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GDC Europe Reveals Mafia 2, Bejeweled Blitz Lectures, Tencent Keynote

GDC Europe organizers have announced major new speakers for the August event in Cologne alongside Gamescom, with 2K Czech talking Mafia 2, PopCap on Bejeweled Blitz, an all-star level design talk, and a keynote from Chinese online game powerhouse Tencent.

Following major recent talks announced from Heavy Rain's David Cage, InstantAction's Lou Castle, and the creators of Crysis 2, APB and Split/Second, the new talks further expand the leading European video game conference, which takes place on August 16th-18th in Cologne, Germany.

Some of the notable new speakers for the conference include the following:

- Level designers from major games Brink, Mirror's Edge and Alan Wake combine for the collaborative talk 'The Tao of Level Design: A Study of 3 AAA Games', with Splash Damage's Neil Alphonso, EA DICE's Elisabetta Silli and Remedy's Mikael Kasurinen posing the following question: "Are level design approaches for radically different games inherently similar, or do accepted methods need to be drastically altered to fit the unique nature of the project?"

- Talking in a notable technical lecture called 'The Living City In Mafia 2', 2K Czech lead programmer Jan Kratochvil will explain "creating a visually attractive city", with particular reference to 2K's much-awaited console and PC title. Facets discussed will include the algorithms for spawning and despawning pedestrians and cars, the AI for NPCs, and "examples and the most interesting issues we had to solve over the years of development of Mafia 2."

- In 'Postmortem: Bejeweled Blitz, Cross-Platform Social Gaming in Practice', PopCap Games co-founder Jason Kapalka discusses the acclaimed social puzzle game, which "gained over 10 million active players on [Facebook] before going on to be adapted for the iPhone and as a PC-downloadable product." The session will go over the important design and technical challenges that PopCap's teams faced, explain successes and failures, and discuss what lessons have been learned from the process.

- In a Design Track highlight, Digital Chocolate's noted social game designer Aki Jarvinen will present 'Viral Mechanics Uncovered', a design lecture "combining psychological concepts such as persuasion with game design principles" to look at case studies of popular Facebook/social games' viral features -- pinpointing how viral loops have been successfully created via specific mechanics.

In addition to these major announcements, GDC Europe organizers have announced a keynote for the event from Bo Wang, Vice President of Tencent Games. In his keynote, 'Bridging the East and West: The Tencent Games Story', Wang will address -- in Tencent's first ever lecture to Western game creators -- the success story of one of the largest online gaming companies and virtual currency providers in China, and its development plans for the future.

Tencent was founded in 1998, and is particularly well known for its instant messaging system QQ, which has 568 million registered users in China as of March 2010, as well as the major QQ Game portal, which runs and operates a host of casual games and MMOs to one of the biggest worldwide audiences.

These talks add to an already packed GDC Europe line-up that includes additional talks from Sony, Playdom, Crytek, and a keynote from German gaming powerhouse Bigpoint (Battlestar Galactica MMO), with multiple keynotes and more major conference content still to be announced.

Overall, the conference, taking place Monday through Wednesday August 16-18, 2010 at the Cologne Congress Center East in Cologne, Germany, will once again run alongside the major GamesCom event -- which non-student GDC Europe passholders will also gain free access to -- to present the leading game industry event for developers, consumers, publishers and trade professionals.

For more information on specifics for GDC Europe -- for which registration is now open -- interested parties can visit the official Game Developers Conference Europe website.

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