Sponsored Post: Meet the people at GDC Online’s GDC Play showcase, Pt.2

gdcplay.jpgAt this year’s Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, the GDC Play showcase introduced the industry to some of the top independent and emerging game companies in the business.

It marked a great opportunity for GDC attendees to check out upcoming and undiscovered projects, and this week industry professionals will get a chance to experience the showcase all over again when it makes its Austin debut at GDC Online.

This time, a brand-new batch of exhibitors will be on site to demonstrate their latest games, discuss new business opportunities, and network with the GDC Online attendees. We recently got in touch with these companies to learn who they are and what makes them tick. You can check out our first set of GDC Play interviews here.

The showcase itself will take place during the first two days of GDC Online, which will run Tuesay, October 9 through Thursday, October 11 at the Austin Convention Center in Austin, Texas — but until then, here are some of the major exhibitor’s at next month’s GDC Play:

Blazing Soft

Blazing Soft is an independent iOS developer located in Barranquilla, Colombia. The studio has already released a mobile platformer known as CrossWolf and is currently working on a new iOS game dubbed Fluffy Cloud.

“Our company was started in January of 2011 by three good friends who met playing online games. Our discussions regarding how we’d improve the games we played eventually led us towards making games ourselves.

“We have made a couple games in the past for universities and innovation conventions which managed to grab us a spot in a national newspaper. Currently, we are working on a game called Fluffy Cloud.

“The games we will showcase at the GDC are CrossWolf, a 2D platform runner, and also the beta version of Fluffy Cloud. We wish to gain more exposure in the mobile app community and to share our products and games. It would be even better if we can build some partnerships with other like-minded companies.”

– Fouad Hayoun, Blazing Soft co-founder

Bytebin

The small indie team at Bytebin is looking to follow in the footsteps of Minecraft and Terraria with a new multiplayer (and multiplatform) world-building game known as Deepworld. The game is now available for Mac, and will soon debut on both iOS and PC.

“We are Bytebin, a three-person startup working on our first online game. Between us we’ve developed a number of iOS and Flash games, along with a wide variety of other applications, but this is our biggest and most exciting project to date.

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Wing Commander‘s Chris Roberts marks his return to games at GDC Online

chris.jpgChris Roberts, the veteran game designer behind the 1990s classics Wing Commander and Privateer, has stayed away from game development for the past 10 years, but at next week’s GDC Online, Roberts will peel back the curtain on a brand new project that marks his long-awaited return to the industry.

During a press event sponsored by his own Roberts Space Industries, the renowned PC game designer will demo a prototype of his new game, which promises to one again allow players to jump into the cockpit of a high-tech space fighter.

In a letter on his official website, Roberts notes that he’s excited to return to the industry and to make the most out of today’s modern technology.

“I grew up making video games. I sold my first game at the age of 13 and created Wing Commander when I was 21. But 10 years ago, at the height of my career I took a break. Not because I stopped loving or playing games but because I had become frustrated with the limits of the technology at the time to realize my vision,” he said.

“I always said the moment I became interested in making games again was when I was going to come back. With the power of today’s computers and the reach of the internet I finally feel I have the tools to build the connected experience that I always dreamed of.”

Next week’s press event will take place at GDC Online in Austin Texas on Wednesday, October 10 at 9AM Central Daylight Time (or as Roberts puts it, “10AM Eastern Standard Time on the 10th day of the 10th month of this year”).

All GDC pass holders are welcome to attend, as well as those who picked up special ‘golden tickets’ directly from Roberts Space Industries, and the event will also be livestreamed on GameSpot.com.

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Discover Linden Lab’s approach to multiplayer narrative games at GDC Online

gdcoll.jpgCreating an interactive game narrative can be a complex, nuanced, and difficult process, and at next week’s GDC Online, writer and Linden Lab developer Emily Short will take a moment to explore how developers can create choice-driven games for multiple players.

During her session, “Choice and Character: Lessons from Writing Multiplayer Narrative Games,” Short will draw from her experience working on Linden Lab’s new interactive storytelling platform to discuss various types of player choice, and how designers can create dynamic and emotionally satisfying experiences.

For example, she’ll explain how developers can pay off significant player choices by “designing character crises that can be triggered automatically at dramatically appropriate moments.” This talk will offer plenty of useful insight for developers working on story-driven games, or those interested in simulating complex, nuanced characters.

Short is particularly well-equipped to discuss complex character simulation, as she is one of the co-founders of the experimental game studio Little Text People, a small company dedicated to exploring the possibilities of interactive fiction (the studio was acquired by Second Life creator Linden Lab earlier this year).

As part of GDC Online’s Game Narrative Summit, this talk will be open to All Access pass holders. The show itself will take place October 9-11 at the Austin Convention Center in Austin, Texas.

In addition to the above presentation, GDC Online recently added the following talks to the show’s Game Narrative Summit:

– Playdom designer Martha Sapeta will share the complex backstory of one of the studio’s major hidden object titles in “Playdom’s Blackwood & Bell Mysteries: The Nutshell Narrative Case.” Unlike most social games, Blackwood & Bell Mysteries put a distinct emphasis on story, and during this session Sapeta will discuss how her team found a way to introduce an actual narrative into the typically minimalist Facebook space.

– Elsewhere, Zynga designers Steven Williams and Jonathon Myers will discuss their approach to telling stories on Facebook in “Indiana Jones Adventure World: Narrative for Social Games.” Using examples from this popular Facebook game, the pair will discuss how developers can draw inspiration from serialized storytelling techniques and traditional Sunday comic strips to create new, weekly online stories.

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GDC Mobile App now available for GDC Online

gdcm.jpgWith just days to go until GDC Online opens its doors, event organizers have added new functionality to the GDC Mobile App to help attendees get the most out of next week’s Austin-based conference.

The recently-launched GDC Mobile App – available on iOS, Android, and mobile web platforms — now includes full support for GDC Online, and offers a number of scheduling and business tools for all GDC Online attendees.

The app allows users to view GDC Online’s full session roster, create and export customized schedules, locate exhibitors on the Expo Floor, and directly request meetings with exhibitors via the app’s ‘Exhibitors’ section.

This has been made possible in association with the GDC business matchmaking, also available via a Web version, through which users can identify, contact, and request and schedule meetings with exhibitors. This new mobile resource will make it even easier to connect with the numerous other industry professionals at the show.

In addition to these scheduling and business matchmaking features, the app will also let users view event photos, check-in to specific sessions and locations, and more.

GDC Online will be held next week, from October 9-11 at the Austin Convention Center in Austin, Texas, and those interested in attending the final Austin-based conference can secure their pass by registering on the GDC Online website.

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ArenaNet details the tech powering Guild Wars 2 at GDC Online

guild-wars-2.jpgCreating a modern MMO requires an enormous range of technical expertise. From the server backend, to the client graphics engine, to the web hosting infrastructure, studios need to be prepared to tackle a lot of challenges to get their game running smoothly.

ArenaNet’s recently launched Guild Wars 2 is of course no exception, and at this month’s GDC Online, the studio’s technical director, Cameron Dunn, will outline the various technical challenges the team had to overcome when crafting this large-scale online RPG.

During his session, “Guild Wars 2: Programming the Next Generation Online World,” Dunn will discuss the tech that powers Guild Wars 2‘s combat system, its World vs. World PvP arenas, and much more. He’ll also pull back the curtain on the game’s patching system, which allows ArenaNet “to roll out new builds in a matter of minutes without requiring downtime.”

Attendees at this talk will walk away with a better understanding of what it takes to create and launch a game like Guild Wars 2, and they’ll also learn how the tools used to create these major MMOs can also benefit other types of online games.

As part of GDC Online’s Programming track, this talk will be open to All Access pass holders. The show itself will take place October 9-11 at the Austin Convention Center in Austin, Texas.

In addition to the above presentation, GDC Online recently added the following talks to the show’s Main Conference:

– As part of the show’s Programming track, Electrotank’s RJ Lorimer and Versant Corporation’s Robert Greene will examine how to maximize online game performance in “Lag Sucks: Making Online Gaming Faster with NoSQL, and without Breaking the Bank.” During this session, the pair will discuss “how Electrotank used their existing, Java-standard based skills to migrate their database to a NoSQL solution,” and created a codebase that could more easily support online games.

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Deus Ex, Fallout notables talk ‘the art of the reboot’ at GDC Online

Deusex.jpgIn today’s market of follow-ups, reboots, and trilogies, developers need to understand what it takes to make a good video game sequel.

There are plenty of challenges that come with working on a beloved or classic IP, but at next month’s GDC Online conference in Austin, Texas, a panel of experienced industry pros will share their advice for getting the most out of your next major sequel or reboot.

The session, titled “In the Shadow of Greatness – Sequels and Reboots Deconstructed,” will feature seasoned designers and writers including Mary DeMarle (Eidos Montreal), Tom Abernathy (Microsoft Studios), Chris Avellone (Obsidian Entertainment), Raphael Van Lierop (HELM Studio) and Ivan Mulkeen (Eidos Montreal).

These speakers have worked on some of the most notable sequels and follow-ups recent memory, with credits spanning Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Halo: Reach, Knights of the Old Republic II, Fallout: New Vegas, Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine, and much more.

During this talk, these developers will discuss the major considerations studios will need to make when creating a follow-up to a successful game. Along the way, they’ll also touch on some common misconceptions about working on a sequel, how DLC can fit into your narrative structure, and the future prospects of new IP.

As part of GDC Online’s Game Narrative Summit, this talk will be open to All Access and Summits & Tutorials pass holders. The show itself will take place October 9-11 at the Austin Convention Center in Austin, Texas.

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GDC Online highlights Travian, YouTube, new business talks

youtube.jpgWith just two weeks to go until this year’s GDC Online, the Austin show’s organizers have debuted several new business-focused talks examining how YouTube’s plans for game integration, Travian on how existing companies can adopt metrics driven design, and more.

These talks all fall within the Business & Marketing track in GDC Online’s Main Conference, which will take place take place Tuesday, October 9 to Thursday, October 11 at the Austin Convention Center in Austin, Texas.

The full details on these new Business & Marketing track sessions are as follows:

– First, Lars Janssen of the German browser game company Travian Games (Travian, Miramagia) will explain why companies should use special procedures and tools to analyze player behavior if they hope to grow their games in today’s market. In his talk, “Moving a Games Company from Gut Feeling to Metrics,” he’ll discuss how developers can overcome the challenges of introducing metrics to their existing design processes.

– Elsewhere, YouTube developer advocate Jarek Wilkiewicz and content partnerships manager Cliff Samaniego will present “Start Playing the Mobile Distribution Game on YouTube.” Video games have become one of the top categories on the popular video streaming site, and during this session the pair will explain how you can convert those millions of viewers into actual players by integrating YouTube into your next mobile game.

Wilkiewicz and Samaniego will highlight some top examples of games that have benefitted from YouTube integration, and will cover the best practices for using these videos from a technical and business perspective. And of course, they’ll take a moment to share some of their favorite gameplay videos with GDC attendees.

– Have you ever wanted to host your own session at one of these GDC events? If so, you’re in luck, as Playdom developers and GDC advisory board members Steve Meretzky and Gordon Walton will help you do just that in “How to be Accepted to Speak at GDC.” During this talk, Meretzky and Walton will detail how the GDC board reviews and selects the talks that make it to these shows. Along the way, attendees will learn how to make their submissions stand out, and how they can craft a solid presentation.

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GDC Online debuts Age of Empires Online, community management talks

aoeo.jpgWith GDC Online‘s final event in Austin less than a month away, show organizers have revealed a handful of new talks in the show’s Customer Experience track, spanning a presentation on Microsoft’s Age of Empires Online, a panel on modern community management, and more.

These talks all fall within GDC Online’s Customer Experience track, which will feature numerous sessions to help developers better attract, retain, and monetize their players. Like the rest of GDC Online, these sessions will take place Tuesday, October 9 to Thursday, October 11 at the Austin Convention Center in Austin, Texas.

The full details on these new Customer Experience track sessions are as follows:

– First, Microsoft executive producer Kevin Perry will discuss the importance of transparent community management in “Age of Empires Online: Radical Transparency Clearly Works.” Age of Empires Online had an extremely rough launch when it debuted in 2011, and as developers worked to fix its issues, the community team made sure to keep fans in the loop by giving them frequent updates about the game’s process. During this talk, Perry will discuss how this open approach benefitted the game, and drastically changed the mood and behavior of the game’s once-irate community.

– Elsewhere, former BioWare developer Jason Livingston will outline how he created a strong user support system in “Building a Successful Online Customer Support Program From Scratch.” While working at BioWare, Livingston helped craft the customer support solution behind Star Wars: The Old Republic, and in this talk he’ll discuss the best practices for building or improving a customer support organization on any budget.

– Finally, GDC Online’s Customer Experience track will feature a robust panel titled “Community Relations Management Across the Board,” in which speakers from all over the industry will discuss their approach to community management. Featuring speakers such as Meghan Jenks (Rebel Entertainment), Richard Weil (Metaverse Mod Squad), Linda Carlson (Sony Online Entertainment) and Alex Von Minden (Spacetime Studios), this panel will give attendees the change to learn more about how developers are approaching community management across a wide variety of platforms.

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See how Meridian 59 set the stage for modern MMOs at GDC Online 2012

m59.jpgThe 3DO Company’s Meridian 59 became one the first true 3D MMOs when it debuted on PC in 1995, and the game even laid the foundation for games like EverQuest, World of Warcraft, and more. It’s remembered as one of the most seminal games of the 1990s, and at next month’s GDC Online, you can see how the title came to be in a newly announced classic game postmortem.

In addition to this presentation, GDC organizers have also revealed a talk on securing top placement on digital marketplaces, as well as a robust hiring session featuring a handful of the industry’s top developers.

These new talks all fall within GDC Online’s Main Conference, which offers some of the world’s leading content on persistent and online games. The event will be held Tuesday, October 9 to Thursday, October 11 at the Austin Convention Center in Austin, Texas.

The full details on GDC Online’s latest sessions are as follows:

– In GDC Online’s newest classic game postmortem, Meridian 59 lead designer Damion Schubert, now a BioWare developer working on Star Wars: The Old Republic, will share “how he and his team created a game that would inspire decades-worth of massively multiplayer online RPGs.”

Schubert will run through the game’s creation from beginning to end, detailing how the game took creative risks and broke new ground for the many online games that followed in its wake.

– Elsewhere, Jason Ing, Microsoft’s head of marketing for the Xbox Live Marketplace, will host an in-depth session on the importance of getting favorable placement for your game on Xbox Live, the iTunes App Store, and other digital storefronts.

Ing believes games that secure a prominent spot are much more likely to find success, and in “Getting Storefront Placement for Discoverability,” he will outline the process he uses to identify high-profile titles, and will share some general principles to help developers maximize the discoverability of their digital games.

– Finally, GDC Online will host a “Massive Multi-Recruiter Developer Hiring Session,” in which major studios from all over the industry will try to attract new talent by discussing their teams and the positions they’re hiring for. The event is open to all GDC Online attendees, and is a great opportunity for anyone looking for a big break, a lateral move, or the next step in their career.

Featured recruiters at the event include Emily Gabrian (Harmonix), Kriste Stull (Sony Computer), Kevin Moot (The Nerdery), Mara Flores (Multimedia Games, Inc.), Michael Sheets (Kabam), Ashley Pierce (Bioware) and James Rivers (Nexon America, Inc).

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GDC Online debuts talks on Fallout DLC, pen and paper games, and more

fallout.jpgThis year’s Game Narrative Summit at GDC Online next month in Austin, TX is quickly becoming one of the event’s most robust yet, and today GDC organizers have revealed even more Summit sessions featuring a behind the scenes look at the DLC for Fallout: New Vegas, a talk on writing for both paper and electronic games, and more.

Now in its seventh year, the Game Narrative Summit — formerly the Game Writers Conference — will once again take place at GDC Online, showcasing leading industry professionals on the many facets of interactive storytelling, with sessions ranging from roundtable discussions, workshops, case studies, and more.

This Summit will run alongside the rest of GDC Online, which will take place October 9-11 at the Austin Convention Center in Austin, Texas.

The full details on these new Summit sessions are as follows:

– In “A 4 Hour Story in 400 Simple Steps: Fallout DLC,” Obsidian Entertainment’s creative director, Chris Avellone, will explain how the studio created small-scale RPG narratives in its 2010 hit, Fallout: New Vegas. Throughout his talk, Avellone will offer a number of tips to help game writers create story flowcharts, build emotional vistas, proofread their scripts, and edit their interactive storylines.

– Elsewhere, game scriptwriter Daniel Greenberg will host, “How NOT to Freelance,” detailing some common mistakes among independent game writers. Drawing from his experience working with licenses like The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Crysis, and more, Greenberg will discuss his own mistakes, how he handled them, and what other writers can do to avoid those same errors.

– Finally, a panel of pen and paper game designers will discuss how their experience in the non-digital world helped them become better video game developers. During the talk, “The Journey from Paper Games to Digital Games – What Writers Have Learned,” the panelists will discuss how the history of the pen and paper industry has played a major role in shaping modern game development.

Speakers at this panel include ArenaNet’s Angel Leigh McCoy, Zenimax’s Sam Lewis, and Crossover Technologies’ Eric Goldberg, freelancer Thomas Reid, and Schell Games veteran Sheri Ray.

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