9 GDC Next talks you shouldn’t miss

Developers, take note: Passes for next week’s GDC Next 2014 featuring ADC are still available, and today we’re highlighting a few of our favorite can’t-miss sessions from the forthcoming future-focused conference.
Game industry veteran Raph Koster, Skulls of the Shogun programming wizard Borut Pfeiffer, game industry attorney Mona Ibrahim and the indie game makers behind the Voltron-esque developer collective Glitch City are just a few of the notable experts that are speaking at GDC Next this year.


GDC Next and ADC, which aim to highlight practical ways for developers to increase the creative and financial success of their projects, are taking place simultaneously on November 3rd-4th, 2014 at the Los Angeles Convention Center.
Lucky’s Tale: Stories from the Bleeding Edge of VR Game Development
Two years ago, game industry veterans Paul Bettner and Dan Hurd saw the future. Huddled around Palmer Lucky’s cluttered desk in 2012, they held a duct-taped device up to their eyes and peered into another world. Soon after, they founded Playful Corp and jumped head-first into the deep end of VR game development. They’ll share the whole story, from the early days of crazy-rapid prototyping and instant nausea, through the ah-ha moment of third-person VR design, in a GDC Next session titled “Lucky’s Tale, Stories from the Bleeding Edge of VR Game Development.” They’ll run down dozens of prototypes, share their spectacular failures, and examine their successes.
There and Dad Again: The OctoDad: Deadliest Catch Postmortem
Over on the Production track, attendees can join Young Horses’ Phil Tibitoski and John Murphy as they discuss the methods they’ve used to create a successful game, work better as a team, and learn to love again in “There and Dad Again: The Octodad: Deadliest Catch Postmortem.” Murphy and Tibitoski will seek to shed light on how a young studio can create development processes and studio culture by drawing on old-school industry mentors, indie pals and the team’s communal-gut instincts. In addition, attendees will learn how a small team’s production methods and studio culture can be positively informed by each other as they develop.
How Do Games Go Viral? Making Games for YouTube
Keenan Mosimann, a popular YouTube personality and game producer who goes by “Criken,” will be offering tips for developers on how to best prepare their game to achieve web video attention in his talk, “How Do Games Go Viral?: Making Games for YouTube.”
Practical Creativity
This year, GDC officials are happy to welcome game industry veteran Raph Koster back to GDC Next to lead a session on creativity titled “Practical Creativity.” Koster’s pitch is straightforward: It’s a world of clones, of derivative ideas, of repackaging games in genres, and it can be hard for game makers to be creative. All too often, creativity is treated as a magical talent that few have, when it’s actually a skill that anyone can learn and improve with practice.
Koster plans to dig into the science of creativity, then offer practical straightforward steps that any game designer or developer can make use of in order to get more creative. Attendees should come ready to actually try his techniques out during the talk, as Koster promises that everyone who shows up will walk away with a brand-new idea for a game.
Starcraft II and GameHeart: Evolving eSports Interfaces with Modders
As part of the new GDC Next eSports Summit, a coterie of speakers from Blizzard, MIT’s Game Lab and the GameHeart mod project will detail how they worked together to rapidly iterate on the observer experience of Starcraft II as an eSport. During their talk, “Starcraft II and GameHeart: Evolving eSports Interfaces with Modders,” each presenter will individually retrace the experiences and best practices in the project, examining how communication between game developers, content-creating fans, and tournament organizers can push further experimentation with the live presentation of competitive digital games. Developers will walk away with a first-hand understanding of how to design iterative loops that allow an eSport to respond dynamically to the changing needs of a simultaneously maturing and broadening audience.
Surviving Cross-Platform Development with Skulls of the Shogun
Skulls of the Shogun was the first game to support cross-platform gameplay between console, phone, tablet, and desktop PC. Blazing a trail in modern multi-platform development means a lot of lessons learned — spend an hour with Skulls programmer Borut Pfeifer in his GDC Next talk, “Surviving Cross-Platform Development with Skulls of the Shogun” to learn from 4 years’ worth of successes and mistakes.
Keep It Secret, Keep It Safe: The Law of Ideas in Game Development
Once you establish yourself on your platform(s) of choice, how do you plan to legally protect yourself from intellectual property poachers? It’s a common problem; everyone from small-scale development studios to giants like Oculus and Zenimax have found themselves embroiled in costly, painful lawsuits over IP rights, and veteran game industry attorney Mona Ibrahim has some advice on how you can circumvent it — or at least mitigate your risk.
Check out her GDC Next talk, Keep It Secret, Keep It Safe: The Law of Ideas in Game Development, to learn how intellectual property is defined and defended, how your local governing bodies and courts enforce IP laws, and what you can do to protect your own ideas as you develop your game from concept to completion.
Indie Voltron: Building a Development Collective
Small-scale development is a popular path for contemporary game makers, but working alone or with a very small team means you forfeit the resources of a large-scale studio. But there are other options: A group of developers have come together in Los Angeles to operate the Glitch City collective workspace, and this year they’re sending members like Teddy Diefenbach (Hyper Light Drifter) and Ben Esposito (Donut County) to GDC Next to discuss the trials and triumphs they’ve encountered while building Glitch City in a talk titled “Indie Voltron: Building a Development Collective.”
Designing Apps and Games for Kids the Right Way
As part of the App Developers Conference programming at GDC Next, a panel of kid-friendly app development experts will come together to speak frankly about the virtues of child-friendly design in a talk titled “Designing Apps and Games for Kids (The Right Way.)” Attendees will have a chance to hear Alex Bowman (ChoreMonster), Paul Armstrong (ChoreMonster), Jim Nichols (THUP Games) and Carly Gloge (Ubooly) discuss the challenges of engaging and teaching kids in a world where mobile technology is rampant, intuitive touch interactions are commonplace and distractions are rampant.
For additional details about GDC Next and ADC or to register for the event, visit the conference homepage.
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