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GDC: Monaco Takes Grand Prize at 12th Annual IGF

Pocketwatch Games' stylish co-op caper, Monaco, was the big winner at the Twelfth Annual Independent Games Festival Awards, which was hosted by the Game Developers Conference 2010 at the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco.
Monaco received the top award at the ceremony, earning the $20,000 Seumas McNally Grand Prize for Best Independent Game, as well as the award for Excellence in Design.
Other IGF award recipients for 2010, as judged by over 170 industry veterans, independent developers and indie-friendly journalists, also include PlayDead's starkly beautiful silhouetted platformer, Limbo, which won the awards for Excellence in Visual Art and Technical Excellence. Closure Team's puzzle platformer, Closure, earned the award for Excellence in Audio.
Noted independent developer Cactus received the inaugural Nuovo Award for his abstract visual puzzle game, Tuning. The Nuovo Award honors "abstract, shortform, and unconventional game development which advances the medium and the way we think about games."

Game Developers Choice, IGF Awards Partner With GameSpot, G4 For Coverage

Game Developers Choice and IGF Awards organizers have confirmed that next week's awards shows will be streamed live on GameSpot.com, with TV network G4 also present to capture highlights for a GDC special.
The major CBS-owned GameSpot.com website has set up a special Game Developers Conference 2010 landing page for its coverage, and will be exclusively live-streaming the awards, which take place at the Moscone Center in San Francisco on Thursday, March 11, 2010 at 6:30 pm PT.
The ceremonies kick off with the 12th Annual Independent Games Festival Awards, this year presented by indie developers Kyle Gabler (World Of Goo) and Erin Robinson (Puzzle Bots), and honoring an outstanding set of finalists from the world of independent games.
With over $40,000 in awards given out, including the prestigious Seumas McNally Grand Prize, the Audience Award, and the 'art game'-centric Nuovo Award, as well as exclusive videos on indie games filmed by comedy troupe Mega64, the event should be a highlight of the awards calendar.
Following the conclusion of the IGF Awards, the live stream will showcase the Game Developers Choice Awards, now in its tenth year, and the leading mainstream game awards voted on by video game creators.

GDC 2010 Rounds Off Indie Coverage With Indie Fund Talk, Gamma, Nuovo Sessions

Game Developers Conference 2010 organizers have confirmed the final set of independent game-specific content, including Ron Carmel on the just-debuted Indie Fund, the Gamma IV party/showcase, and the EGW-replacing Nuovo Sessions game showcase.
The newly confirmed details round off a multitude of independent game-specific content at the March 9th-13th event, held at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, including the 12th Annual Independent Games Festival -- featuring over 30 top indie games playable on the GDC Expo floor from Thursday 11th to Saturday 13th, as well as the major IGF Awards on Thursday 11th at 6.30pm.
In addition, the 4th Independent Games Summit on Tuesday 9th and Wednesday 10th has added and clarified a number of sessions, with 2D Boy's Ron Carmel kicking off the event with 'Indies and Publishers: Fixing a System That Never Worked', now confirmed to discuss the new Indie Fund organization.
Another major new panel, 'Tripping The Art Fantastic', features Spelunky creator Derek Yu, Braid artist David Hellman and Super Meat Boy co-creator Edmund McMillen discussing "how each one of these figures influences the state of game art, from hand painted epics to short form experimental Flash games."

Borderlands, Mass Effect 2 Talks Showcased As GDC 2010 Deadline Nears

As Game Developers Conference 2010's online pre-registration nears its end, GDC organizers are highlighting talks on Borderlands, Mass Effect 2, and Unreal Engine 3's iPhone port, among others.
The conference, taking place from March 9th-13th at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, is closing its discounted pre-show registration at 1pm PT on Thursday, March 4th.
With nine notable Summits - spanning iPhone, social/online gaming, indie, [email protected] and beyond -- and multiple tutorials on Tuesday 9th and Wednesday 10th, followed by three days of Main Conference content from Thursday 11th through Saturday 13th, there are now more than 450 sessions in total.
The final set of highlighted sessions, including recently announced lectures and relatively unpublicized talks, include the following notables:
- In 'Where Did My Inventory Go? Refining Gameplay in Mass Effect 2', BioWare's lead gameplay designer Christina Norman "will discuss how a small vision shift lead to radical design changes in Mass Effect 2’s combat gameplay and RPG systems. Lessons learned will be presented, including the challenge of communicating gameplay changes to the existing player community."
- The audio track now includes a Rock Band Network postmortem, with Harmonix's Matthew Nordhaus and Caleb Epps discussing the creation of the still-in-Beta system which allows any musician to record and then sell their music in the Rock Band franchise, thanks to a complex user-created content pipeline.

GDC 2010 Adds Civilization V, Hecker, Harmonix Talks

As the Game Developers Conference 2010 pre-show registration deadline approaches, organizers have confirmed talks from Spore's Chris Hecker and The Beatles: Rock Band's UI director, as well as a premiere of Civilization V's engine tech.
The near-final additions are helping to round out the March 9-13 event at San Francisco's Moscone Center, which includes two days of summits -- spanning iPhone, indie, social games and more -- and three days of main conference content.
In particular, the freshly highlighted lectures for the show (organized by this website's parent company) include the following notable talks:
- Presenting a lecture called "Achievements Considered Harmful?", former EA fellow (Spore) and current Spy Party developer Chris Hecker tackles an intriguing angle on a major trend: "Achievements, awards, and rewards are ubiquitous in games these days... Unfortunately, more than 50 years of psychology research seems to indicate achievements may be doing subtle but irreparable harm to players and their feelings about playing games."
- In the sponsored lecture "Firaxis' Civilization V: A Case Study in Scalable Game Performance", Firaxis, 2K Games, and Intel "present the world premiere game engine and technology sneak peek of Civilization V, launching this fall." Along the way, according to the talk, "you'll learn how Firaxis developers have used the newly released GPA 3.0 PC platform tools and Threading Building Blocks to offer Civ V playability on myriad systems."

GDC 2010 Adds Windows Phone Lectures To Comprehensive Smartphone Game Line-Up

Following the announcement of the Windows Phone 7 Series, including Xbox Live functionality, Microsoft is revealing first technical details at a GDC 2010 tutorial, joining event coverage of smartphone gaming from iPhone through Android to Blackberry, Palm and beyond.
The Windows Phone 7 Series itself is a new set of smartphones running a drastically reconfigured Windows OS and including Xbox Live-compatible avatars, achievements, and games as part of the new system.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer showcased the Windows Phone 7 Series set of phones at the Mobile World Congress 2010 in Barcelona, and announced that the new phones will debut by holiday 2010.
As noted on Microsoft's official Windows Phone blog, the company has been getting "a lot of questions about the developer story, platform, etc. We are not prepared to talk about it yet but all will be revealed at two coming events... [including] Game Developers Conference in San Francisco."
The sessions appears as part of Microsoft's Game Developer Day tutorials on March 9th and 10th, with much of Wednesday, March 10th dedicated to the new operating system and technical/design specifics.

Carmack Gets Lifetime Achievement Honor At 2010 Choice Awards

The 2010 Game Developers Choice Awards, the highest honors in video game development, will bestow John Carmack, the technological patriarch and co-founder of id Software, with the Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to the art and science of games at GDC this year.
The Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes the career and achievements of developers who have made an indelible impact on the craft of game development, as Carmack has done for his more than two decades of groundbreaking technical contributions, and his role establishing the first-person shooter genre with landmark titles like Doom and Quake.
The recipient is chosen by the elite Choice Awards Advisory Committee, which includes game industry notables such as Ben Cousins (EA DICE), Harvey Smith (Arkane), Raph Koster (Metaplace), John Vechey (PopCap), Ray Muzyka (BioWare), Clint Hocking (Ubisoft), and many others.
Former Game Developers Choice Lifetime Achievement Award recipients include Sid Meier, Shigeru Miyamoto, Will Wright - who will be presenting the award to Carmack at the ceremony on March 11, 2010 during Game Developers Conference 2010 in San Francisco - and other legendary game creators.

GDC 2010 Adds Playfish, Facebook Social Game Keynotes

Organizers of the Social & Online Games Summit at GDC 2010 have rounded out their line-up for the March 9th-10th event, with Facebook and Playfish keynotes and three tracks of sophisticated content on what's next in this exciting space.
The major new Summit, taking place on the first two days of Game Developers Conference 2010 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco in just three weeks, has been designed to educate and inspire on the rise of socially connected gaming.
Summit advisors include notables like Metaplace's Raph Koster, Habbo's Sulka Haro, and Playdom's Steve Meretzky, and the Summit homepage has now revealed the two event keynotes and a complete line-up for the event.
The first confirmed keynote is 'The Relentless March Toward "Free"... And What it Means to the Video Game Industry', by Playfish VP and GM Kristian Segerstrale, the co-founder of the EA-acquired social game firm will "critically examine what the future holds for the creation, distribution and consumption models in video games -- and suggest what your company needs to do to prepare for the era of free."
The other keynote comes from Facebook platform manager Gareth Davis, who will speak on 'How Friends Change Everything', in which the social network "at the forefront of massive disruptions in who plays games, how games are discovered, distributed, designed and operated" discusses their view on where the social game space is headed.
With almost 40 other major sessions in the social and online game space, including speakers from Zynga, Playfish, Playdom, Habbo, Mind Candy, Schell Games, IMVU, PopCap, and many other major companies, the Summit is packed full of relevant, concrete information.

Blizzard, Shadow Complex, PS3 Motion Controller Talks Added To GDC 2010

Highlighting new talks for March 9th-13th's Game Developers Conference 2010, organizers have added Rob Pardo on Blizzard's design philosophy, the Smithsonian Institute on embracing games, Chair's Donald Mustard on creating XBLA hit Shadow Complex, and sessions on OnLive's streaming tech and Sony's PS3 motion controller.
The new announcements come with less than a month to go until the event, which takes place from March 9th to 13th at San Francisco's Moscone Center, and includes two days of Summits and tutorials alongside three days of Main Conference content.
The highlights from this set of announcements include the following notable lectures:
- In a rare talk called 'Making a Standard (and Trying to Stick to it!): Blizzard Design Philosophies', Blizzard VP of game design Rob Pardo (pictured) discusses how the Warcraft, Starcraft and Diablo franchise creators "establish our own core [game design] values in the ongoing challenge to deliver a consistent, epic game experience", specifically referencing some of the successes and failures they've experienced along the way.

GDC 2010 Announces Deus Ex 3, Yamaoka, Arkham Asylum Talks

As the March 9th-13th event approaches, GDC 2010 organizers have revealed new lectures on Deus Ex 3's "cyberpunk renaissance" look, Silent Hill producer Akira Yamaoka's ethos, and Batman: Arkham Asylum's art direction.
The new announcements come with less than a month to go until the event, which takes place from March 9th to 13th at San Francisco's Moscone Center, and includes two days of Summits and tutorials alongside three days of Main Conference content.
A pair of particularly intriguing new lectures lead the new line-up announcements. Firstly, Eidos Montreal art director Jonathan Jacques-Belletete presents a lecture on "The Successes and Failures of Creating a Near-Future Cyberpunk Setting with a Renaissance Twist in Deus Ex 3", providing some of the first concrete information about the much-awaited title.
Jacques-Belletete "...will discuss the creative underpinnings behind the unique blend of art style that combines the past, present and future in the next evolution of the Deus Ex franchise", with particular reference to the title's "Cyber Renaissance" look, which "is infused across the fashion, characters, environments and story."
Secondly, veteran Silent Hill composer and recent series producer Akira Yamaoka, who has just joined No More Heroes creator Grasshopper Manufacture, will present a lecture entitled "As Long as the Audio is Fun, the Game Will Be Too".
This retrospective, taken from Yamaoka's "first 20 years in video game production", will present an interesting angle: "People tend not to think about game design and audio design in parallel. I will present my views on audio design in games from a producer's perspective, having had experience in both roles. With few technological limits remaining, we can focus on achieving realism and interaction. What challenges remain in audio design?"
In addition, as part of a series of GDC 2010 Track keynotes just confirmed, including already-revealed lectures from Metroid creator Yoshio Sakamoto and on StarCraft II's programming approach, a number of major new lectures have been revealed, including the following:

GDC Austin Renamed GDC Online, Confirmed For October 2010

Think Services Game Group, organizers of the industry-leading Game Developers Conference (GDC), has announced that the former GDC Austin show – now named Game Developers Conference Online (GDC Online) -- will return to Austin for this year’s October 5-8, 2010 event.

[email protected] Confirms OnLive, GameStop, PlayStation Home Speakers

The [email protected] Summit taking place at Game Developers Conference in San Francisco next month has announced new keynote and panel speakers including OnLive's Steve Perlman, GameStop Digital's Chris Petrovic, and Sony's Jack Buser.
The summit is a partnership between technology site Venturebeat and the Think Services Game Group, and will take place on Wednesday, March 10, the second day of the GDC Summits.
The theme for the business summit is "Disruption 2.0," and according to the organizers it will "focus on the next disruptions that will happen in the video game industry."
"In the past couple of years, social games with virtual goods business models have proved themselves and shaken up the status quo," the description reads. "The iPhone has become a hot platform and Apple hopes to extend further into games with the iPad. Digital distribution and online games are growing. Will these trends gather more momentum and prove to be sustainable, or will new platforms and business models disrupt the disruptors?"
As well as an already-confirmed "fireside chat" with Electronic Arts COO John Schappert, [email protected] organizers have confirmed a keynote featuring OnLive's Steve Perlman. The serial entrepreneur has created a service that lets you play high-end games "on demand" -- that is, over the Internet from a conventional low-end PC with no download -- and will be discussing plans and technical specifics in the keynote.
Newly announced speakers for other sessions or panels at the networking-replete executive summit include:

2010 IGF Reveals Mobile Category Winners, Audience Voting, Award Hosts

2010 Independent Games Festival organizers have revealed the five IGF Mobile category finalists battling it out for Best Mobile Game at GDC, also debuting the IGF Audience award and revealing the hosts for this year's IGF Awards.
IGF Mobile Category Winners
After announcing finalists and honorable mentions late last month, the 2010 Independent Games Festival Mobile has named the category winners that will show their games at GDC and battle for the Best IGF Mobile Game prize.
After battling it out from a field of 170 top-notch entries, winners thus far include Secret Exit's physics-heavy Stair Dismount for iPhone, Powerhead Games' cunning color-based puzzle game Glow Artisan for DSi, and Tiger Style's acclaimed action game Spider for Apple's handheld.
The category winners for the 2010 IGF Mobile competition -- an event that celebrates excellence in games for the iPhone, other cellphone and smartphone OSes, Nintendo DS, Sony PSP, and other handheld devices -- are:

 

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