes enough specific technical and platform knowledge for attendees to either go away and start making their own iOS games, or to further understand the tools they are using. The day will be made up of a mix of discussion, deep dives, examples and plenty of opportunities for audience Q&A. Session content includes an introduction to the iOS platform, a crash courses in Unity3D for iOS, popular/essential iOS APIs for games, a set of input/control patterns with takeaway implementation detail, and a deep-dive on high-performance iOS games.
iOS Games in a Day Sessions:
Unity Crash Course for iOS Games (10:00-11:00am)
iOS Games Input Patterns and Practices (11:15am-12:15pm)
Device Diversity and Performance Optimization (Unity/iOS)
Common iOS Game Features: How and Why (3:00-4:00pm)
An iOS Game in an Hour (4:30-5:30pm)
As we enter a new console generation, the complexity of many games has increased and with that, the knowledge needed to create them. Creating the latest code for graphics, animation, physical simulation and even artificial intelligence requires thorough knowledge of the necessary mathematical underpinnings. This tutorial continues the tradition of the "Math for Programmers" tutorial by bringing together some of the best presenters in gaming math to concentrate on the core mathematics necessary for sophisticated 3D graphics, interactive physical simulations and effective gameplay. The day will focus on the issues of 3D game development important to programmers and includes programming guidance throughout. Topics will begin with introductory talks on Grassman algebra, rotations and quaternions, then continue with random numbers and spatial subdivision, and conclude with inverse kinematics, sampling and reconstruction, and applying K-SVD to animation skinning.
Math for Game Programmers Sessions:
Introduction/Grassmann Algebra in Game Development (10:00-11:00am)
Random Numbers (11:15-11:50am)
Working with 3D Rotations (11:55am-12:30pm)
Inverse Kinematics (1:45-2:45pm)
Spatial Subdivision (3:00-4:00pm)
Introduction to Frames, Dictionaries and K-SVD (4:30-5:00pm)
Dictionary Learning in Games (5:00-6:00pm)
This dynamic, engaging presentation on the fundamentals of story development is designed for everyone interested in improving the narrative quality of their games. Hosted by Marvel and Lucasfilm writing veteran Evan Skolnick, the comprehensive tutorial covers the basics of narrative structure, vibrant character development, storytelling best practices, and more. Nearly every member of a development team ultimately contributes to the implementation of the game's fiction, and so becomes - to one degree or another - a storyteller. But without a shared language of story spoken by all team members, an unfocused narrative result is almost inevitable. This session provides that common frame of reference, so that everyone on the team is pulling the game story in the same direction. Prior attendees of this popular tutorial - a broad mix of writers, designers, artists, animators, engineers and producers - have called it "amazing" and "essential knowledge to further the medium."
Storytelling Fundamentals in a Day Session (10:00am-5:30pm)
The GDC Audio Bootcamp returns for its 13th year, focused on the technical, creative and logistical topics needed to successfully navigate the field of sound for games. A range of industry experts will speak on their own experiences and practical skills relating to music composition, sound design, digital signal processing, audio mixing, the logistics of working in both large and small studio settings, and more. And the lunchtime surgeries offer a unique opportunity to sit and meet with many of the speakers in a small-scale setting to talk about the specific interactive audio topics that are at top of attendees' minds.
Audio Bootcamp Sessions:
Intro/Sound Design (10:00-11:00am)
Audio Design (11:45am-12:15pm)
Lunchtime Surgeries (12:15-1:45pm)
Small Team Game Development (4:30-5:30pm)
Level Design in a Day brings together notable level designers from all over the industry to present unique perspectives on the art and science of level design. From the haunting world of The Last of Us to the frenetic pacing of Diablo III, speakers share their insights on ideation, implementation and evolution of the craft. This diverse group of veteran game creators will share in-depth analysis of our art form via traditional lectures, engage with the audience over multiple Q&A sessions and provide one-on-one guidance through portfolio reviews and mock interviews.
Math for Game Programmers Sessions:
Intro/A Series of First Steps - Overcoming the Digital Blank Page (10:00-11:00am)
How We Used Iterative Level Design to Ship Skyrim and Fallout 3 (11:15am-12:15pm)
Lunch and Mock Interviews (12:15-1:45pm)
The Importance of Everything: Analytics of Map Design (1:45-2:45pm)
The Last of Us: Casting Shadows (3:00-4:00pm)
Decisions That Matter - Meaningful Choice in Game and Level Design (4:30-5:30pm)
Game physics engines are used to create games like GTA, Half-Life, Tomb Raider, Sprinkle, Granny Smith and Diablo III. Games would be far less compelling without the realistic physics simulation that engages the player's intuition and stimulates their motion awareness. Physics has become a staple of the modern gaming tradition as we try to recreate and reinterpret the world around us. The Physics for Programmers tutorial brings together speakers from Blizzard, AMD, Mediocre and Valve. Topics include character collision, constraint solvers, computational geometry, fluid simulation and debugging. The focus is on rigid body physics and real-time simulation in games. There will be a mix of introductory topics, recent algorithms and practical tips. Time is reserved for Q&A.
Physics for Game Programmers Sessions:
Understanding Constraints (10:00-11:00am) -
Exploring MLCP and Featherstone Solvers (11:15am-12:15pm)
Sprinkle Fluids (1:45-2:45pm)
Debugging Physics (4:30-5:30pm)
Making games is fun, but complicated. The complexities of games increases with each new generation of gaming, and customer expectations grow. Production roles have become even more critical, whether you ship to mobile, the web, the latest consoles or the PC. Successful producers are much more than just schedule jockeys; they are team managers, communication facilitators, conflict mediators, risk mitigators, work enablers and predictors of the future. The Producer Bootcamp will focus on some of the key skills that are required by both producers who are new to the role and seasoned veterans, in order to be successful in this challenging industry.
Producer Bootcamp Sessions:
Producer 101: Skill Tests for Producers (10-11am)
People Management Survival Guide (11:15am-12:15pm)
Communication Jiu-Jitsu and Other Useful (1:45-2:45pm)
Business 101 & Producer Panel – more info soon!
Technical art continuous to march forward and at a faster pace than most disciplines, as it is wide-reaching and wide open. Rigging, Python, pipelines, shaders and unit tests are all known and understood at this time. It's time to push forward and stretch our legs. Large studios need more powerful tool-chains with more professional development environments and small teams need each and every member to be very technically capable. Technical artists know efficiency is at a premium, and a working tool is not good enough anymore; tech artists will learn to focus on a quality user experience when designing tools and workflows. Tech animators will learn quick prototyping techniques of animation systems, which has traditionally been one of the most complex areas to author. More techniques for automating asset processing, fast cinematic workflows, and optimizing asset performance for run-time will be covered.
Technical Artist Bootcamp Sessions:
Intro/Mecanim in Undertakers (10:00-11:00am)
Hacking MotionBuilder (11:15-11:45am)
Asset Build Systems (11:55am-12:45pm)
Virtual Camera System (1:45-2:45pm)
Halo 4: Content Performance Tips & Techniques (3:00-4:00pm)
UX Design for Technical Art (4:15-5:00pm)