GDC 2012 debuts Sweeney, Notch, Mechner 'Return of Indie' panel

This week, Game Developers Conference 2012 has announced three new Main Conference talks, featuring a panel on the indie renaissance, a look at emerging technology trends, and a breakdown of the tech pipeline for Assassin's Creed.

The 26th GDC show will take place Monday, March 5 through Friday, March 9 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, and the Main Conference (March 7th-9th) offers six tracks covering key disciplines in the games industry, including Audio, Business, Marketing & Management, Game Design, Production, Programming, and Visual Arts.

The following lectures are the newest highlights for GDC 2012's Main Conference:

- The Business, Marketing & Management track is revealing a signature panel, "Back to the Garage: The Return of Indie Development," featuring industry notables including Epic founder Tim Sweeney, Prince of Persia creator Jordan Mechner, Canabalt developer Adam Saltsman, Mojang's Markus "Notch" Persson, with moderator, UCSC's associate director of the Center for Games and Playable Media, Jane Pinckard.

Drawing from their varied and prolific careers in the game industry, these panelists will examine the explosive growth of small-scale and indie game development. Each of them will use their prodigious experience to discuss key indie opportunities and risks, "while offering advice on how to make the most of digital distribution, new platforms, and much more."

- Elsewhere, in a key talk in the show's Programming track, Square Enix's global CTO Julien Merceron will host "Designing a Technology Strategy for a Large Publisher." Merceron, drawing from his experience working at Ubisoft, Eidos, and now Square Enix, will explain how developers need to tailor their technology to support the varying needs, strengths, and weaknesses of major publishers.

Merceron, who oversees technology across the entire merged entity of Square Enix and Eidos, including franchises from Final Fantasy through Tomb Raider and Deus Ex, will outline how a company's technology alters its approach to internal development, and will point to emerging trends developers should be aware of.

- Also in the Programming track, Ubisoft team lead programmer Thomas Felix will explain how the "Passenger team," part of the technology group at Ubisoft Montreal, established a streamlined development pipeline for Assassin's Creed's CG and gameplay elements.

The talk, dubbed, "Passenger: Story of a Convergent Pipeline - From Assassin's Creed Lineage to Assassin's Creed Revelations," will examine how Ubisoft's internal workflow influences the series' narrative and game content, ranging from spinoff films to the games themselves.

In addition to the above sessions, GDC organizers debuted Main Conference sessions featuring Valve Software on dynamic dialog, Double Fine on kid-friendly design, and Rocksteady Studios on the music of Batman: Arkham City. In addition, organizers recently revealed new full-day tutorials on HTML5 development, Scrum, physics simulation, and more.

For more information on these or other sessions at GDC 2012, please take a look at the event's recently-launched Schedule Builder, which will list all public lectures and additions between now and the March 2012 show.

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