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GDC Online 2012 opens registration, debuts Old Republic, League of Legends talks

GDC Online 2012 organizers have announced that online registration for this October's show has officially opened, and the event has also debuted the first batch of talks in its growing lineup.

Keeping in line with the show's 'persistent gaming' theme, these initial sessions cover major online games such as Star Wars: The Old Republic and League of Legends, as well as the extremely important social games market.

This trio of talks marks the first of many regular updates leading up to this year's GDC Online. The etails on these presentations are as follows:

- As part of the Game Design track, BioWare Austin's Damion Schubert will provide an in-depth look at the studio's approach to online storytelling in a lecture titled "Behind the Curtain: Using MMO Game Systems to Tell BioWare Stories."

Throughout this presentation, Schubert will peel back the layers of major MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic, detailing how BioWare adapted its approach to in-game storytelling to a large scale online game. Along the way, he will outline how The Old Republic's mechanics both helped and hindered the game's narrative.

- Over in the Production track, Riot Games senior producer Travis George will host "Stacking Talent: Growing the League of Legends Team," discussing how to avoid the pitfalls of rapid studio growth.

George spends much of his time ensuring the League of Legends team remains cohesive and focused, and in this talk he will share what he's learned to help other developers uphold established processes, communication channels, and most of all, a sense of studio culture.

- Finally, social game developers Steve Meretzky (VP of game design, Playdom) and Dave Rohrl (VP of game production, FunSockets), will host the GDC Online conference staple, "Social Games: The Year in Review."

As they've done in previous years, the pair will look back at the last year in the social game market, offering their unique insight and analysis on recent trends, successes, lessons learned, and more.

Whether you're new to social games or a seasoned expert, this session will provide an essential overview of the space to help ensure that you're aware of what's happening now, and what might be on the horizon.

Reminder: GDC China's call for submissions ends Monday, June 18

The UBM TechWeb Game Network, organizers of the industry-leading Game Developers Conference series, are reminding that the deadline to submit a presentation for this year's GDC China is Monday, June 18.

Now in its fifth year, GDC China 2012 will take place Saturday November 17 through Monday, November 19 at the Shanghai International Convention Center in Shanghai, China, and will once again bring together the world's leading developers to share knowledge and ideas surrounding the extremely popular Asian game industry.

Developers from all over the world are welcome to attend the upcoming event, which will address essential topics spanning outsourcing production, free-to-play business models, bringing games from the East to the West, and much more.

This year, the event's call for submissions includes main conference tracks covering Design, Business & Marketing, Production, and Visual Arts. Organizers are looking for leading Western and Asian practitioners to propose lectures and panels with major practical takeaways for today's video game market.

Organizers are also accepting lecture proposals for the two GDC China Summits: the Independent Games Summit and the Smartphone & Tablet Games Summit, both of which will focus on modern and pertinent sectors of modern game development.

GDC Europe 2012 adds new social game talks on Kabam, Draw Something, and more

In the latest update to GDC Europe's ever-expanding lineup, show organizers have debuted a trio of talks covering the free to play and social game markets, featuring speakers from Kabam, Couchbase, and more.

These sessions all fall within GDC Europe's Social & Online Games Summit, which will be held Wednesday, August 15th, and will offer a robust lineup of talks covering the most important trends facing developers on Facebook, mobile devices, the web, and beyond. This Summit is open to attendees with VIP, All Access, and Summit passes.

GDC Europe itself will take place Monday through Wednesday, August 13-15, 2012 at the Congress-Centrum Ost at the Koelnmesse in Cologne, Germany.

The full details on these new sessions are as follows:

- In a session dubbed "Game Design is Business Design," Ethan Levy (formerly of BioWare Social) will discuss how the rise of the free to play market has transformed the role of the modern game designer.

Using examples from BioWare's own social titles, Levy will point out the ways in which the digital landscape has changed the industry, noting why "the successful designers of our digital present are not only masters of fun, but also masters of business models and monetization."

- In another talk on free to play design, Andrew Sheppard, president of Kabam (The Godfather: Five Families, Kingdoms of Camelot) will discuss how developers can appeal to core players on mobile and social platforms.

His talk, "Freedom to Play - Unlocking Unprecedented Creativity in F2P Games," will outline how studios can "balance the tension between creativity and finances," offering advice on how to evaluate metrics, how to deepen player engagement, and much more.

- Finally, James Phillips, the co-founder and SVP of products for the data-management company Couchbase, will host a social games talk titled, "How Draw Something absorbed 50 Million New Users, in 50 Days, with Zero Downtime."

Using the popular Omgpop title as an example, Phillips will explain how to build and launch a large-scale social game while maintaining a steady and healthy business. Along the way, he will help developers select a data management model that will help them support their games even as they (hopefully) experience rapid growth.

GDC Europe 2012 debuts new sessions on Sine Mora, browser game design

The industry-encompassing E3 Expo may over, but the new announcements for the upcoming GDC Europe keep on coming. This week, show organizers have unveiled a trio of new talks featuring a postmortem of the XBLA shoot 'em up Sine Mora, as well as talks covering Chinese free to play titles and the lifespans of casual browser games.

These talks fall within the Game Design track of GDC Europe's Main Conference, which takes place Monday through Wednesday, August 13-15, 2012 at the Congress-Centrum Ost Koelnmesse in Cologne, Germany.

The full details on these new sessions are as follows:

- In an effort to offer insight on making games for niche genres, Prior Games CEO Theodore Reiker and business development director Balazs Horvath will look at Sine Mora, the recent downloadable shoot 'em up from Digital Reality and Grasshopper Manufacture.

In this session, dubbed "Postmortem: Sine Mora - The Struggle to Reboot a Genre," Reiker (who designed, wrote, and directed the title) will pick apart the game to examine its strengths, its weaknesses, and why, in the end, the risky title just couldn't find an audience.

- Elsewhere, Jared Psigoda, the CEO of the Hong Kong based Reality Squared Games, will host "$100,000 Whales - An Introduction to Chinese Browser Game Design."

Here, he will outline the basics of free to play design in China, and how it has attracted enthusiastic players that spend exorbitant amounts of money on online games. By examining a number of Chinese development trends, Psigoda will share some insight on how to get the most from your free to play titles.

- Finally, Bigpoint executive producer Jan Michel Saaksmeier will host, "Bring Them in Casual; Hook them Core - Keys to Prolonging User Lifetime in Casual Games."

This session will examine the current state of casual browser game development, offering some key insights into how developers can extend the lifespan of their own casual titles. In addition, attendees will "discover the importance of integrating high-quality game content in an easy way that casual gamers will engage with."

New GDC Taipei Summit to cover key trends in Asian, Western development

For the first time ever, the organizers of the Game Developers Conference have partnered with the Taipei World Trade Center and the Taiwan Industry Promotion Alliance to host the GDC Taipei Summit, a brand new Summit event covering the biggest trends in Asian and Western game development.

This two-day Summit will take place Tuesday, June 26 and Wednesday, June 27 at the Taipei International Convention Center, and will follow in the tradition of other GDC events by bringing together key regional and international developers to discuss important issues that affect the entire games business.

The Summit covers everything from console titles, social games, mobile games, online services, and more, and includes speakers from throughout Asia as well as the Western world.

Here are some of the notable speakers for the GDC Taipei Summit:

- Hosting the Summit's keynote is Ngmoco Sweden's Ben Cousins (pictured), who will provide an in-depth industry overview in, "The Five Big Trends in the Global Games Industry." During this presentation, Cousins will point to the sweeping changes affecting modern game development, examining everything from new platforms, new business models, to new game genres.

With all the chaotic changes affecting today's game industry, it can be hard to keep track of what really matters, and Cousins' talk promises to "[cut] through the noise to give you the five most important trends that he believes will define the global games industry in the next 5-10 years."

- Elsewhere, Media Molecule community manager James Spafford will address the essential elements of design in today's connected online landscape. His talk, "Designing With Community In Mind: How Media Molecule Put 'Share' into 'Play, Create, Share,'" will examine how the studio's LittleBigPlanet games were influenced by the studio's need to design for an always-connected online community.

- Haining Wang, CEO of the social games company Happy Elements, will examine the lifecycles of social games in "How to Keep Social Games Fresh on Facebook?" Using examples from Happy Elements games like My Kingdom and My Fishbowl, Wang will explain how to maintain long-term success and operate a social game on a worldwide scale.

GDC Europe 2012 adds Assassin's Creed III design keynote

In the latest update to GDC Europe's ever-expanding lineup, show organizers have revealed a major keynote in the Game Design track covering the history of Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed franchise, chronicling its evolution leading up to this year's upcoming installment, Assassin's Creed III.

GDC Europe 2012 debuts Total War, MMO design, rendering sessions

With the buildup to this year's GDC Europe now in full swing, show organizers have debuted even more notable talks, including in-depth presentations on the Total War franchise, the essentials of MMO design, and a tech talk on forward rendering pipelines.

These talks all fall within GDC Europe's Main Conference, which takes place Monday through Wednesday, August 13-15, 2012 at the Congress-Centrum Ost Koelnmesse in Cologne, Germany, co-located with major consumer/trade show gamescom.

The full details on these new sessions are as follows:

- As part of the Game Design track, The Creative Assembly lead designer James Russell will discuss the creation of the successful Total War series in "Designing Grand Strategy: Making the Mechanics of Total War."

Russell will look at the many complex elements that make up this strategy game franchise, and will offer insight into the successes, failures, and lessons learned that come from making these complex PC titles. The talk promises to address topics such as "'realism' and simulation versus game rules, mystery versus clarity, gameplay depth versus micromanagement," and much more.

- In another Game Design talk, Funcom creative director Craig Morrison will host "Surviving the Jungle of MMO eco-systems." Funcom previously developed MMOs including Anarchy Online and Age of Conan, and is just launching its latest title The Secret World, and during this session Morrison will draw from the studio's experience to examine the essentials of MMO design.

As online games have evolved, MMOs have needed to become more dynamic and engaging to maintain their players, and "this session will explore the complex relationships that players have to virtual worlds and how designers need to understand the forces at play."

- Finally, AMD lead engineer Jay McKee and researcher Takahiro Harada will host the Programming-focused talk, "Forward rendering pipeline for modern GPUs." Here, the pair will present Forward+, "a forward rendering pipeline which allows for scenes with the same number of lights expected from a modern deferred renderer (on the order of thousands)."

According to the developers, "Forward+ retains all the benefits of traditional forward rendering while eliminating all the downsides found with deferred rendering." The session will detail how this new solution will benefit modern game development using examples from the company's own live demos.

GDC Europe 2012 adds Indie sessions on The Dream Machine, Vlambeer, and more

The regular updates for GDC Europe 2012 continue this week, as show organizers have unveiled the first batch of talks in the Independent Game Summit, featuring sessions on The Dream Machine, Derrick the Deathfin, and Vlambeer (Super Crate Box)'s approach to in-game fiction.

As part of the Independent Games Summit on Wednesday, August 15th, these talks represent the voice of the indie developer at GDC Europe, and cover essential lessons that affect game creators from throughout the industry.

These talks will be part of GDC Europe, which takes place Monday through Wednesday, August 13-15, 2012 at the Congress-Centrum Ost at the Koelnmesse in Cologne, Germany.

The full details on these new sessions are as follows:

- In "The Dream Machine Postmortem: How To Make A Hard Thing Even Harder," the Swedish-based Cockroach Ink designer and director Anders Gustafsson will explain how he and his partner, Erik Zaring, set out to make the acclaimed point and click adventure game based on stop-motion animation.

The pair of developers "had no idea if it would work or not," but after more than three years of hard work, their game is now available on Steam, has earned numerous industry awards and has been displayed in art exhibits around the world. It's a very unusual tale, and this session will reveal how it all came together.

- Elsewhere, Lilt Line creator Gordon Midwood and London street artist Ron Zo, who've teamed up to create indie studio Different Tuna, will provide an in-depth look at the aesthetic design of their PSN papercraft-inspired sidescroller, Derrick the Deathfin.

During this session, dubbed "Derrick the Deathfin: How to Create a Uniquely Styled Game," the duo will share some tips and tricks to help developers create striking and unusual visual styles for their games. Not only will these tips "help you make your games look better, it'll also help them stand out from the crowd."

- Finally, indie developers Rami Ismail and Jan Willem of Dutch studio Vlambeer will explain how to create interesting game worlds, scenarios, and stories in "Sensible Nonsense: On Fiction in Games."

Using examples from notable Vlambeer-developed titles including Super Crate Box, Yeti Hunter, Luftrauser, and Gun Godz, the developers will "explain the tricks behind a consistent and complete fiction and how being conscious about your fiction is a way to creating a great game."

GDC Europe 2012 adds Dead Island, startup, playtesting sessions

With the lineup for this August's GDC Europe growing ever larger, show organizers have debuted new talks on Techland and Deep Silver's Dead Island, bootstrapping tips from social startup PerBlue, and the essentials of in-house playtesting.

These talks all fall within GDC Europe's Main Conference, which takes place Monday through Wednesday, August 13-15, 2012 at the Congress-Centrum Ost at the Koelnmesse in Cologne, Germany.

The full details on these new sessions are as follows:

- The first of these new sessions is a Production track lecture from Deep Silver's Guido Eickmeyer, titled, "Dead Island: How To Create A Mega Seller On A Moderate Budget." During this talk,  Eickmeyer will share brand new user and market data from the successful Techland-developed open world zombie game.

Along the way, he will discuss the importance of Metacritic, and how a strong trailer, multiplayer co-op, and a small-scale open world helped the game defy industry conventions and find unexpected success.

- Elsewhere, highly rated GDC 2012 speaker Justin Beck will share some essential tips for getting a startup off the ground in the Business, Marketing & Management track session, "Bootstrapping 101: How College Kids Built a Thriving Game Company in Under Three Years."

During this session, Beck will share lessons learned from the social startup PerBlue (Parallel Kingdom), detailing "why we turned down seed funding and how we compensated team members when we had no money."

- Finally, Graham McAllister, founder of the playtesting studio Player Research (who has worked with studios including EA, Sony, Disney, Sega, and Splash Damage), will present the Production track lecture, "Implementing an in-house playtesting process."

Here, McAllister will offer practical advice to help studios establish a robust testing procedure to improve the quality of their products. The techniques discussed in this session "are designed to remove biased opinion and give evidence for making key design decisions."

'Tales from the GDC Vault' presents talks on the Dreamcast, PlayStation 2 from 1999

Continuing his Tales from the GDC Vault series, GDC historian Jason Scott has digitized and uploaded three free, notable videos from the 1999 Game Developers Conference, all of which are available online for the first time.

Two of these classic GDC videos touch on the dawning of an older generation of video game consoles, with keynotes from Sega of America's Bernie Stolar on Sega's Dreamcast and Sony Computer Entertainment of America's Phil Harrison on the upcoming PlayStation 2. The third video brings Nvidia's Mark Kilgard, lecturing in-depth on stencil buffering techniques for creating reflections and shadows.

These videos join a handful of other GDC Vault lectures from 1999. Join us now as we look back at these presentations from another classic Game Developers Conference:

- First up, president and chief operating officer of Sega of America Bernie Stolar highlights the technology of the Dreamcast in his console keynote. Sega's home console became the first and only to use GD-ROM technology, opting out of DVD integration due to high costs. The system boasted the portable, playable Visual Memory Unit that allowed developers to expand their game experience and allowed players to swap saves and other user-generated content.

In his keynote, Stolar predicted the limitless possibilities of an online environment that could extend the shelf life of games with downloadable add-ons (realized more fully a console generation later). [GDC Vault free video]

- In another console keynote that year, Phil Harrison offers a sneak peek of the technology behind what becomes the PlayStation 2 (introduced more formally at his GDC 2000 keynote). Harrison demos several renders on what he claimed was the world's first "true" 128-bit CPU, dubbed the Emotion Engine. He discussed various specs and tool architecture that would allow the console to generate content in real-time.

In his speech, Harrison dreamed of the market growing to allow a superset of entertainment, including music and movies. And seemingly trumping Sega's announcement, Harrison shared that Sony's next console would support DVD media. [GDC Vault free video]

GDC Europe 2012 debuts new Mafia II, hacking, fundraising talks

GDC Europe 2012 lecture announcements are gathering pace, as show organizers unveil new talks covering the development of 2K Czech's Mafia II, how to prevent online game hacking, and how to successfully raise the funds for your next game.

These talks all fall within GDC Europe's Main Conference, which takes place Monday through Wednesday, August 13-15, 2012 at the Congress-Centrum Ost Koelnmesse in Cologne, Germany.

The full details on these new sessions are as follows:

- As part of the Production track, 2K Czech designer Jarek Kolar will chart the tumultuous eight years between the original Mafia title and its major console-led action game sequel.

The session, "Postmortem: Mafia II," will outline Mafia II's "development from inception to release... and also focuses on how the local development team Illusion Softworks has changed into a premium international development house 2K Czech."

- Elsewhere, Stephan Payer of the veteran German online game developer CipSoft will host the Programming track session, "Cheaters, Hackers, Script Kiddies -- The Dark Side of Online Games." Here, Payer will discuss the numerous security issues his team has encountered while operating the 15-year-old online games, Tibia.

Along the way, Payer will explain how these issues apply to other online titles, and will offer tips to help developers make their games more secure.

- Finally, Paul Heydon, managing director at Avista Partners, will share some key financial advice for game developers in the Business, Marketing & Management lecture, "Fundraising 101 for Game Companies."

In today's market, many venture capitalists are eager to invest money in budding game studios, and Heydon, also part of prominent game investment firm London Venture Partners (Gunshine.net, Supercell), will explain how developers can make sure that they receive that funding on fair terms.

GDC Europe 2012 adds new BioWare DLC, Bigpoint, HTML5 talks

The session lineup for August's GDC Europe 2012 in Cologne continues to expand this week, with BioWare talking post-release DLC lessons from Mass Effect and Dragon Age, plus Bigpoint on free-to-play game design and YoYo Games on HTML5 programming.

These talks all fall within GDC Europe's Main Conference, which takes place Monday through Wednesday, August 13-15, 2012 at the Congress-Centrum Ost Koelnmesse in Cologne, Germany.

The full details on these new sessions are as follows:

- In the show's Business and Marketing track, BioWare's director of online development, Fernando Melo (Dragon Age, Mass Effect franchises), will outline how the major studio has organized and crafted a long-term plan for each of its major new releases.

The session, titled "Leveling Up Your AAA game - BioWare's Post Release Content Insights," will examine downloadable content strategies, online game passes, microtransactions, and more, and Melo will argue why all of these additions can augment a game's initial sales and make a big-budget title far more successful.

- Over in the Design track, Jan Richter, CTO of the major German-headquartered online game company Bigpoint, will look at the positive implications of free to play business models in "Free to Play Game Design Is F*#!1ng Awesome."

During this session, Richter will leverage Bigpoint's experience operating titles like Dark Orbit and Battlestar Galactica Online to discuss what it truly means to make a free to play game. Meanwhile, he will share some "free to play design secrets" and "the latest design evolutions" that every developer should know.

- Finally, YoYo Games CTO Russell Kay will explain how older development philosophies can benefit new technologies in a Programming track presentation dubbed, "Applying Retro Techniques to HTML5 Development."

According to Kay, modern web technologies like HTML5 make it "difficult to give consistent performance across target platforms, particularly for mobile and lower powered devices." He believes these problems are not unlike those developers in the "early days of games," and he will provide a number of classic tips and techniques to improve HTML5 game performance.

GDC Europe 2012 debuts talks from Dear Esther, Amnesia creators

With the session lineup for GDC Europe 2012 quickly expanding, event organizers have debuted a second batch of talks, covering everything from unconventional gameplay mechanics to operating large-scale game sites.

This trio of new sessions includes speakers such as thechineseroom's Dan Pinchbeck (Dear Esther), Frictional Games' Thomas Grip (Amnesia: The Dark Descent), and IMVU's Jon Watte, each of whom will present robust talks targeted at the pan-European game development community.

These sessions all fall within GDC Europe's Main Conference, which takes place Monday through Wednesday, August 13-15, 2012 at the Congress-Centrum Ost Koelnmesse in Cologne, Germany. The full details on these new sessions are as follows:

- As part of the Game Design track, thechineseroom creative director Dan Pinchbeck will reflect upon his studio's atmospheric indie title Dear Esther, which "abandoned traditional gameplay altogether" in favor of creating a rich and complex interactive story.

Throughout this session, called 'Ambiguity and Abstraction in Game Writing: Lessons from Dear Esther', Pinchbeck will detail the game's "deliberately problematic" approach to in-game narrative, offering insight into how defying conventions can help a game really resonate with its players.

- Elsewhere, Amnesia: The Dark Descent creator Thomas Grip (who's now working with Pinchbeck on an Amnesia sequel) will present a psychology-focused talk that examines how video games differ from film and writing in how they capture their audience.

Grip will explore the ins and outs of interactivity in game design in 'The Self, Presence, and Storytelling', noting that "when interaction is no longer about conquering a system, the underlying mechanics can be kept obscure and opaque to the player, leaving the imagination to do most of the work."

- Finally, IMVU technical director Jon Watte will host a talk in the show's Programming track detailing the essentials of operating an online game site. These sites often grow to include everything from real-time messaging, microtransactions, to user generated content, and Watte will use IMVU's web service as a case study to outline the pros and cons of various approaches to operating a game site at scale.

'Tales from the GDC Vault' presents classic EA, Maxis, Namco videos from 1998

Continuing his Tales from the GDC Vault series, GDC historian Jason Scott has digitized and uploaded five notable videos from the 1998 Computer Game Developers Conference, all of which are available online for the first time.

These classic CGDC videos continue to provide us a look back at some of the most challenging issues our industry faced almost 15 years ago. The archives which will be further added to over the next few months give us another chance to both learn from our past and even apply classic game development lessons to today's ever-changing market.

These videos, which feature renowned industry figures such as EA's Richard Hilleman (pictured), Shiny Entertainment founder Dave Perry, and Maxis engineer Paul Pedriana, join a handful of other GDC Vault lectures from 1998. Join us now as we look back at more exciting lectures and presentations from another classic Computer Game Developers Conference:

- Current Electronic Arts chief creative officer Richard Hilleman keynotes the 1998 conference with "Herding Cats: How to Build, Manage and Sustain Successful Teams." The EA veteran expresses that leadership is not enough to make good teams work for product development, but that it is part of a bigger system, discussing who the customers are and how to reach them, leadership characteristics that work for him, and how to build teams effective in the long-term, while adhering to holistic lessons "learned from Mom." He even encourages hiring and nurturing his own replacements, stating that doing so "will set you free." [GDC Vault free video]

- Interestingly, Michael "SAXS" Persson and David Perry (who both worked at Earthworm Jim and MDK studio Shiny Entertainment) walk the crowd through their scalable real-time deformation and tessellation engine in the lecture, "Messiah: What You May or May Not Believe." Persson walks through rendering several Messiah characters, discussing the sophisticated for the time tools and 3D engine used in creating the noted "body swapping" game. [GDC Vault free video.]

- Elsewhere, Maxis software engineer Paul Pedriana (SimCity 3000) expresses that the C++ language has evolved to become "perfectly viable for games" in his lecture, "High Performance Game Programming in C++." Pedriana blazes through 60 slides in 60 minutes, covering dozens of programming topics, while analyzing related code and showing their benchmark results. [GDC Vault free video]

 

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