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GDC 2023 Session Highlight for Design, UX, and Level Design

Learn the latest tools and tricks for creating standout games. Designers heading to the Game Developers Conference: This Session Guide and Walkthrough will help you make the most of your GDC 2023

In our Design track, learn methods to create compelling interactions with realistic physics, facial expressions, and lighting. Get ideas for new games, tips to push your project forward, and learn how to understand and tune the interactions of an ever-increasing number of tools, systems, and techniques required to design great games.

The track includes sessions from: Level Design Summit, UX Summit.

Sign Up For GDC 2023 Here

The 2023 Game Developers Conference features hundreds of sessions—covering nearly every discipline, topic, and focus that matters to game developers today. It can be hard to choose! That's why we've created this helpful guide. Head here to view all previous GDC 2023 session guides.

It features some standout sessions, panels, and events dedicated to helping your career and company growth efforts. In addition, we've got tips on making the most of your GDC, and links to GDC Vault videos and Game Developer articles that will help you get pumped for GDC 2023.

Be sure to visit our Session Viewer for a full list of Design talks at GDC 2023 and get started on prepping that schedule. For those wanting the option to experience every design session at GDC 2023, be sure to register for an All-Access Pass

Core Session Picks for: Design

10 Key Quest Design Lessons from 'The Witcher 3' and 'Cyberpunk 2077'
Paweł Sasko (Quest Director, CD Projekt RED)

Location: Room 301, South Hall
Date: Wednesday, March 22
Time: 9:00 am - 10:00 am

Pass Type: All Access Pass, Core Pass
Description: "Learn the 10 most important and universal quest design lessons—based on Paweł Sasko's 17 years of experience in the video game industry, and illustrated by examples from The Witcher 3 and Cyberpunk 2077."

The Many Dimensions of Kirby
Shinya Kumazaki (Executive Director, HAL Laboratory, Inc.)
Tatsuya Kamiyama (Expert Director, Development Division 1st Department, HAL Laboratory, Inc.)

Location: Room 303, South Hall
Date: Wednesday, March 22
Time: 10:30 am - 11:30 am

Pass Type: All Access Pass, Core Pass
Description: "One year after the launch of Kirby and the Forgotten Land, developers Shinya Kumazaki and Tatsuya Kamiyama discuss how they brought traditional Kirby gameplay into a 3D world, as well as examine some of the new features in the game, including the fan-favorite Mouthful Mode."

Game Design for Inclusion Beyond Representation
Tanya X. Short (Captain, Kitfox Games)
Emily Short (Creative Director, Failbetter Games)
Réjon Foster-Taylor (UI & UX Designer, Soft Not Weak, Maximum Crash)
Jon Remedios (Designer, Actual Humans)
Jill Murray (Writer, Narrative Designer, Narrative Director, Discoglobe Interactive Inc.)

Location: Room 2006, West Hall
Date: Thursday, March 23
Time: 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Pass Type: All Access Pass, Core Pass
Description: "In this session, four designers will share their personal lessons learned and paths forward for developing their inclusive games, including Boyfriend Dungeon, Mask of the Rose, and Spirit Swap."

Layered Battles: Generating Multiple Qualitative Tactical Battles for 'Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope'
Frédéric Giraud (Level Designer, Ubisoft Paris)

Location: Room 2002, West Hall
Date: Friday, March 24
Time: 1:30 pm - 2:30 pm

Pass Type: All Access Pass, Core Pass
Description: "Layered Battles is a system created by Ubisoft to procedurally generate a variety of tactical battles through Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope, with specific battles intentions in mind."

Experimental Game Workshop

Location: Room 303, South Hall
Date: Friday, March 24
Time: 1:30 pm - 3:30 pm

Pass Type: All Access Pass, Core Pass
Description: "In this fast-paced, game-packed session, panelists will showcase a selection of surprising and intriguing prototypes made by innovation-minded game developers from all over the world."

Summits Session Picks for: Design

UX Summit: Step Into Your Player's Shoes: Making the Most of Team Playtests on 'Skate'
Andreia Gonçalves (Senior UX Designer, Electronic Arts)

Location: Room 2001, West Hall
Date: Monday, March 20
Time: 10:50 am - 11:20 am

Pass Type: All Access Pass, Summits Pass
Description: "In this session, Andreia Gonçalves, a Senior UX Designer at Full Circle Electronic Arts, will walk attendees through the framework the Skate development team has applied to their internal testing."

UX Summit: From Chaos to Clarity: The 'Battlefield 2042' Front End Redesign
Aerin Artessa (Senior Technical UI Designer, Ripple Effect Studios)
Courtney Libby (UX Designer, Ripple Effect Studios)

Location: Room 2001, West Hall
Date: Monday, March 20
Time: 5:30 pm - 6:30 pm

Pass Type: All Access Pass, Summits Pass
Description: "Ripple Effect Studios' Aerin Artessa and Courtney Libby will describe this journey of how two cross-continental UI/UX teams came together to improve engagement and retention by reimagining and rebuilding the Frontend Menu in a short time period."

Level Design Summit: Designing Cauldrons for 'Horizon Forbidden West'
Dennis Micka (Senior Game Designer, Guerrilla Games)

Location: Room 303, South Hall
Date: Tuesday, March 21
Time: 9:30 am - 10:30 am

Pass Type: All Access Pass, Summits Pass
Description: "Dennis Micka, Senior World Designer at Guerrilla, will discuss the creation and iteration process of Horizon Forbidden West's Cauldrons, from concept to finish. The talk will zoom in on the fan-favorite Cauldron IOTA, which features a huge Tallneck."

Level Design Summit: Moving Mountains: Speedy Level Creation as a Desperate Indie Dev
Edward Kay (CEO, Creative Director, DinoBoss)

Location: Room 303, South Hall
Date: Tuesday, March 21
Time: 4:10 pm - 5:10 pm

Pass Type: All Access Pass, Summits Pass
Description: "This talk will explain how to extract the maximum amount of gameplay variety from a single core mechanic, and how to build levels as efficienty as possible using clever tools."

5 Tips for Making the Most of Your GDC

1. Join a speed networking session: Our talks and panels are amazing, but be sure to bookmark at least one speed networking session during your time at GDC. They're a great way to network with like-minded professionals and industry colleagues. More info on these sessions to come. 

2. Meet up in the Connect Lounge: The GDC 2023 Expo Floor features hundreds of booths and exhibitors—along with a dedicated networking space where attendees can schedule meetings (through Swapcard, once available) with prospective clients or employers.

3. Relax in our community spaces: It's time to rejoice: Community spaces are returning to GDC 2023! Not only are they a place to unwind during the day, they're also the perfect spot to network with industry colleages and prospective employers. Head to our Floor Plan to see our community spaces throughout the Expo Floor, including interactive spaces for certain disciplines and the GDC Play Lounge. 

4. Get food recs from an SF ambassador: Trying to find something to eat in between sessions? Keep an eye out for the city’s official Welcome Ambassadors–in their signature bright orange jackets, with the words “Welcome Ambassador” written on the back. They'll be hanging around GDC and may have recommendations on interesting spots to grab breakfast or lunch.

5. Follow GDC on social media: Marketing professionals should make sure to tune into GDC's FacebookTwitterLinkedInInstagram, and Mastodon to keep an eye on the coolest marketing trends happening at GDC 2023. We'll be on the floor throughout the event highlighting amazing spots and exhibitors. 

Watch and Read

(VIDEO) 'Blaseball': Game Development as Performance: Gabe McGill, Joel Clark (GDC 2022)

(VIDEO) Gamifying Creativity in 'Chicory': A Colorful Tale: Greg Lobanov (GDC 2022)

(ARTICLE) Design lessons from the making of Marvel's Midnight Suns: Bryant Francis (Game Developer)

(ARTICLE) The Game Design Prism: Colin Anderson (Game Developer)

Watch more Design talks on GDC Vault here

This is the latest in our series of Session Guides for GDC 2023, with recommendations for sessions, events, networking opportunities, and more. Head here to view all previous GDC 2023 session guides.

Of course, the only way to see these sessions, and so much more, is to sign up for GDC! 

Register for GDC 2023 Here

We can’t wait to see you at GDC 2023, taking place March 20-24, 2023 at the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco, California. Head here for information on booking a hotel and other travel inquiries, and follow the #GDC23 hashtag for the latest news and updates for this year’s exciting event.

GDC returns to San Francisco this March 20-24, 2023, and registration is now open! For more information, be sure to visit our website and follow the #GDC23 hashtag on social media.

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