GDC Game Developers Conference 2012 schedule

Monday 5th March 2012

  • A Holistic Approach to A/B Testing

    by Jesse Hull

    Most social game developers claim to a/b test these days, but to succeed testing must be part of your culture. How can you foster this across the organization and avoid common pitfalls? At GSN every developer, designer and marketer thinks about a/b testing. This is how we have managed to sustain growth on the Facebook platform for over 3 years.

    What are common mistakes people make when designing tests? What shouldn't you test? How long should your let your tests run.

    At 10:00am to 11:00am, Monday 5th March

    In Room 130, North Hall, Moscone Center

  • Advanced Visual Effects with DirectX 11

    by Cem Cebenoyan, Jon Story, Tobias Persson, John McDonald, Bryan Dudash, Matthijs De Smedt, Nicolas Thibieroz, Timothy Lottes, Karl Hillesland, Matt Sandy, Nicolas Thibieroz and Jay McKee

    Brought to you with the collaboration of the industry's leading hardware and software vendors, this day-long tutorial provides an in-depth look at the Direct3D(R) technologies in DirectX(R) 11 and how they can be applied to cutting-edge PC game graphics for GPUs and APUs. This year we focus exclusively on DirectX 11, examining a variety of special effects which illustrate its use in real game content. This will include detailed presentations from AMD and NVIDIA's demo and developer support teams as well as some of the top game developers who ship real games into the marketplace. In addition to illustrating the details of rendering advanced real-time visual effects, this tutorial will cover a series of vendor-neutral optimizations that developers need to keep in mind when designing their engines and shaders.

    At 10:00am to 6:00pm, Monday 5th March

    In 3007, West Hall, Moscone Center

  • AI Postmortems: Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, Darkness II And Skulls of the Shogun

    by Daniel Brewer, Michael Dawe and Borut Pfeifer

    This session provides a high-density look into some of the unique challenges that were faced (and conquered!) in three upcoming or recently released games. We will show how massive open-world RPG,Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, dealt with the scheduling of hundreds of NPCs and how they dealt with designer/programmer interaction for authoring behaviors. The Darkness II shows how agent co-ordination, collision avoidance, and the perception-reaction system all contribute to the believable enemies in this story-driven, supernatural action-shooter. Additionally, we will show the solutions that were used to address challenges unique to a fast-action, turn-based strategy game, Skulls of the Shogun.

    At 10:00am to 11:00am, Monday 5th March

    In 2006, Moscone Center

  • Are You a Manager or a Leader? Come Test Your Skills and Learn New Ones!

    by julie craft

    Do you currently manage a team or run a company or have a desire to do so in the future? Do you prefer to do the right thing or do things right? Then you will definitely want to join Julie Craft, Vice president of business development at Heyzap and former adjunct business professor, in this full-day hands-on leadership workshop. In this session, every person will benefit from a personal, professional and group assessment of your own leadership style and management effectiveness. You will gain a better understanding of your own personal strengths while learning new skills and playing games throughout the day! We will discuss emerging leadership models and what it takes in today's business environment, especially in the turbo-charged gaming world, to become a rock star leader! This session will also cover goal setting, developing a winning corporate culture, time management tips and tools to take your leadership potential to the next level.

    TAKEAWAY: In this full day hands-on workshop, attendees will leave with a personal, professional and group assessment of their leadership style and management effectiveness. They will have a better understanding of emerging leadership models and what it takes in today's environment to become a rockstar leader within a large corporation or within a start-up company. They will take away a personal leadership kit filled with management resources, tools, templates and action plans to continue their own personal leadership growth after they get back to the office!

    INTENDED AUDIENCE: This session is open to all, with a special focus on people who are currently managing other people or those who would like to become a leader within an organization or run a start-up company in the future.

    At 10:00am to 6:00pm, Monday 5th March

    In 2014, Moscone Center

  • Facebook Developer Day (Presented by Facebook)

    by Namita Gupta, Gareth Morris, Christine Abernathy, Matt Wyndowe, Daniel Schultz, Constantin K and Fred Fang

    Facebook's recent launch of Timeline and Open Graph is a big opportunity for games developers to drive growth and engagement through Facebook Platform. In this all-day event, Facebook Platform engineers will give a deep-dive into best practices for building fast-growing social games on Facebook.com, mobile devices, and consoles. Developers will learn the fundamentals of how to build successful social games with Facebook Platform and how to deeply integrate their apps with Timeline by publishing meaningful game activity with Open Graph.


    The Facebook games team kicks off the day with an overview of the games ecosystem on Facebook Platform. Hear developer success stories and about the burgeoning economy of social games companies. We'll also address growth opportunities through mobile, Open Graph, and cross-platform, before divingdeeper on these topics throughout the day. PRESENTER: Matt Wyndowe, Games Product Manager, Facebook
    Learn how to make a web and mobile game social in 5 simple steps. Learn the basics of building social games, such as how to authenticate the user, access the Graph API, personalize the user's game experience, utilize Facebook's social channels, and drive more engagement with scores & achievements.
    PRESENTER: Christine Abernathy, Mobile Partner Engineer, Facebook; Constantin Koumouzelis, Partner Engineer, Facebook


    In this technical deep dive, developers will learn how to deeply integrate with the new Timeline and drive distribution to their games through the Open Graph, including defining game-specific actions, objects, and quality aggregations. Developers will also learn best practices for implementing scores and achievements.
    PRESENTERS: Gareth Morris, Partner Engineer, Facebook

    Learn best practices for building games on Facebook.com that maximize user experience, engagement and revenue. Developers will hear pro-tips on implementing a seamless and immersive canvas experience, driving acquisition and retention with requests, and optimizing monetization through Facebook payments, virtual goods, and user-tailored offers.
    PRESENTERS: Fred Fang, Partner Engineer, Facebook; Daniel Schultz, Partner Engineer, Facebook

    3:15pm-3:30pm BREAK

    With Facebook’s mobile platform, game developers can get the same distribution and engagement on mobile as they have been on desktop. Whether you are building a native or web app for mobile, learn how to use social features to drive growth and how to create connected game experiences across platforms.
    PRESENTER: Namita Gupta, Head of Games and Credits Technical Developer Relations, Facebook

    Modern Warfare 3 and Uncharted 3 are both integrated with Facebook Platform to bring players social experiences. In this session, console developers will learn best practices for leveraging Facebook to grow their games and hear technical insights from experts from console companies.
    PRESENTER: Constantin Koumouzelis,Partner Engineer, Facebook

    The Facebook Platform team answers your technical questions about building games on Platform.
    PRESENTER: Facebook Platform Team

    At 10:00am to 6:00pm, Monday 5th March

    In 3004, Moscone Center

  • Game Design Workshop - Day 1

    by Andrew Leker, Marc Leblanc, Eileen Hollinger, Tim Stellmach, Frank Lantz, robin, Art Min, Jonathan Hamel, Jeb Havens, Stone Librande and George Skleres

    This intensive two-day workshop will explore the day-to-day craft of game design through hands-on activities, group discussion, analysis and critique. Attendees will immerse themselves in the iterative process of refining a game design and discover design concepts that will help them think more clearly about their designs and make better games. The workshop presents a formal approach to game design, in which games viewed as systems, and analyzed in terms of their mechanics, dynamics and aesthetics.

    Before we can even begin to design a game, we need to understand our aesthetic goals. In other words, we need to enumerate all the kinds of "fun" that we hope the game will provide its users. We can formalize our understanding of our game's aesthetic goals by formulating an aesthetic model for each goal - a formal description of the goal that identifies its criteria for success and possible modes of failure. The workshop will present a handful of aesthetic models as examples, and also encourage attendees to formulate their own. During the game design exercises, attendees will use aesthetic models as a yardstick to measure their progress throughout the design process.

    Working in small groups, attendees will be given specific games to play and will analyze them in terms of aesthetic goals and models. Several different games will be explored and common game design themes will be identified as different groups share their results. For each game that they analyze, attendees will be presented with a concrete design exercise to undertake. An exercise might involve adding a new feature, accommodating a new goal or requirement, or fixing a design flaw. These exercises will challenge attendees to analyze and identify the design principles at work in a game, and to think flexibly and creatively while working within design constraints. They will serve as a starting point for discussing how the iterative design applies to games in digital and non-digital media.

    In addition to these analysis-and-revision exercises, attendees will gain further practical experience working with these models through brief collaborative design projects, brainstorming sessions, critical analysis and discussion.

    TAKEAWAY: Game designers and programmers will leave this workshop with new abstract tools for analyzing and improving their own game designs, a deeper understanding of iterative design, and other lessons that emerge from the small group discussions with their peers.

    At 10:00am to 6:00pm, Monday 5th March

    In 236, South Hall, Moscone Center

  • Game Structured Hiveminds: Organizing People & Solving Problems with Fun

    by Jerome Waldispuhl, Joe Edelman, Evan Brown and Ben Sawyer

    The opening set of talks at Game IT focuses on the ability for games to help solve problems through organizing and engaging collaborative groups of people through gameplay and social networks. The opportunities happening here are still emergent but already several projects have exemplified the power of this opportunity. This set of talks seeks to further these discussions and offer exciting new ideas to game-based crowdsourcing, collaboration, and distributed activity and problem solving.

    Phylo, a McGill University based project creating a human-based computing framework applying ``crowd sourcing'' techniques and casual style gameplay to help with comparison of the human genome with the DNA of other species essential to deciphering our genetic code and revealing the causes of various genetic disorders.

    CEML (Coordinating Event Module Launguage) an innovative new scripting language for coordinating group dynamics, and civic logistics across multiple platforms and applications. Developed by Citizen's Logistics CEML can be used to create exciting new blends of human action and game interaction.

    Project Augur, developed by students at Carnegie Melon University's Entertainment Technology Center for Lockheed Martin Corporation. Project Augur's goal was to explore the frontiers of artificial intelligence as a predictive mechanism. Through the use of crowd-sourcing through Amazon Mechanical Turk, and with a trio of gamelike prototypes that collect data, the team built artificial intelligence algorithms that can predict based not only on an individual's past play, but other, less obvious factors as well.

    TAKEAWAY: Attendees to this talk will see three excellent and different, examples of how games can be used to create innovative crowdsourcing solutions to complex problems best solved by humans and not machines.

    At 10:00am to 11:00am, Monday 5th March

    In 2009, Moscone Center

  • Google Developer Day I (Presented by Google)

    by Jarek Wilkiewicz, Colt McAnlis, Paul Baldwin, Peng Ying, Lilli Thompson and Andrew Kuo

    Get a peek at the latest technologies Google is developing for games. From scalable servers, to high-performance code and graphics in web browsers, to porting console games to the web, Google’s online technologies can help you better create, distribute, promote and monetize your games.

    Join Google engineers for two full days of in-depth technical discussions about tools, technologies, and platforms for game developers -- including Android, Chrome, Google+, Native Client, Cloud services, In-App Payments, YouTube, Adsense, Admob, and more.


    10:00am-10:15am WELCOME/INTRODUCTION

    10:15am-11:15am FROM CONSOLE TO CHROME

    Cutting-edge HTML5 brings high performance console-style 3d games to the browser, but developing a modern HTML5 game engine can be a challenge. Adapting to HTML5 and Javascript can be bewildering to game programmers coming from C / C++. This talk is an overview of the tools, techniques, and topics you need to be familiar with to adapt to programming high performance 3D games for the web. Topics will include cutting edge HTML5 APIs, writing high performance Javascript, and profiling / debugging tools.
    PRESENTER: Lilli Thompson, Game Developer Advocate, Google



    Making a successful game or web app is a combination of a captivating experience, distribution, and monetization. Leveraging Google technologies can make life easier by allowing you to focus on developing your core user experience. During this talk, we'll cover the steps to take after you've created your game or web app from distribution through the Chrome Web Store to monetization options with In-App Payments and AdSense.

    PRESENTERS: Peng Ying, Developer Programs Engineer, Google, Andrew Kuo, AdSense, Interactive Media Specialist

    12:30pm-1:45pm LUNCH

    1:45pm-2:45pm PORTING YOUR GAME TO NACL

    This talk will cover the nuances of porting your existing C++ game to native client. We'll talk about the application specific problems, how to deal with the Pepper Thread, along with platform APIs like FileIO, rendering and Audio. In addition we'll cover common issues with the Chrome Web store, distribution, and monetization. Finally, we'll be talking about exciting news and roadmaps for native client moving forward. If you're interested in NaCl, or want to learn more, this is the talk for you!

    PRESENTER: Colt McAnlis, Developer Advocate, Google


    YouTube is one of the top destinations for gamers. Many console developers already incorporate video recording and uploading directly into their titles, but uploading to YouTube from a mobile game presents a unique set of challenges. Outfit7, one of the pioneers in this space with their hugely popular Talking Tom Cat franchise, will share their experience. Additionally, a new architecture to support mobile gameplay video rendering will be presented. Come and learn how the YouTube API combined with cloud computing can help enable video uploads in your mobile game.

    PRESENTERS: Paul Baldwin, CMO, Outfit 7; Jarek Wilkiewicz, Developer Advocate, YouTube

    4:00pm-4:30pm BREAK


    There's a new wave of console/pc/mobile game developers moving to the web looking to take advantage of the massive user base, along side of the powerful social graphs available there. The web as a platform is a very different technology stack than consoles / mobile, and as such, requires different development processes. This talk is targeted towards game developers who are looking to understand more about the development processes for web development including where to host your assets, proper techniques in caching to the persistent file store; dealing with sessions, storing user state, user login, game state storage, social graph integration, localization, audio, rendering, hardware detection and testing / distribution. If you're interested in developing a web game, you need to attend this talk!

    PRESENTER: Colt McAnlis, Developer Advocate, Google

    5:30pm-6:00pm CLOSING

    At 10:00am to 6:00pm, Monday 5th March

    In 2020, Moscone Center

  • Guidelines for Building Cross-Platform Games

    Should you launch your game on iOS because it's more established, or Android because it's growing faster? Or do you take a gamble and be among the first game developers on WP7? Why pick just one? Many developers are choosing to launch their their apps on multiple mobile platforms to reap the benefits of cross-platform distribution. In this session, Linda Tong, chief product officer of Tapjoy, will lead a discussion between several of the top app developers who have launched games on multiple mobile platforms so you can learn from their success and avoid their failures.

    TAKEAWAY: Learn the do's & don'ts of developing mobile games on Android, iOS, WP7, etc. Understand the expected success metrics for a mobile game across multiple platforms and get an overview of the best tools to use when developing cross platform applications.

    At 10:00am to 11:00am, Monday 5th March

  • Guidelines for Building Cross-Platform Games

    by linda tong, Jamil Moledina, Perry Tam, Kyu Lee, Mike DeLaet and Martin Chamrad

    Should you launch your game on iOS because it's more established, or Android because it's growing faster? Or do you take a gamble and be among the first game developers on WP7? Why pick just one? Many developers are choosing to launch their their apps on multiple mobile platforms to reap the benefits of cross-platform distribution. In this session, Linda Tong, chief product officer of Tapjoy, will lead a discussion between several of the top app developers who have launched games on multiple mobile platforms so you can learn from their success and avoid their failures.

    TAKEAWAY: Learn the do's & don'ts of developing mobile games on Android, iOS, WP7, etc. Understand the expected success metrics for a mobile game across multiple platforms and get an overview of the best tools to use when developing cross platform applications.

    At 10:00am to 11:00am, Monday 5th March

    In 134, Moscone Center

  • HTML5 Tutorial Day

    by Rachel Blum, Michael Z Goddard, Michael Dailly, Robert Lockhart and Ibon Tolosana

    The HTML5 Tutorial Day features lectures from the top HTML5 developers working today. You'll learn from both experienced web developers as well as game developers who have shipped titles in HTML5. The tutorial starts with an overview of what game developers need to know about HTML5, followed by in-depth sessions on state of the art APIs, WebGL programming and debugging, lightning postmortems of HTML5 games, and what's coming next for HTML5 -- and how you as a game developer can affect what features get put in the next generation of web browsers.


    9:30-10:00AM- COFFEE BREAK


    SPEAKER: Rachel Blum (Google)

    There are lots of cool things in HTML5. Even better, there are lots of cool things being added to HTML5 and Chrome all the time, quite a few with a focus on games. This talk is going to showcase some very recent and still-in-progress features, including a long look at Web Audio.

    10:50-11:10AM- BREAK


    SPEAKER: Michael "Z." Goddard (Gradient Studios)

    The modern web browser is a unique environment for game development. It provides it’s own set of problems and tools. The goal of this tutorial is to present ideas and information about solving those problems and tools to improve a developer's experience creating a game for browsers. Topics covered include: component based architecture, asynchronous content loading, promise and event patterns, caching, and UI.

    12:00-1:45PM- LUNCH


    SPEAKER: Mike Dailly (YoYo Games)

    This talk discusses high performance, fully dynamic WebGL, showing you how to get the most from WebGL when not dealing with "static" or "pre-compiled" models, and how to go about building a framework that allows for rapid, and efficient batching and submission of both 2D and 3D assets. You’ll learn how to get the best performance by keeping a simple, yet flexible vertex buffer system - particularly for 2D, and how efficient texture pages will maximize your batching. While this talk is based around 2D, the framework is easily extended into 3D for things like particle systems.

    2:40-2:55PM- BREAK


    SPEAKER: Rob Lockhart (Toy Studio)

    Games, games, games. We can play them everywhere and anywhere. Whether it's on the train on your iPhone, in your living room on your XBox 360, or at work on your web browsers, games are everywhere. But there's a problem with games on different platforms right now. They don't provide a complete universal experience of the worlds that us as game developers want to create. But there's hope in a future with HTML5. With HTML5 there's the hope of being able to provide a universal experience once across many platforms. So the question is - how can we create the HTML5 Gears of War or Mass of Effect that will live on all of the devices we play our games on? What experiences can we make now for players? What is the future of games on one universal platform? We'll discuss the unique design opportunities of making HTML5 games.

    3:50-4:20PM- COFFEE BREAK


    SPEAKER: Ibon Tolosana (Ludei)

    For decades we’ve heard the mantra “code once, run everywhere.” Nowadays, it’s JavaScript and HTML5 that promise to be the new ubiquitous platform solution. This presentation will deal with some platform pitfalls; showing that the HTML5 canvas element is not always the most compelling solution for JavaScript gaming, and that CSS3 3D transformations can be evil. But there's a bright light at the end of the tunnel for early adopters, and with a mixture of good platform abstraction and an awesome functional language, some light can be shed on the black magic of hacking for cross-platform deployment. Learn about how Ideateca’s confidently develops cross-platform JavaScript-based games, and how we turned them into first-class citizens among native applications.

    TAKEAWAY: Attendees will come away with technical knowledge that will help them tackle tough problems on the cutting edge of HTML5 game development, as well as strategic knowledge to help them accurately assess technical risk on potential HTML5 game projects.

    INTENDED AUDIENCE: This tutorial is intended for experienced game programmers, but no prior knowledge of HTML5 is assumed. It is assumed that attendees know how to make games, but are looking to learn HTML5 knowledge, tools, and techniques.

    At 10:00am to 6:00pm, Monday 5th March

    In 2002, Moscone Center

  • Learn Better Games Writing in a Day

    by Evan Skolnick

    This comprehensive, day-long tutorial - incorporating insightful lectures, entertaining examples and skill-building exercises - offers writers an opportunity to learn (or re-learn) the basics of good story structure, vibrant character development, and snappy dialogue writing. It also serves to educate game designers and other game development professionals on core narrative concepts, providing a common frame of reference and a "bridge" between writers and the rest of the team. Narrative's role in the success of top-tier console titles as well as mega-popular social games continues to grow in importance, and nowhere else can you find a more compact, engaging and effective primer.

    TAKEAWAY: Through a series of insightful lectures, entertaining examples and skill-building exercises, attendees of this tutorial will gain insight and ability in the area of fiction writing for video games, and learn methods of incorporating narrative storytelling in an interactive space.

    INTENDED AUDIENCE: This tutorial is mainly targeted at game developers with limited fiction writing knowledge and experience who wish to improve their core understanding and skills in this area. No prerequisite knowledge is required to understand the content of this session. However, familiarity with popular movies and video games will enhance the experience.

    At 10:00am to 6:00pm, Monday 5th March

    In 3009, Moscone Center

  • Learning to QWOPerate

    by Bennett

    In this lecture, Bennet Foddy will provide a whirlwind tour of the various lessons he learned making games like QWOP and GIRP and in his academic career. His experience of making indie games has been unusual, and he will attempt to explain the choices he made: why self-publish on the web, why make games that are mostly about sports, why (and how) target a mass-market audience? Foddy will discuss what he avoids in designing control schemes and why respecting players often involves being hostile to players, or humiliating them.

    TAKEAWAY: What creative sacrifices must be made to target the mass market with a 'viral' game? What is the real difference between abstract and direct control systems? How I understand the concept of respecting the player.

    At 10:00am to 10:25am, Monday 5th March

    In 2003, Moscone Center

  • Lehr und Kunst mit Perlenspiel

    by Brian Moriarty

    How do you actually teach digital game design? What assignments are appropriate and effective? What tools should you employ, and what outcomes should you hope to achieve? Every instructor must face these difficult questions. But imagine having to answer them with an evil elegance worthy of the name "Professor Moriarty!"

    In this lecture, the Professor will share his sinister method for hurling students into the crucible of game design. Inspired by Herman Hesse's novel The Glass Bead Game and informed by thirty years of industry experience, this simple and deliciously cruel scheme turns innocent undergrads into practicing designers, using industry-standard development systems and languages to make complete, polished games entirely from scratch. Five of them. In one seven-week term!

    TAKEAWAY: Attendees will be introduced to a peculiar but highly effective approach to teaching the fundamental practices of digital game design, and given the tools and information they need to use the technique in their own curriculum.

    At 10:00am to 11:00am, Monday 5th March

    In 2004, Moscone Center

  • Math for Game Programmers

    by Mike Acton, Graham Rhodes, John O'Brien, Jim Van Verth and Squirrel Eiserloh

    Over the past ten years, the complexity of many games has increased and with that the knowledge needed to create them. Creating the latest code for graphics, animation, physical simulation and even some extent artificial intelligence requires thorough knowledge of the necessary mathematical underpinnings.

    This tutorial continues the tradition of the "Math for Programmers" tutorial by bringing together some of the best presenters in gaming math to concentrate on the core mathematics necessary for sophisticated 3D graphics and interactive physical simulations. The day will focus on the issues of 3D game development important to programmers and includes programming guidance throughout. Topics begin with introductory talks on affine transformations, quaternion algebra, computational geometry and curves and interpolation, and conclude with more implementation-oriented talks on optimized data-oriented design for mathematical operations and how all these techniques can be used by gameplay programmers.


    9:30-10:00am- COFFEE BREAK

    SPEAKER: Squirrel Eiserloh

    11:00am-12:00pm- UNDERSTANDING ROTATIONS
    SPEAKER: Jim Van Verth

    12:00-1:30pm- LUNCH BREAK

    1:30-2:40pm- DUAL NUMBERS
    SPEAKER: Gino van den Bergen

    SPEAKER: Graham Rhodes

    3:40-4:00pm Math for Gameplay Programmers
    SPEAKER: John O'Brien

    4:00-4:30pm- COFFEE BREAK

    SPEAKER: John O'Brien

    SPEAKER: Mike Acton

    TAKEAWAY: Attendees will learn fundamental elements and practical considerations for using math in games.

    INTENDED AUDIENCE: Beginning to intermediate programmers looking to learn or build upon their math skills. Some knowledge of vectors and matrices expected and some calculus may be helpful.

    At 10:00am to 6:00pm, Monday 5th March

    In 3022, Moscone Center

  • Scrum Essentials Tutorial

    by Clinton Keith

    This one-day workshop provides the essential principles of Scrum and hands-on experience for game developers. Learn how Scrum works best for game development and how to avoid any pitfalls. The workshop will use a combination of lecture, discussion and interactive games to give a solid overview of how Scrum works and whether it is a good choice for your studio.

    This course is taught by Clinton Keith, author of "Agile Game Development with Scrum". Clint has 15 years of game development experience and 8 years experience in applying Scrum to game development, first as a CTO at the first studio to adopt Scrum and recently as an independent Scrum trainer who has worked with dozens of studios of all sizes and teams producing every type of game.

    TAKEAWAY: Attendees will learn about the full cycle of Scrum development, its principles and not the hype. They will leave knowing how Scrum works and will be able to begin its introduction at their studio and communicate expectations. They will be able to identify the patterns of successful and unsuccessful Scrum adoption, which Scrum practices should be changed to fit their game development process, and which practices should be preserved to achieve full benefits.

    INTENDED AUDIENCE: Any game developer who is interested in learning more about Scrum and how it applies to game development.

    At 10:00am to 6:00pm, Monday 5th March

    In 3005, Moscone Center

  • Social Game Design 2011: A Year in Review (SOGS Design)

    by Steve Meretzky and Dave Rohrl

    Two of the grizzliest veterans of social gaming, Dave Rohrl (creative director at Playdom) and Steve Meretzky (VP of game design at Playdom) present their entertaining and informative annual review of the field. What are the latest trends, the most interesting games, the most notable new viral and monetization techniques and the developments to watch for during the coming year? Come and get updated on one of the hottest sectors in games today.

    TAKEAWAY: In the fastest-changing world of social gaming, a lot of the conventional wisdom about the sector is actually wrong. Steve and Dave will separate the myths from the truth, explain what is working and not working in the social game arena today, and what might change in the months to come.

    At 10:00am to 11:00am, Monday 5th March

    In 135, Moscone Center

  • Usability Boot Camp

    by Veronica Zammitto and Paul Newton

    This full-day workshop will focus on one of the most critical components of game production: the applied practice of game usability research. Using widely-established stages of game development, attendees will be exposed to hands-on exercises, group discussion, and practical analysis of user experience methods which are intrinsic to effective game design. After building a foundation of usability discipline, attendees will be taken from pre-production through post-production and presented with a wide variety of potential usability techniques such as think-aloud, heuristics, cognitive walkthroughs, direct observation, questionnaires and metrics.

    In order to understand and create the ultimate user experience we must collect relevant data. This requires defining clear usability study goals and selecting the appropriate techniques through the different stages of development. During the workshop, we will discuss the pros and cons of different testing techniques and demonstrate how they fit best in relevant usability scenarios, continuously emphasizing how all these factors play a role in shaping a successful user study design. Working in groups, participants will embody many roles in the usability process. Through concrete exercises, attendees will explore in-depth responsibilities and tasks conducted by game user researchers, facilitators and observers.

    INTENDED AUDIENCE: The knowledge gained in this workshop will empower attendees to carry-out their own usability studies and add appreciable value to the game design process. With this understanding, designers and game user researchers alike will be able to acquire actionable user experience data through rigorous procedures to ensure better informed decisions during the game development process.

    At 10:00am to 6:00pm, Monday 5th March

    In 3024, Moscone Center

  • Folk Games, Festivity and Subversive Game Design

    by Douglas Wilson

    This talk encourages developers (especially indie developers) to embrace the limitations of motion control technology, rather than struggle against them. Drawing from his work on party games like B.U.T.T.O.N. and Johann Sebastian Joust, as well as a slew of offbeat case studies, researcher and developer Douglas Wilson describes how game designers might recapture the festivity and carnival atmosphere that have long been a hallmark of play culture. He argues that folk games offer useful precedents for developers working on physical games and explains why he finds it fruitful to think about motion-controlled games in terms of slapstick and subversion.

    TAKEAWAY: Attendees will hear a wide variety of case studies concerning how digitally-mediated games might draw inspiration from folk games and playground games. The talk will present specific strategies for dealing with the limitations of motion controllers and other input technologies.

    At 10:35am to 11:00am, Monday 5th March

    In 2003, Moscone Center

  • Applying Game and Social Mechanics to Sustainable Fashion: Closet Swap Case Study

    by Paulina Bozek

    This presentation will look at the application of social and game mechanics in a sustainable fashion app Closet Swap - an online fashion community for teens to swap clothes with their friends. Closet Swap applies a game and social layer to the real world of fashion. It is a must-have fashion app that influences behavior in a natural way - by celebrating personal style over disposable fashion and getting users to swap, not shop. This talk will look at the design process, audience research and testing and how game and social mechanics were employed to create an experience that is entertaining and authentic to achieve its goal.

    TAKEAWAY: This presentation will include how Inensu combined entertainment, education and design techniques to understand and resonate with the target audience. How social game developers can work with sustainability experts to create an authentic 'gamified' fashion app.

    At 11:15am to 11:40am, Monday 5th March

    In 2009, Moscone Center

  • Believable Tactics for Squad AI

    by Matthew Jack, AiGameDev and Philip Dunstan

    Squads of non-player characters are notoriously hard to get right, particularly when designing the highly visible interactions of teammate squad members. Through a series of live, interactive demos, this presentation will compare a wide variety of techniques commonly used in the games industry for creating dynamic squad behaviors, including attacking and flanking, suppression and player leading and following. The analysis will include both centralized and distributed designs for squad member synchronization, the trade-offs of scripted versus procedural designs and high-level techniques for tactical squad path finding and cover selection.

    At 11:15am to 11:40am, Monday 5th March

    In 2006, Moscone Center

  • Designing the Five Second Game

    by RJ Mical

    The five second game is so easy and fun that you learn how to play in five seconds and then play it for hours! Everyone has fun. Think Angry Birds. Think Tetris. Think Pong. What is it about that sort of game that hooks us? Do these games have qualities in common? To create such a game, are there guidelines to follow? Veteran game designer RJ Mical studied a wide range of mobile and tablet games, looking for rules that would help design better-selling games. He will discuss his findings and share the certain qualities that ALL successful small-scale games use.

    TAKEAWAY: Veteran game designer RJ Mical studied mobile and tablet games looking for rules to help him design better-selling titles. What do these games have in common? In this presentation he will share his findings and hopefully help attendees to develop games that sell better!

    At 11:15am to 12:15pm, Monday 5th March

    In 123, Moscone Center

  • Making Cross-Platform Work: Social and Mobile Lessons From Crime City to Modern War

    by Jamil Moledina

    Dozens of companies are reading the data wrong. They are piling into the market with variations on cute and simple games, but their original target was successful because it was accessible. The traditional game industry also has lessons to share, in that it has shown which genres resonate, and how people like to play. Adjacent industries have shown that audiences like to enjoy entertainment on their own terms, on their own devices, on their own time. In this session, Jamil Moledina shares how Funzio analyzed these trends, how they designed and engineered Crime City, Modern War, and their upcoming third game for Facebook, Google+, and iOS, how they manage user acquisition across platforms, how players behave differently between platforms, how they adapted their organization to a cross-platform structure, and the biggest surprises they learned from along the way.

    TAKEAWAY: The session discloses details on the design adaptations, engineering solutions, production schedule, platform launches, player behavior and business intelligence for these three cross-platform games. Examples include adapting PC mouse navigation to mobile touch control, tuning desktop play sessions to mobile play sessions and adapting naturally social play from social networks over to mobile platforms that are not natively social, while still monetizing well.

    At 11:15am to 12:15pm, Monday 5th March

    In 130, Moscone Center

  • Managing Clients, Organizing Teams and Building Games as Thesis Projects

    by Elena Bertozzi

    This lecture will address challenges faced by academic programs that wish to provide students with hands-on project experience as a degree requirement. Strategies for creating an academic environment that fosters collaborative group projects and methods for guiding students to successfully complete and deliver games as Master's program thesis projects will be discussed. Institutional-level topics include: intellectual property ownership and management, support for managing university/client relations, and support for managing funding and technology infrastructures.Team-level topics include: team formation and task assignment, project management and methods for dissemination of finished projects.

    TAKEAWAY: Students developing games as thesis projects in Masters' programs need to understand how to attract potential clients, apply for grants and manage projects from brainstorming to delivery. Attendees will learn institutional and organizational strategies to help them succeed.

    At 11:15am to 11:40am, Monday 5th March

    In 2004, Moscone Center

  • Perhaps a Time of Miracles Was at Hand: The Business & Development of #Sworcery

    by Nathan Vella

    Sometimes the best decisions are the ones that appear to be the worst on paper. From the beginning, Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP was a woefully risky project that required new approaches to both business & development. This talk will outline and explain the choices made by the team that helped one of the App Store's weirdest games become a critical and financial success. Specifically, the audience will learn how the team handled 'truly collaborative' development, the process of developing a PR 'voice' to promote the game, and how the team mitigated business risk by being as risky as possible.

    TAKEAWAY: Attendees will take away an understanding of an alternate path to success on the app store, how to effectively develop via collaboration and the importance and process of developing a voice for PR.

    At 11:15am to 12:15pm, Monday 5th March

    In 2003, Moscone Center

  • Realm of the Counter-Intuitive God

    by David Edery

    Realm of the Mad God is a web-based f2p MMO with a penchant for breaking rules. It's a MMO bullet-hell-shooter... in Flash. It is based on open source art. It features permadeath (the ultimate in retention challenges)! And it just so happens to be surprisingly popular and very profitable. This lecture will review some of the unusual design and business choices we made and explore which worked, which didn't, and why. Financial and other data will be shared (and not just the stuff that makes us look good).

    TAKEAWAY: If you're interested in making hardcore f2p games, especially MMOs, this lecture will give insight into the ways you can generate revenue, will share useful rules of thumb when thinking about your overall design, and if nothing else, will hopefully amuse you.

    At 11:15am to 12:15pm, Monday 5th March

    In 135, Moscone Center

  • Smartphone and Tablet Game Design 2011: A Year in Review

    by Nick Fortugno and Juan Gril

    Nick Fortugno and Juan Gril present a rapid film-critic style analysis of some of the greatest and most innovative smartphone and tablet games of 2011. By highlighting some of the most interesting mobile and tablet games of the year, Nick and Juan analyze the design decisions that made these games interesting and how these examples demonstrate key considerations.

    TAKEAWAY: Get examples of innovative games, and games worth playing. The lecture will be given with lots of videos and images to demonstrate.

    At 11:15am to 11:40am, Monday 5th March

    In 134, Moscone Center

  • Gendering a Game: Strategies for Team and Content Management in Student-based Game Design

    by mia c

    One unspoken assumption of greater diversity in the game industry is that such augmented teams will produce different sorts of games, that will appeal to a wider variety of players. This talk challenges that view, arguing instead that ongoing, conscious management is needed to challenge traditional stereotypes and work routines in game development in order to create games and teams that truly break stereotypical assumptions. Examples from the development of a social game during summer 2011 are used to illustrate key points.

    TAKEAWAY: Attendees will learn strategies to manage student teams of game developers to help counteract the often unexamined creation of stereotypical representations in games. It also discusses team composition and leadership elements that can help challenge if not mitigate sexist practices as well as portrayals.

    At 11:50am to 12:15pm, Monday 5th March

    In 2004, Moscone Center

  • Making Games as Fast as You Can Think of Them

    by Ian Bogost

    One of the greatest challenges for making and using games in the enterprise is creating games in the first place. Games are not only complex and expensive, but the tools created by the "traditional" game industry for making them may not match the uses or authoring needs of other sorts of industries. In particular, current methods for making games rely on authoring behaviors and mechanics, which is still an expertise native to game development.

    This talk presents a new game authoring tool that creates small, simple games in seconds based on a concept-map based authoring paradigm and a game generation artificial intelligence. The system was created to service journalists and the news media (thanks to funding from the Knight Foundation), but it can also be used in other sectors--or just as an inspiration for thinking about how to make new game authoring tools.

    TAKEAWAY: Identifying strategies to help organizations drive down the costs of producing useful games is a critical need to achieve improved the promise of games for organizations big and small. Attendees to this session will come away with a better understanding of the issues involved with making truly quick and easy game development tools.

    At 11:50am to 12:15pm, Monday 5th March

    In 2009, Moscone Center

  • My Game's A Hit... Now What Do I Do?

    by Chris Williams

    So, you've launched your game and it has rocketed up the charts. It's a bona fide hit. Now what do you do? That's the multi-million dollar question because success in the App Store can be very short lived. How do you go about building your game into the kind of hit that stays high in the top grossing charts month-after-month, year-after-year? In this session, Chris Williams, VP and general manager of mobile at PlayFirst, will talk through the evolution of Diner Dash, from its first launch as an iPhone game over three years ago to where it is today.

    TAKEAWAY: In addition to past learnings, Williams will focus on the most recent strategy of offering a freemium version of Diner Dash and how in-app purchase has influenced the game. Highlights will include how to use metrics and consumer insights to evaluate your next move and how to maintain your user base while transitioning a game in a rapidly moving market.

    At 11:50am to 12:15pm, Monday 5th March

    In 134, Moscone Center