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Director's Cut: The Past, Present, and Future of Broad Appeal

Hello everyone, welcome back from the break! I had hoped to get an update out to you last week, but I had to focus on actually developing GDC. In the meantime, I hope you had a chance to check out our Thursday keynote announcement of luminary futurist Ray Kurzweil, who we've challenged to propose the next 20 years of games.

Today, I'd like to follow up on that theme of where games are going, and look at the broadening of the game-playing audience. One of the first movers in this space, who has since built a dynasty of intelligent historical strategy games, is Sid Meier. We just put out a press release announcing how proud we are to award him the Lifetime Achievement Award at our Game Developers Choice Awards. The one thing the press release doesn't mention though, is that while he is knee-deep in developing Civilization: Revolution, he will also be giving a talk at GDC, in the form of an interview. Veteran LucasArts designer and Civilization fan Noah Falstein will take us through the 25 years of his inspirational designs and career choices, in a session titled Standing the Test of Time: A Q&A With Sid Meier.
Now while Sid's games consistently attract an audience who may not call themselves gamers, The Sims Studio has been working on this angle for a while too. While we can't go into much detail now, and admittedly the session description is a bit vague, I would highly recommend that you make time to attend the session titled The Emergent Gamer. The session is being delivered by the head of the Sims Studio, Rod Humble, who is one of the visionaries behind EverQuest. All I can tell you about the subject is that there will be a closed beta at GDC, and you'll want to be there. Okay, now let's pretend I've artfully segued into the next thing I want to tell you about.
One of the other trends we're observing this year is the transmedia synchronization of film and game processes. Similar to Sid Meier, we have a session from a veteran who has been involved with transmedia for decades, and has much to present. Flint Dille, who wrote television series like Transformers (he killed Optimus Prime), writes games such as Escape From Butcher Bay, and is now adapting Frank Miller's Sin City graphic novel into a game, will give a detailed expose of the inner workings of the transmedia experience. His session is titled The Blur: Creating in the Eye of the Storm.
Finally, we have what I believe is a first for GDC, a interdisciplinary programming and design talk from Sony Pictures Imageworks on their most recent assault on Uncanny Valley, the film Beowulf. Software architect Parag Havaldar will present his session A Believable Character Postmortem: Motion Capture on the Virtual Set of Beowulf. He will detail the choices he and his team made in developing a custom motion capture system for the film, that could brings groups of interacting people believably onto the screen. Creating believability is a challenge that both game* and film animators and programmers face, and we're expecting to see many more lessons and tricks cross over between the shrinking divide.
So that's it for this Tuesday. There's still a handful of featured sessions in the pipeline, as well as our Wednesday keynote still to announce, so stay tuned!
Jamil Moledina
Executive Director
Game Developers Conference
* You may also want to check out the game side of the believability challenge, with the previously posted session Uncharted Animation: An In-depth Look at the Character Animation Workflow and Pipeline presented by Judd Simantov and Jeremy Lai-Yates.

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