Passes for the Game Developers Conference 2014 are going fast, and today we're announcing even more sessions for the Main Conference that you'll want to check out.
Today's highlights include a talk on Destiny's character customization system from an artist's perspective, a rundown of what designers and AI programmers can learn from the enemy AI systems in Splinter Cell: Blacklist, and a pretty intriguing look back at what went right -- and wrong -- in the process of transforming the subscription-based Rift into a free-to-play MMORPG.
Now in its 28th year, GDC is the world's largest and longest-running professionals-only game industry event, and will once again take place at the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco, California during March 17-21, 2014.
Building customizable characters for Destiny
Player characters in Bungie's upcoming shooter Destiny aren't pre-defined -- they're created, then customized with a variety of sci-fi accoutrements.Technical 3D art lead Scott Shepherd Scott Shepherd has agreed to take the stage at GDC 2014 to talk at length about the work that went into creating the art assets that feed the game's player customization systems in Building Customizable Characters for Bungie's Destiny. It should be useful information for artists and designers tackling similar challenges, as Shepherd plans to discuss the tools and processes Bungie staff employed to generate a large volume of visually-interesting character content quickly and easily.
Modeling AI in Splinter Cell: Blacklist
Ubisoft's Martin Walsh worked as AI lead programmer on Splinter Cell: Blacklist, and he's coming to GDC 2014 to showcase the AI perception models employed to endow in-game enemies with environmental and contextual awareness that seems realistic to the player, yet still conveys important gameplay information. During his talk, Modeling AI Perception and Awareness in Splinter Cell: Blacklist, you can expect to hear more about Ubisoft's techniques for providing players with reliable feedback about Sam Fisher's stealthiness (or lack thereof) and how those systems might be useful for attendees working on similar stealth-based games.
How Rift survived the transition to free-to-play
GDC attendees curious about the free-to-play transition should check out Rift Transformed: From Subscription to Free-to-play in Seven Months -- Trion Worlds' AR Schleicher will be talking about how the development team took their subscription-based MMORPG Rift and successfully transformed it into a free-to-play game. It's the kind of talk that will chiefly interest MMO game designers or budding digital economists -- Schleicher has promised to talk about the challenges of transitioning subscribers to a patron system and the potential for huge population growth when you take your game free-to-play. If you've ever found yourself daydreaming about what sort of UI changes you'd need to make in order to make your game free-to-play and yet palatable to players, this is a talk for you.
More essential GDC details
Earlier GDC 2014 announcements include former Irrational Games artist Gavin Goulden (@GavinGoulden) giving a talk on the iterative artistic process of creating characters for Bioshock Infinite, Gree's Alex Rosen (@alexmr) doing a postmortem of the mobile publisher's hit Android social casino game Jackpot Slots, and UC Santa Cruz's Brenda Romero (@br) talking about re-inspiring designers for greatness. Developers on The Witness, Guacamelee!, and Maniac Mansion will also be giving talks.
All of the announced talks are now available in the online GDC 2014 Session Scheduler, where you can begin to build your conference week and later export it to the up-to-the-minute GDC Mobile App, coming soon.
GDC 2014 itself will take place March 17-21, 2014 at the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco, California. You can register for the event by visiting the info page on the official GDC 2014 website. Early Bird pricing, with discounts up to 30 percent, will remain in effect until January 31st. Some passes have limited amounts, and with the Independent Games Summit pass already sold out, interested parties should register now.
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