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 how Direct3D technologies can be applied to cutting-edge PC game graphics for performance-oriented GPUs. The tutorial will include detailed presentations from AMD and NVIDIA's demo and developer technology 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. Finally, a technical preview of the upcoming DirectX 12 API will also be provided.
Advanced Visual Effects with DirectX 11 Sessions: Schedule TBA
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: Schedule TBA
As gaming platforms continue to evolve and diversify, so has the complexity and variety of problems facing the modern game programmer. Creating the latest code for graphics, gameplay, 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 essential for creating unique and sophisticated 2D and 3D graphics, plausible interactive physical simulations, and interesting and nuanced gameplay. The day will focus on the issues of game development important to programmers, and includes programming context and guidance throughout. This year's topics include radial basis functions, floating point hacks, fast and funky nonlinear transforms, velocity-based IK and mixing geodesic, hand-crafted and procedural geometry, as well as nuggets of applied math in games, and a bonus round of "micro-talks" relating to game programming math topics to close out the day.
Math for Game Programmers Sessions: Schedule TBA
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, this comprehensive tutorial covers 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 narrative, 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 is designed to provide 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, long-running tutorial -- a broad mix of writers, designers, artists, animators, engineers and producers -- have called it "amazing" and "essential knowledge to further the medium."
Better Storytelling in a Day Session (10:00am-5:30pm)
The GDC Audio Bootcamp returns for its 14th 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 will 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: Schedule TBA
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.
Game physics engines are used to create games like Portal, Titanfall, Smash Hit 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 re-create and re-interpret the world around us. The Physics for Game Programmers tutorial brings together speakers from Blizzard, Respawn, Mediocre and Valve. Topics include numerical integration, contact manifolds, destruction, solvers, networking and optimization. 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.
Physics for Game Programmers Sessions: Schedule TBA
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: Schedule TBA