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Tales from the GDC Vault: A retrospective look at game development in 1997

As part of the continuing Tales from the GDC Vault series, GDC historian Jason Scott has digitized and uploaded four notable videos from the 1997 Computer Game Developers Conference.

These videos, just like the many other classic and free lectures on the GDC Vault, provide a look back at some of the most pressing issues developers faced more than a decade ago. These archives give us a chance to both learn from our past, and even apply classic game development lessons to today's ever-changing market.

These brand-new videos, which feature renowned developers such as Brian Moriarty and Ernest Adams, join a handful of other GDC Vault free lectures from 1997. Join us now as we look back at some of the most exciting lectures and presentations from the classic Computer Game Developers Conference:

In the first of these new videos, Michael Dornbrook, whose work spans from Zork to Rock Band, shares his thoughts on maintaining relevance in "Surviving the Bloodbath: Perspectives on our Industry's Cycles." He observes the early warning signs of boom and bust cycles and strategies for surviving the busts and prospering from the booms. [GDC Vault free video]

Next up is video game musician George "The Fat Man" Alistair Sanger's "Music on Computers: A 5 Year Projection from the Project Bar-B-Q Think Tank." He presents the opinions and consensus of the BBQ Group (which still holds yearly conferences) on the topic: "What do you want to see in hardware and software for music on computers in the next 5 years?" [GDC Vault free video]

Also included is Infocom and LucasArts veteran Brian Moriarty's lecture, "Listen! The Potential of Shared Hallucinations." Here, Moriarty explores ways to creatively engage online game players and ditch "single-player designs retrofitted with a clunky multiplayer option." He encourages such games to "evolve with their audience" and "allow [players] to participate creatively" to "explore the unique possibilities of the online medium." [GDC Vault free video]

Reminder: GDC Online 2012's call for submissions ends Wednesday, May 2

Following a successful event in 2011, this October's GDC Online is beginning to take shape. Developers looking to submit a proposal for the Austin-based show should act soon, as the call for lecture and panel submissions ends this Wednesday, May 2.

This year, the conference is accepting submissions for main conference tracks in Business & Marketing, Customer Experience, Design, Production, and Programming. Keeping in line with the conference's online theme, these tracks all emphasize the development of connected games such as social network titles, free-to-play web games, kid-friendly online titles, and large-scale MMOs.

In addition, GDC Online is also seeking proposals for its four Summits, which each focus on a prominent or emerging sector of game development. The 2012 show will see the return of the ever-popular Game Narrative Summit and the Smartphone & Tablet Games Summit, alongside the brand new Game Dev Start-Up Summit and the Gamification Day.

The new Game Dev Start-Up Summit presents a comprehensive step-by-step look at the issues, challenges, and realities getting a new game studio off the ground. This one-day program will identify key challenges and arm attendees with knowledge that can help new ventures succeed.

The Gamification Day, meanwhile, will discuss the debatable and sometimes problematic process of building game-like incentives into non-game applications to address issues like productivity, health, marketing, and customer engagement. The full-day event will bring fresh discussions about blending games and technology, and will highlight inspired and successful case studies from today's forward-thinking businesses.

GDC Europe 2012 reveals major additions to main conference, Summit advisory boards

With GDC Europe quickly gaining steam, show organizers have added 14 leading European game developers to the event's main conference and Summit advisory boards, where they will help program the lectures, panels and roundtable sessions taking place at this August's conference in Cologne, Germany.

The newest members to join the main conference advisory board for GDC Europe 2012 include former Battlefield Heroes developer Ben Cousins (now general manager of ngmoco Sweden), Playdead CEO Dino Patti (Limbo, pictured), DICE creative director Lars Gustavsson, and Christopher Schmitz, head of production at Ubisoft Blue Byte (The Settlers and Battle Isle).

All of these new advisory board members come from notable and varied backgrounds in the European development community, and given their range of expertise, they will be able to ensure that GDC Europe 2012 offers even more insightful content targeted at developers all across the continent.

Other new additions to GDC Euope's main conference advisory board include Crytek veteran and Yager Interactive design director Bernd Diemer, EA Phenomic VP Dirk Ringe, Kuju Entertainment COO Adrian Hawkins (Battalion Wars), Guerrilla Games technical director Michiel van der Leeuw (Killzone series), online game consultant Teut Weidemann, Secret Exit co-founder Jetro Lauha (Zen Bound series), and Sven Liebech, head of art at Bigpoint GmbH.

These developers will join continuing board members such as Remedy Entertainment's Matias Myllyrinne (Alan Wake franchise), Avni Yerli of Crytek, and Harald Riegler of Sproing.

Helping to program the increasingly vibrant GDC Europe submarket Summits will be Thomas Grip, one of the key creatives at Amnesia studio Frictional Games, who will join the advisory board for the Independent Games Summit, alongside Knap Nok's Lau Korsgaard (who previously worked on Die Gute Fabrik's B.U.T.T.O.N.).

Elsewhere, Jami Laes, general manager and co-founder of social game giant Playfish, and Henric Suuronen, head of studio at Non-Stop Games (and formerly at wooga) will both join the board of the Social & Online Games Summit.

In addition, Ansu Lonnberg, chairman of the board at Secret Exit, and Semyon Voinov, co-founder of Cut the Rope creators ZeptoLab will join notables such as Fishlabs CEO and co-founder Michael Schade (Galaxy On Fire) on the advisory board of the Smartphone & Tablet Games Summit.

Reminder: GDC Europe 2012's call for submissions ends Monday, April 23

GDC Europe 2012 organizers are reminding that the call for lecture and panel submissions for this August's pre-eminent European game creation event ends on Monday, April 23rd.

This year, the event's call for submissions for lectures includes main conference tracks in Business & Marketing, Game Design, Production, Programming, and Visual Arts.

This year's event has a major focus on lectures with practical takeaways for today's video game market for all disciplines, from business strategies through postmortems to in-depth analyses of games. An expanded European advisory board -- to be revealed in the near future -- will be overseeing the submissions.

Organizers are also accepting submissions for content for the three GDC Europe Summits: the Social Games Summit, Smartphone & Tablet Games Summit and Independent Games Summit, all of which were introduced in 2011 and will be held concurrently with the main conference.

The conference is now in its fourth year, and will take place Monday through Wednesday, August 13-15, 2012 at the Cologne Congress-Centrum Ost in Cologne, Germany, just before the before the major European gamescom trade fair.

By once again pairing up with gamescom, GDC Europe can offer content to address the development community at a central location in the heart of Europe, and reach the critical mass of the European games sector.

GDC Vault adds free GDC 2012 videos featuring Meier, metrics, and more

Following the debut of numerous GDC 2012 videos earlier this month, the GDC Vault service has debuted a trio of free video lectures from last March's show, featuring talks from the legendary Civilization creator Sid Meier, iWin VP Laralyn McWilliams on the importance of metrics, and White House analyst Constance Steinkuehler Squire.

These free videos join a host of other free and notable lectures already available on GDC Vault, including the recent release of classic game postmortems (Gauntlet, Harvest Moon and more) and track keynotes (from Blizzard, Plants Vs. Zombies creator George Fan, and more) from GDC 2012.

The following lectures provide a varied sample of the show's informative and inspiring content, covering in-depth design philosophies, tricks for data analysis, and even how the government is impacting games as a medium.

Here are the newest free videos currently available on GDC Vault:

- In Sid Meier's presentation, the acclaimed Civilization creator and Firaxis co-founder looks back at a statement he made at GDC in 1989, that "a game is a series of interesting decisions." Meier picks apart this statement, and explains how it applies to modern design, and why developers should keep it in mind when crafting their own titles. Along the way, he provides some useful tips on making a player's decisions more interesting. [GDC Vault free video]

- Elsewhere, iWin lead and former Free Realms creative director Laralyn McWilliams explains why metrics should play a role in nearly all forms of game design. That's not to say that metrics should drive a game's content and development, as it's the designer's job to guide how everything comes together. Rather, McWilliams argues that metrics can serve as an essential tool in understanding a product or its audience, thereby allowing studios to make decisions with more confidence. [GDC Vault free video]

- The final free video lecture comes from Constance Steinkuehler Squire, a senior analyst for the U.S. President's White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. During this lecture, she details the numerous ways in which the White House hopes to use video games as a means of addressing national challenges. Games can help inform and encourage the national public, and this presentation details how the industry and the federal government to bring these initiatives into fruition. [GDC Vault free video]

GDC Europe reminds on Summit submissions, reveals extended deadline

Organizers of the upcoming Games Developers Conference Europe have extended the submissions deadline by one week to April 23, and are currently seeking additional content for the Social Games and Smartphone & Tablet Games Summits.

When GDC Europe returns to Cologne, Germany on August 13-15, these Summits will once again showcase the insight held by the best and brightest developers in the social and mobile spaces. Show organizers hope to make these Summits better than ever, and are especially looking for 25 and 50 minute talks from European and global developers in these fields.

Last year's Social & Smartphone/Tablet Summits at GDC Europe were particularly well received, and featured lectures, panels, and roundtables from some of the most influential social and mobile developers in the business.

Over in the Social Games Summit for example, Playfish studio director Jeferson Valadares (The Sims Social) gave an in-depth look at metric-driven design, outlining how to balance intuition and raw data.

Elsewhere, Digital Chocolate's Rob Unsworth reflected on the development of his studio's popular social game Zombie Lane -- this lecture, like numerous others from the show, is available as a free streaming video on GDC Vault.

In addition, the Smartphone & Tablet Games Summit featured notable talks from Fishlabs Entertainment's Marc Hehmeyer on bringing Galaxy on Fire 2 to Android, and Exozet Games' head of mobile development Matthias Hellmund on making mobile versions of popular board games like Settlers of Catan and Carcassone.

GDC Europe also featured numerous keynotes covering the social and mobile realm, as Wooga CEO Jens Begemann offered his thoughts on the appeal of social gaming [free GDC Vault video], Ultima creator Richard Garriott charted the industry's social future, and Epic president Mike Capps revealed the origin of the Chair-developed mobile hit Infinity Blade.

GDC Europe reminds on Indie Games Summit submissions for 2012 show

Organizers of the upcoming Games Developers Conference Europe are reminding prospective speakers that the submission deadline for presentations is Monday, April 16, and the show is currently seeking additional content for the growing Independent Games Summit.

This popular GDC Summit, a staple of the San Francisco event since 2007, first debuted at GDC Europe in 2011. When the show returns to Cologne, Germany on August 13-15, organizers expect the Summit to debut more notable content featuring the best and brightest of indie game development, and are especially looking for 25 minute and 50 minute talks from European and global indies.

Last year's successful Independent Games Summit at GDC Europe covered a wide swath of games, developers, disciplines, and issues, and featured talks from some of the most influential names in the indie game community.

For instance, the Summit featured an inspiring presentation from Independent Games Festival chairman Brandon Boyer on the importance of supporting indies.

There were also design-focused talks from prominent indie developers like Frictional Games studio head Thomas Grip (Amnesia: The Dark Descent) - whose acclaimed talk is streamable for free on GDC Vault as well.

In addition, Douglas Wilson, the creative mind behind B.U.T.T.O.N. and Johann Sebastian Joust (pictured), discussed the implications of breaking conventional gameplay tropes [GDC Vault link], German indie devs outlined the possibilities of public funding, and Tale of Tales' Michael Samyn (The Path) explained why indie devs might save the European games industry.

GDC Online opens call for submissions, debuts new advisors, summits

Organizers of the 10th annual GDC Online have announced that the call for submissions for this October's show is now open through midnight PT on May 2. As in previous years, the show is looking to coordinate lectures, panels, tutorials, and roundtables that cover pressing topics relating to online game creation and beyond.

GDC Online, which will take place October 9-11, 2012 at the Austin Convention Center in Austin, TX, focuses on development of connected games, including social network titles, free-to-play web games, kid-friendly online titles, and large-scale MMOs.

Submissions should address the most pertinent development challenges for online and connected games with submissions related to the following tracks: Business & Marketing, Design, Customer Experience, Production and Programming.

In addition, GDC Online welcomes new members to its advisory board this year. Bill Dalton, technical director at Zenimax Online, community expert Valerie Massey, iWin vice president Laralyn McWilliams and Zynga principal software engineer Robert Zubek will all join the event's board for 2012.

The call for submissions is also open for the standalone summits at GDC Online 2012, which this year includes the return of the ever-popular Game Narrative Summit and the Smartphone & Tablet Games Summit, alongside two new summits: the Game Dev Start-Up Summit and the Gamification Day.

The new Game Dev Start-Up Summit presents a comprehensive step-by-step look at the issues, challenges, and realities of a new game studio as it forms and gets off the ground. The growth of social, online, free to play, and other niches and genres have created unprecedented opportunity for entrepreneurs. This one-day program will identify the challenges and arm attendees with knowledge that can, together with creativity and passion, help new ventures succeed.

Attorney Jim Charne will serve as the advisor for the Game Dev Start-Up Summit. Charne has provided legal representation for clients in all phases of the computer software and video game industry since the mid-1980s, and has been chair of the Legal and Business tutorial at the Game Developers Conference since 1998.

The new Gamification Day at GDC Online will discuss the debatable and sometimes problematic process of building game-like incentives into non-game applications, to address issues like productivity, health, marketing, and customer engagement. The day-long program will bring fresh discussions about the integration points between games and technology and highlight inspired, successful case studies from today's forward-thinking businesses.

GDC Vault debuts 'Classic Postmortem' videos, GDC 2012 lectures

The GDC Vault service has debuted both free and members-only video, audio, and slides from last month's Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, including free postmortem videos for games like Fallout and Harvest Moon.

Following the conclusion of the record-breaking 22,500-person conference, these Classic Postmortem sessions, along with many other notable talks, are now available GDC 2012's "Free Recordings" section on GDC Vault.

Now in their second year, the Classic Postmortem lectures stood out as a particular highlight from this year's show, as once again offered unique insight from some of the industry's most seminal game creators.

The series included notable talks from Frederick Raynal on the making of Alone in the Dark, Ed Logg on crafting the classic arcade game Gauntlet, Yasuhiro Wada on the quirky and successful Harvest Moon, and Tim Cain on the original Fallout, which spawned one of the industry's most popular RPG franchises of all time.

Also available for free is an intimate chat with Minecraft creator Markus "Notch" Persson, hosted by SpyParty developer Chris Hecker. This session delves into Persson's creative process, and provides a look into the mind the indie game juggernaut.

In addition, GDC Vault has debuted a panel featuring Persson alongside industry figures like Jordan Mechner, Tim Sweeney, Adam Saltsman, John Romero, and Jane Pinckard on the budding indie renaissance. Elsewhere, GDC Vault visitors can check out a lecture from Plants vs. Zombies creator George Fan on the best ways to teach players via game design.

Other free Main Conference talks include a look at the art of Diablo III, an audio session on Supergiant Games' indie hit Bastion, and production tips from Bungie's Brian Sharp.

GDC 2012 organizers reveal 'Super Magnetic Game-O-Matic' video, highlights

At this month's Game Developers Conference 2012 in San Francisco, video game artist group iam8bit teamed up with the show's organizers to host the irreverent and exciting "Super Magnetic Game-O-Matic," a creative event featuring top artists from throughout the industry.

Throughout the conference, show attendees re-arranged giant word magnets to create some far-fetched game ideas, while professional artists rendered their own interpretations of the concepts they found interesting -- or just plain strange.

Now that the event has come to a close, show organizers have showcased the results via an exclusively filmed YouTube highlights reel, including timelapse shots of the sketchers in action, as well as a hi-res Flickr gallery of the art created.

The featured artists for the event specialized in all kinds of artistic disciplines, from UI design to concept art, and represented a wide range of companies from all over the game industry.

The notable list of artists at the event included Blizzard Entertainment's Ben Thompson, Weta Workshop's Greg Broadmore, Double Fine artists Levi Ryken and Derek Brand, and much more. The subjects of their "Game-O-Matic" contributions might have been a bit more silly than their typical professional work, but their talent shone through all the same.

From this exciting mix of artists came fantastic and quite often hilarious renderings of game pitches like "Extreme Nanny Adventure Karting," "Tyler Perry's 3D Dino Ninja Revolution," and "Meat Gravity Tale - 4D Space Edition," to name a few.

GDC Europe opens lecture submissions for 2012 event

The UBM TechWeb Game Network, organizers of the industry-leading Game
Developers Conference, have announced the call for submissions for this
August's GDC Europe conference in Cologne, Germany.

GDC Europe, taking place Monday through Wednesday, August 13-15, 2012
at the Cologne Congress-Centrum Ost, will again provide the essential
pan-European perspective of game development and business trends
currently happening throughout the continent.

The conference is now in its fourth year, and will once again occur in the same week as the European gamescom
trade fair. With this pairing, GDC Europe can offer content to address
the development community at a central location in the heart of Europe
and reach the critical mass of the European games sector.

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

Organizers are also accepting submissions for content for the three
GDC Europe Summits: the Social Games Summit, Smartphone & Tablet
Games Summit and Independent Games Summit, all of which were introduced
in 2011 and will be held concurrently with the main conference.

"GDC Europe offers the pan-European game development community a
unique opportunity to come together and dialogue about the local and
global changes happening in the industry, from their perspective," said
Meggan Scavio, general manager of all Game Developers Conference events.

"As the conference heads into its fourth year, we are pleased to be
able to return to Cologne and to continue providing a venue for
developers to gain priceless learning experience featuring leading
industry tools and techniques."

GDC 2012 reveals record 22,500 attendance, debuts 2013 dates

UBM TechWeb Game Network's 2012 Game Developers Conference, the world's largest and longest-running event serving professionals dedicated to the art and science of making games, hosted a record-breaking 22,500 game industry professionals last week at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, a 17 percent increase in attendance over the previous year's event.

Following the success of the show, organizers have announced that GDC 2013 will return to the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco from Monday, March 25 to Friday, March 29, 2013, - with a call for lecture submissions to open this summer.

GDC kicked off with two days of tutorials and summits focusing on specific emerging platforms and topics, including Smartphone and Tablet Games, Social and Online Games, Independent Games and more. The proliferation of free-to-play business models, new funding options and the explosive growth of mobile device games were frequent themes.

Summits highlights included Kickstarter's Cindy Au's timely talk on crowd source funding (Independent Games Summit), PopCap Games' Giordano Bruno Contestabile's presentation discussing lessons learned in moving Bejeweled Blitz to a free-to-play model (Social & Online Games Summit), and prominent game designers exploring the emotional impact of game design elements (Games for Change @ GDC Summit).

The main conference kicked off on Wednesday with GDC's first-ever "Flash Forward," a session that saw nearly 100 main conference speakers each take the stage for a forty-five second brief overview of their sessions in front of thousands of attendees. The popular Game Design Challenge saw three designers' ideas for creating a 60-second game on this year's theme "upgrading humanity." Richard Lemarchand of Naughty Dog won the Challenge with a game that attempted to first invoke and then eliminate shame.

GDC 2012, Iam8bit remind on 'Super Magnetic Game-O-Matic', detail featured artists

career-pav.jpgIn anticipation of next week's Game Developers Conference, show organizers and independent artist group iam8bit have revealed a number of the featured artists drawing at this year's interactive art exhibit, the "Super Magnetic Game-O-Matic."

As previously announced, this event, taking place in the 2nd floor of Moscone West, features giant oversized poetry magnets, which GDC attendees can rearrange to create their own game ideas.

Throughout the show, notable industry artists will sketch their own interpretations of the most interesting concepts. The featured artists at this creatively driven event each offer their own unique artistic specialties, ensuring that the event will remain spontaneous, unpredictable, and fun.

Here are a few of the notable artists to be featured at the event during the week (with a number of additional guests to be announced on site):

- Ben Thompson is an artist at Blizzard Entertainment, and has worked particularly on the studio's MMO juggernaut World of WarCraft. His lively, detailed style should make for some interesting contributions to the exhibit.

- Levi Ryken is currently an artist at Double Fine Productions, and his creative work spans a number of the acclaimed San Francisco studio's most recent titles, including Brutal Legend, Costume Quest, Stacking, and Happy Action Theater.

- Greg Broadmore is a conceptual artist at the renowned Weta Workshop in New Zealand, and was the lead concept artist for acclaimed sci-fi movie District 9. He also created the Dr. Grordbort's universe (as featured in Team Fortress 2, and spawned into acclaimed physical raygun props.)

GDC 2012 details hiring opportunities at show

With just a couple of days to go until Game Developers Conference 2012, show organizers have detailed some of the numerous companies hiring at the event's robust Career Pavilion.

Developers from all over the industry will be recruiting new talent throughout the show, and the Career Pavilion gives GDC attendees the chance to interact with these companies face-to-face.

The final exhibitor list [PDF] includes traditional game developers, social companies, mobile studios, and much more. Regardless of their interests or discipline, attendees should have no problem finding a company that appeals to them.

The Career Pavilion is open to all GDC pass holders, and will take place Wednesday March 7 through Friday, March 9 in the West Hall of the Moscone Center in San Francisco. Those interested in purchasing a pass can do so on-site starting March 4 (Student passes are only available on March 9).

Here are just a few of the notable companies recruiting at next week's show:

- Metal Gear Solid studio Kojima Productions has big plans for GDC, as the company hopes to expand beyond Japan and staff up for a brand-new office in Northern California. The company is hiring in nearly all disciplines, spanning artists, engineers, designers, and more.

- The social networking giant Facebook is looking to connect with the developers at GDC to help bolster its open platform and enhance its web and mobile services. Specifically, the company is looking for new engineers for mobile development and game partnerships.

- Resistance studio Insomniac Games will exhibit at this year's Career Pavilion to find new staff to fuel its multiplatform projects and an upcoming Facebook title. The developer is seeking programmers, animators, artists, and more.

- The Santa Monica-based Riot Games has seen great success with its action strategy game League of Legends, and the studio now aims to be "the most player-focused company in the world." At GDC 2012, the studio hopes to fill positions positions for both engineers and producers.

Experimental Gameplay Sessions return for 10-year anniversary at GDC 2012

With just days remaining before the Game Developers Conference 2012, show organizers have chosen to detail a special workshop dubbed "Experimental Gameplay Sessions," which returns to GDC for its 10-year anniversary.

This jam-packed, two-hour session -- which takes place Friday, March 9 at 2.30pm in Room 3014 of West Hall -- will showcase an eclectic mix of unusual game prototypes that defy convention and explore new ideas and genres.

Led by Robin Hunicke (Journey) and Daniel Benmergui (Storyteller), it's an exciting opportunity for presenters and attendees alike to explore some brand new territory in game design.

In fact, a number of 'experimental' titles that debuted in previous years have gone on to become some of the most well regarded in the industry. Some of these standout games include Katamari Damacy, flOw, Braid, Portal, World of Goo and Today I Die.

This year, the session aims to recapture that innovative spirit with 11 titles from some of the industry's most creative developers.

Among the presenters this year are Douglas Wilson (Johann Sebastian Joust) and Bennett Foddy (QWOP), who will demonstrate a special enhanced version of one of Foddy's acclaimed physics titles. WallFour's John Sear, meanwhile, will show off a particularly unusual large-scale cooperative game.

In addition, developers such as Vlambeer's Rami Ismail will take a moment to go over some seemingly broken game ideas in GlitchHiker, and Kurt Bieg from Simple Machine will detail his studio's new Twitter-powered golf game.

The session will even highlight a number of more well known titles, including Jenova Chen and Nick Clark showing thatgamecompany's much-anticipated Journey, and Daniel Benmergui showcasing his IGF Nuovo Award finalist Storyteller.

Other participants including Shadow Physics co-creator Steve Swink showing a new title, Pietro Righi Riva and Nicolo Tedeschi showcasing Mirror Moon, Alex Kerfoot, Anna Anthropy, and Mars Jokela displaying Keep Me Occupied, part of the OAK-U-TRON 201X, Mathias Nordvall showing Sightlence, and Robin Arnott exhibiting the claustrophobic Deep Sea.

Since limited information on many of these titles is available online, the best way to see what's on offer is to check out the Experimental Gameplay Sessions for yourself. Attendees will also get the chance to actually participate in a number of these games, leaving plenty of opportunity for spontaneous mishaps and hilarity.

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