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SpellTower's Zach Gage to discuss tactile touch controls at GDC China

While touch controls are a fantastic way to attract a wider and more diverse audience, developers need to be careful to get things right, as poor touch controls will often make a game fall flat on its face.

Indie developer Zach Gage (SpellTower, Bit Pilot) has spent the last few years honing his skills making touch-based iOS games, and this Sunday at GDC China, he'll host an in-depth session to help other developers learn from his experience.

During his session, Gage will examine both classic and emerging control schemes, noting whether they succeed and discussing the lessons developers can draw from them. He'll also take a moment to look at a number of different touch-based games to pick apart their triumphs and failures.

Although the session is focused primarily on touch-screen games, attendees will be able to use Gage's lessons learned when moving to any type of new game hardware.

His session, titled "Controls You Can Feel: Putting Tactility Back Into Touch Controls," will take place as part of GDC China's Smartphone & Tablet Games Summit, and will be open to GDC China's All Access and Summits & Tutorials pass holders. Online registration is now open on the GDC China website, and the show itself will take place November 17-19 at the Shanghai Convention Center in Shanghai, China.

In addition to the above presentation, GDC China organizers have also added the following talks to the Smartphone & Tablet Games Summit:

- In "From Japan to the World -- the Status and Future of Mobile Social Card Games," D2C Inc.'s Xiaolei Zhang will take a close look at the growing popularity of mobile card games. These titles are already a phenomenon in Japan, and Zhang believes the craze will soon expand into the rest of the world. He'll pick apart D2C's own card games like The Sekigahara Kingdoms and Pirate Fantasy to help other developers understand why these games are so popular.

- Elsewhere, Game Insight's Darya Trushkina will explain how Chinese developers can succeed in North America during a session titled "How Chinese Mobile Can Win the West. Drawing from Game Insight's international publishing experience, Trushkina will compare the Eastern and Western game markets, while offering tips to help Chinese developers expand their reach into brand new territories.

Learn to break into the Korean mobile market at GDC China

While mobile game developers often earn much of their revenue from North America, regions like China, Japan, and Korea are still extremely valuable.

The Korean market in particular has plenty of opportunities for mobile developers, and at next week's GDC China in Shanghai, attendees will learn the ins and out of breaking into this lucrative market.

During the show, Neowiz China's Eliot Shin will take an in-depth look at the Korean mobile market, detailing how it differs from other regions and why it's so appealing to developers around the world.

Korean mobile games often have an extremely high average revenue per user, but Shin believes it can take a fair bit of trail and error to really capitalize on that potential. While his talk primarily focuses on helping Chinese developers, Shin will offer plenty of insight to help both Western and Asian studios launch successful mobile games in the Korean market.

His talk, "Korean Mobile Market and Penetration Strategy for Chinese Developers," is part of GDC China's Smartphone & Tablet Games Summit, and will be open to All Access and Summits & Tutorials pass holders. Online registration is now open on the GDC China website, and the show itself will take place November 17-19 at the Shanghai Convention Center in Shanghai, China.

In addition to the above presentation, GDC China organizers have also added the following talks to the show's Smartphone & Tablet Games Summit:

- In "The Battle Royale of Mobile Social: Friends or Players?," Applifier CEO Jussi Laakkonen will pick apart the increasingly competitive mobile social market. He'll examine heavyweights like Gree, DeNA, Tencent, and more, noting how developers can make mobile games that have better global appeal.

- Elsewhere, Appy Entertainment brand director Paul O'Connor will discuss how his studio converted two premium apps to a free-to-play model, and saw a large boost in revenue in the process. His talk, "Premium to Freemium: Pivoting Monetization Method for Best-Selling Apps," will offer specific advice for other developers looking to make a similar shift.

Discover Gree's secrets for mobile game success at GDC China

In global social market, few companies are as prominent as the Japanese game firm Gree. Its social mobile games are some of the most lucrative in the industry, and at this month's GDC China in Shanghai, the company will reveal just a few of the tricks it uses to launch and maintain its successful free to play titles.

Gree Beijing VP Dr. Shumian He will take a close look at the company's first mobile social game, Fishing Star (Tsuri-Sta, pictured), noting how it attracted a large base of loyal players and has maintained a high level of revenue since its launch in 2007.

Using this title as a case study for Gree's business at large, He will discuss how the international company drives in-app purchases, and how it uses its proprietary Gree Platform to sustain and grow its burgeoning game catalog.

His talk, "Unveiling the Secrets of Mobile Social Game Operation," is part of GDC China's Business & Marketing track, and will be open to All Access and Main Conference pass holders. Online registration is now open on the GDC China website, and the show itself will take place November 17-19 at the Shanghai Convention Center in Shanghai, China.

In addition to the above presentation, GDC China organizers have also added the following talks to the show's lineup:

- As part of the Game Design track, Carla Fisher of children's game design studio No Crusts Interactive will explain how developers can leverage developmental psychology to create better games for kids. Her talk, "Little Hands, Foul Moods, and Runny Noses: Developmental Research Meets Emerging Technologies," will equip developers with the knowledge they need to craft better UIs, cooperative mechanics, and storytelling systems for kids on a wide variety of platforms.

- Elsewhere in the Game Design track, Henric Suuronen of NonStop Games (Dollar Isle, Paint Stars) will focus on emerging multiplatform technologies in "Making Games for Gamers in HTML5." Here, Suuronen will examine the current trends on smartphones and tablets, noting that developers might want to focus on more on hardcore players if they wish to create a successful game in HTML5.

GDC China 2012 to reveal the unlikely story of Johann Sebastian Joust

As video games go, Die Gute Fabrik's Johann Sebastian Joust is a bit of an odd case, as it really have any video to speak of. The graphics-free game relies only on music and motion controllers, and encourages players to get physical in a unique game of elimination.

While it hasn't yet seen a commercial release, the game has won numerous awards, and has been featured at major industry events such as the Game Developers Conference, PAX, and more. And later this month, the game's creator, Douglas Wilson, will head to GDC China to discuss the how this quirky title evolved from a simple game jam prototype into a full-fledged indie darling.

Douglas will chronicle the game's development from the very beginning, and will share the numerous lessons he's learned along the way. He'll examine how folk games and playground games can inspire developers working on their own physical games, and will explain why it's helpful to think of motion-controlled games "in terms of slapstick and subversion."

Wilson's talk, "The Unlikely Story of Johann Sebastian Joust," is part of GDC China's Independent Games Summit, and will be open to GDC China's All Access and Summits & Tutorials pass holders. Online registration is now open on the GDC China website, and the show itself will take place November 17-19 at the Shanghai Convention Center in Shanghai, China.

In addition to the above presentation, GDC China organizers have also added the following talks to the show's lineup:

- Also in the Independent Games Summit, Dejobaan Games' Ichiro Lambe (who created the award-winning AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! -- A Reckless Disregard for Gravity) will outline how you can get your career as an indie developer off the ground. During his talk, "First Steps: Starting as an Independent Game Developer," he'll discuss how you can manage a brand new team, explore new publishing opportunities, avoid common pitfalls, and more.

- Over in the Programming track, Adisak Pochanayon of Mortal Kombat house Netherrealm Studios will offer an advanced talk on code instrumentation. His session is titled "Runtime CPU Performance Spike Detection Using Manual and Automated Compiler Instrumentation," and will cover "manual instrumentation, code detours and function trampolining and compiler specific options including compiler automated (or compiler assisted) instrumentation (CAI), naked functions with platform specific inline assembler, and linker function wrapping."

Raph Koster to examine 'How Games Think' at next month's GDC China

We live in a world that has always been shaped by the media we consume, and with video games growing more popular by the day, their influence is only getting stronger.

And at next month's GDC China in Shanghai, Ultima Online and Star Wars Galaxies veteran Raph Koster will examine that very topic, noting how games not only affect the world we live in, but also the way we think.

As Koster sees it, video games inherently support certain ways of thinking, and by playing these games, we end up viewing the world through their unique lens, which ultimately affects the society we live in.

During his keynote, "How Games Think," the Playdom VP will examine how games are changing the world, how they influence the way we think, and what that means for our future.

This keynote will be open to GDC China's All Access and Main Conference pass holders. Online registration is now open on the GDC China website, and the show itself will take place November 17-19 at the Shanghai Convention Center in Shanghai, China.

Koster's talk joins numerous other sessions already announced for GDC China. For more information on any of the sessions in the show's growing lineup, check out the "Announced Sessions" page on the show's official website.

Discover the origin of FTL at next month's GDC China

With its successful Kickstarter and clever approach to sci-fi strategy, Subset Games' FTL - or Faster Than Light - has been one of the most talked-about indie titles of 2012.

The game's massive popularity certainly took the two-man development team by surprise, and at next month's GDC China, Subset Games' Matthew Davis will look back on FTL's development to provide a full postmortem on how this quirky space combat game came to be.

During his presentation, Davis plans to tell the story of how "two guys who didn't really know what they were doing managed to make something people wanted to play." He'll examine FTL's early prototypes, its popular Kickstarter, and its eventual launch on Steam, noting how a small indie project can turn into a runaway hit.

Along the way, Davis will discuss what he and co-developer Justin Ma learned while creating FTL in the hopes of inspiring and empowering other indie developers.

This FTL postmortem is part of GDC China's Independent Games Summit, and will be open to GDC China's All Access and Summits & Tutorials pass holders. Online registration is now open on the GDC China website, and the show itself will take place November 17-19 at the Shanghai Convention Center in Shanghai, China.

In addition to the above presentation, GDC China organizers have also added the following talks to the show's lineup:

- As part of the show's Business & Marketing track, Tenshi Ventures' Ian Baverstock will offer some tips for reaching out to a European audience in "Working in the European Market." Baverstock will provide a general overview of this valuable market, noting the opportunities and challenges developers can expect if they hope to bring their games to Europe.

- Elsewhere, Final Form Games' Tim Ambrogi will host the Production track lecture "Small Steps in the Dark: Embracing the Continuous Prototyping Mindset." Here, he will explain how developers can more effectively integrate prototyping into their entire development process. By prototyping every step of the way, he believes developers will be better prepared to adapt to change and make better games.

Portal co-creator Kim Swift to give Indie Summit keynote at GDC China

There's certainly no one path to success in the game industry, but Kim Swift's rise to fame still stands out as a particularly interesting case.

After joining Valve and helping to mastermind the acclaimed Portal right out of college (cuing off IGF Student finalist Narbacular Drop), Swift has gone on to become one of the industry's most renowned designers. Today, she serves as a creative director at Airtight Games, where she co-created the first person puzzler Quantum Conundrum.

Swift has accomplished quite a bit in just a few short years, and at next month's GDC China, she will host a keynote at the Independent Games Summit to discuss the lessons she's learned along the way, where things went wrong, and how other developers can learn from her experience.

She'll also take a moment to discuss her "design principles for creating games for a more mass appeal, how to work best with a team of talented, passionate developers, and how to create an enjoyable and fun game."

This keynote, titled "Designing Fun: Easier Said Than Done," will be open to GDC China's All Access and Summits & Tutorials pass holders. Online registration is now open on the GDC China website, and the show itself will take place November 17-19 at the Shanghai Convention Center in Shanghai, China.

In addition to the above presentation, GDC China organizers have also added the following talks to the show's Independent Games Summit:

Naughty Dog to detail Uncharted 3's visual effects at GDC China

Uncharted 3 is considered easily one of the best-looking games on the PlayStation 3, and at next month's GDC China in Shanghai, developer Naughty Dog will provide an in-depth look at the tools and technology used to produce the particle effects in this critically acclaimed title.

In a presentation dubbed "Effects Techniques Used in Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception," Naughty Dog programmer Marshall Robin will look under the hood of this popular game, noting the various tricks and techniques the studio uses to get the most out of its full scale console titles.

Robin's talk will offer "an overview of the tool pipeline used to author and process particle assets, a detailed walk through of the simulation and rendering runtime, and some shader techniques used in our effects."

This talk is part of GDC China's Programming track, and will be open to All Access and Main Conference pass holders. Discounted Early Bird registration is now open on the GDC China website, and the show itself will take place November 17-19 at the Shanghai Convention Center in Shanghai, China.

In addition to the above presentation, GDC China organizers have also added the following talks to the show's growing lineup:

- As part of the Game Design track, Ubisoft creative director Jason VandenBerghe (Far Cry 3) will host "The 5 Domains of Play: Applying Psychology's Big 5 Motivation Domains to Games." Expanding on his well-received presentation from GDC 2012, VandenBerghe will draw from research and scientific evidence to help designers create games that are more satisfying at a psychological level.

- In the Business & Marketing track, Kongregate co-founder Emily Greer will compare the Eastern and Western game markets in "Core Games, Real Numbers: Comparative Stats on Asian & Western Games." Greer will draw from Kongregate's game data to note some important trends across both these markets so developers can better understand what makes a game succeed or fail with its specific audience.

Double Fine to discuss striking UI design at GDC China

When a player first boots up your game, the first thing they're going to see is your main menu. This is a great early opportunity to create an emotional bond with the player, yet most games don't do enough in those precious first moments.

But at next month's GDC China in Shanghai, Double Fine user interface designer Joe Kowalski will host an in-depth presentation on how developers can make their UIs more interesting and memorable for their audience.

Kowalski helped create the striking record-inspired main menu for Double Fine's Brutal Legend, and even worked on the UI for Harmonix's Guitar Hero titles, and in his session, dubbed "Working the Crowd: Engaging Players through the User Interface," he'll explain why these and other interfaces can play a very important role in the player's overall experience.

This talk is part of GDC China's Game Design track, and will be open to All Access and Main Conference pass holders. Early bird registration is now open on the GDC China website, and the show itself will take place November 17-19 at the Shanghai Convention Center in Shanghai, China.

In addition to the above presentation, GDC China organizers have also added the following talks to the show's growing lineup:

- As part of the Business track, former Game Developer magazine editor-in-chief and Necrosoft Games founder Brandon Sheffield will discuss the major trends in the Western game market in a session titled "Fastest Game in the West." Drawing from his experience working on Game Developer magazine and speaking with developers around the world, Sheffield will provide a detailed overview of the Western game industry and explain how it differs from Eastern markets.

- Also in the Business track, ZeptoLab's chief revenue officer Diana Moldavsky will examine the studio's hit mobile game Cut the Rope in "Building a Global Brand: Capitalizing on an Icon." Moldavsky will explain how this cute puzzle game became an instant hit around the world, and allowed ZeptoLab to create a brand that extended far beyond the game itself.

IGF China 2012 unveils Main Competition, Student finalists

The Independent Games Festival China has revealed the Main Competition and Student finalists for its 2012 award ceremony, which celebrates the most creative indie games from throughout the Pan-Pacific area,

The GDC China co-located event is now in its fourth year, and this time around the finalists include indie games such as the action-platformer Dustforce, the retro-inspired puzzler Cubetractor, the mobile action game Flying Daggers, and more.

Drawing from a prize pool totaling 45,000 RMB (roughly $7,150), IGF China's Main Competition will give away five distinguished awards, covering Excellence in Audio, Design, Technology, and Visual Arts, as well as the Best Mobile Game and Best Game awards. In addition to the prestige and prizes, winners will also receive two All-Access Passes for the upcoming GDC 2013 in San Francisco.

Alongside IGF China's Main Competition, the ceremony will also host the Student Competition, which honors six of the top regional student games, with teams this year hailing from Mainland China, Singapore, and Taiwan.

This part of the competition includes two awards -- for Best Student Game and Excellent Student Winners -- and offers roughly 13,000 RMB (roughly $2,050) in cash prizes.

Winners in both competitions will be chosen by a panel of expert jurors including Kevin Li (CEO, TipCat Interactive); Monte Singman (Founder/CEO, Radiance Digital Entertainment); Xubo Yang (Director of Digital Art Lab and Assistant Professor; Shanghai Jiaotong University's School of Software), Haipeng Yu (Producer, Tencent Shanghai), and jury chairman Simon Carless, IGF Chairman Emeritus and EVP of the GDC shows, Gamasutra, and Game Developer magazine.

This year's awards ceremony will take place the evening of November 18, and will run alongside the rest of GDC China, which will be held November 17-19 at the Shanghai Convention Center in Shanghai, China.

Here are the finalists for this year's IGF China.

Main Competition

Army and Strategy: The Crusades, by Pied Pipers Entertainment, South Korea [Website, Video]

Cubetractor, by Ludochip, Singapore [Website, Video]

Diggin' Dogs, by Soap Creative, Australia [Website, Video]

GDC China 2012 adds Bejeweled Blitz, Zombie Gunship smartphone talks

The growing session lineup for this November's GDC China in Shanghai is quickly gaining steam, and today the show's organizers have revealed three new talks in the Smartphone & Tablet Games Summit.

This time, these new sessions include an examination of PopCap's Bejeweled Blitz, a case study from Limbic Software on the challenges of mobile game growth, and Appy Entertainment on pivoting from 'premium to freemium' in the smartphone space.

As part of the Smartphone & Tablet Games Summit, these sessions will run alongside the rest of GDC China from November 17-19 at the Shanghai Convention Center in Shanghai, China, and will offer specialized content covering the ins and outs of mobile game development.

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

- In "Bejeweled Blitz: One Year in the Life of a Top-Grossing Mobile Game," PopCap's Giordano Bruno Contestabile will discuss how Bejeweled Blitz made the jump from Facebook to iOS, and became one of the platform's most long-lasting success stories. Along the way, he'll explain how other cross-platform social game developers can emulate that success by combining smart game design, data analysis, and more.

- Elsewhere, Limbic Software co-founder Iman Mostafavi will host "Getting out of the Garage: Managing Teams, Customer Relationships, Cloud Servers and 97 Other Things to Handle Growth." During this session, Mostafavi will examine Limbic titles like TowerMadness, Nuts!, and Zombie Gunship, and will detail the technical and operational challenges the studio faced as its games began to grow. It'll be a great chance to learn from Limbic's experience and gain a better understanding of how to deal with rapid changes in scale.

- Finally, Appy Entertainment brand director Paul O'Connor (SpellCraft School of Magic, Trucks & Skulls) will present "Premium to Freemium: Pivoting Monetization Method for Best-Selling Apps," detailing how his studio "converted two best-selling premium apps to freemium monetization and increased their audience, grew their revenue and made the games better in the process."

GDC China 2012 adds talks from Naughty Dog, Volition, more

The lineup for November's GDC China in Shanghai continues to grow today, adding some of the creators of key titles like Saints Row: The Third, Uncharted 3, and more.

These three newly announced sessions -- along with the rest of GDC China -- will take place November 17-19 at the Shanghai International Convention Center in Shanghai, China, and will bring together the world's leading developers to share knowledge and ideas that will benefit the Asian game industry and beyond.

The full details on GDC China's newest sessions are as follows:

- As part of the Production track, Volition player experience researcher Jordan Lynn will examine the best practices for making satisfying games in "Playtesting and Metrics: Getting the Most Out of Your Usability Testing." Drawing examples from games like Saints Row: The Third and Red Faction: Armageddon, Lynn will explain "how to integrate back-end telemetry into an existing playtest program," noting how it can help developers gather valuable information and ultimately make better games.

- Over in the conference's Game Design track, Naughty Dog senior game designer Benson Russell will host, "The Last 10, Going From Good To Awesome." Here, Russell will examine how the acclaimed studio behind Uncharted and The Last of Us ensures its games launch as polished as possible. He'll discuss the team's approach to managing development schedules, the level of detail developers should shoot for, and how to make a high-quality game while still shipping on time.

- Finally, Ubisoft Shanghai's Xu Wang will present the Game Design track lecture "From Console to Mobile: the Best Practices to Build Multi-Platform Games." During this session, Wang will discuss how developers can use some principles from console game development to make their mobile projects go much more smoothly. Looking at everything from development pipelines, technology and communication, Wang will examine the ways in which console expertise can benefit nearly all forms of multiplatform development.

GDC China 2012 reveals first Smartphone, Indie Summit sessions

In the latest update for this November's GDC China, event organizers have revealed the show's first three Summit sessions, which cover how to achieve long-term success on mobile platforms, some tips for improving user acquisition, and whether indies should find a publisher or work on their own.

These sessions fall within the Smartphone & Tablet Games Summit and the Independent Games Summit, which will run alongside the show's Main Conference, and offer specialized content focused on these two very important realms of the modern video game landscape.

These Summits will take place alongside GDC China's Main Conference on November 17-19.

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

- As part of the Smartphone & Tablet Games Summit, NaturalMotion Games' Struan Robertson will discuss how his studio has maintained success on mobile devices with games like My Horse and the extremely popular CSR Racing (pictured). His talk, "Mobile Social - The Future is Quality," will discuss how to attract a dedicated, sophisticated player base by focusing on specific gameplay mechanics and crafting a high-quality user experience.

- In that same Summit, Chartboost's Maria Alegre will host, "User Acquisition: The Latest Trends, Tools and Best Practices." Here, Alegre will examine a number of iOS and Abdroid games that have found their way to the top of the app charts, detailing the tools they used, how successful they were, and how the mobile user acquisition market is changing.

- Over in the Independent Games Summit, noted Chinese indie Wen Chen of Coconut Island Studio (One Tap Hero for iOS) will discuss the best way to distribute your independent game in "Self-Publishing or Find a Publisher?" Chen will compare these two very different publishing strategies, and will give indie developers a better understanding of how they can get their games into players' hands.

IGF China reminds on Monday entry deadline for 2012 competition

Following another successful event in 2011, this November's Independent Games Festival China is beginning to take shape, and developers looking to feature their games at the event should act soon, as the call for indie game submissions ends on Monday, September 10.

IGF China -- which will take place alongside GDC China in Shanghai -- is accepting submissions from developers from throughout the pan-Pacific area, which includes both Asian and Australian regions. To enter, simply fill out the submissions form on the official GDC China website.

As in previous years, IGF China will be divided into three main segments: The IGF Summit, the IGF Pavilion, and the IGF Awards. The IGF Summit will feature sessions from some of the world's top developers, while the IGF Pavilion will showcase some of the region's best independent and student games.

The prestigious IGF Awards, meanwhile, will be split into both Main and Student competitions, and will honor the many talented developers in both China and its surrounding regions.

The 2012 IGF China Main Competition will give out awards and cash prizes in five categories, including:

- Best Game (RMB20,000 ~ $3,150 USD)
- Best Mobile Game (RMB10,000 ~ $1,570 USD)
- Excellence in Audio (RMB5,000 ~ $780 USD)
- Excellence in Technology (RMB5,000 ~ $780 USD)
- Excellence in Visual Arts (RMB5,000 ~ $780 USD)

The Student Competition, meanwhile, will offer two awards, for Best Student Game (RMB10, 000 ~ $1,570 USD, 1 Winner) and Excellent Student Winner (RMB3, 000 ~$470 USD, 2 Winners).

GDC China debuts Valve, Bethesda level design day, first design talks

With GDC China 2012 just a few months away, the show has debuted the first sessions in its quickly expanding lineup. For this first update, show organizers have added a robust level design tutorial featuring developers from Bethesda, Valve, and The Fullbright Company, as well as game design talks from companies like EA Sports and Virtuos.

These debut sessions -- along with the rest of GDC China -- will take place November 17-19 at the Shanghai International Convention Center in Shanghai, China, and will bring together the world's leading developers to share knowledge and ideas that will benefit the Asian game industry and beyond.

The full details on GDC China's initial sessions are as follows:

- First, the show will host the in-depth "Level Design Workshop," an interactive tutorial session examining the best practices for successful level design. During this session, Bethesda's Joel Burgess, Valve's Matthew Scott, and The Fullbright Company founder and Bioshock 2 designer Steve Gaynor will discuss fundamental principles such as layout, flow, pacing, and narrative, and will apply those concepts to a variety of game genres.

- In the Design Track's "The Business of Art Direction: 7 Critical Precepts," EA Sports executive art director Rick Stringfellow will discuss some essential guidelines that can help developers better manage their production pipelines. He'll examine everything from "debugging difficult digital content to establishing new visual processes," and will give attendees the knowledge they'll need to streamline development for all types of games, platforms, and audiences.

- Finally, Florian Dhesse of outsourcing house Virtuos will host "Improve Your Games' Quality by Managing Your Designers," offering tips to help Chinese studios lead and nurture their valuable game designers. Drawing from Virtuos' own experience working in China, the senior game design manager will outline the methods and tools studios will need to improve their products and better manage their game design staff.

 

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