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'Tales from the GDC Vault': Cow Clicking and A Little Extra

[Continuing his new 'Tales from the GDC Vault' series, digital historian Jason Scott showcases his digitizing and contextualizing work for Game Developers Conference content for the GDC multimedia archives, showcasing Ian Bogost's newly-free Cow Clicker talk and a new GDC 2000 press reel.]

Jason Scott, GDC Historian and Archivist here. Great news for you, if you've been hearing a lot about this "GDC" thing and want to know what you're missing.

Game Developers Conference has not just been freeing up older, classic talks like the ones I've been digitizing from over a decade ago - they've also released a variety of just-recorded talks from recent GDCs. All of these are recorded using the digitally speaking mechanism, where you can watch the speaker and slides, just the slides, just the audience, or whatever works for you.

There's a growing pile of these present-day presentations that you'll get your hands on, and I'll be pointing out some of the ones that really grabbed me, looking over them.

So here's a great talk to check out from this just-past GDC, one of the more surreal and meta-referential talks that was on the lineup: "Making a Mockery: Ruminations on Cow Clicker" by Ian Bogost, originally given at GDC Online 2010 in Austin in October 2010.

GDC Online 2011 Announces Call For Papers, Summit Line-Up

UBM TechWeb Game Network, organizer of Game Developers Conference Online 2011, has announced its Main Conference track line-up and new Summits for the October show, the leading worldwide event discussing the business and art of online games.

Following a successful call for August's GDC Europe, with more than 200 submissions, organizers are now accepting submissions through midnight PT on Thursday, May 5th to present lectures, roundtables, and panel sessions at GDC Online 2011.

The Austin, Texas-based show to be held this Fall focuses on social network titles, free-to-play web games, kid-friendly online titles, large-scale MMOs, and all types of connected games.

Main Conference submissions should address the most pressing development challenges for online and connected games, targeting the following tracks: Business and Marketing, Design, Production, Programming, and the new Customer Experience track.

Evolving from last year's Live track, GDC Online's notable new Customer Experience track will feature successful strategies to attract, retain and effectively monetize players.

Industry experts are encouraged to submit a proposal in areas such as increasing player satisfaction and engagement through metrics-driven post-launch development, design patterns for expansion content, building and managing communities and more.

GDC Online 2011 show management is also requesting submissions for its standalone summits, which this year include the Game Narrative Summit, the Smartphone & Tablet Games Summit and the GDC Virtual Items Summit.

'Tales from the GDC Vault': It's GDC Vault Madness!

[In the first of his new 'Tales from the GDC Vault' series, digital historian Jason Scott updates on his continued task, digitizing and contextualizing Game Developers Conference content for the GDC multimedia archives, highlighting two of the just-posted classic postmortems for scrutiny.]

Jason Scott, GDC historian and archivist here. I'm still around! After the end of my historically-themed work for 'GDC 25', it was not 100% clear that GDC would want to continue the process of rescuing/archiving their own past for presentation on the Vault. Well, the word came down and here I am. So let's dive back in.

I'm really glad they made this choice, because a service like the GDC Vault holds a lot of value, whether for game scholars studying trends and events in the industry, or to give newer developers insight into what practices have been in place and maybe even why those practices came about.

To that end, I hope to turn this room of videotape, audiotape and artifacts into a nicely boxed, digitized pile that you can enjoy - most of which will be made available in the free section of GDC Vault.

One part of being the GDC historian is you get to go to GDC. I had a great time, took a lot of photos, and talked to a good number of people. And I got to attend the newest crop of presentations, instead of hearing them off audio and videotape.

Like a certain percentage of GDC attendees, I was really impressed and looking forward to the Classic Postmortems... but I was also keeping my expectations tempered. After all, in some cases the developers were being asked to hearken 10 to 20 years ago, and talk about events that might have fallen by the wayside in terms of memory.

I figured most might go in somewhat nostalgic directions, glossing over harshness or not giving much larger context, in favor of reminiscing about the whole project as being worth all the now-forgotten trouble.

I had little to worry about. The postmortems were amazing. Let me highlight a couple you should check out if you haven't already.

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Mark Cerny, who has had a long career in video games with companies including Crystal Dynamics, Sega, Insomniac, Sony, and Naughty Dog, got his big break working for Atari back in 1982.

From this early time came a very unique, very visually arresting game called Marble Madness. For his classic postmortem, Cerny breaks down the choices and process that lead to Marble Madness, and then what work went into the design/hardware of the game itself.

Gamasutra covered this nicely, but I want to additionally point out how effectively Cerny gives a feeling for working at Atari at the time. In particular, he covers the time and iteration issues that hardware/software developers within the company had to deal with, and the amount of design work that was changed or thrown out along the way. His notes and early drawings from that time are excellent, and he shows what decisions he made and why.

GDC Vault Adds Free 'GDC 25' Video Lectures From Lantz, Cleveland

The GDC Vault service has debuted more free video talks from the 25th Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, including Frank Lantz evocatively exploring poker and Go, and Natural Selection's Charlie Cleveland on 'The 1-Hour Video Game MBA'.

Adding to the classic game postmortem series and sponsored video lectures available in GDC 2011's 'free recordings' section, the two new lectures are part of regular free video updates from all GDC shows this year.

Firstly, in an acclaimed talk from Area/Code co-founder Frank Lantz (pictured), 'Life and Death and Middle Pair: Go, Poker and the Sublime', now available for free on GDC Vault, the veteran game designer and educator presents why "Go and Poker are epic, world-changing games, they have spanned generations, and absorbed entire lifetimes of passionate study and play."

As Lantz's description for his inspirational lecture explains: "This talk will seek to understand how a handful of black and white stones and a deck of cards can demonstrate the immense scope and sublime power of games."

Secondly, Unknown Worlds Entertainment founder Charlie Cleveland (Natural Selection 2) presented 'The One-Hour Video Game MBA' at GDC 25, another well-received lecture described as a swift, focused business lesson for game creators.

GDC Vault Debuts 'Classic Postmortem' Videos, GDC 2011 Lectures

The GDC Vault service has debuted both free and subscriber-only video, audio and slides from the 25th Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, including free Doom, Populous and Out Of This/Another World postmortem videos.

Following the conclusion of the record 19,000-person game creation conference, the classic game postmortem series is now available in GDC 2011's 'free recordings' section, alongside free sponsored video lectures and slides.

Some of the many highlights of the hour-long set of 11 postmortem lectures by seminal game industry figures include Eric Chahi's standing-ovation talk on the making of Out Of This World/Another World, as well as John Romero and Tom Hall on the creation of id Software's Doom and Will Wright discussing the crafting of Raid On Bungeling Bay, whose editor inspired his work on SimCity.

With Ron Gilbert talking Maniac Mansion, Peter Molyneux examining the making of Populous, and Toru Iwatani on the creation of Pac-Man (pictured) - with English and Japanese audio versions - the postmortems are rounded out by other free videos on the making of Elite, Marble Madness, Bejeweled, Pitfall! and Prince Of Persia by their renowned creators.

Also now available is free video of Satoru Iwata's GDC 2011 keynote, named 'Video Games Turn 25: A Historical Perspective and Vision For The Future', as well as nearly 30 specially video-recorded sponsor videos from major companies like Google, PayPal, Intel, Nvidia, Digital River and more.

These free video talks, which include high-quality panels about monetization, rendering, 3D stereoscopy and other subjects, are all freely available after filling in a brief registration form. GDC organizers have also made available over 150 slides from GDC 2011 presenters, including many of the biggest talks.

GDC Europe 2011 Debuts New Summits, Call For Submissions

Organizers of GDC Europe 2011 have revealed a host of focused Summits for this year's show, also announcing the call for submissions for this August's conference in Cologne, Germany.

Taking place Monday through Wednesday, August 15-17, 2011 at the Cologne Congress-Centrum Ost, GDC Europe 2011 will again provide the essential pan-European perspective of game development and business trends happening throughout the continent today.

Now it in its third iteration and taking place alongside the European-leading Gamescom trade fair, GDC Europe will continue to serve the European game industry by gathering the world's leading speakers in areas specific to current game development across platforms and development disciplines.

The call for submissions for lectures will include 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.

In addition, GDC Europe 2011 plans to expand the breadth of its conference by offering four Summits to be held concurrently with the main conference.

Reflective of the growing development and activity within the continent, GDC Europe will introduce the Social Games Summit, Smartphone & Tablet Games Summit, Independent Games Summit, and Community Management Summit to its roster this year.

GDC 2011 Confirms Record Attendance, Highlights, GDC 2012 Dates

Organizers of the 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 19,000 game industry professionals attending San Francisco's Moscone Convention Center for the 25th edition of the conference.

The weeklong anniversary event offered more than 450 lectures, panels, summits, tutorials and roundtable discussions across a full five days of content, with GDC references 'trending' on Twitter in San Francisco.

It also saw unprecedented media coverage from outlets like the Los Angeles Times, the Associated Press, USA Today and beyond, with GDC sister site Gamasutra including full coverage on its site.

Lecture highlights from Monday and Tuesday's GDC more than 15 tutorials and summits included Rovio's Peter Vesterbacka discussing the Angry Birds phenomenon (GDC Smartphone Summit), Zynga's Mark Skaggs on going from FarmVille to CityVille (Social & Online Games Summit) game designer and author Jane McGonigal on 'gamefulness' (Serious Games Summit), and Super Meat Boy's creators on their rough route to success (Independent Games Summit).

GDC 2011 also played host to the 13th Annual Independent Games Festival and the 11th Annual Game Developers Choice Awards. Swedish independent developer Mojang's acclaimed 3D world-building sandbox title, Minecraft, won the Seumas McNally Grand Prize and Audience Award during the IGF, as well as three awards at the GDCAs, becoming the first title ever to win awards in both ceremonies in the same year.

Minecraft, Amnesia Top Winners At 13th Annual IGF Awards

Swedish developer Mojang's acclaimed 3D world-building sandbox title, Minecraft was a big winner at the 13th Annual Independent Games Festival tonight at Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, earning the Seumas McNally Grand Prize for Best Independent Game, as well as the community-voted Audience Award.

In a diverse set of award-winners, other Independent Games Festival award recipients included Frictional Games' psychological horror game Amnesia: The Dark Descent, which took home awards for Technical Excellence and Excellence in Audio, as well as the sponsor-supported Direct2Drive Vision Award.

Elsewhere, noted independent developer Messhof received the $5,000 Nuovo Award - which honors abstract, shortform, and unconventional game development which "advances the medium and the way we think about games" - for his two-player art game, Nidhogg.

In addition, QCF Design's short playtime dungeon crawl adventure Desktop Dungeons earned the award for Excellence in Design, and the Excellence in Visual Art award was won by Gaijin Games' retro-psychedelic BIT.TRIP RUNNER.

Finally, the award for the Best Student Game went to the Myst-like abstract adventure game FRACT, from the University of Montreal, and Best Mobile Game was awarded to Ratloop's unique 'line of sight' puzzler Helsing's Fire.

All of this year's IGF winners and finalists are playable at Game Developers Conference at the IGF Pavilion on the GDC Expo Floor, which is open Wednesday, March 2nd through Friday, March 4th.

Red Dead Redemption, Minecraft Big Winners At 11th Annual Choice Awards

Rockstar San Diego's critically-acclaimed Wild West adventure title Red Dead Redemption was the big winner at the 11th Annual Game Developers Choice Awards in San Francisco yesterday evening.

The awards were presented at a ceremony at UBM TechWeb Game Network's historic 25th Game Developers Conference at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, with Red Dead Redemption receiving a total of four awards, including Best Game Design and the coveted Game of the Year award.

Another award stand-out, Swedish developer Mojang's 3D sandbox title Minecraft, received awards for Best Debut Game, Best Downloadable Game, and the Innovation Award. The game was also awarded the Seumas McNally Grand Prize earlier in the evening at the 11th Annual Independent Games Festival Awards, making this the first year a game has been recognized by both the GDCA and the IGF during the same year.

Other Choice Awards winners include BioWare's emotionally-charged science fiction adventure Mass Effect 2, which won the award for Best Writing, and ZeptoLab's iOS hit Cut the Rope, which took home the prize for Best Handheld Game.

Finally, the Best Visual Arts Award went to indie developer Playdead's Xbox Live Arcade hit Limbo. The evocative monochrome puzzle platformer won last year's Independent Game Festival Awards for Visual Art and Technical Excellence.

The Game Developers Choice Awards, which honor the very best games of the year, was created for and voted on by developers. The finalists were chosen via a combination of open game industry nominations and the votes of the leading creators in the Choice Awards Advisory Committee.

GDC 2011 Reminds On Pre-Registration, Highlights Final Lectures

GDC 2011 organizers are reminding that reduced-price online registration for next week's San Francisco show is only available until Sunday, also highlighting a number of late-breaking and previously unfocused-on talks.
Although on-site registration is also available for Game Developers Conference 2011 - the historic 25th iteration of the show - interested parties can continue to register on the official website at a discount until Sunday, February 27th.
The complete conference schedule for next week's GDC, including over 650 speakers, is currently available on both GDC Schedule Builder and the newly launched, smartphone-centric GDC Mobile site.
With the Moscone Center, San Francisco-based show commencing its February 28th through March 4th run on Monday, organizers are highlighting the following lectures that have been added to the program later in the process:
- In a high-profile talk, Ben Cousins of EA's Easy free-to-play game division presents 'Paying to Win? Battlefield Heroes, Virtual Goods and Selling Gameplay Advantages', "takes us through the story of this controversy" behind sweeping changes to the game's in-game economy and virtual item catalog -- including key lessons learned.
- A Main Conference video game funding panel, 'Funding Development: How to Raise Money if You're Not a Social Games Darling', includes notables like London Venture Partner's Phil Harrison, Seahorn Capital Group's Marc Jackson, Indie Fund's Aaron Isaksen and Tenshi Ventures' Jonathan Newth, talking "the world of financing beyond Silicon Valley venture capitalists."
- Zynga's Brian Reynolds (Civilization II, FrontierVille) is presenting 'Launching Great Features on the Frontier of Social Games', discussing the latter hit Facebook game game "as a lens to discuss the production challenges in launching great social game features" - including "marrying good game design with good business practices and the constant need for new content in a live service."
- Bungie's Jamie Griesemer presents the epicly-titled 'Design in Detail: Tuning the Muzzle Velocity of the Plasma Rifle Bolt on Legendary Difficulty Across the Halo Franchise', following up GDC 2010's much-lauded lecture about gameplay tuning for the franchise's sniper rifle, and targeted at "senior designers working on gameplay balance for a game with a sophisticated world simulation."

GDC 2011 Details Poster Sessions, EGS Speakers, 'Social Devs Rant Back'

GDC 2011 organizers are detailing specifics for next week's San Francisco-based show, including the return of 'Poster Sessions', the speaker line-up for Experimental Gameplay Sessions and the 'Social Devs Rant Back' talk.

The complete GDC conference schedule, including over 650 speakers, is currently available on both GDC Schedule Builder and the newly launched, smartphone-centric GDC Mobile site.

With the Moscone Center, San Francisco-based show just a few days away from its February 28th through March 4th run, organizers are highlighting the following lectures:

- A set of 'poster sessions' have been announced on Wednesday and Thursday from noon to 2 p.m., returning a popular format to Game Developers Conference in a higher profile setting.

As the description explains, poster sessions are "similar to a traditional lecture; however, these sessions are presented in front of an actual physical poster explaining his/her thesis, to a smaller group of attendees [including] one-on-one interactions."

The poster sessions, which occur on either Wednesday or Thursday, include Telltale's Bruce Wilcox on 'Beyond Facade: Pattern Matching for Natural Language Applications', as well as Volition's Jordan Lynn on 'How to Start a Usability Lab for $2500 or Less', plus High Moon's Daniel Holbert on 'Saying "Goodbye" to Shadow Acne'.

- The organizers of the lauded Experimental Gameplay Sessions event at GDC 2011 have revealed the speakers -- although not the specific games and prototypes -- for the return of the event that previously showcased early versions of Katamari Damacy, Portal, Rag Doll Kung Fu and Flower

The much-awaited two-hour lecture, compiled from submitted prototypes and games that "explore new frontiers in game design", includes Jon Blow (The Witness), Jason Rohrer (Inside A Star-Filled Sky), Richard Lemarchand (Uncharted franchise), Andy Schatz (Monaco), Robin Hunicke (Journey), Daniel Benmergui (Today I Die) and Frank Lantz (Area/Code/Zynga).

Bosslady Blog: GDC25's Anniversary Highlights, Attendee Gifts, Expansion

[In her Bosslady Blog update, Game Developers Conference event director Meggan Scavio reveals a partnership with I Am 8-Bit for conference attendee posters and 'Paint By Pixels', an expansion into Moscone West, and other major highlights of the February 28th-March 4th show in San Francisco.]

Hopefully by now you realize what a milestone year it is for Game Developers Conference. This will be the 25th time that GDC -- or rather, an iteration of GDC -- has occured.

Notice that I didn't say 25th year or anniversary? The launch of our show was in 1988, and two events were held that year. The first took place in the living room of our founder, Chris Crawford, near San Jose, CA, and was called the Computer Game Developers Conference. It was such a hit that a second event was scheduled later that year in a proper convention center.

There are a number of ways in which we're celebrating GDC 25:

- First and foremost, we're bringing back GDC founder and Balance Of Power designer Chris Crawford to present a special anniversary lecture titled 'In Days of Yore'. Chris is a famously energetic speaker, as you can see by the infamous finale of his 1992 'dragon' speech at CGDC. I suggest doing what you can to see this talk.

- Of course, we wanted to give conference attendees a special gift for our 25th edition. We were contacted by someone who wanted to create commemorative GDC plates (I'm not making this up!), but we went with a special two-part gift we're revealing for the first time here. We're partnering with the fine folks at I Am 8-Bit and each GDC 2011 conference attendee will get a random selection of two posters - out of a complete set of four - that creatively reflect the last 25+ years of game development.

Another project that I Am 8-Bit has created for us is Paint by Pixels. At registration, conference attendees will be given one 'pixel', and they can participate by attaching it to an initially blank canvas, to construct a 20-by-8-foot pixel portrait by designer Jude Buffum.. Make sure to make your own contribution to the 5,760 pixels needed to complete the image!

- The Classic Game Postmortem series was also borne out of a GDC 25 brainstorm. Putting this lecture series together might have been one of the most fun things I've done for GDC yet. Every person I asked was so excited to participate and revisit their early, sometimes defining titles, from Pac-Man through DOOM to Populous and beyond.

GDC 2011 Details Serious Games Summit Health Day Talks

GDC 2011 organizers are focusing on health and healthcare in games for a one-day Serious Games Summit segment at the end of this month, including talks on WoW's 'blood plague' and nightmare protection through games.

Day one of the Serious Games Summit, taking place on February 28 during the Game Developers Conference 2011 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, will specifically address how games can change player behavior to improve physical and mental well-being.

In the Summit description, the advisors note that the day "will focus on health and healthcare, covering research and the many commercialized games in the health and wellness space that have launched the past few years."

Among the day's sessions is a talk on 'Video Game Play as Nightmare Protection,' in which Jayne Gackenbach from Grant MacEwan University will discuss studies that examine whether games can help ward off frightening dreams.

Gackenbach and colleagues "...have been studying the hypothesis that video game play might act as a protective mechanism against nightmares [using] a waking rehearsal [to respond] to threatening situations in games."

Also featured is a talk entitled 'Hakkar's Corrupted Blood Plague: How an Outbreak in WoW is Helping Epidemiologists Create Better Disease Models,' in which Rutgers University's Nina H. Fefferman examines how an accidental in-game plague in World of Warcraft could improve our understanding and our ability to react to such events in the future.

 

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