GDC Online adds Ultima Forever postmortem, Unity, startup sessions

UF.jpgWith GDC Online‘s October kickoff quickly approaching, the show’s organizers have revealed a trio of new talks, including a postmortem of BioWare Mythic’s Ultima Forever, a Unity session on multiplatform game development, and some bootstrapping tips from social startup PerBlue.

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 newly announced sessions are as follows:

– In Ultima Forever: Reimagining a Classic, BioWare Mythic senior creative director Paul Barnett will discuss how the studio drew inspiration from the classic Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar, and reimagined it as an all-new free-to-play online game. This lecture will join the previously announced Ultima Online classic game postmortem, and will showcase how the renowned Ultima franchise has been updated by modern game designers to put a distinctly different spin on the IP.

– As part of GDC Online’s Production track, Unity director of games monetization Adam Gutterman will host “The Challenges (and Promise!) of Multiplatform Production.” Here, he will outline the challenges of multiplatform game development, and will offer some business-focused advice to help developers decide whether this production strategy is the right fit for their game.

– Elsewhere, highly rated GDC speaker Justin Beck will share some tips for getting a startup off the ground in the Business & Marketing track session, “Bootstrapping 101: How College Kids Built a Thriving Game Company in Under Three Years.” Here, he will share lessons learned from the social startup PerBlue (Parallel Kingdom), detailing “why we turned down seed funding and how we compensated team members when we had no money.”

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GDC Online 2012 adds Koster keynote, new game design sessions

koster1.jpgWith experience working on titles ranging from Ultima Online to Star Wars Galaxies, industry veteran Raph Koster has developed quite a bit of expertise on online game design, and at next month’s GDC Online, he’ll present a robust keynote detailing his theory for creating fun in the modern online game industry.

Alongside his keynote, GDC Online organizers have also revealed two new Design track sessions, covering the best practices for video game analytics and the evolving tastes of female players.

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 newly announced sessions are as follows:

– In Raph Koster’s keynote, the 2012 Online Game Legend Award recipient will reflect on a speech he gave 10 years ago at the very first GDC Online – then known as the Austin Game Conference. In that keynote, Koster explored why games matter, how they teach players, and what fun is.

In his upcoming presentation, dubbed “A Theory of Fun 10 Years Later,” he’ll revisit those ideas and address how his theory has changed over the last decade, reexamining the importance of how games interact with their players.

– Elsewhere, Bigpoint’s Christian Godorr and Stefanie Hels will host “Separating Signal from Noise: Leveraging Creative Analytics for Game Design.” Here, the pair will explain how to look past cliched terms like “Monthly Active Users” and “Lifetime Value” to find the proper way to blend data-driven analytics with real, creative game design.

– Finally, Real Life Plus creative director Terry Redfield will examine female player demographics in “It’s Not Your Game, It’s Me: How a Woman’s Taste in Games May Change As She Ages.” Redfield, who has also worked on titles such as Psychonauts and Gardens of Time, will use the latest research on female hormone and neurological studies to examine how certain game mechanics appeal to distinct female age groups.

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GDC Online adds new narrative sessions on Halo 4, Guild Wars 2, more

halo4.jpgIn the latest update for GDC Online, show organizers have debuted a trio of new sessions in the Game Narrative Summit for October’s Austin event, including talks on Halo 4 and Guild Wars 2, as well as the ever-popular Game Writing Tutorial.

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.

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

– In “Building Transmedia Worlds in Halo 4,” 343 Industries’ Armando Troisi and Kevin Grace will discuss how to juggle a sprawling franchise that exists across video games, comics, novels, and much more. They’ll share anecdotes from managing the Halo brand to help other developers grow and sustain a blockbuster video game franchise.

– Elsewhere, ArenaNet’s Bobby Stein and Angel Leigh McCoy will discuss how to craft a story for a sprawling MMO in “Guild Wars 2: Finding Our Voice.” Looking back on the game’s five year development cycle, the pair will outline how the team wrote and recorded hours upon hours of recorded dialogue, and created enough written content to fill the game’s enormous online world. Along the way, they’ll offer advice to help other studios avoid the common mistakes of writing for an online game.

– In addition, the Game Narrative Summit will also include the “Game Writing Tutorial,” a one-day workshop discussing the theory and practices of game writing and narrative design. During this event, novices and pros alike will learn from some of the industry’s top designers and writers, and will get a chance to go hands-on with a number of collaborative exercises to hone their game writing abilities.

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GDC Online 2012 debuts full lineup for the Game Dev Start-Up Summit

gdco.gifStarting your own game company can be an exciting, liberating, yet extremely complicated process. It takes a lot to get a new game studio off the ground, but luckily, GDC Online’s inaugural Game Dev Start-Up Summit will offer plenty of content to help developers accomplish that goal.

This one-day Summit, put together by GDC Online organizers and veteran game industry lawyer Jim Charne, will include a host of sessions that provide a step-by-step look at the issues, challenges, and realities of striking out on your own with a new video game start-up.

The Summit will take place the first day of GDC Online — which will run October 9 to October 11 at the Austin Convention Center in Austin, Texas. The full-day event will be open to all Summits & Tutorials and All-Access Pass holders.

Earlier this month, GDC Online organizers revealed the Summit’s first three sessions, which cover everything from preparing a start-up to securing funding. Now, here is the rest of the lineup for the upcoming event:

– In “Operating a Company – The Day to Day Routine,” the Summit’s speakers will address the minutiae of making sure a start-up functions as intended. This session will address the essentials of hiring and firing employees, managing staff concerns, drafting an employee handbook, and much more.

– Of course, every start-up needs to have a solid plan for the next stage of its business; after all, the company won’t be a start-up forever. In “Exiting / Cashing Out – Strategies to be Acquired, Merge, Go Public,” the speakers will outline the various business strategies to consider when a company has made it big, or when the founders are ready to move on.

– In addition, the Game Dev Start-Up Summit will give speakers and attendees the chance to share their own anecdotes in “War Stories: Worst Mistakes / Best Moves.” Here, panelists and audience members can learn from each other by discussing their greatest accomplishments, their most colossal failures, and everything in-between.

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Game Developers Choice Online Awards honor Raph Koster, World of Warcraft

koster.jpgGDC Online organizers have revealed that Raph Koster, a key industry veteran behind the prodigious MMORPGs Ultima Online and Star Wars Galaxies, will be honored with the Online Game Legend Award at the third annual Game Developers Choice Online Awards.

In addition, Blizzard Entertainment’s influential World of Warcraft will be inducted into the Choice Online Awards Hall of Fame during the ceremony, taking place Wednesday, October 10 at GDC Online in Austin, Texas.

These special awards categories recognize developers and titles that have had significant impact in the world of online games. Honorees were selected through open nominations from the online game community and the distinguished GDC Online Advisory Board.

Raph Koster, this year’s Online Game Legend Award winner, has led a prolific career. As the lead designer on Ultima Online and the creative director on Star Wars Galaxies, his contributions helped lay the foundation for the many massively multiplayer games that followed. Koster’s professional credits span nearly every facet of game development, including writing, art, soundtrack music, programming and design.

Raph Koster is considered a thought leader, as he is a frequent lecturer and published author on topics of game design, community management, storytelling and ethics in game development. His A Theory of Fun, published in 2004, is considered seminal by educators and members of the art game movement, as well as being one of the most popular books ever written about games.

In his youth, Koster taught himself programming on an Atari 8-bit computer that he used to create the first game he ever sold (It was purchased by a fellow classmate). His early professional years include work on the award-winning multi-user dungeon LegendMUD, which he later parlayed into a position as lead designer on the seminal MMO Ultima Online. Koster’s varied interests in writing, art and graphic design served him well when he joined Sony Online Entertainment in the role of creative director on Star Wars Galaxies, a game praised for its lush graphics, authentic movie-based soundtrack, expansive in-game world, customization options and sophisticated gameplay mechanics.

After serving as chief creative officer at Sony Online Entertainment, Koster established his own firm, Metaplace, a software platform developer for social worlds and the company behind popular Facebook games Island Life and My Vineyard. In 2010, Metaplace was acquired by Disney Interactive Media Group’s online social development arm, Playdom, where Koster currently serves as vice president of creative design.

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Voting opens for the Game Developers Choice Online Audience Award

gdconlineawards1.jpgWith GDC Online’s Game Developers Choice Online Awards quickly approaching, event organizers have opened voting for the ceremony’s popular Audience Award, and are encouraging developers and gamers alike to vote for their favorite persistent online game from now until September 14.

Typically, winners at the Game Developers Choice Online Awards are chosen by the online body of the event’s International Choice Award Network (ICAN), but the Audience Award allows the public to choose the best currently operating persistent online game, whether it be a traditional MMO, a free-to-play web game title, a social network game, or anything else.

To vote, users can simply enter the name of their selected game and a valid email address at the Game Developers Choice Online Awards website. After making a selection, all users must verify their vote via email.

With hundreds of thousands of votes cast in the past, the Audience Award is one of the most hotly contested of the show, with previous winners including KingsIsle’s Wizard101 and Riot Games’ League Of Legends.

The winner of the Audience Award will be revealed alongside the other award winners at the third annual Game Developers Choice Online Awards, which will run alongside GDC Online in Austin, Texas on the evening of Wednesday, October 10.

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GDC Online adds Kabam, talks, reminds on early reg deadline

BWS.jpgWith just one day until Early Bird registration ends for October’s GDC Online event, show organizers have added talks from Kabam and, plus a lecture on how female developers can help broaden the industry’s reach and diversity.

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 newly announced sessions are as follows:

– As part of the Production track, Riccardo Zacconi, CEO and co-founder of major social game developer, will discuss his philosophy for multi-platform game development in “Building a Multi-Platform Game Business out of Facebook and onto Mobile.”

Zacconi will look back on major titles like Bubble Witch Saga to present his strategy for creating games that offer a smooth user experience, achieve high ratings, and successfully integrate cross-platform gameplay.

– Over in the Design track, Kabam art lead Josh Viers and general manager Justin Lambros will discuss how they leveraged their art and design talents to improve engagement and monetization in Kabam’s latest social strategy game, Trojan War.

Their session, “Enhancing Engagement with Art and Design in Hardcore Social Games,” will offer a behind the scenes look at Kabam’s design process for games that exist across Facebook and the web.

– Finally, Jill Schneiderman, the VP of games at SGN (Bingo Blingo), will host “For Women, by… Men?” — a Design track lecture examining the implications of gender imbalance in the game industry.

As Schneiderman will explain, women make up a large portion of the video game-playing audience across social, mobile, and other platforms, yet only a small fraction of the people making these games are female. She’ll examine the state of the industry and outline the key insights that women can bring to the development process.

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GDC Online highlights top speakers, reminds on early reg deadline

gdco.jpgGDC Online 2012, organized by the UBM TechWeb Game Network, is just a few short months away, and will host a robust schedule of more than 100 lectures, panels, keynotes, and roundtable discussions led by notables in the connected, mobile, and social game development sectors.

The annual event returns to Austin on October 9 through October 11, and Early Bird registration for GDC Online is still open through Friday, August 24.

Mobile and social games will have an increased prominence this year, reflecting developments across the games landscape. Vijay Thakkar, Zynga technical director, will lecture on the importance of searching for and developing new IP while Kabam general manager Justin Lambros and art lead Josh Viers give a joint session to offer attendees a behind-the-scenes review of the design development decisions they made while creating the studio’s hardcore social-strategy game, Trojan War.

Gary Gattis, CEO of Austin-based mobile and social MMO developer Spacetime Studios, will also be on hands to detail his applied “engagement and respect” philosophy at Spacetime, which has retained more than 90 percent of its employees for several years.

GDC Online will also continue to adhere to its core focus on online games. Damien Schubert, principal lead systems designer at BioWare Austin, and one of the minds behind Star Wars: The Old Republic, and John Smedley, president of Sony Online Entertainment, will both offer lessons from their experiences developing and launching big-budget, large-scale MMO titles.

As a special treat, attendees will have the opportunity to learn about the challenges of developing, launching and maintaining a landmark MMORPG title during the Ultima Online classic game postmortem. Rich Vogel, Raph Koster and Starr M. Long, three chief members of the original Ultima Online team, will be on-hand to discuss the challenges they faced during the creation of the seminal game.

Introduced at the 2011 Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, classic game postmortems provide a forum for the game creators behind legacy titles to deconstruct what they learned during the process of development.

Other key 2012 GDC Online speakers and sessions include:

– Electronic Arts’ EVP of digital, Kristian Segerstrale, discussing the best approach to creating fully immersive game ecosystems that create an emotional connection with consumers.

– Zynga CTOs Jason Pearlman (mobile) and Allan Leinwand (infrastructure engineering) offering tips to game developers and engineers on how to cope with the infrastructure demands of modern online games.

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Check out the origin of Ultima Online at GDC Online 2012

ultima.jpgGDC Online‘s robust session lineup continues to grow this week, as show organizers have debuted new sessions including a ‘classic postmortem’ on the groundbreaking MMO Ultima Online, as well as in-depth sessions on Zynga and the ethics of modern game development.

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 these newly announced sessions are as follows:

– Over in the Design track, attendees will get a behind the scenes look at the creation of Ultima Online, which was not only one of the first graphical MMOs, it also helped set the standard for player versus player combat and sandbox gameplay for years after its launch. Even today, it’s remembered as one of the greatest online games of all time.

And at this October’s GDC Online, three of the game’s creators — Raph Koster (Playdom), Rich Vogel (ex-BioWare), and Starr Long (Disney) — will reflect on the ambition, struggles, and “idealistic cluelessness” that fueled the development of this influential title.

– Also in the Design track, Zynga’s SVP of product development, Mark Skaggs, will host “The Lessons I Learned from Making FarmVille and CityVille,” shedding some light on the latest trends in the social game space.

Looking at Zynga’s titles in particular, Skaggs will explain how social games have changed over the past few years, how developers can overcome the challenges of making data-driven decisions, and what studios should be planning for as the market continues to evolve.

– Finally, GDC Online attendees will have the opportunity to check out what promises to be a lively panel on the ethical challenges developers face in the modern game industry.

The session, dubbed “Ahead of the Game – Ethics of Modern Game Development,” will feature speakers including senior game producer Nikolaus Davidson, Bobber Interactive COO Scott Dodson, and moderator, Immersyve president, and game motivation and psychology expert Scott Rigby, all of whom have plenty to say about the most pressing issues facing today’s developers.

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GDC Online adds CastleVille, CCP design talks

castleville.jpgThe lineup for this October’s GDC Online continues to grow this week, as show organizers have added a trio of new design-focused sessions featuring a postmortem of Zynga’s CastleVille, EVE Online developer CCP on sandbox game design, and a look at how to enhance your franchise with complementary companion games.

These new talks all fall within GDC Online’s Design track as part of the show’s Main Conference, which offers come 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 these newly-announced sessions are as follows:

– In “CastleVille Postmortem: What Went Right and Wrong,” Zynga designers William Lemons and Bruce Shelley will peel back the curtain on one of the social game giant’s newest and most popular Facebook titles.

Zynga Dallas, the studio behind CastleVille (and formerly known as Bonfire Studios) was founded by a number of veterans from the popular Age of Empires franchise, and in this session Lemons and Shelley will explain how the team leveraged its experience working on RTS games while meeting the demands of modern social game design.

– Elsewhere, Matthew Woodward of EVE Online developer CCP Games will share his thoughts on the design theory behind sandbox online games.

His session, dubbed “The Other White Meat: Design Architecture for Sandbox Games,” will pick the genre apart piece by piece, analyzing the importance of social networks, emergent gameplay, and self-sustaining systems. Woodward will also discuss a number of practical design lessons developers can apply to their own sandbox titles.

– Finally, Ben Miller and Matt Griswald, two of the lead developers behind the Resistance 3 companion web-based strategy game Global Resistance, will discuss what it takes to make a robust and successful complementary title that benefits a larger, AAA release.

Their session, “Take Your Companion Game to the Next Level,” will examine the design of Global Resistance, demonstrating how the game’s design, format, and online community helped draw attention to its AAA big brother on PlayStation 3.

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