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GDC Spotlight Interviews: Microsoft and Havok

| December 2014

In This Issue:

  • Microsoft - Mark Seminatore, principal development manager, Xbox Advanced Technology Group at Microsoft, talks about DirectX 12, buying Mojang, and how the best coders can win prizes in the QuickStart Challenges at GDC.

GDC Spotlight Interviews: Tencent Games, ARM and Unity Technologies

| January 2014

In This Issue:

  • Tencent Games - Steve Gray, executive in charge of production at Tencent Games, gives tips for developers who want to pitch apps to Chinese operators, and a sneak peek at what to expect from the upcoming Developer Day event at GDC 2014.

Independent Games Festival's 1999 finalists, then and now

The inaugural year for the Independent Games Festival (IGF) was over a decade ago. While over 1,000 entries exist for the 2014 competition, IGF was 10 times smaller in 1999, which may correlate to a time when it was more difficult to be financially successful and independent. Indie angel investors and incubators, console support, digital distribution channels, easy access to free tools and assistance, and online crowd funding initiatives were all but missing at the turn of the millenium.
Even if IGF recognized these innovative but incomplete games, there were more obstacles and fewer options for them to make it to retail. It should come as no surprise that some of the IGF 1999 games from smaller studios remain unfinished. Though not all the games earned success, the talent behind these games has persevered.
Master of remastering ceremonies Jason Scott has revisited some of the more widely known game talent from that year. To complement Jason's excellent preservation of the finalist show reel, this piece will explore what has happened to as many of the first IGF finalists as possible. It looks at what IGF has done for these sometimes repeat finalists, what else they have worked on, and even what they feel could improve IGF.

GDC China 2013 announced for Sept 15-17th: call for talks now open

The call for Mandarin and English submissions to present talks for the 2013 Game Developers Conference China is now open until May 10.
Organized by UBM Tech Game Network, GDC China, now in its sixth year, will move up to September this year, running the 15th to the 17th at the Shanghai International Convention Center in Shanghai, China.
Submissions will be accepted until May 10th for papers on Game Design, Production, Business & Marketing, Smartphone & Tablet Games, and Independent Games.
As ever for the GDC shows, organizers are looking for leading industry practitioners to propose lectures and panels with significant, applicable takeaways for today's video game community.
GDC China continues to be the premier professional conference for the creators of games and interactive entertainment in Asia. Chosen speakers can join the world's leading developers to exchange ideas, be inspired, and to further advance the business, knowledge and technology behind game creation in Asia.

GDC 2013 debuts 'Schedule Builder', highlights new roundtables

With planning for March's GDC 2013 in San Francisco now underway, the show's organizers have debuted more than 20 sessions via the initial Schedule Builder, with hundreds more due over the next few weeks.

As always, prospective GDC speakers are working closely with the advisory board, who are individually mentoring talks through multiple submissions stages and into the official program.

As part of this process, GDC 2013's very first announced talks are now available online via its official Schedule Builder - with highlights to be further explored soon including a 'poster session' on Metacritic scoring, plus talks from Double Fine, Frictional Games and Microsoft.

Alongside the Schedule Builder, GDC organizers have also added this week a pair of roundtable talks focusing on managing art teams and incorporating designers into your production processes.

Unlike GDC's standard lectures and panels, these roundtable sessions allow attendees to sit down with the host to engage in face-to-face discussions, share their personal experiences, and learn from their fellow developers.

First, Keith Self-Ballard, an art director at Blizzard Entertainment on the company's unannounced next-gen MMO, will host the "Art Director and Lead Artist Roundtable," which will provide an open forum for artists and art directors to exchange ideas regarding how studios should manage, lead, and direct their art teams.

This session will address the most pressing issues facing today's game artists, and attendees will walk away with a better understanding of how to overcome these challenges.

In the second new roundtable, storied developer and University of Advancing Technology professor David Wessman (TIE Fighter, The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay, Saints Row) will help attendees look at how designers should interact with developers from other disciplines.

His roundtable, dubbed "Whose Design Is It Anyway? Game Designers and Development Teams," will help designers and other developers understand each other's roles, improve cross-studio communication, and create a more collaborative atmosphere across their entire studio.

Become a better writer, programmer with GDC 2013's specialized tutorials

Whether you're an experienced industry veteran or an upstart hobbyist developer, it's always a good idea to take some time to brush up on your game-making fundamentals.

No one can make a truly great game without first understanding the basics of development, which is why next year's Game Developers Conference in San Francisco will feature a number of robust tutorials to help attendees sharpen their essential skills.

This week, GDC 2013's organizers have debuted a pair of tutorials to help developers create better narrative content, and understand the mathematic principles behind modern game programming.

In the first tutorial, LucasArts lead narrative designer Evan Skolnick will return to GDC to host "Game Writing Fundamentals in a Day." During this session, he'll provide a comprehensive primer for game writers, covering the basics of good story structure, character development, and dialogue writing.

Of course, developers in other disciplines will benefit from this tutorial as well, as they will learn how to bridge the gap between game writers and the rest of the development team.

This week's second tutorial is another GDC favorite aimed at helping developers understand the foundation of modern game programming. The session, titled "Math for Games Programmers," will bring together a host of programming experts to cover everything from basic mathematic principles to the complex topics every programmer should master.

Confirmed speakers for this session include Jim Van Verth (Insomniac Games), Manny Ko (Imaginations Technologies), Gino van den Bergen (Dtecta), Stan Melax (Intel), Squirrel Eiserloh (The Guildhall at SMU), Robin Green (Microsoft), and Graham Rhodes (Applied Research Assoc., Inc.).

Both of the above sessions will take place as part of GDC 2013's Main Conference, which is open to All Access and Main Conference pass holders (a special Audio-specific pass is also available). Discounted Early Bird registration is now open on the show's official website, and GDC 2013 itself will take place March 25-29 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco.

GDC 2013's debut sessions feature Assassin's Creed III, Magic: The Gathering creator

The build-up to next March's Game Developers Conference in San Francisco has officially begun. The show's organizers are now working hard to craft the event's robust session lineup, and today they announced the first three talks that have made the cut.

The first talk to join the GDC 2013 roster is "Rendering Assassin's Creed III," a Programming track lecture that will offer a detailed look at the game's weather system, lighting solution, and much more. Speaker and Ubisoft lead graphics programmer Jean-Francois St-Amour will also share some of Ubisoft's tricks for improving current-generation titles when porting them to DX11 PC hardware.

The other two debut talks come from GDC 2013's Business, Marketing, and Management track. In "The Beauty and Challenge of Mixing Physical and Digital Games," a robust panel of industry veterans will take a moment to examine the blurring line between physical and digital titles.

During this session, speakers including Eric Hautemont (Days of Wonder), Soren Johnson (Zynga), Magic: The Gathering creator Richard Garfield (Three Donkeys), Joel Goodman (Playdek), and moderator Tom Chick (Quarter to Three) will detail how developers can benefit from straddling the line between video games and board games.

The third GDC session, also in the Business track, is a roundtable examining the intricacies of microtransaction-based business models. You can attend "Free to Play, Pay for Stuff: Virtual Goods Win" and join Three Rings CEO Daniel James (Spiral Knights) and Iron Realms chairman Matt Mihaly as they discuss the dangers, opportunities, and ongoing trends in the free-to-play and virtual markets. This will be the ninth successive year of this popular roundtable.

More talks will debut in the near future, and all of the above sessions will take place as part of GDC 2013's Main Conference, which is open to All Access and Main Conference pass holders (a special Audio-specific pass is also available). Discounted Early Bird registration is now open on the show's official website, and GDC 2013 itself will take place March 25-29 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco.

GDC 2013 Bosslady Blog: Our GDC Code of Conduct

[In her Bosslady Blog update for the 2013 cycle, Game Developers Conference events GM Meggan Scavio details the official code of conduct for GDC and all of its related events.]

As the General Manager of all GDC events, I've been looking closely at how we explain to attendees what is -- and is not -- allowed at our shows. So I would like to take a moment to remind you that offensive behavior of any kind will not be tolerated.

As GDC enters its 27th iteration, I want nothing more than for it to remain a place where everyone is welcome, treated equally, and leaves feeling as if it was a week well spent.

I also want people to enjoy themselves -- whether waiting in line for a session, visiting the expo floor, or partaking in drinks at a hotel bar or after-event party. I don't know about you, but I enjoy myself most when I am not being threatened, discriminated against, or fending off unwelcome advances. So don't do that.

And more importantly, if someone tells you that they are bothered by your behavior, stop doing it. As has been the case in the past -- but as we are making absolutely explicit now -- any Game Developers Conference attendee, speaker, press member, or exhibitor behaving offensively or found to be harassing others will have their GDC badge confiscated and be asked to leave. Depending on the severity of the offense, we may consider a multi-year ban from our shows.

All of this only works, of course if you report harassment immediately. Every GDC has a Show Office where you will always find a staff member willing to help. And I can always be reached by email at [email protected], if you don't feel comfortable initiating a report face to face. But it's important that you tell us at the time of the incident while we are onsite and can do something about it.

Our GDC official code of conduct, which is modeled on Open Source Bridge's original, is below. Let's work together to keep GDC an open and safe place for all.

Here is the official Game Developers Conference Code of Conduct:

1. Purpose

GDC believes our community should be truly open for everyone. As such, we are committed to providing a friendly, safe and welcoming environment for all, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, disability, ethnicity, or religion.

This code of conduct outlines our expectations for participant behavior as well as the consequences for unacceptable behavior.

We invite all sponsors, volunteers, speakers, attendees, media, exhibitors and other participants to help us realize a safe and positive conference experience for everyone.

2. Expected behavior

- Be considerate, respectful, and collaborative.

- Refrain from demeaning, discriminatory or harassing behavior and speech.

- Be mindful of your surroundings and of your fellow participants. Alert conference organizers if you notice a dangerous situation or someone in distress.

3. Unacceptable behavior

Unacceptable behaviors include: intimidating, harassing, abusive, discriminatory, derogatory, or demeaning conduct by any attendees of GDC and related events. Many GDC venues are shared with members of the public; please be respectful to all patrons of these locations.

Harassment includes: offensive verbal comments related to gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, disability; inappropriate use of nudity and/or sexual images in public spaces (including presentation slides); deliberate intimidation, stalking or following; harassing photography or recording; sustained disruption of talks or other events; inappropriate physical contact, and unwelcome sexual attention.

GDC 2013 opens registration, Summit submissions close tomorrow

Next March's Game Developers Conference 2013 is now starting to take shape, and those interested in attending can secure their passes now, as online registration is now open for the major industry event.

You can register for the show by visiting the info page on the official GDC 2013 website, and discounted Early Bird pricing will remain in effect until February 13. If you're looking to host a Summit presentation at the 2013 event, however, be sure to act soon, as GDC 2013's call for Summit submissions will close tomorrow, October 23, at 11:59pm ET.

The GDC Summits, which take place the first two days of the five day conference, are one and two day events that cover relevant topics in emerging sectors of the game industry, with a focus on broadening the scope of games to incorporate new audiences, new platforms and new gameplay ideas.

This year, the show will add three new Summits to its robust lineup: The Game Narrative Summit, the QA Summit, and the Free-to-Play Design & Business Summit. (Submissions for the GDC 2013 Main Conference have already closed.)

The Game Narrative Summit comes to GDC in San Francisco after being held for seven years at GDC Online in Austin, Texas. The two day program covers interactive narrative in all its forms, from AAA blockbusters to indie games to transmedia projects. The summit is looking to feature an all-star lineup of speakers from every corner of the discipline, with session content ranging from the advanced and theoretical for writers, designers and others seeking to hone their skills.

The introduction of the QA Summit, meanwhile, marks the first time that the GDC will have dedicated content to quality assurance, which is a critical component in game development. Since there is no standard methodology to QA, this summit will discuss new and/or current tools, processes and organization methods being used in QA today and to show how QA is an integral part of development.

Finally, the Free-to-Play Design & Business Summit (the successor to the Social & Online Games Summit) will be taking submissions covering a range of topics relating to free-to-play (F2P) titles - from postmortems on new and successful F2P games, to the latest and greatest monetization techniques, to lessons learned in designing F2P titles from the ground up, to experiences on social features, among other pressing trends that F2P developers face.

GDC supports memorial fund for game developer Paul Steed

In August, the game industry lost one of its pioneer artists with the passing of Paul H. Steed, who served as a major 3D modeler for the Quake and Wing Commander series.

He served as an Advisory Board member for the Game Developers Conference for a number of years, and now the Board is highlighting, via the official GDC website, a memorial fund to support his family in this tragic time.

Steed spent more than two decades working as a video game artist, and had served on the GDC Advisory board for several years. In addition to working on some of the industry's most influential and critically-acclaimed titles, he also helped other game artists hone their craft with his Thinking Outside the Box column for Loonygames, and his numerous books on animating and modeling 3D characters.

"Unlike most of us, Steed didn't labor in obscurity. If you were involved in games during the '90s -- whether as a professional or as a fan -- it was hard not to pay attention to Paul Steed. He worked on some of the seminal titles of the decade, notably the Wing Commander series and the Quake series," recalled Steve Theodore, a GDC Advisory Board member and technical art director at Undead Labs.

"He produced the first demo for Xbox 360, presented a Game Career Seminar keynote at the Game Developers Conference, and was a leading exponent of art outsourcing -- proving that he could remain topical for nearly two decades. Always outspoken and always controversial, he was not a typical game artist -- but he was the most public exemplar of what we do for people both inside and outside the business."

One week to go for 2013 IGF's Main Competition entries

Organizers are reminding that submissions for the 2013 Independent Games Festival Main Competition, which reveals winners at GDC 2013 in San Francisco next March, will close in just 7 days.

The longest-running and highest-profile independent video game festival, summit and showcase continues to accept entries to the 15th annual Festival, with deadlines in the Main and Student Showcase categories in one week (October 17th) and three weeks (October 31st) respectively, with finalists to be announced on January 2013.

Following over 850 entries to IGF 2012, the Festival has expanded each existing category to six finalists, all of which will be available in playable form at a larger, expanded IGF Pavilion on the GDC show floor, and will compete for nearly $60,000 in prizes.

These include the $5,000 Nuovo Award, honoring 'abstract, shortform, and unconventional' games, as well as the Excellence in Art, Audio, Design, Technology, Student Game and Audience Award prizes, each worth $3,000, and the crowning $30,000 Seumas McNally Grand Prize.

Notable former Independent Games Festival winners over the previous 15 years include Spelunky, Fez, Minecraft, Limbo, World of Goo, Braid, Castle Crashers, Everyday Shooter and many more of the game industry's breakthrough independent titles.

Winners will be announced on stage at the high-profile Independent Games Festival Awards on Wednesday, March 27, 2013, at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, with the IGF Pavilion open from March 27-29, and the sister Independent Games Summit event taking place on March 25 and 26.

All of the Independent Games Festival events take place as part of the 2013 Game Developers Conference, which is held March 25th - March 29th, 2013 in San Francisco, and the IGF continues as the most vital showcase of independent game talent across the wide spectrum of artistically- and commercially-aimed development.



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