Game Developers Conference (GDC) is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Stream GDC 2020 Talks on Twitch

Thanks to submissions from many of the speakers who had talks planned for GDC 2020, we will be streaming recorded versions of their GDC sessions on the official GDC Twitch channel. Streaming session content will be featured on March 16-20 starting at 9am PT daily.

Virtual awards ceremonies for The Independent Games Festival (IGF) and Game Developers Choice Awards (GDCA) will be streaming on Wednesday, March 18. Directly before the awards, Double Fine & iam8bit will debut a virtualized 2020 edition of its Day of the Devs showcase.

Find the most up-to-date schedule for the GDC 2020 virtual talks below and be sure to check back for new additions.

Monday, March 16

9:00am-9:30amThe 'Kine' Postmortem
Gwen Frey (President, Chump Squad)
Topic: Independent Games
In this example heavy talk Gwen Frey discusses her journey taking Kine from an after-work passion project to a fully realized multi-platform puzzle game. She'll use footage from development to demonstrate how she crafted the game iteratively, only increasing the scope of the game as she received funding to do so. She'll cover her design goals and methods at different points in production, and she'll explain how she developed the game's overall vision. Finally, Gwen will discuss Kine's budget and breakdown the sales split across SKUs. This talk showcases and celebrates both the missteps and the victories of a game that birthed a brand new studio.
10:00am-10:30amStorytelling with Verbs: Integrating Gameplay and Narrative
Kaitlin Tremblay (Writer & Narrative Designer, Capybara Games)
Topic: Game Narrative
Storytelling with Verbs focuses on the ways in which we can reinforce gameplay with its inherent storytelling capabilities. Kaitlin Tremblay will discuss the inherent fiction behind our most common gameplay verbs, such as shooting, talking, deciphering (puzzle solving), hacking, etc., with specific examples from games in AAA, indie, mobile, ARGs, and escape rooms, and with a special eye toward how this becomes even more imperative in collaborative or competitive game spaces. This talk is intended to encourage greater collaboration between game design and narrative design in order to leverage the innate storytelling qualities in the fundamental building blocks of all of our games, to design together more playfully and more cohesively, and to create more compelling experiences, situations, and stories for players.
11:00am-11:30amIntrinsically Motivated Teams: The Manager's Toolbox
Alexandre Moufarek (Product Manager, DeepMind)
Topic: Production & Team Management
Managers get involved in various tasks every day - planning, hiring, team organization, communication, giving feedback, performance evaluation etc. - but how can we tell what will have a positive or a negative impact on our team's motivation? Self-Determination Theory (SDT; Deci & Ryan, 2000) can help with that. SDT is a macro theory of human motivation that emerged from research on intrinsic and extrinsic motivation and identifies three universal psychological needs that, if satisfied, enable optimal function and growth: competence, autonomy and relatedness. In this talk, Alexandre Moufarek introduces SDT and gives practical examples taken from a manager's day to day tasks and discusses what can facilitate or undermine a team's motivation (supported by research findings). Happy game developers make happy gamers is not just a saying. It's science.
12:00pm-12:30pmFrom 'Assassin's Creed' to 'The Dark Eye': The Importance of Themes
Winifred Phillips (Composer, Generations Productions LLC)
Topic: Audio
Through an exploration of her work composing music for games such as Assassin’s Creed Liberation, God of War, LittleBigPlanet and the upcoming RPG The Dark Eye: Book of Heroes, composer Winifred Phillips will examine the potential of thematic music to enable a game to stand out as special and unique. By employing musical themes, a composer can infuse a game with a strong sense of character and originality. According to research, music heard during activities is remembered vividly. Coupling this with the innately memorable nature of themes allows a game composer to create an indelible musical signature for any game. This talk will examine composition techniques that extend the life and utility of themes. Variation, development, figures, fragmentation, and motifs will be explored, along with examples of themes in combat, menus, cutscenes, and stingers. Finally, dynamic music construction will be considered, including workarounds to enable effective themes within interactive systems.
1:00pm-1:30pmRepresenting LGBT+ Characters in Games: Two Case Studies
Tori Schafer (Writer & Designer, Proletariat)
Topic: Advocacy, Design
How do you respectfully create LGBT+ characters and narratives in a way that naturally fits into your game's world? Game narrative designer Tori Schafer will explain her design process and implementation of these themes from both the MMORPG Elder Scrolls Online - in acclaimed quests such as the GLAAD Award-winning 'Manor Of Masques' - and the upcoming indie game Backbone. In Elder Scrolls Online, LGBT+ characters are fully accepted by their society, whereas the society of Backbone rejects any character who is openly LGBT+. What can be learned from these two approaches, and how can we as game designers ensure that all depictions, good and bad, are respectful to the LGBT+ community?
2:00pm-3:00pmThe Sound of Anthem
Cody Behiel (Audio Lead, Electronic Arts BioWare), Eric Vervaet (Director of Audio, Electronic Arts BioWare)
Topic: Audio
Immerse yourself into the Sound of Anthem from high-flying Javelin maneuvering, epic four player battles, unique and driving soundtracks, massive otherworldly creatures, and the exotic serenity of Bastion's wilds. Director of Audio, Eric Vervaet, and Audio Lead & Technology Supervisor, Cody Behiel will guide you through the high level goals of the project and how they were achieved through deep dives into audio implementation and dynamic mixing along the way of BioWare's latest release.
3:00pm-3:30pmIs Your Game Cross-Platform Ready?
Raymond Arifianto (VP of Tech, AccelByte)
Topic: Programming
Everyone is buzzing around enabling cross platform features for their games. Making a Cross-Platform game is not for the faint of heart, so here are 9 things you need to know, before you make the big jump.
4:00pm-4:30pmForgiveness Mechanics: Reading Minds for Responsive Gameplay
Seth Coster (CEO & Game Programmer, Butterscotch Shenanigans, Inc)
Topic: Design
What is a responsive game? It seems intuitive to think that a responsive game is one that does exactly what the player says, when the player says to do it. But if that's all your game does, your players will accuse your game of having clunky controls. What's that about?In this talk, Seth Coster of Butterscotch Shenanigans lifts the veil around Forgiveness Mechanics; game systems that allow the player to be off in their inputs, but still get the results they want. Seth will discuss the variety of forgiveness mechanics used in Levelhead and other Butterscotch Shenanigans games, and how you can incorporate these forgiveness mechanics into your own games so your players win more, have a better time, and keep coming back.
Experimental AI Lightning Talk: Hyper Realistic Artificial Voices for Games
Zeena Qureshi (Co-Founder & CEO, Sonantic)
Topic: Programming
This session offers rapid-fire presentations of new AI applications in games, with speakers from indie, academic, and industry backgrounds. It'll look at projects that use new technical solutions, offer new tools to developers, or use existing techniques in new ways. Topics include machine-learning emotional voice generation; AI-assisted creative tools; cutting edge student-industry collaborations; NPC scheduling to support the complex narrative possibility space of Elsinore; and the technical considerations behind AI Dungeon 2.

Tuesday, March 17

9:00am-9:50amWhat to Write So People Buy: Selling Your Game Without Feeling Sleazy
Chris Zukowski (Founder, Return To Adventure Mountain)
Topic: Business & Marketing
You know how to write hours of character dialog, hundreds of pages of lore and world-building, but are coming up blank when it is time to write about your game on your Steam page. Why is it that everything you write comes off sounding like something a used car salesman would say? It is ok and totally understandable. In this talk, Chris Zukowski will teach you the basics of Copywriting in a way that doesn't feel sleazy.
Failure Workshop: FutureGrind: How To Make A 6-Month Game In Only 4.5 Years
Owen Goss (Co-Founder, Milkbag Games)
Topic: Independent Games
Failure often teaches you so much more than success. This annual session of rare honesty and transparency is dedicated to developers willing to open up about failures in their work, giving space for you to celebrate and learn from both the ups and the downs of independent game development. In this segment of the Workshop, Owen Goss will look back on the development of FutureGrind and ask: 'How did a six-month project take four and a half years to make?'
10:00am-11:00amStress-Free Game Development: Powering Up Your Studio With DevOps
Seth Coster (CEO & Game Programmer, Butterscotch Shenanigans, Inc)
Topic: Production & Team Management
Game development is hard. People crunch all the time, we launch games with tons of bugs, and it can even be nerve-wracking just to deploy updates! But does it really have to be like that? NO! In this talk, Seth Coster of Butterscotch Shenanigans walks through how his team learned to use DevOps to get more done while working less. In the past, they had trouble adding team members and maintaining their titles, and solved most problems through sheer force of will. But by employing the philosophies of DevOps, they were able to deploy weekly content patches in Early Access, expand their team, add nearly a dozen languages to their game, and line up six simultaneous launch platforms. By using the lessons outlined in this talk, you, too, can begin to transform your studio into a low-stress, high-output, clockwork machine!
11:00am-11:30amBaked in Accessibility: How Features Were Approached in 'Borderlands 3'
Andrew Bair (Lead UI Programmer, Gearbox Software)
Topic: Design
This postmortem will review how accessibility features were embedded into the design of Borderlands 3 from an early stage. Speaking about features like subtitles & closed captions, loot beams, and sound effects, this talk will review some of what worked well. It will also speak to what didn't make the cut, telling the stories behind some of the unsuccessful features. By reviewing these features and approaches, this talk will provide examples of specific pathways that devs can use to make their games more accessible (and more enjoyable) for everyone by working within their existing teams and structure to make accessibility a given instead of a burden.
12:00pm-1:00pmMatchmaking for Engagement: Lessons from 'Halo 5'
Josh Menke (Lead Engagement Designer, 343 Industries)
Topic: Design
What should matchmaking worry most about? Latency? Skill? Streaks? Wait time? There are several commonly held best practices on how to matchmake for engagement across the industry, some of which contradict each other, but little to no data-driven evidence to support them. The following will show how to effectively test matchmaking approaches and show real examples and data from a popular first-person shooter. The results show that not all practices are actually important, while others are critical.
1:00pm-1:30pmForget CPI: Dynamic Mobile Marketing
Heather Gainer (Marketing Manager User Acquisition, Kongregate)
Topic: Free to Play
Cost per install (CPI) has traditionally been one of the most important metrics for mobile user acquisition. However, the industry is changing and if you are still focused on your CPI then you are already behind. In this talk we will discuss how the industry is changing the way we bid on users. We will cover why CPI is no longer as important and instead, what metrics we should be focusing on. Furthermore, we will discuss how we measure success. Finally, we will talk about how these new trends are impacting the marketplace and the challenges they present for performance-based marketing.
2:00pm-2:30pmIntegrating Sound Healing Methodologies Into Your Workflow
Matt Levine (Uncle Vector's Audio Lab LLC)
Topic: Audio
Why does audio reach us on a visceral level in some games, but in others it does not? This talk explores that question through the lens of sound healing. Sound healing uses music, sound and vibration to inspire changes in a person's mind and body. It is a hot topic these days, and wellness is a rapidly expanding category for games and apps. This presentation demonstrates several time-honored sound healing principles and shows how they can be applied to the creative, business, and personal goals of a sound artist or composer. This talk provides tools to incorporate the powerful principles of Intention, Vibration, Binaural Beats, Cymatics, Entrainment, and Elemental Properties into an audio production workflow. These demonstrations provide a glimpse into a vast and underutilized treasure trove of knowledge that is opening up new creative and business opportunities in the game industry.
3:00pm-3:30pmFrom 0-1000: A Test Driven Approach to Tools Development
David Paris (Senior Engineer, Playground Games)
Topic: Programming
The talk describes Playground Games' journey from 0-1000 automated tools tests during the development of Forza Horizon 4 expansion packs. It focuses on how and why they created a testing culture, what they learned from the experience and how they plan to continue cultivating and improving their investment. The talk demonstrates how teams can improve their tool stability and developer confidence and still deliver new features by adding automated tests.
4:00pm-4:30pmOvercoming Creative Block on 'Super Crush KO'
Gabby DaRienzo (Senior Artist, Drinkbox Studios)
Topic: Independent Games
After dealing with a year-long burnout, Gabby DaRienzo was able to find resources and tools to help her overcome her creative block and start feeling inspired productive, and confident in making game art again. This resulted in her art directing the beautiful, colourful, anime-inspired game Super Crush KO. In this talk, Gabby will talk about where this block came from, how it affected her work on Super Crush KO, share what tools and practices worked for her in overcoming her burnout, and provide advice for other game developers who may deal with creative block in the future.
When Film, Games, and Theatre Collide
Sarah Scialli (Game Director & Mocap Engineer, Tinted Stardust & DreamWorks)
Topic: Independent Games
Indies take the stage to share what's on their minds in this ever-popular conclusion to the summit! Individual topics range as widely as the individuals themselves, but these microtalks are sure to provoke, educate, and inspire.

Wednesday, March 18

9:00am-10:00amBringing Replays to 'World of Tanks: Mercenaries'
Andrew Glover (Lead Software Engineer, Wargaming Sydney)
Topic: Programming
Game replays are becoming increasingly important for e-sports, learning, and social sharing, by driving player engagement outside the core game loop. Introducing a replay system into a existing game has many of its own unique challenges, as we discovered when bringing a server-side replay system to the already live console title, World of Tanks: Mercenaries. We will provide an overview of the infrastructure required to implement server-side gameplay recording and playback, including the architectural solutions to client-side problems when existing game engine assumptions about the flow of time and space are no longer true. Whilst the examples are specific to World of Tanks: Mercenaries, the concepts themselves are applicable to any game engine.
10:00am-10:30amDeveloping and Running Neural Audio in Constrained Environments
Carter Huffman (Co-Founder & CTO,, Brendan Kelly (Research Engineer,
Topic: Programming
Speech recognition, manipulation, and synthesis are opening up new types of experiences in games; but the deep neural networks that achieve state-of-the-art performance at these tasks are difficult to develop and use efficiently.The first part of this talk explores challenges and solutions for developing neural speech systems that meet gaming-centric requirements, and do so through the lens of an early-stage startup. Strategies for effective iteration with small team sizes are discussed, along with efficient use of limited compute resources.The second part of the talk covers methods for running audio neural networks on a device, specifically focusing on real-time audio manipulation and synthesis. Included are lessons-learned about aspects of audio neural networks for both traditional audio practitioners (e.g. choice of sample rates, buffer sizes, memory allocations) and traditional machine learning practitioners (e.g. suitability of deployment frameworks, model distillation).
11:00am-12:00pmMental Health State of the Industry: Past, Present & Future
Eve Crevoshay (Executive Director, Take This)
Topic: Advocacy
With the release of Take This' mental health state of the industry white paper, and a growing tide of talk about labor conditions in the industry, the effects of current norms in the game industry are more apparent. This talk will discuss the cultural assumptions and norms that have pervaded the industry over the last several decades, how those impact mental health in expected and unexpected ways, and how future research and operational and cultural changes can result in improved work experiences for all those who make games for a living. At its simplest, mental health advocacy only works when we consistently and sensitively normalize the experience of mental health challenges and contextualize them within the spaces where we live, work, and play.
12:00pm-12:30pmEmpathizing with Steam: How People Shop for Your Game
Chris Zukowski (Game Designer & Marketing Consultant, Return To Adventure Mountain LLC)
Topic: Independent Games
What makes a person wishlist your game on Steam? Why don't they buy it? Chris Zukowski spent months watching people browse Steam and he is going to share the results of his research with you.
1:00pm-1:30pmScaling to 10 Concurrent Users: Online Infrastructure as an Indie
Andrew Erridge (Software Engineer & Cofounder, Gamebreaking Studios)
Topic: Programming
After years building online games that serve 100 million players, Dru tells the story of how the technology that originally backed his (much smaller) university project evolved into a sprawling online platform through the game's 5 year development cycle and subsequent launch. In doing so, Dru tries to illuminate which of the AAA concepts he applied scaled down and which were illusions of grandeur. His talk dives into inescapable decisions like dedicated servers vs peer to peer, microservices vs monolith, and when to use the cloud, among others.
2:00pm-2:30pmCrafting A Tiny Open World: 'A Short Hike' Postmortem
Adam Robinson-Yu (Developer, Independent)
Topic: Independent Games
Adam Robinson-Yu talks about how he decided to put a major project on the back burner in favour of a new prototype, which ultimately became A Short Hike. A Short HIke is a small game in both in scope and scale, and the initial release came together within a 4-month deadline. Adam will discuss the design choices and development strategies that helped him meet his goals for the project and craft a compelling open-world game within those limitations, including visual style, level design, and writing. He'll also touch on the release and the topic of setting expectations for the players to help guide their approach to the game even before they begin to play.
Indie Soapbox: UI design is fun!
Nathalie Lawhead (Independent Game Designer, Alienmelon)
Topic: Independent Games
Indies take the stage to share what's on their minds in this ever-popular conclusion to the summit! Individual topics range as widely as the individuals themselves, but these microtalks are sure to provoke, educate, and inspire.
3:00pm-3:30pmDon't Ship a Product, Ship Value: Start Your Minimum Viable Product With a Solution
Janessa Olson (Product Manager, Data & Tools, Kongregate)
Topic: Production & Team Management
A Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is your strategic approach to launching new products. How can your MVP be successful? Using case studies from Kongregate, Kartridge, Kongpanions, and Adventure Capitalist, this talk dissects the steps you and your team can take to give your game or software MVP the best chance at success.
4:00pm-5:00pmDay of the Devs: GDC Edition Direct
Presented by: Double Fine & iam8bit
For eight years, Double Fine + iam8bit have been raising a "child" together. From infant to toddler to middle-age (we're talking dev years here!), DAY OF THE DEVS has matured into a well-mannered, anthropomorphized, non-gender-specific gathering of the greatest indie games, devs and players the universe has ever known. Our original dream was to nurture the thriving independent developer scene, providing a showcase that had "chill festival vibes". The 2020 edition of Day of the Devs at GDC is your gateway to discovering upcoming indie darlings, beamed straight onto your device of choice via the official GDC stream. We're calling it Day of the Devs: GDC Edition Direct. Tune in for lots of visual beauty, charming design, poignant voices, and just plain cool games. We promise you'll discover something rad.
5:00pm-7:00pmIndependent Games Festival & Game Developers Choice Awards
Hosted by: Trent Kusters (IGF) and Kim Swift (GDCA)
Streaming in virtual form with your host Trent Kusters (Armello), the Independent Games Festival, which honors the most influential, innovative and acclaimed projects in independent game development, returns for its 22nd annual awards ceremony. Immediately following the IGF is the 20th annual Game Developers Choice Awards, the leading peer-based video game event celebrating the industry’s top games and developers, hosted this year by Kim Swift (Portal).

Thursday, March 19

9:00am-10:00amMachine Learning for Optimal Matchmaking
Josh Menke (Lead Engagement Designer, 343 Industries)
Topic: Programming
Matchmaking has changed little since it was first automated. The general approach is to look for an ideal match across one or more preferred metrics, and then expand the ideal until a match is found. Issues with this approach make it difficult to trade-off the importance of each metric, hard to customize to specific player populations including geographic ones, and expanding forces players to wait longer than necessary. This session will present TrueMatch, a new matchmaking approach that allows developers to more intuitively express the value of each metric, and then uses machine learning to automatically optimize over the desired metrics in real-time. The results give better matches in less time and are customized to each player's characteristics and each region's real-time concurrency as it changes over time.
10:00am-10:30amSkill Progression, Visual Attention, and Efficiently Getting Good at Esports
Dr. Anders Frank (Game Experience Researcher, Tobii)
Topic: Esports
While repeatedly playing competitive games will make you better at it, there are many ways to make gaming skills develop more efficiently. These ways come from understanding how skills are developed, such as mechanical and cognitive skills. A central and often overlooked aspect concerns awareness and attention, to see what is happening and what to do. Using a novel approach to trainers and metrics, by being aware how and where to look at the game, helps players maximize their performance. Dr. Anders Frank and Thomas Papa explain in their talk how to consider skill development and how product offerings can be created to both esports pros and a large audience thirsty of stepping up their game. Drawing from examples from theorists, research, studies and ongoing MOBA esports training development they will share their vision to make players game more efficient.
11:00am-11:30amMaking Your Game Influencer Ready: A Marketing Wishlist for Developers
David Ortiz Lapaz (Communications Director, ICO Partners)
Topic: Business & Marketing
Influencer Marketing is evolving and becoming more professional. Content creators are becoming celebrities, filling stadiums and wielding the power to help games explode in popularity. More than ever, learning how to best work with them is on your interest and is becoming more and more complex.As a game marketeer you may want to integrate content creators as part of your game strategy, but you're not exactly sure what will make the most impact, and when you do, maybe the development of the game is so far ahead that you find it hard to build the tools you need. This talk will teach you new and existing methods of making your game content-creator-ready. Drawing from his experience managing world-class content creators, David will share the tools marketing teams need to establish long-lasting bridges with content creators. He will also discuss the best ways of making sure they are ready in time to make the most impact.
12:00pm-1:00pmHow to Run Your Own Career Fair on a Tiny Budget
Chris DeLeon (Independent Educator & Game Developer, Gamkedo LLC), Dru Erridge (Software Engineer & Cofounder, Gamebreaking Studios), David Mullich (Adjunct Professor, ArtCenter College of Design), Tiffany Otto (Director of Partnership & Sponsorship, IndieCade)
Topic: Special Event
Whether you're a prospective employee or a company seeking new hires, organizing a career fair is more within reach than you might assume. Being an organizer has the added benefits of a great reason to contact and meet recruiters and leads at many local studios, and for prospective employees to learn who you are. Our local IGDA chapter in LA built on notes from IGDA Seattle about their career fair, adding multiple innovations that improved the overall experience without adding substantially to the cost. We'll walk you through our process, strategies, and outcomes, sharing every form used and examples from our communications, so that you'll be better equipped to plan and execute on a career fair of your own. It can be massively beneficial for your local studios, developers, and you as one of the organizers. Questions welcome, we'd love to hear about your experiences with career fairs!
1:00pm-1:30pmMaking a Healthy Social Impact in Commercial Games
Jennifer Estaris (Game Director, Sybo Games)
Topic: Advocacy
This talk is intended to examine social impact initiatives in commercial/mainstream games, which can enable a large number of players to work together toward global solutions. We will share measurable results on business impact, supportive feedback from players, and learnings from several companies and games, such as Subway Surfers. Topics include character diversity, greenifying environments, inspiring the community, and best practices for incorporating such initiatives in a game as well as in the studio. We will also discuss hidden factors to consider, especially when balancing the brand and community against potentially didactic content. Overall, this talk should inspire you and your community, workplace, etc. to leave a positive footprint.
2:00pm-2:30pm'Forza' Monthly: Live Streaming a Franchise
Shay Goldenberg (Producer, Turn 10 Studios / Microsoft)
Topic: Business & Marketing
In order to expand upon communications with the Forza racing franchise community, the team developed a monthly-hosted live stream that features topics such as the latest Forza news, monthly game updates, and talks with development team members about their latest projects.Turn 10 Studios Media Producer Shay Goldenberg discusses the challenges & learnings of the production process, evolution of the show and how it has transformed the way the Forza franchise communicates.
3:00pm-3:30pmAesthetic Driven Development: Choosing Your Art Before Making a Game
Vladimir Slav (Owner & Director, Coldwild Games)
Topic: Business & Marketing
In October 2018, Coldwild Games team has started posting self-made pixel art images on twitter. On July 30, 2019, they have released their most popular game so far, Merchant of the Skies. Learn how the team used the power of twitter to do the market research and design the game around the style that audiences liked before they even saw the actual gameplay.This session will show the art selection procedure and teach how one can repeat something like this by finding the right style and then organically growing the fanbase/wishlists through social media posts.
4:00pm-5:00pmReading the Rules of 'Baba Is You'
Arvi Teikari (Game Developer, Hempuli Oy)
Topic: Design
Arvi Teikari, developer of the puzzle game Baba Is You, describes how the game's unique sentence-based rule system was implemented and what kind of iterations and obstacles it went through over the development of the game. The talk concentrates on the technical aspects of turning physical items in the game world into sentences understood by the game logic, as well as building a data structure that supports this kind of functionality. The talk will also touch the topic of the realities of developing a complex puzzle game using a non-programming-based game-creation tool and the lua scripting language.

Friday, March 20

9:00am-10:00amBeyond Games as a Service with Live Ops
Crystin Cox (Director of Live Operations, Microsoft)
Topic: Design
The rise of games as a service has changed the video games industry and brought about massive growth, but what comes next? Come learn how LiveOps is shaping the next big step in games and how game teams of all types can use this powerful approach to game development to better engage their communities.
10:00am-10:30amKill the Hero, Save the (Narrative) World
Hannah Nicklin (Studio Lead, Narrative Designer & Writer, Die Gute Fabrik)
Topic: Game Narrative
Hannah Nicklin, lead writer and narrative designer on MUTAZIONE, discusses the key techniques, challenges and potential of writing for ensemble casts compared to 'heroes' tales'. Drawing on inspiration from the world of long-running TV shows rather than film, and unpicking real-life examples from the process of writing MUTAZIONE, Hannah will set out how killing the hero form of storytelling not only produces better narrative worlds in games but also allows to us to tell better, more relatable, truer stories about how we live together in the world.
11:00am-11:30am'Void Bastards' Art Style Origin Story
Ben Lee (Art Director, Blue Manchu)
Topic: Visual Arts
Void Bastards is a vibrant, anarchic looking strategy-FPS shooter hybrid. Intrinsic to the game's presentation is a look and feel firmly rooted in comics and traditional animation. In this session, art director and illustrator Ben Lee will break down the various influences and events that shaped the art style throughout the game's production. Attendees will learn about how his approach to art direction changed between initial discussions and final release. Additional topics will be how the art style tied into the development of the game world and impacted the design, the relationship between a tight art style and an achievable production schedule and working with a small, globally distributed team.
12:00pm-1:00pmWriting Tools Faster: Design Decisions to Accelerate Tool Development
Niklas Gray (CTO, Our Machinery)
Topic: Programming
This session discusses the drastic design decisions we made in The Machinery to overcome the problems we had in previous engines (Bitsquid, Stingray) where writing tools became the primary development bottleneck. First, we minimized the the tech stack to put more control in the hands of the developers. Second, we moved the responsibility for things like undo, copy/paste, save, revert, etc into a shared central data model so that tools get it for free. Third, we standardized the way in which data interacts with views, so that the same views can be reused for different purposes. This talk will discuss the consequences, pros and cons of our approach and show how it works in a concrete example: implementing an animation state machine editor.
1:00pm-1:30pmFace-to-Parameter Translation via Neural Network Renderer
Tianyang Shi (Senior AI Researcher, Netease)
Topic: Programming
Character customization systems in RPGs are becoming more and more sophisticated. As a result, it turns out to be time-consuming and laborious for most players. How to help players quickly create a satisfactory role? In this talk, Tianyang Shi from NetEase Fuxi AI Lab will show how to differentiate the game engine by using a neural network and how to create a character automatically according to a single facial photo.
2:00pm-2:30pmThe Forest Paths Method for Accessible Narrative Design
Alexander Swords (Writer & Narrative Designer, Alexander Swords)
Topic: Game Narrative
We have some great models for storytelling, but often they're broken by the attempt to fit them into interactive experiences, or applied to cultures outside of Western norms. Starting with the dramatic question and the sequence method, the Forest Paths Method has been built on the principles of understanding the building blocks of drama to combine narrative and design elements into successful patterns tailored to the pillars of your game. These patterns can then be used by the whole team to start a new project, problem-solve current issues, or analyse past successes or failures. This session will follow an example of a fictional new game through the process, and by the end show a narrative design pattern that could service the start of development.
3:00pm-3:30pm'Gears 5' Real-Time Character Dynamics
David Coleman (Technical Art Director, The Coalition - Microsoft)
Topic: Visual Arts
This talk will discuss the Gears 5 real-time dynamics system used for thick, heavy leather armor, chains tied at both ends, hair such as dreadlocks and ponytails draped over shoulders, buckles, pouches, tentacles and many other challenging dynamics accessories! The presentation will cover the features of the dynamics system, demonstrate how the dynamics were setup within the Unreal Engine 4 animation blueprint system, as well as challenges and lessons learned to ensure the system kept within performance budgets in support of Gears 5 running at 60 fps on XBoxOneX, in all game modes.
4:00pm-5:00pmStop & Think: Teaching Players About Media Manipulation in 'Headliner'
Jakub Kasztalski (Founder & Creative Director, Unbound Creations LLC)
Topic: Design
Most games are designed to be fun and engaging, to keep the players playing. But at Unbound Creations, our goal is different. We want our players to stop, and reflect on their actions. This talk will use concrete examples from our award-winning games to show how we teach players about ethics through play, encourage critical thinking about media and fake-news, and make polarizing social/political issues humanely relatable. In “Headliner: NoviNews” you play as chief editor of the national news, deciding what articles get published every day. You watch as the world around you lives of several main characters gradually change. From the start, the game was designed to make players question their choices and become more critical of media. I will explain how we achieved that. Early in pre-development, we mined Google and Facebook data to find topics that are the most important and relatable to our target audience. We made issues relatable through personal struggles of in-game characters. We have also done the research to represent both sides of complex arguments fairly, based on actual rhetoric used in media. Our simple design principles led to complex series of trade-offs and moral dilemmas with no clear win or lose conditions. Lastly, we used gameplay mechanics to encourage (but not force) our players to organically engage in media-manipulation techniques, thus teaching players to recognize them in the real world.

Connecting the Global Game Development Community