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Discover Gree's secrets for mobile game success at GDC China

In global social market, few companies are as prominent as the Japanese game firm Gree. Its social mobile games are some of the most lucrative in the industry, and at this month's GDC China in Shanghai, the company will reveal just a few of the tricks it uses to launch and maintain its successful free to play titles.

Gree Beijing VP Dr. Shumian He will take a close look at the company's first mobile social game, Fishing Star (Tsuri-Sta, pictured), noting how it attracted a large base of loyal players and has maintained a high level of revenue since its launch in 2007.

Using this title as a case study for Gree's business at large, He will discuss how the international company drives in-app purchases, and how it uses its proprietary Gree Platform to sustain and grow its burgeoning game catalog.

His talk, "Unveiling the Secrets of Mobile Social Game Operation," is part of GDC China's Business & Marketing track, and will be open to All Access and Main Conference pass holders. Online registration is now open on the GDC China website, and the show itself will take place November 17-19 at the Shanghai Convention Center in Shanghai, China.

In addition to the above presentation, GDC China organizers have also added the following talks to the show's lineup:

- As part of the Game Design track, Carla Fisher of children's game design studio No Crusts Interactive will explain how developers can leverage developmental psychology to create better games for kids. Her talk, "Little Hands, Foul Moods, and Runny Noses: Developmental Research Meets Emerging Technologies," will equip developers with the knowledge they need to craft better UIs, cooperative mechanics, and storytelling systems for kids on a wide variety of platforms.

- Elsewhere in the Game Design track, Henric Suuronen of NonStop Games (Dollar Isle, Paint Stars) will focus on emerging multiplatform technologies in "Making Games for Gamers in HTML5." Here, Suuronen will examine the current trends on smartphones and tablets, noting that developers might want to focus on more on hardcore players if they wish to create a successful game in HTML5.

IGF 2013 sees record entries for its Student Competition

The organizers of the 15th annual Independent Games Festival -- the longest-running and largest festival relating to independent games worldwide -- are proud to announce another year of record entry numbers for IGF 2013's Student Competition.

In total, this year's Student Competition took in more than 300 game entries across all platforms -- PC, console and mobile -- from a wide diversity of the most prestigious universities and games programs from around the world.

Together with the record Main Competition entries, this year's IGF has taken in nearly 900 total entries -- the largest number in the festival's history across the Main and Student competitions.

This year's Student Competition includes entries such as the DigiPen-developed Perspective, which combines 2D platforming with 3D first-person navigation, and Nevermind, an experimental horror title that uses biofeedback to manage player stress and change difficulty on the fly.

Other entries include the physics-based tower defense title The White Laboratory, the stealth horror game Blackwell's Asylum, and the experimental narrative title Snowfall.

The above are just a small selection of the games now available for browsing via, where you'll find more information, screenshots and video for each of the IGF Student Competition entries.

The festival's organizers have added an official Student Competition JSON feed, added to the existing Main Competition feed, updated every 30 minutes from live back end data. Teams can update info on their games and have the official entry page change, and third parties are welcome to use this feed to make their own custom IGF entry lists and pages.

GDC China 2012 to reveal the unlikely story of Johann Sebastian Joust

As video games go, Die Gute Fabrik's Johann Sebastian Joust is a bit of an odd case, as it really have any video to speak of. The graphics-free game relies only on music and motion controllers, and encourages players to get physical in a unique game of elimination.

While it hasn't yet seen a commercial release, the game has won numerous awards, and has been featured at major industry events such as the Game Developers Conference, PAX, and more. And later this month, the game's creator, Douglas Wilson, will head to GDC China to discuss the how this quirky title evolved from a simple game jam prototype into a full-fledged indie darling.

Douglas will chronicle the game's development from the very beginning, and will share the numerous lessons he's learned along the way. He'll examine how folk games and playground games can inspire developers working on their own physical games, and will explain why it's helpful to think of motion-controlled games "in terms of slapstick and subversion."

Wilson's talk, "The Unlikely Story of Johann Sebastian Joust," is part of GDC China's Independent Games Summit, and will be open to GDC China's All Access and Summits & Tutorials pass holders. Online registration is now open on the GDC China website, and the show itself will take place November 17-19 at the Shanghai Convention Center in Shanghai, China.

In addition to the above presentation, GDC China organizers have also added the following talks to the show's lineup:

- Also in the Independent Games Summit, Dejobaan Games' Ichiro Lambe (who created the award-winning AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! -- A Reckless Disregard for Gravity) will outline how you can get your career as an indie developer off the ground. During his talk, "First Steps: Starting as an Independent Game Developer," he'll discuss how you can manage a brand new team, explore new publishing opportunities, avoid common pitfalls, and more.

- Over in the Programming track, Adisak Pochanayon of Mortal Kombat house Netherrealm Studios will offer an advanced talk on code instrumentation. His session is titled "Runtime CPU Performance Spike Detection Using Manual and Automated Compiler Instrumentation," and will cover "manual instrumentation, code detours and function trampolining and compiler specific options including compiler automated (or compiler assisted) instrumentation (CAI), naked functions with platform specific inline assembler, and linker function wrapping."

Raph Koster to examine 'How Games Think' at next month's GDC China

We live in a world that has always been shaped by the media we consume, and with video games growing more popular by the day, their influence is only getting stronger.

And at next month's GDC China in Shanghai, Ultima Online and Star Wars Galaxies veteran Raph Koster will examine that very topic, noting how games not only affect the world we live in, but also the way we think.

As Koster sees it, video games inherently support certain ways of thinking, and by playing these games, we end up viewing the world through their unique lens, which ultimately affects the society we live in.

During his keynote, "How Games Think," the Playdom VP will examine how games are changing the world, how they influence the way we think, and what that means for our future.

This keynote will be open to GDC China's All Access and Main Conference pass holders. Online registration is now open on the GDC China website, and the show itself will take place November 17-19 at the Shanghai Convention Center in Shanghai, China.

Koster's talk joins numerous other sessions already announced for GDC China. For more information on any of the sessions in the show's growing lineup, check out the "Announced Sessions" page on the show's official website.

Two days left to enter 2013 IGF's Student Competition

With record Main Competition submissions for IGF 2013 announced, organizers are reminding that student submissions for this year's GDC co-located festival are closing on Wednesday.

The longest-running and highest-profile independent video game festival, summit and showcase will continue to accept student entries until 11.59pm PT on October 31st, and finalists in both the Main Competition and Student Competition will be announced in January 2013.

This year, the show will select a total of eight student teams, all of which will receive the opportunity to show off their games at the IGF Pavilion at GDC 2013 in March. All teams in the IGF Student Showcase will also be eligible to receive an enhanced $1,000 cash prize.

In addition, the IGF student finalists will also compete for the IGF Best Student Game Award. The recipient will be revealed during GDC's prestigious IGF Awards ceremony, and the winning game will receive an additional cash prize of $3,000.

The award ceremony will take place Wednesday, March 27, 2013, at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, and the IGF Pavilion will remain open from March 27-29. The sister Independent Games Summit event, meanwhile, will be held on March 25 and 26.

All of the Independent Games Festival events take place as part of the 2013 Game Developers Conference, which is held March 25th - March 29th, 2013 in San Francisco, and the IGF continues as the most vital showcase of independent game talent across the wide spectrum of artistically- and commercially-aimed development.

GDC 2013 Bosslady Blog: Our GDC Code of Conduct

[In her Bosslady Blog update for the 2013 cycle, Game Developers Conference events GM Meggan Scavio details the official code of conduct for GDC and all of its related events.]

As the General Manager of all GDC events, I've been looking closely at how we explain to attendees what is -- and is not -- allowed at our shows. So I would like to take a moment to remind you that offensive behavior of any kind will not be tolerated.

As GDC enters its 27th iteration, I want nothing more than for it to remain a place where everyone is welcome, treated equally, and leaves feeling as if it was a week well spent.

I also want people to enjoy themselves -- whether waiting in line for a session, visiting the expo floor, or partaking in drinks at a hotel bar or after-event party. I don't know about you, but I enjoy myself most when I am not being threatened, discriminated against, or fending off unwelcome advances. So don't do that.

And more importantly, if someone tells you that they are bothered by your behavior, stop doing it. As has been the case in the past -- but as we are making absolutely explicit now -- any Game Developers Conference attendee, speaker, press member, or exhibitor behaving offensively or found to be harassing others will have their GDC badge confiscated and be asked to leave. Depending on the severity of the offense, we may consider a multi-year ban from our shows.

All of this only works, of course if you report harassment immediately. Every GDC has a Show Office where you will always find a staff member willing to help. And I can always be reached by email at [email protected], if you don't feel comfortable initiating a report face to face. But it's important that you tell us at the time of the incident while we are onsite and can do something about it.

Our GDC official code of conduct, which is modeled on Open Source Bridge's original, is below. Let's work together to keep GDC an open and safe place for all.

Here is the official Game Developers Conference Code of Conduct:

1. Purpose

GDC believes our community should be truly open for everyone. As such, we are committed to providing a friendly, safe and welcoming environment for all, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, disability, ethnicity, or religion.

This code of conduct outlines our expectations for participant behavior as well as the consequences for unacceptable behavior.

We invite all sponsors, volunteers, speakers, attendees, media, exhibitors and other participants to help us realize a safe and positive conference experience for everyone.

2. Expected behavior

- Be considerate, respectful, and collaborative.

- Refrain from demeaning, discriminatory or harassing behavior and speech.

- Be mindful of your surroundings and of your fellow participants. Alert conference organizers if you notice a dangerous situation or someone in distress.

3. Unacceptable behavior

Unacceptable behaviors include: intimidating, harassing, abusive, discriminatory, derogatory, or demeaning conduct by any attendees of GDC and related events. Many GDC venues are shared with members of the public; please be respectful to all patrons of these locations.

Harassment includes: offensive verbal comments related to gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, disability; inappropriate use of nudity and/or sexual images in public spaces (including presentation slides); deliberate intimidation, stalking or following; harassing photography or recording; sustained disruption of talks or other events; inappropriate physical contact, and unwelcome sexual attention.

Discover the origin of FTL at next month's GDC China

With its successful Kickstarter and clever approach to sci-fi strategy, Subset Games' FTL - or Faster Than Light - has been one of the most talked-about indie titles of 2012.

The game's massive popularity certainly took the two-man development team by surprise, and at next month's GDC China, Subset Games' Matthew Davis will look back on FTL's development to provide a full postmortem on how this quirky space combat game came to be.

During his presentation, Davis plans to tell the story of how "two guys who didn't really know what they were doing managed to make something people wanted to play." He'll examine FTL's early prototypes, its popular Kickstarter, and its eventual launch on Steam, noting how a small indie project can turn into a runaway hit.

Along the way, Davis will discuss what he and co-developer Justin Ma learned while creating FTL in the hopes of inspiring and empowering other indie developers.

This FTL postmortem is part of GDC China's Independent Games Summit, and will be open to GDC China's All Access and Summits & Tutorials pass holders. Online registration is now open on the GDC China website, and the show itself will take place November 17-19 at the Shanghai Convention Center in Shanghai, China.

In addition to the above presentation, GDC China organizers have also added the following talks to the show's lineup:

- As part of the show's Business & Marketing track, Tenshi Ventures' Ian Baverstock will offer some tips for reaching out to a European audience in "Working in the European Market." Baverstock will provide a general overview of this valuable market, noting the opportunities and challenges developers can expect if they hope to bring their games to Europe.

- Elsewhere, Final Form Games' Tim Ambrogi will host the Production track lecture "Small Steps in the Dark: Embracing the Continuous Prototyping Mindset." Here, he will explain how developers can more effectively integrate prototyping into their entire development process. By prototyping every step of the way, he believes developers will be better prepared to adapt to change and make better games.

GDC Vault uncovers XNA's debut, behavioral game design lessons

[GDC organizers have digitized and made available for free on GDC Vault classic videos from Game Developers Conference 2004 on the debut of XNA, the essentials of behavioral game design, and more.]

This edition of Tales from the Vault looks back to 2004, where a Microsoft keynote announces and demos the XNA software development platform, a programming lecture from Sony PlayStation R&D focuses on simulating character animations, and a game design lecture ties heavily with behavioral psychology.

In the Microsoft keynote titled 'Turning Innovation into Impact', executives Robbie Bach and J Allard discuss the importance of software in game development amid surging development costs and consumer expectations.

Those wants in 2004 seem similar to what they are today: games of epic scale, more immersion, and more online social connection. The challenge escalates as consumers expect to pay the same price for each game, when development costs were already exceeding $5 million per title.

Allard says that it's software, not hardware, that is the "key that unlocks the potential" of developers and can move the industry forward. During this presentation, he announced and demoed the XNA software development platform that the second generation Xbox console would be firmly rooted in.

The Microsoft team used third-party testimonials to evoke hope in the future of XNA, too. Among those, Valve's Gabe Newell professes that "XNA combines the power of the PC and the power of the consoles into a best of breed platform." [GDC Vault free video]

Next, in the programming lecture 'Practical Physics for Articulated Characters', Vangelis Kokkevis from Sony PlayStation R&D speaks about using physical simulations as a source of animation for a skeleton. Kokkevis echoes the sentiment that hardware and its speed are not the issue with getting character animations up to the same quality of game visuals. He says the key is to find the appropriate algorithms.

These algorithms should produce character animations that respond naturally to typically unpredictable user input and to interactions between characters and between characters and the environment. He goes through the pros and cons of a series of algorithms his team implemented to build a simulator and arrive at these goals. [GDC Vault free video]

2013 Independent Games Festival reveals record Main Competition entrants

The organizers of the 15th annual Independent Games Festival -- the longest-running and largest showcase for independent developers -- are proud to announce that the event has once again seen record entry numbers for its latest Main Competition.

In total, the GDC 2013 co-located festival attracted 589 Main Competition entries from both already renowned indie developers and first-time entrants, just topping the record-breaking 567 games that the show saw in 2012.

Some of the hundred of intriguing-looking titles entered in the IGF Main Competition this year include EightyEightGames' RPG matching game 10000000, Christine Love's visual novel Analogue: A Hate Story, and Blue Manchu's CCG/RPG hybrid Card Hunter.

The entrants also feature titles such as Hitbox Team's action platformer Dustforce, SantaRagione and BloodyMonkey's unusual first person puzzler MirrorMoon, and much more - and everyone is welcome to check out the full list of entries now.

With the event growing ever larger, IGF 2013 has expanded each of its Main Competition award categories to six finalists (except Nuovo, which has 8 finalists). The Main Competition finalists will be announced in January 2013, and all will be available in playable form at a larger, expanded IGF pavilion on the GDC show floor.

In addition, all IGF 2013 Main Competition entrants are once again eligible for Microsoft Studios' second annual sponsored prize -- a guaranteed first-party publishing deal (including funding if desired) to release the selected title on LIVE-enabled platforms, including the Xbox LIVE Arcade service, Windows Phone, and Windows. (Last year's winner was Capy's frantic retro platform shooter Super TIME Force.)

The festival's organizers have also provided an official JSON feed, which is updated every 30 minutes from live back end data -- teams can update info on their games and have the official entry page change, and third parties are welcome to use this feed to make their own custom IGF entry lists and pages.

GDC 2013 opens registration, Summit submissions close tomorrow

Next March's Game Developers Conference 2013 is now starting to take shape, and those interested in attending can secure their passes now, as online registration is now open for the major industry event.

You can register for the show by visiting the info page on the official GDC 2013 website, and discounted Early Bird pricing will remain in effect until February 13. If you're looking to host a Summit presentation at the 2013 event, however, be sure to act soon, as GDC 2013's call for Summit submissions will close tomorrow, October 23, at 11:59pm ET.

The GDC Summits, which take place the first two days of the five day conference, are one and two day events that cover relevant topics in emerging sectors of the game industry, with a focus on broadening the scope of games to incorporate new audiences, new platforms and new gameplay ideas.

This year, the show will add three new Summits to its robust lineup: The Game Narrative Summit, the QA Summit, and the Free-to-Play Design & Business Summit. (Submissions for the GDC 2013 Main Conference have already closed.)

The Game Narrative Summit comes to GDC in San Francisco after being held for seven years at GDC Online in Austin, Texas. The two day program covers interactive narrative in all its forms, from AAA blockbusters to indie games to transmedia projects. The summit is looking to feature an all-star lineup of speakers from every corner of the discipline, with session content ranging from the advanced and theoretical for writers, designers and others seeking to hone their skills.

The introduction of the QA Summit, meanwhile, marks the first time that the GDC will have dedicated content to quality assurance, which is a critical component in game development. Since there is no standard methodology to QA, this summit will discuss new and/or current tools, processes and organization methods being used in QA today and to show how QA is an integral part of development.

Finally, the Free-to-Play Design & Business Summit (the successor to the Social & Online Games Summit) will be taking submissions covering a range of topics relating to free-to-play (F2P) titles - from postmortems on new and successful F2P games, to the latest and greatest monetization techniques, to lessons learned in designing F2P titles from the ground up, to experiences on social features, among other pressing trends that F2P developers face.

Portal co-creator Kim Swift to give Indie Summit keynote at GDC China

There's certainly no one path to success in the game industry, but Kim Swift's rise to fame still stands out as a particularly interesting case.

After joining Valve and helping to mastermind the acclaimed Portal right out of college (cuing off IGF Student finalist Narbacular Drop), Swift has gone on to become one of the industry's most renowned designers. Today, she serves as a creative director at Airtight Games, where she co-created the first person puzzler Quantum Conundrum.

Swift has accomplished quite a bit in just a few short years, and at next month's GDC China, she will host a keynote at the Independent Games Summit to discuss the lessons she's learned along the way, where things went wrong, and how other developers can learn from her experience.

She'll also take a moment to discuss her "design principles for creating games for a more mass appeal, how to work best with a team of talented, passionate developers, and how to create an enjoyable and fun game."

This keynote, titled "Designing Fun: Easier Said Than Done," will be open to GDC China's All Access and Summits & Tutorials pass holders. Online registration is now open on the GDC China website, and the show itself will take place November 17-19 at the Shanghai Convention Center in Shanghai, China.

In addition to the above presentation, GDC China organizers have also added the following talks to the show's Independent Games Summit:

GDC supports memorial fund for game developer Paul Steed

In August, the game industry lost one of its pioneer artists with the passing of Paul H. Steed, who served as a major 3D modeler for the Quake and Wing Commander series.

He served as an Advisory Board member for the Game Developers Conference for a number of years, and now the Board is highlighting, via the official GDC website, a memorial fund to support his family in this tragic time.

Steed spent more than two decades working as a video game artist, and had served on the GDC Advisory board for several years. In addition to working on some of the industry's most influential and critically-acclaimed titles, he also helped other game artists hone their craft with his Thinking Outside the Box column for Loonygames, and his numerous books on animating and modeling 3D characters.

"Unlike most of us, Steed didn't labor in obscurity. If you were involved in games during the '90s -- whether as a professional or as a fan -- it was hard not to pay attention to Paul Steed. He worked on some of the seminal titles of the decade, notably the Wing Commander series and the Quake series," recalled Steve Theodore, a GDC Advisory Board member and technical art director at Undead Labs.

"He produced the first demo for Xbox 360, presented a Game Career Seminar keynote at the Game Developers Conference, and was a leading exponent of art outsourcing -- proving that he could remain topical for nearly two decades. Always outspoken and always controversial, he was not a typical game artist -- but he was the most public exemplar of what we do for people both inside and outside the business."

Naughty Dog to detail Uncharted 3's visual effects at GDC China

Uncharted 3 is considered easily one of the best-looking games on the PlayStation 3, and at next month's GDC China in Shanghai, developer Naughty Dog will provide an in-depth look at the tools and technology used to produce the particle effects in this critically acclaimed title.

In a presentation dubbed "Effects Techniques Used in Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception," Naughty Dog programmer Marshall Robin will look under the hood of this popular game, noting the various tricks and techniques the studio uses to get the most out of its full scale console titles.

Robin's talk will offer "an overview of the tool pipeline used to author and process particle assets, a detailed walk through of the simulation and rendering runtime, and some shader techniques used in our effects."

This talk is part of GDC China's Programming track, and will be open to All Access and Main Conference pass holders. Discounted Early Bird registration is now open on the GDC China website, and the show itself will take place November 17-19 at the Shanghai Convention Center in Shanghai, China.

In addition to the above presentation, GDC China organizers have also added the following talks to the show's growing lineup:

- As part of the Game Design track, Ubisoft creative director Jason VandenBerghe (Far Cry 3) will host "The 5 Domains of Play: Applying Psychology's Big 5 Motivation Domains to Games." Expanding on his well-received presentation from GDC 2012, VandenBerghe will draw from research and scientific evidence to help designers create games that are more satisfying at a psychological level.

- In the Business & Marketing track, Kongregate co-founder Emily Greer will compare the Eastern and Western game markets in "Core Games, Real Numbers: Comparative Stats on Asian & Western Games." Greer will draw from Kongregate's game data to note some important trends across both these markets so developers can better understand what makes a game succeed or fail with its specific audience.

'Tales from the GDC Vault' debuts lost Halo, MMO design talks

As part of the continuing "Tales from the GDC Vault" series, the Game Developers Conference presents a new batch of classic lectures from the show's past.

GDC Europe and GDC Online have come and gone, but there can never be too much GDC content, so "Tales from the GDC Vault" returns with three new free talks from roughly a decade ago.

These lectures include a look at the development of Halo: Combat Evolved, lessons on building MMO worlds such as Ultima Online and Star Wars Galaxies, and a keynote on the shifting importance of computer graphics pioneers at the turn of the millennium.

First, Marty O'Donnell, Jaime Griesemer, and Mat Noguchi from Bungie speak at GDC 2003 in 'Halo: Development Evolved' about how experimentation and communication were key to designing, engineering and scoring the first Halo. The members describe how they rapidly concepted and prototyped level, character, and gameplay designs to figure out which direction they wanted to go.

The team even touches on some development lore, discussing how Halo was a real-time strategy game and third-person title before it finally became a first-person shooter. [GDC Vault free video]

Going further back in time to GDC 2001, Raph Koster and Rich Vogel (both of whose credits include Ultima Online and Star Wars Galaxies) give an advanced lecture in 'Design Patterns for Massively Multiplayer Environments'. According to their recipe, online worlds need a spatial environment of a virtual world (not just a gaming lobby), some kind of persona or avatar, and a sense of persistence.

The pair also explores classic models for such games. These included the scavenger model (derived from Zork and seen in Pokemon) which requires players to gather objects and return them somewhere, the impositional model (D&D style) based on earning points from dominating the environment, and the expressive model (seen in many PvP games) where players determine social hierarchy. [GDC Vault free video]

Going even further back to GDC 2000, Silicon Graphics, Incorporated (SGI) co-founder Kurt Akeley delivers the programming keynote ''New Pioneers at the Graphics Frontier'. Here he examines how the shifting importance of computer graphics pioneers, along with corporations and the open-source community, affects the evolution of the graphics industry. He also describes some of SGI's experiments, and lack of success, with programmable hardware and microcode. [GDC Vault free video]



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