GDC Online highlights top speakers, reminds on early reg deadline

GDC Online 2012, organized by the UBM TechWeb Game Network, is just a few short months away, and will host a robust schedule of more than 100 lectures, panels, keynotes, and roundtable discussions led by notables in the connected, mobile, and social game development sectors.

The annual event returns to Austin on October 9 through October 11, and Early Bird registration for GDC Online is still open through Friday, August 24.

Mobile and social games will have an increased prominence this year, reflecting developments across the games landscape. Vijay Thakkar, Zynga technical director, will lecture on the importance of searching for and developing new IP while Kabam general manager Justin Lambros and art lead Josh Viers give a joint session to offer attendees a behind-the-scenes review of the design development decisions they made while creating the studio's hardcore social-strategy game, Trojan War.

Gary Gattis, CEO of Austin-based mobile and social MMO developer Spacetime Studios, will also be on hands to detail his applied "engagement and respect" philosophy at Spacetime, which has retained more than 90 percent of its employees for several years.

GDC Online will also continue to adhere to its core focus on online games. Damien Schubert, principal lead systems designer at BioWare Austin, and one of the minds behind Star Wars: The Old Republic, and John Smedley, president of Sony Online Entertainment, will both offer lessons from their experiences developing and launching big-budget, large-scale MMO titles.

As a special treat, attendees will have the opportunity to learn about the challenges of developing, launching and maintaining a landmark MMORPG title during the Ultima Online classic game postmortem. Rich Vogel, Raph Koster and Starr M. Long, three chief members of the original Ultima Online team, will be on-hand to discuss the challenges they faced during the creation of the seminal game.

Introduced at the 2011 Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, classic game postmortems provide a forum for the game creators behind legacy titles to deconstruct what they learned during the process of development.

Other key 2012 GDC Online speakers and sessions include:

- Electronic Arts' EVP of digital, Kristian Segerstrale, discussing the best approach to creating fully immersive game ecosystems that create an emotional connection with consumers.

- Zynga CTOs Jason Pearlman (mobile) and Allan Leinwand (infrastructure engineering) offering tips to game developers and engineers on how to cope with the infrastructure demands of modern online games.

- Riot Games senior producer Travis George, who leads production on League of Legends, sharing tangible examples of how producers can grow their teams successfully, with lessons from growth at Riot Games over the last four years and the speaker's experience in the shaping of the team.

- CCP Games senior designer Matthew Woodward presenting a design theory for online sandbox games, starting with the foundation concepts and going on to explain the core structural gameplay components and the hidden plumbing that ties them together.

GDC Online, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, focuses on the development of connected games including social networking titles, large-scale MMOs, cloud games and beyond. The conference, which attracted more than 3,350 attendees in 2011, affords game industry professionals countless learning opportunities across five main conference tracks -- Business & Marketing, Design, Customer Experience, Production and Programming -- and summit sessions, which this year include the Game Narrative Summit and the Smartphone & Tablet Games Summit, both returning alongside two new summits, the Game Dev Start-Up Summit and the Gamification Day.

Information about all of the announced sessions can be found at the official GDC Online website.

Early Bird registration for GDC Online 2012 ends on Friday, August 24; those who wish to save up to 40 percent on passes can go to the show's registration page to explore pass options before the deadline.

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