UBM Tech Game Network's 2013 Game Developers Conference, the world's largest and longest-running event serving professionals dedicated to the art and science of making games, revealed a record 23,000 industry professionals attended last week's conference in San Francisco's Moscone Center.
The 2013 conference kicked off with two days of tutorials and summits focused on specific emerging platforms and topics, including a newly introduced Free to Play Design & Business Summit, the Smartphone & Tablet Games Summit, and the Independent Games Summit.
Summit highlights included Microsoft senior game designer Richard Rouse III giving a timely Game Narrative Summit lecture titled, "Seven (or So) Techniques for Writing a Moral Game." In the talk, Rouse detailed the ways that developers can write games with a solid foundation of morality and engagement.
In the Free to Play Design & Business Summit, King's Tommy Palm presented a session titled "Candy Crush Saga Postmortem: Luck in the Right Places" - for which a free GDC Vault video recording is already available - to reveal some of the secrets behind creating a mega-successful free-to-play casual game.
The main conference began on Wednesday and included the 10th and final edition of a GDC favorite, the Game Design Challenge, for which this year's theme was "Humanity's Last Game." Independent game designer Jason Rohrer won the competition with his game proposal, A Game for Someone, a board game locked away in a titanium tube and buried in the Nevada Desert.
All attendees of the session were given a unique sheet of paper in an envelope listing 900 different GPS coordinates, with only one coordinate in one of the envelopes revealing the location of the game. Rohrer estimated that if one person visits a GPS location each day with a metal detector, the game would be unearthed within the next million days.
Kojima Productions' Hideo Kojima revealed and shared first looks for Metal Gear Solid 5 during a talk on the Design/Visual Arts Track. The legendary game developer also provided developers with a first look at a new proprietary project called the FOX engine, and described how the technology will provide a platform for further innovation in the game making process.
Creating safe spaces in the game development for everyone has been a hot industry topic of late and GDC made significant efforts to address criticisms head-on with the expanded Advocacy Track. A highlight of the track was the #1ReasontoBe session, a panel dedicated to creating an open dialogue about what it means to be a woman in the games industry and what actions are necessary to foster more inclusiveness. Other sessions in the track included an examination of the gaming industry as society's scapegoat and a lecture that encouraged developers to create more diverse characters and character profiles.
Additionally, several exciting video game hardware debuts were shown off at this year's event, with platforms and devices showcasing new content including the Oculus Rift VR headset, PlayJam's GameStick and the Ouya (both Android-based game consoles), and Sony's highly anticipated PlayStation 4 next-gen console, which was the subject of an in-depth technical talk.
The popular Classic Game Postmortem series returned this year, featuring Franz Lanziger discussing Crystal Castles, Robyn Miller talking about the creation of Myst, Bill Budge lecturing about his inspirational Pinball Construction Set and Julian Gollop talking about the origins of X-COM: UFO Defense. The creators of each game took attendees on a trip behind the scenes of influential video games from throughout the medium's history.
GDC 2013 hosted the 15th annual Independent Games Festival (IGF) and the 13th annual Game Developers Choice Awards (GDCAs) on the evening of March 27. Cart Life creator Richard Hofmeier won the Seumas McNally Grand Prize award at the IGF and its associated $30,000 grand prize, as well as the award for Narrative and the Nuovo Award. At the Game Developers Choice Awards, thatgamecompany's emotionally-charged Journey won six of the evening's eleven main awards, including Best Audio, Best Game Design, Best Visual Arts, Best Downloadable Game, the Innovation Award, and the coveted Game of the Year Award.
The GDC Expo floor was packed with more than 350 exhibitors, plus the Independent Games Festival (IGF) Pavilion, a bustling Career Pavilion and Business Center area and the off-floor GDC Play showcase, which hosted more than 70 emerging developers showcasing their titles to investors, distributors and the public.
The site's GDC Vault website will offer access to GDC 2013 material within the next few weeks, including free speaker slides, synchronized video and presentations for select sponsor-supported videos, and select free conference session videos. GDC All-Access Pass holders and individual GDC Vault subscribers will get access to a full range of thousands of video sessions, including hundreds of specially recorded lecture videos from GDC 2013.
Further write-ups on all the sessions at this year's show are available on GDC sister site Gamasutra's Game Developers Conference 2013 show coverage page, with the official GDC Flickr page hosting thousands of images from the show, including the awesome results of Iam8bit's 'Class of GDC' photo playset.
Finally, organizers have announced that GDC 2014 will return to the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco from Monday, March 17 to Friday, March 21, 2014, with the call for submissions to open this summer.
More information on Game Developers Conference 2014, as well as the other GDC events throughout 2013 - including GDC Europe, GDC China and the new, co-located GDC Next and App Developers Conference (ADC) in Los Angeles this November - will be available at the official GDC website.