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GDC 2013 announces Spec Ops: The Line narrative, FTL design talks

Game Developers Conference 2013 organizers have announced the latest Summit talks scheduled for the March conference, covering FTL: Faster Than Light's full postmortem, Spec Ops: The Line's acclaimed narrative built around shooting, and a lecture on introducing students to game audio.

These talks are part of the Independent, GDC Education, and new Game Narrative Summits that will take place Monday, March 25 and Tuesday, March 26 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, CA.

In the Independent Summit, Justin Ma and Matthew Davis of Subset Games will explain their process and rationale from crowdfunding to release, focusing on the player experience of running a starship and keeping gameplay structures, mechanics, and genre secondary, in 'Designing Without a Pitch - FTL Postmortem.'

Their singular focus allowed the duo to iterate on or abandon much of the IGF-nominated FTL's design until the game became fun. In this talk, the duo will teach "the hows and whys of separating one's expectations from preconceived notions about games, genres, settings, and other previous experiences when designing."

In the Game Narrative Summit, 2K Games lead writer Walt Williams will detail crafting the story behind the military shooter Spec Ops: The Line in 'We Are Not Heroes: Contextualizing Violence through Narrative.' Attendees will learn how creating the game's narrative elements around the mechanic of shooting "led to a more immersive and emotionally impactful experience."

IGF 2013 Student Showcase Nominations Coming January 22nd

Due to an error on our official rules page, which showed two separate dates -- each incorrect -- for the announcement of the nominees for this year's IGF Student Showcase, a quick update on the correct timing.

Our body of nearly 250 judges are currently evaluating all of the over 300 entrants into this year's Student competition, and we will be releasing the names of the winning games on Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013.

GDC 2013 adds Capy, Shellrazer, Yamove! Summit talks

Game Developers Conference 2013 organizers have revealed the latest Summit talks scheduled for the March conference, including Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP collaborator Capy on the viability of paid Apps, Ninja Robot Dinosaur Entertainment's approach for IAP in iOS hit Shellrazer, and a unique collaboration between engineering students and indie game developers resulting in dance battle game/Indiecade finalist Yamove!

These talks are part of the Smartphone & Tablet, Independent, and GDC Education Summits that will take place Monday, March 25 and Tuesday, March 26 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, CA.

Nathan Vella of Capy, the Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP collaborator and Critter Crunch creator, will examine the smartphone and tablet app market in 'Still Kicking: The Viability of Paid Apps in the Era of F2P.'

Vella will impart the risks of free-to-play as a small studio and the continued viability of developing paid apps. He will also paint a clear picture of the paid app market while showing how to leverage the opportunities in the paid app space.

Complementing Vella's paid App talk is Shane Neville of Ninja Robot Dinosaur Entertainment's 'Shellrazer - Designing In-App Purchase Without Losing Your Soul' for the Independent Games Summit.

GDC reveals talks on The Walking Dead, Outernauts, banned Halfbrick prototype

GDC organizers reveal three new talks for the upcoming March conference, including a nontraditional approach to The Walking Dead's art, console developer Insomniac's experiment in free-to-play and Flash, and Halfbrick Studios' divisive and ultimately banned prototype.

The lectures are part of the Design, Visual Arts, and Programming tracks in GDC's main conference, taking place March 27-29 at the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco, CA.

Halfbrick's chief creative officer Luke Muscat will share in his design lecture details about the strategy game that seemingly tore his company apart in 'The Prototype that was Banned from Halfbrick.' The short-lived title Tank Tactics ignited destructive social behavior, and had to have its plug pulled before its prime by the Fruit Ninja and Jetpack Joyride developer.

Fortunately, the spirit of the game lives on in Muscat's talks, which "demonstrates the power and persuasion of game mechanics." Accompanying this story, he will explore the responsibility designers have "to create mechanics that have a positive impact on players' social behaviors."

2013 Independent Games Festival Announces Main Competition Finalists

The Independent Games Festival (IGF) juries are announcing the Main Competition finalists for its historic 15th annual awards - nominating nearly 30 outstanding independent game titles to come out of the worldwide community in the past year.

This year's finalists for the most prestigious independent video game awards and showcase were each picked by a discipline-specific set of expert juries, following playthroughs and recommendations of the 580+ IGF entries from over 200 top independent game experts.

Some of the multiple-nominated games for this year's extremely diverse Festival include Cardboard Computer's 'magical realist adventure game' Kentucky Route Zero, Subset Games' spaceship sim 'Roguelike-like' FTL, and Richard Hofmeier's stark, dense street vendor simulator Cart Life.

The first-ever Excellence in Narrative Award is also showcasing unique titles such as Blendo Games' quirky 'first-person short story' Thirty Flights Of Loving, Auntie Pixelante's autobiographical game about a trans woman undergoing HRT, Dys4ia, and The Fullbright Company's abandoned house mystery Gone Home.

The Nuovo Award, once again honoring 'abstract... and unconventional game development' of all kinds, also saw many standout games competing for its $5,000 prize, including Sleeping Beast's irreverent local co-op sci-fi smartphone game Spaceteam, Michael Brough's 'one move a day for 100 days' VESPER.5, and Mousechief's multi-generational family history title 7 Grand Steps.

The full list of finalists for the 2013 Independent Games Festival, with jury-picked "honorable mentions" to those top-quality games that didn't quite make it to finalist status, is as follows:

GDC 2013 adds XCOM: Enemy Unknown, Assassin's Creed III, EA Battlelog talks

GDC organizers have announced new talks for the upcoming March 2013 conference, including an XCOM: Enemy Unknown art autopsy, audio tricks used in Assassin's Creed III borrowed from film scoring, and EA's survey of successful online game data systems.

These talks are part of the Main Conference, encompassing the Production, Visual Arts, and Audio tracks, to be held Wed-Fri, March 27-29 at the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco, CA.

First up, Greg Foertsch of Firaxis Games gets his hands dirty for an 'Art Direction Autopsy: XCOM: Enemy Unknown.'

In this talk, he will extract the team's visual timeline, showing how they re-imagined a series that is over two decades old. Foertsch will also explain how "adjusting along the way to support the core gameplay can help enhance the players' experience."

For the Audio track, Benedicte Ouimet and Jerome Angelot of Ubisoft will offer how to mix Hollywood film scoring with gaming in 'Assassin's Creed III Music Score: Redefining Musical Standards for the AC Brand.'

Reminder: Game Developers Choice Awards nominations end January 4

Game Developers Conference organizers are reminding registered Gamasutra members that nominations for the 13th annual Game Developers Choice Awards end tomorrow, January 4, 2013. Produced by GDC parent company the UBM Tech Game Network, the Choice Awards are the most prestigious honors in the world of video game development.

The Game Developers Choice Awards recognize the artistry and technical genius of leading industry professionals across multiple game development disciplines. The 13th Annual Awards ceremony will take place the evening of March 27, during GDC 2013 in San Francisco, CA.

Awards in 10 categories are open for nominations for games that launched to retail or debuted online during the 2012 calendar year.

Nominations are also open for three special awards: the Pioneer Award (previous winners), which celebrates those individuals who developed a breakthrough technology, game concept, or gameplay design at a crucial juncture video game history - paving the way for the myriads who followed them.

Also up for nominations is the Ambassador Award (previous winners), which honors an individual who helped the game industry advance to a better place, either through facilitating a better game community from within, or by reaching outside the industry to be an advocate for video games, and the Lifetime Achievement Award (previous winners). All three special awards are open to anyone not previously recognized.

GDC 2013 adds Hitman: Absolution, Mass Effect 3, and Kingdom Age talks

GDC organizers have revealed new talks for the upcoming March 2013 conference, including those on programming AI and NPCs for Square Enix's Hitman: Absolution, reinforcing and strengthening the narrative for Commander Shepard in BioWare's Mass Effect 3, and analyzing the numbers behind GREE's Kingdom Age for the mobile market.

These talks are part of the Main Conference, encompassing Business, Marketing & Management, Production, Programming, Visual Arts, and Design tracks, to be held Wed-Fri, March 27-29 at the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco, CA.

For the Programming track, Mika Vehkala and Maurizio De Pascale of IO Interactive will discuss 'Creating the AI for the Living, Breathing World of Hitman: Absolution'. Along with AI, the pair will explore creating NPC animation that adapts to gameplay situations and player actions in a believable way.

Attendees will learn about building systemic AI for a sandbox game that offers a cinematic experience. Lessons include "an overview of the general architecture, details about multi-agent coordination, behavior trees usage, and discretized world representation for reasoning decisions."

For the Design and Visual Arts tracks, Dave Feltham will share his team's 'Emotional Journey: BioWare's Methods to Bring Narrative into Levels' for the acclaimed Mass Effect 3. Feltham's team realized it needed new ways to reinforce the narrative in Commander Shepard's missions for the end of this trilogy. In his talk, he will discuss "some of the methods they used to bring narrative to some of the levels' pacing and flow, measure it, and how it helped increase the level of player engagement."

GDC 2013 reveals Game Narrative Summit addition; Diablo III and education manifesto sessions

Organizers of March's Game Developers Conference 2013 have revealed additional summit talks on Diablo III translation, two Parsons The New School for Design professors' education manifesto, and Microsoft Game Studio's writing for moral games.

These talks are part of the GDC Education, Localization, and new Game Narrative Summits held at GDC on Monday and Tuesday, March 25-26, 2013 at the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco, California.

The Game Narrative Summit is new to the GDC after seven years at GDC Online and will cover interactive narrative on all types of titles, including AAA hits, indie games, and transmedia projects. The advisory committee includes Tom Abernathy of Microsoft Studios, Lev Chapelsky of Blindlight, Richard Dansky of Ubisoft/Red Storm, Mary DeMarle of Eidos Montreal, and independent writer Susan O'Connor.

Part of GDC's first Game Narrative Summit is Microsoft Game Studios senior game designer and 'Game Design: Theory & Practice' author Richard Rouse III with 'Seven (Or So) Techniques for Writing a Moral Game.'

Following up on Rouse's Seven Ways a Video Game Can Be Moral talk from GDC 2011, he will discuss techniques writers can use "to emphasize morality within their game world while working to the strengths of [the] medium," covering topics such as "morally diverse character creation, integrating moral themes into gameplay systems, the importance of moral quandaries, and moral choice design on a budget."

GDC 2013 announces the return of GDC Play showcase space

Organizers of the 2013 Game Developers Conference have announced the return of its emerging and independent developer showcase GDC Play, with early, discounted exhibit space now available.

This will be the second main GDC Play showcase, after a successful 2012 debut, and will take place Tuesday, March 26 - Thursday, March 28 at San Francisco's Moscone Center during the 2013 Game Developers Conference.

In a new, expanded onsite location this year, GDC Play 2013 will be in the South Hall's Gateway Ballroom, in a prominent position directly opposite the main GDC Expo floor - providing enhanced opportunities to target the more than 20,000 attendees at the show.

GDC Play itself was inspired by the success of the Independent Games Festival Pavilion at GDC and allows exhibitors to display their games to key distributors, publishers, press and investors visiting the conference. (All passholders, including Expo Pass attendees, can visit GDC Play.)

The showcase remains a simple, lower-cost opportunity to exhibit titles to prospective business partners, investors and the press. When signing up for GDC Play, game creators will be given a standalone kiosk with a monitor, keyboard, and speakers. An internet connection can be provided at an additional charge.

GDC 2013 reveals Assassin's Creed III, SSX, and Dead Space 3 talks

Organizers of the 2013 Game Developers Conference have revealed more talks revolving around industry-leading hits, including Assassin's Creed III, SSX, and the Dead Space franchise.

These three talks are part of the Production, Audio, and Visual Arts tracks of the GDC 2013 Main Conference, taking place March 27-29 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco.

From the production track, five Ubisoft studio leads - Damien Kieken, Marc-Alexis Cote, Hugues Ricour, Francois Pelland and Alexander Hutchinson - will speak about cross-studio collaboration for its multi-million selling IP in 'Three Years of Collaboration on Assassin's Creed III.'

Focusing on "issue and game management, communications and creative processes, and real anecdotes," the panel will discuss the challenges and rewards of maintaining a production model with hundreds of people across international waters.

In the visual arts track, Electronic Arts-owned Visceral Games' lead user interface designer Dino Ignacio will dissect the diegetic UI of their survival horror shooter in 'Crafting Destruction: The Evolution of the Dead Space User Interface.'

Along with Dead Space trivia and Easter eggs, Ignacio will explore the "philosophy, evolution, and development of one of the industry's most innovative user interfaces" and "key elements of the UI such as the RIG, the Frontend, and the BENCH."

IGF 2013 highlights Visual Art, Audio Award jurors

Organizers of the 2013 Independent Games Festival are pleased to announce the latest additions to its discipline-specific jury panels that will determine the finalists and winner of its various awards.

The jury announcements for this year are beginning with some of the industry professionals, independent game notables and former IGF award winners that will make up its Excellence in Visual Art and Excellence in Audio Awards.

The latest jury rundown following prior announcements of its Nuovo and debut Narrative Award jurists, as well as this year's Design and Technical Excellence juries.

The Excellence in Visual Art Award

The Visual Art award is a category which seeks to highlight the innovation and quality in visuals for indie games.

Prior finalists and winners of the IGF Visual Art award have been entrants which featured impressive displays of the craft of games, including The Behemoth's vibrant cartoon-ish beat-em-up Castle Crashers, Polytron's 2D/3D "trixel"-based puzzle platformer Fez, Amanita Design's hand-painted adventure game Machinarium, Playdead's equal parts soft and stark monochromatic puzzler Limbo, and thechineseroom's ambient first-person exploration game Dear Esther.

GDC 2013 debuts QA Summit, including talks from BioWare, Riot

GDC organizers have revealed sessions for the first ever QA Summit at the March 2013 conference that include Riot Games on rapid test iteration, BioWare on QA and development team integration, and a panel on test automation with VMC Game Labs, Sony Computer Entertainment America, and The Walt Disney Company.

These talks all fall within the QA Summit, which will take place alongside seven other summits on Monday and Tuesday, March 25-26, 2013 at the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco, California.

The debut summit based around Quality Assurance in games will discuss "new and/or current tools, processes and organization methods being used in in QA today and to show how QA is an integral part of development", and is advised by notables including Double Fine's Daniel Pangelina, EA's Mario Vasquez, and VMC Game Labs' Ben Wibberley.

Taking an in-depth look at these sessions, BioWare's Tulay Tetiker McNally and Arone Le Bray will explore the working relationship of their QA and development teams in 'BioWare QA - Partners in Development (Embed Model).'

In particular, the BioWare team will show how this QA model applies to the narrative creation process in Mass Effect 3 and how QA spot issues early on. "This made it easier to avoid costly changes in content at later stages of development, and ultimately provided the end user with a better experience."

Riot Games' Benjamin Seifert will pour out a torrent of QA information in It's Raining New Content: Successful Rapid Test Iterations.'

Riot's League of Legends faces an ongoing QA challenge, since it continuously delivers new content and features to its player base. Seifert will show that while traditional QA models may fail to adapt, Riot tackles this problem with "a three pronged approach: utilizing our specialized skills and knowledge, having diverse and frequent feedback loops, and automation."

13th annual Game Developers Choice Awards open for nominations

The Game Developers Conference has opened nominations for the 13th annual Game Developers Choice Awards through January 4, 2013. Produced by GDC parent company the UBM Tech Game Network, the Choice Awards are the most prestigious honors in the world of video game development.

The Game Developers Choice Awards recognize the artistry and technical genius of leading industry professionals across multiple game development disciplines. The 13th Annual Awards ceremony will take place the evening of March 27, during GDC 2013 in San Francisco, CA.

Awards in 10 categories are open for nominations for games that launched to retail or debuted online during the 2012 calendar year.

Nominations are also open for three special awards: the Pioneer Award (previous winners), which celebrates those individuals who developed a breakthrough technology, game concept, or gameplay design at a crucial juncture video game history - paving the way for the myriads who followed them.

Also up for nominations is the Ambassador Award (previous winners), which honors an individual who helped the game industry advance to a better place, either through facilitating a better game community from within, or by reaching outside the industry to be an advocate for video games, and the Lifetime Achievement Award (previous winners). All three special awards are open to anyone not previously recognized.

In addition, the Choice Awards will be adding the new Audience Award category for the first time. Fans will have the opportunity to vote on their favorite video game that was released in the previous calendar year. Voting for the audience award will open on February 4, 2013 and will be completely open to the public to cast votes.

GDC 2013 reveals Halo 4, Kixeye, Hitman: Absolution talks

Organizers of Game Developers Conference 2013 are adding talks involving industry-leading IP for its March 2013 conference - including the design of the Promethean enemy for the Xbox 360 exclusive Halo 4, Kixeye on its rise to social game prominence, and IO Interactive's novel approach to animation used in Square Enix's multiplatform Hitman: Absolution.

Specifically, in 'The Design of New Enemies for Halo 4', 343 Industries' lead game designer Scott Warner will dissect the development of the new Promethean enemies. The studio had just taken over the legendary shooter franchise, and 343 knew every detail of its Prometheans would receive heavy scrutiny from Halo's dedicated fans.

Warner will present insights into "design philosophies, creative inspirations, gameplay prototyping, logic around iterative decision making for final characters, and key challenges faced along the way" of creating these alien antagonists.

Kixeye CEO Will Harbin, developer of Facebook titles War Commander and Backyard Monsters, will argue 'Death to Downloads' and will, instead, champion browser-based games for immersive experiences. Harbin's talk will include lessons on achieving long-term player retention and engagement. Kixeye's evolution, successes, and failures will exemplify these lessons, while Harbin reveals the secrets of highly monetizing free-to-play browser games.

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