Enjoy this Valentine’s Day-themed look at a few great GDC 2018 talks!

Given that today’s the day so many people celebrate Valentine’s Day, organizers of the 2018 Game Developers Conference thought it might be fun to highlight some of the great talks taking place at the conference next month which tackle the tricky topics of how to handle love, lust, and friendship in the games you make.

Some of these are tongue-in-cheek suggestions, while others are earnest explorations of how to write great relationships into your work, but all promise to be both fun and informative.

For example, veteran game writer & narrative designer Michelle Clough is coming back to GDC this year to deliver a great talk on “Eros in Play: Writing and Designing Sex Scenes (Part 2).”

A follow-up to her successful talk in a similar vein at last year’s show, this talk aims to offer a more detailed examination of crafting emotional, erotic, and impactful sex scenes in games. If you stay awhile and listen to Clough’s talk, you should come away with practical interdisciplinary considerations for integrating sound, visual, text, and gameplay to achieve the appropriate narrative effect for erotic scenes.

Plus, the International Game Developers Association is presenting a roundtable discussion at GDC this year that will revolve around romance and love as they’re presented in games.

Appropriately titled the “Romance and Sexuality in Games Roundtable (Presented by the IGDA)“, this session promises to spark interesting discussions and offer devs a deeper understanding of current and future trends regarding romantic and sexual content in games, as well as updates on current SIG initiatives and resources for developing games with these themes.

Of course, there are as many kinds of love as there are people to experience it with, and so much of it plays out across the spectrum of friendship. With that in mind, make time to attend “Game Design Patterns for Building Friendships“, presented by Spry Fox’s Dan Cook.

According to Cook, friendship is a key lens through which game devs should be looking at how to design multiplayer games, and in this talk he’ll give you a proven model for designing strong communities.

Along the way, the presentation will cover the logistics of how to put people in situations where they can become friends. You’ll find out why match-making is always broken, and how you can add chat without creating toxicity. In the end you’ll come out with a set of hard learned design tools derived from 20 years of building multiplayer games.

And given our theme today, we’d be remiss if we left you without highlighting the excellent GDC 2018 talk “Repopulating the Earth: Character Production on ‘Horizon Zero Dawn.”

In this talk, Guerrilla Games character art director Daniel Calvert will share learnings from the studio’s work on its hit open-world game, as well as best practices for big-budget character design and content creation, as well as the challenges of designing for a new IP. Specific approaches to key challenges such as maintaining quality at scale, and how to do useful work in an environment of uncertainty will also be covered in detail — so don’t miss it!

For more details on these and other sessions taking place at GDC 2018, head over to the conference Session Scheduler. For more information on GDC 2018, visit the show’s official website, or subscribe to regular updates via Facebook, Twitter, or RSS.