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IGF 2011 Audience Award Closes This Week, D2D Vision Award Finalists Revealed

Voting for the Independent Games Festival's 2011 Audience Award closes this week, so members of the public and the indie game community need to head over to the official IGF Audience Award website and cast votes before Friday, February 18 at midnight PST.

To be part of this year's vote, simply visit the IGF Audience Award page and download any of the games that are currently publicly available (each game has been marked to show whether there's a version for you to purchase or otherwise download). When you've made up your mind, return to vote for your favorite.

Organizers of the IGF are allowing voters to cast their ballot for any game chosen as a finalist in the festival, as opposed to just those with public PC demos, as in previous years.

After voting and inputting your email address, you'll need to verify your vote by clicking on a link sent to that email. Go check out the website now and start making your way through the games!

Alongside this reminder, IGN's Direct2Drive digital game store -- the Official Download Partner for this year's Independent Games Festival -- announced the Direct2Drive Vision Award finalists from among IGF entrants.

Nominees for this year's Direct2Drive Vision award include:

GDC 2011 Debuts Sony NGP Lecture, Microtalks, Fergusson On Gears Of War

GDC 2011 organizers have revealed a first-ever Sony lecture on its NGP handheld, also debuting a GDC Microtalks line-up including David Jaffe and Epic's Rod Fergusson on producing the Gears Of War trilogy.
The complete GDC conference schedule is now available on both GDC Schedule Builder and the newly launched, smartphone-centric GDC Mobile site.
With the February 28th-March 4th Moscone Center, San Francisco-based show less than two weeks away, organizers are highlighting the following lectures:
- In a newly confirmed Sony-sponsored session, SCEA's David Coombes will present a lecture called 'Next Generation Portable Platform', presenting the first public discussion of its new portable gaming platform at GDC 2011.
The talk description simply notes: "In this presentation we will introduce a new handheld console. We will talk about the devices broad range of input and connectivity options and how these create exciting new opportunities for game designers."
- The full speaker line-up for the always popular 'GDC Microtalks 2011: One Hour, Ten Speakers, Hundreds of Fun New Ideas' has now been confirmed, in a swift format whereby "each speaker gets 20 slides, each of which will be displayed for exactly 16 seconds before automatically advancing."
The GDC Microtalk speakers this year, MC-ed by Naughty Dog's Richard Lemarchand (Uncharted franchise) are David Jaffe (Eat Sleep Play), Michael John (Electronic Arts), Brenda Brathwaite (Lolapps), Asi Burak (Games for Change), Jamin Brophy-Warren (Kill Screen Magazine), Jason Rohrer (Between creator), Colleen Macklin (Parsons the New School for Design), Naomi Clark (Fresh Planet) and Brandon Boyer (Independent Games Festival).

GDC 2011 Highlights O'Donnell, Shanda, Moriarty Talks, Expands Capacity

GDC 2011 organizers are highlighting key talks from Bungie's Marty O'Donnell, Shanda CEO Alan Tan, and Loom creator Brian Moriarty, also revealing an expansion into Moscone West for this year's show.

With the overall session list for the February/March event now finalized, Game Developers Conference 2011 organizers have responded to conference pass demand and increased capacity for the Summits and Main Conference lecture space this year.

As a result, GDC 2011 has expanded to the third floor of San Francisco's Moscone West in addition to both Moscone North and Moscone South -- with thousands of extra seats now available to help stem potential space issues.

The complete GDC conference schedule is now available on both GDC Schedule Builder and the newly launched, smartphone-centric GDC Mobile site, and organizers are highlighting the following lectures:

- In an Audio Track keynote talk called 'From Myth to Halo: Marty O'Donnell's Adventures with Adaptive Audio, Creative Collaboration and Geese!', Bungie's veteran audio director takes a wide-ranging look at his career to date, including his attitude on composing and implementing music in the seminal Halo franchise.

O'Donnell amusingly explains: "What are my thoughts about the future of the music business in relation to game publishing? What are geese doing in the title of this talk? I'll attempt to answer all these questions but no one should expect complete clarity."

- In a major Business Track keynote, Shanda Games CEO Alan Tan will present 'The Future of the MMO in China'. Tan co-founded the Chinese MMO giant Shanda, owner of U.S. firm MochiMedia, in 1999, and has overseen Shanda's rise to hundreds of millions of dollars a year in online game revenues.

Game Developers Choice Awards Honor Yu Suzuki, Brengle/MacKenzie

This March's 11th Annual Game Developers Choice Awards, the peer-awarded highest honors in video game development, have revealed the recipients of its two final Special Awards - the Pioneer Award, for creating breakthrough video game genres or concepts, and the Ambassador Award, for those who "helped the game industry advance to a better place".
This year's Pioneer Award will be given to Sega Corporation veteran and game design legend Yu Suzuki, honoring his amazing work over the last three decades, inventing entire game genres and making seminal titles spanning Hang On through Virtua Fighter to Out Run, After Burner and Shenmue - and beyond.
In addition, the Ambassador Award, also picked by the prestigious Game Developers Choice Awards Committee, will celebrate the managers of the Game Developers Conference Associates (CA) program, Tim Brengle and Ian MacKenzie.
Yu Suzuki
Sega veteran Yu Suzuki will be making a rare Western appearance to accept his award in person on Wednesday, March 2, 2011 at the San Francisco Moscone Center during Game Developers Conference 2011, where he will also be presenting a special one-off game design lecture.
Suzuki himself first joined Sega Corporation in 1983 and is well known for his many industry firsts and genre-originating titles. In 1985, Suzuki created innovative arcade game Hang On, one of the first ever titles where the player's movement on a motorcycle facsimile was copied by the onscreen avatar.
From there, Suzuki's output defined a 'golden age' of Sega arcade games, including all time classics such as Out Run, Space Harrier, After Burner, Power Drift, and Virtua Racing. Following this, his pioneering work in 1993 created Virtua Fighter, which spawned the 3D fighting game genre, and has been recognized for its contribution in the fields of Art & Entertainment by the Smithsonian Institution.

GDC 2011's Summits Add Super Meat Boy, Angry Birds, FarmVille/CityVille Talks

GDC 2011 organizers have debuted the final set of GDC Summit talks, including a Super Meat Boy postmortem, Zynga on its journey from Farmville to Cityville, and Rovio talking Angry Birds.

The GDC 2011 Summits, taking place on February 28th and March 1st at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, present a series of illuminating, focused sessions about the technology, design, business, marketing, and future of key game industry markets.

There are a total of seven notable standalone Summits, including Social & Online Games, AI, Indie, GDC Education, Serious Games, Localization and the GDC Smartphone Summit, joining multiple high-profile tutorials on the Monday and Tuesday of Game Developers Conference 2011.

As the final sessions get locked into place as part of the overall GDC 2011 schedule, the following major lectures are now confirmed:

- In an Indie Games Summit lecture catchily entitled 'Team Meat Presents: Super Meat Boy - A Team Meat Meatmortem', Edmund McMillen and Tommy Refenes will examine "sales numbers, contract details... and revel as myths [are debunked]."

The talk will "touch on everything from development of features, mistakes made during the final stages of development, the launch of a game that Microsoft didn't believe in, why Steam is amazing, and the inevitable success of the best indie game of 2010."

- The newly added Social & Online Games Summit lecture 'Click Zen: Zynga's Evolution from FarmVille to CityVille' sees Zynga exec and veteran game maker Mark Skaggs discussing "how [100 million unique user Facebook hit] CityVille represents a fundamental shift in how Zynga makes games, highlighted by the similarities and differences between CityVille and FarmVille."

The 'GDC 25' Chronicles: The Best Kind of Drudgery

[Continuing his 'GDC 25' archival research ahead of the 25th Game Developers Conference in San Francisco this February/March, official GDC historian Jason Scott debuts newly digitized audio from multiple years of the show, from an American McGee's Alice postmortem through the Messiah Engine and beyond.]

The UPS guy has started to build up a level of respect for me these days - I get that kind of glance that says somehow I've become one of his big dropoff stops, when it's supposed to all be simple one-box deliveries in a suburban neighborhood. I make it a point to always help unload the truck, which keeps me on his good side and not finding boxes dumped sideways at the end of the driveway or worse.

So when he showed up and I came out, all he had to do was look me in the eye and go "Fourteen".

Fourteen? Well, it appears that while in the process of moving some offices, my corporate masters had packed up every last scrap of material related to GDC, sealed all the boxes, and sent this pile of history off to the archive guy. So now I have all the cassettes, programs, documents, CD-ROMs and flyers for all of GDC's past from about 1996. Not bad. This is what some of it looks like. Some of it:

gdcdig2.jpg

This is not the same as the first photo I put up a while ago - this is an entire other set of material. Formats include VHS, Betamax, Mini-DV, CD-ROM, Audio Cassette, Jaz Drive (shudder), and in one particularly interesting development, an entire hard drive with the year scrawled on it.

So this is the crossroads, or more accurately the threshold; from here it stops being a novelty to have material to digitize or an inbox with work left to do - from here it starts being a haul. The presentations also can't be cherry-picked like at the start; this is just simply all of them, all types, every subject that the GDC organizers thought needed to be spoken about in later half of the 1990s. It's about duty over fun now.

But that's a duty I think is worth taking on. So I've been going through the tapes I've already digitized, uploading them, and getting things together.

Frankly, this amount of material coming in has meant I've had to really step up the ingesting hardware. Here's what we have going on right now in that department:

GDC 2011 Reveals Full Game Career Seminar Lineup

GDC 2011 organizers have revealed the complete Game Career Seminar lineup, spanning Schell Games' Jesse Schell, Epic's Cliff Bleszinski and notable Xbox Live Indie Games creators at the one-day student event this March.

This special one-day program -- taking place on Friday, March 4 during Game Developers Conference 2011 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco -- offers a series of talks and presentations to help students and prospective developers make their way into the industry.

Attendees, who are eligible for special reduced-price passes if they are students, will get the opportunity to view lectures, network with industry professionals, meet with HR representatives from a number of leading game companies and gain insight from industry experts.

A number of talks are featured on the Seminar's homepage and the Game Career Seminar section of GDC's Schedule Builder. Highlights include the following:

- In 'From Student to Start Up: Case Studies,' Schell Games' Jesse Schell provides an in-depth look at student projects that successfully made a name for themselves in the industry.

From Portal to Fl0w, Schell will provide examples of how to best make the transition from school to professional development, as well as note some examples of how the process can go awry.

- In the a panel on Xbox Live Indie Games, industry professionals and independent develops will discuss pricing, visibility, and other methods to help ensure success on the console-based indie platform. With Game Developer magazine's Brandon Sheffield moderating, panelists include representatives from Mommy's Best Games (Weapon Of Choice), MagicalTimeBean (Soulcaster), Ska Studios (I MAED A GAM3 W1TH Z0MB1ES 1NIT!!!1), and Zeboyd Games (Breath Of Death VII).

GDC 2011 Adds Cave Story Creator, Limbo, Crawford Talks

Organizers of GDC 2011 are highlighting a first-ever public lecture from Cave Story creator Pixel, plus talks on Playdead's acclaimed Limbo and Chris Crawford on gaming's 'days of yore'.

As the overall session list for the February/March event expands further, following the announcement of the classic postmortems series and a keynote from Nintendo's Satoru Iwata, new lectures continue to be showcased.

These new talks are part of GDC 2011's Main Conference, which takes place at the Moscone Center from Wednesday March 2nd to Friday March 4th, 2011 during the pre-eminent, San Francisco-based event.

The GDC 2011 Main Conference features discipline-specific Tracks dedicated to programming, design, art, audio, business and management, and production.

These additions to the GDC 2011 roster, highlighted for the first time here, include the following lectures:

- In his first-ever public speech and Western appearance regarding much-beloved 2D indie title Cave Story, Japanese 'dojin' game developer Daisuke 'Pixel' Amaya will discuss his creative process in making the PC freeware title that debuted in 2004.

The evocative retro-themed game -- a 2D platform adventure with genuine emotion, depth, and an intriguing story -- which took 5 years to complete, is an IGF finalist this year in its enhanced WiiWare version, and Amaya will talk about what went both right and wrong in creating a game that turned out completely unlike what he initially had in mind.

- Presenting a lecture called 'Designing Limbo's Puzzles', Playdead's lead gameplay designer Jeppe Carlsen discusses design takeaways from the most-nominated game in this year's prestigious Game Developers Choice Awards.

GDC 2011 Adds Google, Kinect, Unity Developer Tutorial Days

Organizers of the 2011 Game Developers Conference are highlighting full-day sponsored tutorials on Android, Microsoft's Kinect, Unity, and Google's full product suite, for the 25th edition of the industry's leading event for game creators.

With the overall session list for the event now almost full, organizers are taking the opportunity to highlight the sponsored full-day tutorials from major firms available to attendees.

These sessions, part of a full roster of one and two-day tutorials will once again be held alongside the GDC Summits on the first two days of the San Francisco-based event, Monday, February 28th and Tuesday, March 1st.

They will be open to those with a Summits & Tutorials or All-Access Pass, and interested parties can select their preference during the process of online registration and onsite check-in to help GDC staff with room capacity.

(Organizers note that some tutorials may become full and no longer be selectable during registration - attendees who select a particular tutorial and have it printed on their badge will be allowed into busy tutorials first.)

Sponsored GDC 2011 tutorials of particular note to the wider audience include the following:

- A Google Developer Day taking place on Monday includes Google game development-centric luminaries such as Bill Budge and Gregg Tavares, promising to allow development and business-centric attendees to "get a peek at the brand-new technologies Google is developing for games."

Two-Day Scrum Development Course To Run Alongside GDC 2011

Organizers of GDC 2011 have announced an affiliated two-day crash course for Scrum development on Feb 28th and March 1st, led by Clinton Keith, author of "Agile Game Development With Scrum."

Clinton Keith has over 15 years of experience in the industry, five of which have been spent applying Scrum to video game development. He has worked on titles including Midnight Club, Darkwatch, and Bourne Conspiracy.

GDC 2011 Adds WoW: Cataclysm, Game Design Challenge, Heavy Rain Talks

Organizers of GDC 2011 have revealed a new Blizzard talk on the making of World Of Warcraft: Cataclysm, the all-star competitors for this year's Game Design Challenge, and David Cage lecturing on Heavy Rain's "emotional rollercoaster".

As the overall session list for the February/March event expands further, following the announcement of the classic postmortems series and a keynote from Nintendo's Satoru Iwata, new lectures continue to be highlighted.

These particular talks are part of GDC 2011's Main Conference, which takes place at the Moscone Center from Wednesday March 2nd to Friday March 4th, 2011 during the San Francisco-based event.

The GDC 2011 Main Conference features discipline-specific Tracks dedicated to programming, design, art, audio, business and management, and production.

These brand new additions to the GDC 2011 roster include the following lectures:

- In an extremely rare public lecture, Blizzard's Tom Chilton presents 'Remaking the World Of Warcraft through Cataclysm', a talk in which the expansion's game director -- also responsible for lead designing Wrath of the Lich King and Burning Crusade discusses "what approach we took, what works, and what doesn't seem to work when tackling the challenge of breathing new life into aging game content."

The expansion to the popular PC MMO sold 4.7 million copies in one month after its early December debut. Chilton will discuss how the Blizzard team "rejuvenated aging parts of the game world for existing, former, and new players while at the same time preserving and even enhancing what made the game world special from the start."

- This year's competitors for the popular 'Game Design Challenge' session, which focuses around some of the industry's lead designers presenting a game design concept, have been revealed - with last year's winner Jenova Chen (Flower, Journey) taking on Doom and Quake co-creator John Romero and independent game maverick Jason Rohrer (Passage, Sleep Is Death).

GDC 2011 Social & Online Games Summit Debuts Google TV, Playfish, Playdom Talks

GDC 2011 organizers have debuted the full Social & Online Games Summit line-up, including talks from Google on Google TV, plus major talks from leading firms like Playfish, Bigpoint, Zynga, and Playdom.

The popular multi-track summit, taking place on February 28th and March 1st during Game Developers Conference 2011 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, presents a series of illuminating sessions about the technology, design, business, marketing, and future of social games.

The Summit description notes that "the features and tropes of connected gaming are catching on across the gaming landscape - encompassing Facebook gaming, web-based online games, downloadable persistent MMOs and beyond."

"New best practices are being discovered at a rapid pace, and we are seeing more high-quality entertainment experiences on social networks than ever before."

Advisors for this particular Summit include track co-chairs Raph Koster and Steve Meretzky from Playdom, as well as EA/Playfish's Sebastian De Halleux, Sulake's Sulka Haro, Making Fun's John Welch and more notables.

A number of major talks have been revealed on the Summit homepage and the GDC Education Summit section of GDC's Schedule Builder. Highlights include the following:

- In the 'Design' microtrack, notable talks include the always popular 'Social & Online Game Design 2010: A Year in Review' by Playmatics' Nick Fortugno and Joju Games' Juan Gril, as well as Raph Koster on 'social mechanics for social games'. Additional talks of interest in this area of the program include a postmortem of Kabam's popular Facebook title Kingdoms Of Camelot and a look back at the development of Riot Games' extremely popular 'DoTA'-style online game League Of Legends.

- The 'Vision' microtrack sees a lecture by Ian Ni-Lewis and Andres Ferrate of Google on "the lessons learned from developing Google's Smart TV platform, GoogleTV" with particular reference to game creators developing social titles for 'smart TVs', as well as a provocative debate, 'Are Social Games Legitimate?', as Nabeel Hyatt of Zynga and Curt Bererton of ZipZapPlay "go head to head" with Ian Bogost of the Georgia Institute of Technology and Daniel James of Three Rings.

GDC 2011 Reminds On Jan. 24th Early Registration Deadline

Organizers of Game Developers Conference 2011 are reminding that the deadline to save 35% on passes to the upcoming event in San Francisco is Monday, January 24th at 11.59pm PT.

As the overall session list for the February/March five-day event spans over 500 speakers and hundreds of sessions, and GDC's Expo show floor reaches more than 150 exhibitors, organizers are pointing out the following show highlights:

- A large range of key one- and two-day Summits, including Social & Online Games, Smartphone Games, Independent Games, Serious Games/Gamification and more, will kick off GDC week on Monday, February 28th and Tuesday, March 1st.

These innovative and informative programs are led by advisory boards of industry experts, and speakers include notables from Zynga, Google, the Humble Indie Bundle, MIT, Klei Entertainment, and many more. Monday and Tuesday also see major tutorials, spanning the Game Design Workshop through a Microsoft Kinect developer day.

- The GDC 2011 Main Conference takes place on Wednesday, March 2nd to Friday, March 4th and features discipline-specific Tracks specially filtered by the event's expert Advisory Board, and dedicated to programming, design, art, audio, business and management, and production.

The GDC 2011 Main Conference keynote is from Nintendo president Satoru Iwata, on "Video Games Turn 25: A Historical Perspective and Vision for the Future", and the GDC News page and specific track pages mention a multitude of Main Conference highlights, which include Epic's Cliff Bleszinski through GDC founder Chris Crawford and beyond.

The 'GDC 25' Chronicles: An Audio Avalanche

[Continuing his 'GDC 25' archival research ahead of the 25th Game Developers Conference in San Francisco this February/March, official GDC historian Jason Scott unearths and digitizes late '90s audio talks on the Chinese game market, adapting games, game engineering discipline and making casual games.]

There's quite a huge amount of historical Game Developers Conference audio and videotapes in my to-do pile, so it's been a case of knocking through them as fast as possible, to turn them from decaying analog recordings into longer-lifed digital ones. A few dozen are finished, with dozens more waiting.

When you have a historical archive of a bunch of presentations from such a fast-moving field as game development, it might seem to be a matter of dismissing these historical items as "out of date" and then waiting for the latest and greatest.

But there's something to be said for listening to well-assembled, clear sessions on aspects of game-making that still hold true. Here's a few issues that have been around for some time, and continue to be relevant.

In one notable audio talk we've digitized onto GDC Vault, William Dalton lays out a CGDC 1998 wake-up call that the development environment of games need to bring in the same qualities that software has had for years in other industries.

Entitled 'Bringing Engineering Discipline to Entertainment Development', and now available on GDC Vault, he describes what happens when these time-tested best practices are laid in front of the then-still-young computer game development culture. Listening to it, it might be interesting to compare to your own group's practices and see how many points you have already internalized, and how many have been cast aside.

Elsewhere, noted puzzle designer Scott Kim's 1997 CGDC talk now available on GDC Vault in audio, 'Games for the Rest of Us' has a really amazing delivery style. As he steps through the current state of the game-creation industry and the type of games that are appealing to a mass-market, he drops asides and wry observations that keep his audience engaged and chortling throughout.

'GDC 25' Reveals All-Star Classic Game Postmortem Line-Up

Organizers of Game Developers Conference 2011 have revealed an all-star line-up of game developers, from John Romero (Doom) through Will Wright (Raid On Bungeling Bay) to Toru Iwatani (Pac-Man) and beyond, presenting 'postmortems' on the making of some of the most famous video games of all time.

The special one-off hour long lectures, part of celebrations for the 25th iteration of GDC, will all take place during the Main Conference of this year's show, held at the Moscone Center in San Francisco from March 2nd to 4th.

Some of the other highlights of the sessions include Jordan Mechner on the making of the original Prince Of Persia and Mark Cerny on the classic Marble Madness.

In addition, Ron Gilbert is discussing the making of Maniac Mansion, David Braben is talking seminal space exploration title Elite, and Eric Chahi analyzes Out Of This World/Another World.

Finally, David Crane discusses the making of Pitfall!, Jason Kapalka looks at his work on PopCap's Bejeweled, and Peter Molyneux presents a lecture on the making of original 'god game' Populous.

As detailed on a special 'classic postmortems' webpage on the Game Developers Conference website, the following eleven special lectures are now confirmed for GDC 2011:

- Prince Of Persia (Jordan Mechner)
"Decades before it was a Hollywood film with tens of millions of dollars and hundreds of workers supporting its production, Prince of Persia was mostly the project of a single man. Jordan Mechner rotoscoped the game's fluid and realistic character animations, designed its difficult puzzles, crafted its thrilling sword-fighting combat, and penned its captivating story. He will present a postmortem discussion on the landmark cinematic platformer."

- Pac-Man (Toru Iwatani)
"More than just the man who created and designed Pac-Man, Toru Iwatani revolutionized an arcade industry filled with space shooters and Pong clones, introducing a new kind of game that was both immediately accessible and highly addictive. In this session, Iwatani will share how he created one of the world's most successful and beloved arcade games around a circle with a wedge sliced off."

 

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