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GDC Europe 2012 debuts new Mafia II, hacking, fundraising talks

GDC Europe 2012 lecture announcements are gathering pace, as show organizers unveil new talks covering the development of 2K Czech's Mafia II, how to prevent online game hacking, and how to successfully raise the funds for your next game.

These talks all fall within GDC Europe's Main Conference, which takes place Monday through Wednesday, August 13-15, 2012 at the Congress-Centrum Ost Koelnmesse in Cologne, Germany.

The full details on these new sessions are as follows:

- As part of the Production track, 2K Czech designer Jarek Kolar will chart the tumultuous eight years between the original Mafia title and its major console-led action game sequel.

The session, "Postmortem: Mafia II," will outline Mafia II's "development from inception to release... and also focuses on how the local development team Illusion Softworks has changed into a premium international development house 2K Czech."

- Elsewhere, Stephan Payer of the veteran German online game developer CipSoft will host the Programming track session, "Cheaters, Hackers, Script Kiddies -- The Dark Side of Online Games." Here, Payer will discuss the numerous security issues his team has encountered while operating the 15-year-old online games, Tibia.

Along the way, Payer will explain how these issues apply to other online titles, and will offer tips to help developers make their games more secure.

- Finally, Paul Heydon, managing director at Avista Partners, will share some key financial advice for game developers in the Business, Marketing & Management lecture, "Fundraising 101 for Game Companies."

In today's market, many venture capitalists are eager to invest money in budding game studios, and Heydon, also part of prominent game investment firm London Venture Partners (, Supercell), will explain how developers can make sure that they receive that funding on fair terms.

GDC Europe 2012 adds new BioWare DLC, Bigpoint, HTML5 talks

The session lineup for August's GDC Europe 2012 in Cologne continues to expand this week, with BioWare talking post-release DLC lessons from Mass Effect and Dragon Age, plus Bigpoint on free-to-play game design and YoYo Games on HTML5 programming.

These talks all fall within GDC Europe's Main Conference, which takes place Monday through Wednesday, August 13-15, 2012 at the Congress-Centrum Ost Koelnmesse in Cologne, Germany.

The full details on these new sessions are as follows:

- In the show's Business and Marketing track, BioWare's director of online development, Fernando Melo (Dragon Age, Mass Effect franchises), will outline how the major studio has organized and crafted a long-term plan for each of its major new releases.

The session, titled "Leveling Up Your AAA game - BioWare's Post Release Content Insights," will examine downloadable content strategies, online game passes, microtransactions, and more, and Melo will argue why all of these additions can augment a game's initial sales and make a big-budget title far more successful.

- Over in the Design track, Jan Richter, CTO of the major German-headquartered online game company Bigpoint, will look at the positive implications of free to play business models in "Free to Play Game Design Is F*#!1ng Awesome."

During this session, Richter will leverage Bigpoint's experience operating titles like Dark Orbit and Battlestar Galactica Online to discuss what it truly means to make a free to play game. Meanwhile, he will share some "free to play design secrets" and "the latest design evolutions" that every developer should know.

- Finally, YoYo Games CTO Russell Kay will explain how older development philosophies can benefit new technologies in a Programming track presentation dubbed, "Applying Retro Techniques to HTML5 Development."

According to Kay, modern web technologies like HTML5 make it "difficult to give consistent performance across target platforms, particularly for mobile and lower powered devices." He believes these problems are not unlike those developers in the "early days of games," and he will provide a number of classic tips and techniques to improve HTML5 game performance.

GDC Europe 2012 debuts talks from Dear Esther, Amnesia creators

With the session lineup for GDC Europe 2012 quickly expanding, event organizers have debuted a second batch of talks, covering everything from unconventional gameplay mechanics to operating large-scale game sites.

This trio of new sessions includes speakers such as thechineseroom's Dan Pinchbeck (Dear Esther), Frictional Games' Thomas Grip (Amnesia: The Dark Descent), and IMVU's Jon Watte, each of whom will present robust talks targeted at the pan-European game development community.

These sessions all fall within GDC Europe's Main Conference, which takes place Monday through Wednesday, August 13-15, 2012 at the Congress-Centrum Ost Koelnmesse in Cologne, Germany. The full details on these new sessions are as follows:

- As part of the Game Design track, thechineseroom creative director Dan Pinchbeck will reflect upon his studio's atmospheric indie title Dear Esther, which "abandoned traditional gameplay altogether" in favor of creating a rich and complex interactive story.

Throughout this session, called 'Ambiguity and Abstraction in Game Writing: Lessons from Dear Esther', Pinchbeck will detail the game's "deliberately problematic" approach to in-game narrative, offering insight into how defying conventions can help a game really resonate with its players.

- Elsewhere, Amnesia: The Dark Descent creator Thomas Grip (who's now working with Pinchbeck on an Amnesia sequel) will present a psychology-focused talk that examines how video games differ from film and writing in how they capture their audience.

Grip will explore the ins and outs of interactivity in game design in 'The Self, Presence, and Storytelling', noting that "when interaction is no longer about conquering a system, the underlying mechanics can be kept obscure and opaque to the player, leaving the imagination to do most of the work."

- Finally, IMVU technical director Jon Watte will host a talk in the show's Programming track detailing the essentials of operating an online game site. These sites often grow to include everything from real-time messaging, microtransactions, to user generated content, and Watte will use IMVU's web service as a case study to outline the pros and cons of various approaches to operating a game site at scale.

'Tales from the GDC Vault' presents classic EA, Maxis, Namco videos from 1998

Continuing his Tales from the GDC Vault series, GDC historian Jason Scott has digitized and uploaded five notable videos from the 1998 Computer Game Developers Conference, all of which are available online for the first time.

These classic CGDC videos continue to provide us a look back at some of the most challenging issues our industry faced almost 15 years ago. The archives which will be further added to over the next few months give us another chance to both learn from our past and even apply classic game development lessons to today's ever-changing market.

These videos, which feature renowned industry figures such as EA's Richard Hilleman (pictured), Shiny Entertainment founder Dave Perry, and Maxis engineer Paul Pedriana, join a handful of other GDC Vault lectures from 1998. Join us now as we look back at more exciting lectures and presentations from another classic Computer Game Developers Conference:

- Current Electronic Arts chief creative officer Richard Hilleman keynotes the 1998 conference with "Herding Cats: How to Build, Manage and Sustain Successful Teams." The EA veteran expresses that leadership is not enough to make good teams work for product development, but that it is part of a bigger system, discussing who the customers are and how to reach them, leadership characteristics that work for him, and how to build teams effective in the long-term, while adhering to holistic lessons "learned from Mom." He even encourages hiring and nurturing his own replacements, stating that doing so "will set you free." [GDC Vault free video]

- Interestingly, Michael "SAXS" Persson and David Perry (who both worked at Earthworm Jim and MDK studio Shiny Entertainment) walk the crowd through their scalable real-time deformation and tessellation engine in the lecture, "Messiah: What You May or May Not Believe." Persson walks through rendering several Messiah characters, discussing the sophisticated for the time tools and 3D engine used in creating the noted "body swapping" game. [GDC Vault free video.]

- Elsewhere, Maxis software engineer Paul Pedriana (SimCity 3000) expresses that the C++ language has evolved to become "perfectly viable for games" in his lecture, "High Performance Game Programming in C++." Pedriana blazes through 60 slides in 60 minutes, covering dozens of programming topics, while analyzing related code and showing their benchmark results. [GDC Vault free video]

GDC Europe 2012 opens registration, debuts Cousins, Blue Byte talks

Following the recent lecture submission deadline for GDC Europe 2012, early registration for this August's show in Cologne, Germany has officially opened, as event organizers have revealed the first talks in the show's burgeoning lineup.

The debut sessions taking place at this August's gamescom co-located GDC Europe, which include talks from some of the notable new Advisory Board members, with new talk announcements planned weekly, are as follows:

- As a follow-up to his breakout GDC 2012 lecture, Ngmoco exec and former Electronic Arts veteran Ben Cousins (pictured) revisits his session with new market data and a fresh perspective.

Part of the Business , Marketing & Management Track, 'When The Consoles Die: Redux' will examine what happens to dedicated platforms as the industry and consumer audience increasingly shift to social and free-to-play games, and multi-use devices like tablets or smartphones.

- Using examples from both the European hit The Settlers Online and the just announced Silent Hunter Online, Ubisoft Blue Byte's Christopher Schmitz and Benedikt Grindel will use the Production Track to "impart key understandings on how to successfully develop and operate browser games through the free-to-play model."

- Finally, writers Alexander Sliwinski and Ben Gilbert of major games site Joystiq will host a panel discussing "the past, present, and future of critical writing and reporting in the games industry." Joined by an international press line-up, 'How Gaming News Works: A Guided Tour' will explain how news dissemination works, providing a nuanced understanding of how the games press functions as a whole - with concrete takeaway for game creators.

GDC 2012's 'Indie Soapbox,' Halfbrick, Moriarty sessions debut for free on GDC Vault

GDC 2012 may have come and gone, but the GDC Vault service is working to keep the show's spirit alive by debuting new free videos of its most popular lectures. This week, the service has added a handful of free sessions that offer a glimpse at GDC 2012's notable Summits.

This new batch of free content includes the extremely popular 'Indie Soapbox' panel, a postmortem from Fruit Ninja developer Halfbrick, an education-focused talk from adventure game veteran Brian Moriarty, and an overview of online globalization from the CEO of social game developer Wooga.

As part of the GDC Summits, all of these videos provide a targeted look at some of the most pertinent and emerging sectors in the modern game business. Each session offers some important insight on game creation, and developers looking to stay on top of the latest industry trends might learn a thing or two from these various GDC 2012 Summit speakers.

Here are the newest free Summit videos to join the GDC Vault:

- The 'Indie Soapbox' session, part of GDC 2012's Independent Games Summit, gives 10 prominent independent developers a chance to tell the world about the things they care about most when it comes to making games. The session features developers like Polytron's Phil Fish (Fez), Team Colorblind's Ben Ruiz, and Lazy 8's Rob Jagnow (Cogs), and covers everything from the "egocentric" indie community to how games function as "3D media objects."

It's a wild, fast-paced session to be sure, but it offers the rare chance to peek into the minds of some of the industry's most eccentric, creative, and influential indie developers. If you've ever wondered what makes these successful indies tick, now's your chance to find out. [GDC Vault free video]

- Elsewhere, over in the Smartphone and Tablet Games Summit, Hafbrick's Luke Muscat looks back at the studio's popular Fruit Ninja and Jetpack Joyride, and shares some important lessons about maintaining support for a mobile game after its initial launch. Along the way, he points to several occasions in which Halfbrick's game updates introduced some severe problems on the app market, and explains how other developers can avoid making these mistakes themselves. [GDC Vault free video]

- As part of GDC Education Summit, Infocom and LucasArts veteran Brian Moriarty (Beyond Zork, Loom) outlines the "sinister" approach he uses to teach game design to students at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Rather than teaching them about the development process step by step, Moriarty provides his students with a custom, simplified game engine, dubbed "Perlenspiel," and tasks them with making their own pixel-based game from scratch. This approach gives students direct hands-on experience with game creation, and the simplicity of the Perlenspiel engine encourages them to focus on design above all else. [GDC Vault free video]

Tales from the GDC Vault: A retrospective look at game development in 1997

As part of the continuing Tales from the GDC Vault series, GDC historian Jason Scott has digitized and uploaded four notable videos from the 1997 Computer Game Developers Conference.

These videos, just like the many other classic and free lectures on the GDC Vault, provide a look back at some of the most pressing issues developers faced more than a decade ago. These archives give us a chance to both learn from our past, and even apply classic game development lessons to today's ever-changing market.

These brand-new videos, which feature renowned developers such as Brian Moriarty and Ernest Adams, join a handful of other GDC Vault free lectures from 1997. Join us now as we look back at some of the most exciting lectures and presentations from the classic Computer Game Developers Conference:

In the first of these new videos, Michael Dornbrook, whose work spans from Zork to Rock Band, shares his thoughts on maintaining relevance in "Surviving the Bloodbath: Perspectives on our Industry's Cycles." He observes the early warning signs of boom and bust cycles and strategies for surviving the busts and prospering from the booms. [GDC Vault free video]

Next up is video game musician George "The Fat Man" Alistair Sanger's "Music on Computers: A 5 Year Projection from the Project Bar-B-Q Think Tank." He presents the opinions and consensus of the BBQ Group (which still holds yearly conferences) on the topic: "What do you want to see in hardware and software for music on computers in the next 5 years?" [GDC Vault free video]

Also included is Infocom and LucasArts veteran Brian Moriarty's lecture, "Listen! The Potential of Shared Hallucinations." Here, Moriarty explores ways to creatively engage online game players and ditch "single-player designs retrofitted with a clunky multiplayer option." He encourages such games to "evolve with their audience" and "allow [players] to participate creatively" to "explore the unique possibilities of the online medium." [GDC Vault free video]

Reminder: GDC Online 2012's call for submissions ends Wednesday, May 2

Following a successful event in 2011, this October's GDC Online is beginning to take shape. Developers looking to submit a proposal for the Austin-based show should act soon, as the call for lecture and panel submissions ends this Wednesday, May 2.

This year, the conference is accepting submissions for main conference tracks in Business & Marketing, Customer Experience, Design, Production, and Programming. Keeping in line with the conference's online theme, these tracks all emphasize the development of connected games such as social network titles, free-to-play web games, kid-friendly online titles, and large-scale MMOs.

In addition, GDC Online is also seeking proposals for its four Summits, which each focus on a prominent or emerging sector of game development. The 2012 show will see the return of the ever-popular Game Narrative Summit and the Smartphone & Tablet Games Summit, alongside the brand new Game Dev Start-Up Summit and the Gamification Day.

The new Game Dev Start-Up Summit presents a comprehensive step-by-step look at the issues, challenges, and realities getting a new game studio off the ground. This one-day program will identify key challenges and arm attendees with knowledge that can help new ventures succeed.

The Gamification Day, meanwhile, will discuss the debatable and sometimes problematic process of building game-like incentives into non-game applications to address issues like productivity, health, marketing, and customer engagement. The full-day event will bring fresh discussions about blending games and technology, and will highlight inspired and successful case studies from today's forward-thinking businesses.

GDC Europe 2012 reveals major additions to main conference, Summit advisory boards

With GDC Europe quickly gaining steam, show organizers have added 14 leading European game developers to the event's main conference and Summit advisory boards, where they will help program the lectures, panels and roundtable sessions taking place at this August's conference in Cologne, Germany.

The newest members to join the main conference advisory board for GDC Europe 2012 include former Battlefield Heroes developer Ben Cousins (now general manager of ngmoco Sweden), Playdead CEO Dino Patti (Limbo, pictured), DICE creative director Lars Gustavsson, and Christopher Schmitz, head of production at Ubisoft Blue Byte (The Settlers and Battle Isle).

All of these new advisory board members come from notable and varied backgrounds in the European development community, and given their range of expertise, they will be able to ensure that GDC Europe 2012 offers even more insightful content targeted at developers all across the continent.

Other new additions to GDC Euope's main conference advisory board include Crytek veteran and Yager Interactive design director Bernd Diemer, EA Phenomic VP Dirk Ringe, Kuju Entertainment COO Adrian Hawkins (Battalion Wars), Guerrilla Games technical director Michiel van der Leeuw (Killzone series), online game consultant Teut Weidemann, Secret Exit co-founder Jetro Lauha (Zen Bound series), and Sven Liebech, head of art at Bigpoint GmbH.

These developers will join continuing board members such as Remedy Entertainment's Matias Myllyrinne (Alan Wake franchise), Avni Yerli of Crytek, and Harald Riegler of Sproing.

Helping to program the increasingly vibrant GDC Europe submarket Summits will be Thomas Grip, one of the key creatives at Amnesia studio Frictional Games, who will join the advisory board for the Independent Games Summit, alongside Knap Nok's Lau Korsgaard (who previously worked on Die Gute Fabrik's B.U.T.T.O.N.).

Elsewhere, Jami Laes, general manager and co-founder of social game giant Playfish, and Henric Suuronen, head of studio at Non-Stop Games (and formerly at wooga) will both join the board of the Social & Online Games Summit.

In addition, Ansu Lonnberg, chairman of the board at Secret Exit, and Semyon Voinov, co-founder of Cut the Rope creators ZeptoLab will join notables such as Fishlabs CEO and co-founder Michael Schade (Galaxy On Fire) on the advisory board of the Smartphone & Tablet Games Summit.

Reminder: GDC Europe 2012's call for submissions ends Monday, April 23

GDC Europe 2012 organizers are reminding that the call for lecture and panel submissions for this August's pre-eminent European game creation event ends on Monday, April 23rd.

This year, the event's call for submissions for lectures includes main conference tracks in Business & Marketing, Game Design, Production, Programming, and Visual Arts.

This year's event has a major focus on lectures with practical takeaways for today's video game market for all disciplines, from business strategies through postmortems to in-depth analyses of games. An expanded European advisory board -- to be revealed in the near future -- will be overseeing the submissions.

Organizers are also accepting submissions for content for the three GDC Europe Summits: the Social Games Summit, Smartphone & Tablet Games Summit and Independent Games Summit, all of which were introduced in 2011 and will be held concurrently with the main conference.

The conference is now in its fourth year, and will take place Monday through Wednesday, August 13-15, 2012 at the Cologne Congress-Centrum Ost in Cologne, Germany, just before the before the major European gamescom trade fair.

By once again pairing up with gamescom, GDC Europe can offer content to address the development community at a central location in the heart of Europe, and reach the critical mass of the European games sector.

GDC Vault adds free GDC 2012 videos featuring Meier, metrics, and more

Following the debut of numerous GDC 2012 videos earlier this month, the GDC Vault service has debuted a trio of free video lectures from last March's show, featuring talks from the legendary Civilization creator Sid Meier, iWin VP Laralyn McWilliams on the importance of metrics, and White House analyst Constance Steinkuehler Squire.

These free videos join a host of other free and notable lectures already available on GDC Vault, including the recent release of classic game postmortems (Gauntlet, Harvest Moon and more) and track keynotes (from Blizzard, Plants Vs. Zombies creator George Fan, and more) from GDC 2012.

The following lectures provide a varied sample of the show's informative and inspiring content, covering in-depth design philosophies, tricks for data analysis, and even how the government is impacting games as a medium.

Here are the newest free videos currently available on GDC Vault:

- In Sid Meier's presentation, the acclaimed Civilization creator and Firaxis co-founder looks back at a statement he made at GDC in 1989, that "a game is a series of interesting decisions." Meier picks apart this statement, and explains how it applies to modern design, and why developers should keep it in mind when crafting their own titles. Along the way, he provides some useful tips on making a player's decisions more interesting. [GDC Vault free video]

- Elsewhere, iWin lead and former Free Realms creative director Laralyn McWilliams explains why metrics should play a role in nearly all forms of game design. That's not to say that metrics should drive a game's content and development, as it's the designer's job to guide how everything comes together. Rather, McWilliams argues that metrics can serve as an essential tool in understanding a product or its audience, thereby allowing studios to make decisions with more confidence. [GDC Vault free video]

- The final free video lecture comes from Constance Steinkuehler Squire, a senior analyst for the U.S. President's White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. During this lecture, she details the numerous ways in which the White House hopes to use video games as a means of addressing national challenges. Games can help inform and encourage the national public, and this presentation details how the industry and the federal government to bring these initiatives into fruition. [GDC Vault free video]

GDC Europe reminds on Summit submissions, reveals extended deadline

Organizers of the upcoming Games Developers Conference Europe have extended the submissions deadline by one week to April 23, and are currently seeking additional content for the Social Games and Smartphone & Tablet Games Summits.

When GDC Europe returns to Cologne, Germany on August 13-15, these Summits will once again showcase the insight held by the best and brightest developers in the social and mobile spaces. Show organizers hope to make these Summits better than ever, and are especially looking for 25 and 50 minute talks from European and global developers in these fields.

Last year's Social & Smartphone/Tablet Summits at GDC Europe were particularly well received, and featured lectures, panels, and roundtables from some of the most influential social and mobile developers in the business.

Over in the Social Games Summit for example, Playfish studio director Jeferson Valadares (The Sims Social) gave an in-depth look at metric-driven design, outlining how to balance intuition and raw data.

Elsewhere, Digital Chocolate's Rob Unsworth reflected on the development of his studio's popular social game Zombie Lane -- this lecture, like numerous others from the show, is available as a free streaming video on GDC Vault.

In addition, the Smartphone & Tablet Games Summit featured notable talks from Fishlabs Entertainment's Marc Hehmeyer on bringing Galaxy on Fire 2 to Android, and Exozet Games' head of mobile development Matthias Hellmund on making mobile versions of popular board games like Settlers of Catan and Carcassone.

GDC Europe also featured numerous keynotes covering the social and mobile realm, as Wooga CEO Jens Begemann offered his thoughts on the appeal of social gaming [free GDC Vault video], Ultima creator Richard Garriott charted the industry's social future, and Epic president Mike Capps revealed the origin of the Chair-developed mobile hit Infinity Blade.

GDC Europe reminds on Indie Games Summit submissions for 2012 show

Organizers of the upcoming Games Developers Conference Europe are reminding prospective speakers that the submission deadline for presentations is Monday, April 16, and the show is currently seeking additional content for the growing Independent Games Summit.

This popular GDC Summit, a staple of the San Francisco event since 2007, first debuted at GDC Europe in 2011. When the show returns to Cologne, Germany on August 13-15, organizers expect the Summit to debut more notable content featuring the best and brightest of indie game development, and are especially looking for 25 minute and 50 minute talks from European and global indies.

Last year's successful Independent Games Summit at GDC Europe covered a wide swath of games, developers, disciplines, and issues, and featured talks from some of the most influential names in the indie game community.

For instance, the Summit featured an inspiring presentation from Independent Games Festival chairman Brandon Boyer on the importance of supporting indies.

There were also design-focused talks from prominent indie developers like Frictional Games studio head Thomas Grip (Amnesia: The Dark Descent) - whose acclaimed talk is streamable for free on GDC Vault as well.

In addition, Douglas Wilson, the creative mind behind B.U.T.T.O.N. and Johann Sebastian Joust (pictured), discussed the implications of breaking conventional gameplay tropes [GDC Vault link], German indie devs outlined the possibilities of public funding, and Tale of Tales' Michael Samyn (The Path) explained why indie devs might save the European games industry.

GDC Online opens call for submissions, debuts new advisors, summits

Organizers of the 10th annual GDC Online have announced that the call for submissions for this October's show is now open through midnight PT on May 2. As in previous years, the show is looking to coordinate lectures, panels, tutorials, and roundtables that cover pressing topics relating to online game creation and beyond.

GDC Online, which will take place October 9-11, 2012 at the Austin Convention Center in Austin, TX, focuses on development of connected games, including social network titles, free-to-play web games, kid-friendly online titles, and large-scale MMOs.

Submissions should address the most pertinent development challenges for online and connected games with submissions related to the following tracks: Business & Marketing, Design, Customer Experience, Production and Programming.

In addition, GDC Online welcomes new members to its advisory board this year. Bill Dalton, technical director at Zenimax Online, community expert Valerie Massey, iWin vice president Laralyn McWilliams and Zynga principal software engineer Robert Zubek will all join the event's board for 2012.

The call for submissions is also open for the standalone summits at GDC Online 2012, which this year includes the return of the ever-popular Game Narrative Summit and the Smartphone & Tablet Games Summit, alongside two new summits: the Game Dev Start-Up Summit and the Gamification Day.

The new Game Dev Start-Up Summit presents a comprehensive step-by-step look at the issues, challenges, and realities of a new game studio as it forms and gets off the ground. The growth of social, online, free to play, and other niches and genres have created unprecedented opportunity for entrepreneurs. This one-day program will identify the challenges and arm attendees with knowledge that can, together with creativity and passion, help new ventures succeed.

Attorney Jim Charne will serve as the advisor for the Game Dev Start-Up Summit. Charne has provided legal representation for clients in all phases of the computer software and video game industry since the mid-1980s, and has been chair of the Legal and Business tutorial at the Game Developers Conference since 1998.

The new Gamification Day at GDC Online will discuss the debatable and sometimes problematic process of building game-like incentives into non-game applications, to address issues like productivity, health, marketing, and customer engagement. The day-long program will bring fresh discussions about the integration points between games and technology and highlight inspired, successful case studies from today's forward-thinking businesses.

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