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GDC Online 2012 adds new Segerstrale, online PR, A/B testing talks

With online registration now open for GDC Online 2012, show organizers have begun unveiling new talks for the October event, this time revealing three new lectures covering EA's approach to multiplatform franchises, tips for taking PR into your own hands, and advice for conducting A/B tests within social games.

These talks all fall within GDC Online's main conference, which takes place Tuesday, October 9 to Thursday, October 11 at the Austin Convention Center at Austin, Texas.

The full details on these newly-announced sessions are as follows:

- As part of the Business & Marketing track, Playfish co-founder and EA EVP of digital Kristian Segerstrale (Pet Society, SimCity Social) will host "Bet on IP and Platform," which covers how to create successful brands that can succeed on nearly any platform.

Looking at EA's own strategy in particular, key social game pioneer Segerstrale (pictured) will discuss how to ensure a franchise such as The Sims can succeed across multiple devices, while sharing insight on how to turn "the industry's biggest titles into 365-day a year services."

- Over in the Production track, Valerie Massey, the director of community development at the community analytics company Clara, will outline some essential tools for taking care of your own low-cost media outreach for online games.

During this session, titled "Public Relations 101: Make Your Own Media Magic," the former CCP employee will ensure attendees walk away knowing how to "[put] together a basic media kit and contact list, how to kick off their PR efforts," and how to avoid common mistakes with the press.

- Finally, Jesse Hull of the social game company GSN Games (top 100 Facebook app Games By GSN) will host the Business & Marketing track lecture, "A Holistic Approach to A/B Testing," detailing how developers can make their online social games more efficient and more appealing to their players.

Building upon his critically acclaimed GDC 2012 session, Hull will explain how to most effectively implement A/B testing, helping developers avoid common pitfalls, establish effective procedures, and hopefully make better online games.

GDC Europe 2012 adds Hitman, Bigpoint, breakdancing talks

In the latest update for GDC Europe 2012, show organizers have debuted a trio of notable sessions, including a look at Hitman: Absolution's crowds, and an eccentric talk on how breakdancing can make you a better developer.

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:

- First, Kasper Fauerby of Danish studio IO Interactive will host a Programming Track session explaining how the studio implemented the upcoming Hitman: Absolution's impressive looking crowd system, which includes as many as 500 onscreen characters at once.

In the aptly named "Crowds in Hitman: Absolution," Fauerby will discuss the system's design and implementation, giving attendees some insight into the benefits and complexities involved in creating believable and dynamic virtual crowds.

- Next, it might seem like an odd comparison at first glance, but Codemasters' Robbert-Jan Brems will explain how breakdancing relates to game development in the Visual Arts track session, "How Breakdancing Taught Me to be a Technical Artist."

Though relatively new to being a professional technical artist, the unconventional talk from Brems will outline how his nine years as a breakdancer have influenced his approach to solving day-to-day problems on the job. (Pictured: Break Dance, Commodore 64)

- Finally, over in the Business and Marketing track, Philip Reisberger, the chief revenue officer of the major German-headquartered online game company Bigpoint, will discuss free to play pricing strategies in a lecture dubbed "Dynamic Pricing."

Here, Reisberger will discuss how free to play games have changed the fundamentals of the video game business, while explaining why "intelligent collection and reading of the mass of data accruing from assessment can be the key to real improvement in monetizing free to play games."

GDC Europe adds new sessions on player choice, crisis management, and more

As the regular updates for GDC Europe 2012 continue, event organizers have debuted a trio of new talks covering everything from limiting player choice, moving to free to play development, to PR crisis management.

These talks 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:

- Over in the Game Design track, Joerg Friedrich, lead level designer on 2K and Yager Development's Spec Ops: The Line (pictured), will examine how to build an emotional response by manipulating player choice in "Making the Player Feel Bad - Breaking Rules of Player Choice for Emotional Impact."

While most games use an established set of rules to provide satisfying player choices, Friedrich will argue "designers sometimes should break these rules to create emotional impact on the player and tell a serious narrative." To illustrate his point, he will offer a number of examples where this has worked, and where it hasn't.

- Also in the Game Design track, Travian Games senior game designer Jan van der Crabben will explore how to make the transition from blockbuster games to free to play development in "AAA goes F2P: Same Skills, Different Mindset."

Previously, van der Crabben worked on Empire: Total War and Napoleon: Total War, and during this talk he will outline how he eventually moved toward making free to play games like Travian's browser-based Imperion. Along the way, he'll offer advice for other developers looking to make a similar switch.

- No matter how hard you try, sometimes it's simply impossible to avoid a public relations disaster. Valerie Massey, the director of community development at the community analytics company Clara, will offer some advice on how to deal with these scenarios in the Business & Marketing track talk, "DEFCON: A Basic Guide to Public Relations Crisis Management."

Building upon talks she's given at previous GDC events, the former CCP PR director will focus on the inevitable crises that arise during game development, and will outline "the tips and tools you'll need to calmly weather the storm and get things back on track."

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.

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