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Gardens of Time, Google, Mad God sessions added to GDC 2012's Social & Online Games Summit

This week, organizers of the 2012 Game Developers Conference continue their regular series of updates by announcing new sessions for the show's Social & Online Games Summit, with talks covering Playdom's popular Gardens of Time, the Flash MMO Realm of the Mad God, and Google's latest in Open Web tech.

These talks join a number of other notable sessions for the Social & Online Games Summit, all of which will offer unique and in-depth insight into the ever-changing realms of Facebook gaming, browser development, traditional MMOs, casual games, and beyond.

All eight of GDC 2012's specialized Summits will take place during the first two days of the show -- from Monday, March 5 through Tuesday, March 6 a the Moscone Center in San Francisco.

Those interested in checking out the content in these Summits can do so by registering for an All-Access or Summits & Tutorials Pass on the official GDC website (a specialized Independent Games Summit Pass is also available).

The following is a selection of the latest talks to be added to GDC 2012's Social & Online Games Summit:

- Playdom's extremely successful Gardens of Time helped pioneer the hidden object genre on Facebook, and in "Gardens of Time: Design Problem Solving," creative director Eric Todd will examine how this influential game took shape. Throughout the session, Todd will look back on the game's conception and development, detailing the problem-solving lessons he gleaned from designing, launching, and operating Facebook's first major hidden object game.

- Elsewhere, Spry Fox CEO David Edery will outline how the Flash-based MMO Realm of the Mad God (developed in partnership with Wild Shadow Studios) found surprising success despite breaking some well-established tenets of online game design. The talk, "Realm of the Counter-Intuitive God," will look at the game's numerous eccentricities, from its bullet-hell combat to its strict permadeath mechanic, to examine what worked, what didn't, and how these choices affected the game's bottom line.

- Finally, Google software engineer Vincent Scheib will host "The Bleeding Edge of Open Web Tech," picking apart the latest developments in the world of browser-based games. During his presentation, Scheib will focus primarily on client side web technologies, including Web Sockets, WebGL, Mouse Lock, Web Audio API, and more.

Epic's Bleszinski, Monaco's Schatz to host GDC, IGF Awards

Epic Games' Cliff Bleszinski (pictured), one of the key visionaries behind the Unreal and Gears of War games, will take the stage during the 2012 Game Developers Conference to host the 12th annual Game Developers Choice Awards.
In addition, Pocketwatch Games' Andy Schatz, creator of 2010 Independent Games Festival Grand Prize winner Monaco will return for his fourth stint as host of the Independent Games Festival awards, now celebrating their 14th edition.
The two award ceremonies will take place at 6:30 PM on the evening of Wednesday, March 7th during GDC 2012 in San Francisco. For the third consecutive year, enthusiast video game site GameSpot will exclusively live stream both award shows via its official site, YouTube, and other streaming channels.
Once again, the Independent Games Festival will return to GDC to encourage the rise of independent game development and to recognize the best independent game titles. The 12th annual Game Developers Choice Awards recognizes the creativity, artistry and technical genius of leading industry professionals and games released in 2011.
As design director at Epic Games, Cliff Bleszinski has been a key visionary behind the award-winning, multimillion-selling Unreal series, as well as Gears of War, which has become a billion dollar franchise. The series' original title received top honors at the 2007 Game Developers Choice Awards, and was crowned the winner of the Best Game, Best Technology and Best Visual Arts categories.

GDC 2012 details new Expo Floor, Career Pavilion exhibitors

As part of a continuing series of updates, organizers of the 2012 Game Developers Conference have debuted new details about over 170 companies now exhibiting during the March show's Expo Floor, Career Pavilion, and the brand-new GDC Play showcase.

These three major sections will receive their own standalone exhibit areas at the San Francisco based show, and will offer attendees a chance to check out exciting new tools and products, network with the industry's top professionals -- and even discover the latest games from some of the industry's up and coming developers.

This year, the GDC Expo Floor (floor plan, see Page 2) -- open from Wednesday, March 7th to Friday, March 9th -- will once again host expansive booths from major companies such as Nintendo, Sony, Intel, Google, Nvidia, Gaikai, Crytek, Unity, and many more.

Elsewhere in the main Moscone North hall, the still being added-to GDC Expo will feature companies such as Tapjoy, Adult Swim Games, 6Waves, Sony Ericsson, BigPoint and PayPal, as well as schools such as DigiPen and the Academy of Art, all of which represent other essential facets of the games industry.

The ever-popular Independent Games Festival Pavilion will once again be a major element of the GDC Expo floor, showcasing all of the professional and student finalists for the 14th annual Independent Games Festival.

In addition, a number of specialized Government Pavilions will pepper the hall, providing spaces to show off the latest and greatest tool companies and game makers from a given area. Countries and regions hosting Pavilions this year include Germany, Korea, Nova Scotia, Belgium, Georgia, Scotland, and many more.

Elsewhere, in its own dedicated hall in Moscone West, the GDC Career Pavilion (floor plan, see Page 1) will give aspiring and professional developers a venue to talk and network with some of the most influential companies from throughout the industry. Major firms already confirmed include AAA companies including Insomniac, WB Games, Blizzard, Sony, Ubisoft, and Activision, as well as top online game companies such as Crowdstar, Riot, Nexon, Tencent, and more.

2012 Independent Games Festival announces Student Showcase winners

The Independent Games Festival has announced the eight Student Showcase winners for the fourteenth annual presentation of its prestigious awards, celebrating the brightest and most innovative creations to come out of universities and games programs from around the world in the past year.

This year's showcase of top student talent includes the lithograph-sketched 2D logic puzzler The Bridge, from Case Western Reserve University, Art Institute of Phoenix's magic-moth platformer Dust, and DigiPen Institute of Technology's part-psychological-evaluator, part-boot-camp-instructor, possibly-part-malware action game Nous.

In total, this year's Student Competition took in nearly 300 game entries across all platforms -- PC, console and mobile -- from a wide diversity of the world's most prestigious universities and games programs making the Student IGF one of the world's largest showcases of student talent.

All of the Student Showcase winners announced today will be playable on the Expo show floor at the 26th Game Developers Conference, to be held in San Francisco starting March 5th, 2012. Each team will receive a $500 prize for being selected into the Showcase, and are finalists for an additional $3,000 prize for Best Student Game, to be revealed during the Independent Games Festival Awards on March 7th.

The full list of Student Showcase winners for the 2012 Independent Games Festival, along with 'honorable mentions' to those top-quality games that didn't quite make it to finalist status, are as follows:

The Bridge (Case Western Reserve University)
Dust (Art Institute of Phoenix)
The Floor Is Jelly (Kansas City Art Institute)
Nous (DigiPen Institute of Technology)
One and One Story (Liceo Scientifico G.B. Morgagni)
Pixi (DigiPen Institute of Technology - Singapore)
The Snowfield (Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab)
Way (Carnegie Mellon University, Entertainment Technology Center)

Honorable mentions: Be Good (DigiPen Institute of Technology); Lilith's Pet (University of Kassel); Nitronic Rush (DigiPen Institute of Technology); Once Upon A Spacetime (RMIT); Tink (Mediadesign Highschool of Applied Sciences)

Sworcery, PopCap, Zynga/ArenaNet talks added to GDC 2012 Summits

With the 2012 Game Developers Conference quickly gaining momentum, the show's organizers have chosen to showcase the show's newest and most notable Summit talks, including a behind the scenes look at Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP, a PopCap lecture on fostering online communities, and Zynga and ArenaNet on online game AI.

These talks join an already robust lineup for the show's eight specialized Summits, which cover emerging or otherwise influential aspects of the game industry, ranging from AI, Social & Online Games, to Independent Games and beyond.

The Summits will take place during the first two days of GDC 2012 -- from Monday, March 5 through Tuesday, March 6 a the Moscone Center in San Francisco.

Those interested in checking out all of their content can do so by registering for an All-Access or Summits and Tutorials Pass on the official GDC website (a specialized Independent Games Summit Pass is also available).

The following is a selection of the latest notable sessions to be added to the GDC 2012 Summits:

- In the Independent Games Summit, Capy co-founder and president Nathan Vella will take a moment to look back at one of 2011's most unusual, yet captivating mobile games: Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP. His talk, "Perhaps a Time of Miracles Was at Hand: The Business & Development of #Sworcery," will dive into creative and business-focused risks that helped the game find both critical and financial success.

- Over in the Social & Online Games Summit, PopCap's customer engagement lead, Stephanie Bayer, will host a talk dubbed "Community Commodity." This session will explain that while it's relatively easy to attract players to a new online game, developers need to be very careful with how they treat the players they have. Bayer will outline how PopCap creates a thriving social ecosystem for its games on all platforms, encouraging even casual players to stick with these titles long-term.

GDC 2012 debuts notable new Production, Business Track talks

In this latest update for the 2012 Game Developers Conference, the show's organizers have debuted new and notable talks within the Production and Business, Marketing, & Management tracks, detailing new sessions on Words With Friends, frustration management at IO Interactive, The Witcher 2, and the Indie Summer Uprising.

The Production and Business, Marketing, & Management tracks are but two of the seven full-featured tracks at the upcoming San Francisco show, covering the industry's most important management trends and its emerging business strategies, respectively.

The following are the latest sessions to be highlighted for these two Main Conference tracks, taking place on the Wednesday to Friday, March 7th-9th, of GDC 2012:


- In "Words With Friends: Building and Growing a Game on the Top of the Charts," Zynga With Friends CTO Vijay Thakkar will discuss how the studio's popular word-scramble game grew from a modest, small scale title into one of the top juggernauts of mobile gaming.

Thakkar will further detail the technical challenges developers can expect to face when managing any project that grows to encompass multi-platform, or even cross-team development.

- Elsewhere, Square Enix and IO Interactive's user research manager, Janus Rau Sorensen, will offer advice to help weed out overly frustrating bottlenecks from a game's design. Throughout his talk, "Arrrgghh!!! - Blending Quantitative and Qualitative Methods to Detect Player Frustration," Sorensen will delve into a computational model that helps identify patterns of frustration, helping developers quantitatively assess which parts of their game need extra attention. Sorensen's presentation was co-written by Dr. Alessandro Canossa of Information Technology University of Copenhagen.

In addition to these talks, GDC organizers have previously detailed Production track sessions covering BioWare's approach to product ownership with the Dragon Age franchise, and Naughty Dog's internal approach to remaining detail-oriented while still shipping on time.

Business, Marketing, & Management

- Using examples from the critically-acclaimed The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, CD Projekt RED joint CEO Marcin Iwinski will outline show studios can develop blockbuster franchises while operating on a modest budget. His talk, dubbed "Witcher 2: How CD Projekt RED Sold Over a Million Copies of its Exclusive PC Game And How You Can Too," will go over the conception, development, and eventual sales of the Witcher franchise, providing an inside look at the business of this fantasy role-playing series.

2012 Independent Games Festival Announces Main Competition Finalists

The Independent Games Festival (IGF) juries have announced their Main Competition finalists for the 14th annual presentation of its awards, celebrating the brightest creatives and the most influential game designs to come out of the independent community in the past year.
This year's finalists for the most prestigious indie game awards, each picked by a discipline-specific set of expert juries after recommendations from almost 200 top independent game experts, are led by multiple nominations for several standout titles.
These include thechineseroom's experimental first person game Dear Esther -- picking up nominations for Visual Art and Audio, as well as the Nuovo Award and Seumas McNally Grand Prize -- and Mossmouth's procedurally generated platformer Spelunky, which was nominated for the Design and Technical Awards on top of a nod for the Grand Prize.
Other multiple-nominated titles include Polytron's highly anticipated puzzle adventure Fez, Mode 7's turn based tactical shooter Frozen Synapse, and Die Gute Fabrik's digitally-enabled folk game Johann Sebastian Joust, all of which saw nominations for the Seumas McNally Grand Prize on top of nominations for Technical Excellence, Excellence in Design, and the Nuovo Award, respectively.
The Nuovo Award, once again honoring 'abstract, shortform, and unconventional game development' of all kinds, also saw some standout games in addition to some of the above titles among its eight nominees for the $5,000 prize. These include Bennett Foddy's fiendish climbing game GIRP, Daniel Benmergui's evocative title Storyteller, and Terry Cavanagh's two-player puzzle title At A Distance.
Now in its second year fully integrated into the IGF Main Competition, the Best Mobile Game Award saw nominations for Tiger Style's sci-fi action gardening game Waking Mars -- also up for an Excellence in Audio award -- Simogo's rhythm-stealth game Beat Sneak Bandit, Steph Thirion's constellation-crafter Faraway, Powerhead's color-puzzler ASYNC Corp, and Vlambeer's fishing/shooter Ridiculous Fishing.
All finalist games will be playable at the IGF Pavilion on the Game Developers Conference 2012 Expo floor from March 7-9, 2012, at San Francisco's Moscone Center, as part of a week of independent game-related content that also includes the Independent Games Summit (March 5th-6th), and the IGF Awards ceremony itself.
The IGF Awards, where this year's IGF winners will be unveiled, will be held on the evening of March 7, alongside the Game Developers Choice Awards. IGF award recipients will receive $60,000 of prizes in various categories, including the $30,000 Seumas McNally Grand Prize.
The full list of finalists for the 2012 Independent Games Festival, with jury-picked "honorable mentions" to those top-quality games that didn't quite make it to finalist status, is as follows:

GDC 2012 unveils Molyneux, Bleszinski, Meier 'Forgotten Tales' panel

This week, organizers of the 2012 Game Developers Conference have detailed three new Main Conference talks, including a panel of industry legends looking at lessons from the past, a lecture on the death of game consoles, and Bastion's Greg Kasavin on creating atmosphere in games.

The 26th GDC show will take place Monday, March 5 through Friday, March 9 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, and the Main Conference (March 7th-9th) offers six tracks covering key disciplines in the games industry, including Audio, Business, Marketing & Management, Game Design, Production, Programming, and Visual Arts.

The following lectures are the newest highlights for GDC 2012's Main Conference:

- In the Game Design track, notable developers and industry leaders such as Lionhead's Peter Molyneux, Doom creator John Romero, Epic's Cliff Bleszinski, and Firaxis' Sid Meier (Civilization) will host "Forgotten Tales Remembered: The Games that Inspired Leading Innovators", moderated by Director of the International Center for the History of Electronic Games, JP Dyson.

During this panel, the creators will take some time to look back on their careers and present the games that inspired them most, offering insight into the lessons we can still pull from these titles today. Along the way, the will examine how technological growth causes some design elements to lose their luster, while others will forever stand the test of time.

- Over in the Business, Marketing, & Management track, highly rated speaker Ben Cousins of Ngmoco Sweden (formerly general manager of EA's free-to-play-focused Battlefield Heroes home Easy Studios) will discuss the future and potential demise of the traditional video game console.

His lecture, "When the Consoles Die - What Comes Next?," will examine the ever-expanding range of game-enabled devices, detailing how these new platforms could threaten the existence of the console market as we know it, and how developers can prepare for this paradigm shift.

GDC 2012 details new AI Summit highlights

Organizers of the 2012 Game Developers Conference have debuted a trio of new talks in the show's Artificial Intelligence Summit, spanning games from Thief 4 through Double Fine's Happy Action Theater to Hitman: Absolution and beyond.

The talks are part of a new set of AI Summit announcements featuring a look at some esoteric AI techniques, some examples of animation-driven locomotion, and how developers are making virtual characters more socially engaging.

The GDC Summits will take place Monday, March 5 through Tuesday, March 6, at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, and will offer specialized looks into emerging or otherwise influential sectors of the games industry.

This year, GDC will feature a total of eight Summits, with topics including AI, Localization, Education, Independent Games, Smartphone & Tablet Games, and Social & Online Games -- new to the show this year are the Game IT Summit and Games for Change @ GDC.

The latest sessions to be added to the event's AI Summit, held on the Monday and Tuesday of the show, include the following:

- More often than not, we think of AI as a series of tools that help virtual characters take action. In "Off the Beaten Path: Non-Traditional Uses of AI," however, developers will explain how they leverage AI in some unusual, yet beneficial ways.

During this session, Michael Robbins of Gas Powered Games will explain how he used neural networks to drive tactical decision making in Supreme Commander 2, Double Fine's Chris Jurney will detail some vision-based tricks for the studio's Kinect-based Happy Action Theater (pictured), and Havok's Ben Sunshine-Hill will outline how AI can help adjust level of detail to best suit a player's needs.

- With games becoming more and more visually detailed, even the simplest animations need to become more nuanced and complex. "Animation Driven Locomotion for Smoother Navigation" will help address this issue by detailing how developers can use animation as a tool for more realistic pathfinding.

Using examples from games like Hitman: Absolution, Thief 4, and Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, IO Interactive's Bobby Anguelov, Eidos Montreal's Gabriel Leblanc, and Big Huge Games' Shawn Harris will show off methods for using animation to improve the way game characters navigate virtual space.

Portal 2, Skyrim, Bastion lead finalists for 12th annual Game Developers Choice Awards

Organizers have revealed the finalists for the 12th annual Game Developers Choice Awards, the leading peer-based video game industry event celebrating the industry's top games and developers.

Nominations this year are led by three studios and their games, each of which received five Choice Award nods, including Bethesda Game Studios' long awaited open-world fantasy RPG The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, and Valve's cunning, charming sci-fi puzzle action title Portal 2.

Also nominated five times was newcomer Supergiant Games and its acclaimed downloadable action RPG Bastion, which saw nominations in four categories, plus one for the studio itself, for Best Debut.

Both Portal 2 and Skyrim were nominated for Game Of The Year as one of their nods. The other Game Of The Year nominees are Rocksteady Studios's dark superhero game sequel Batman: Arkham City, From Software's immersive hardcore RPG Dark Souls, and Eidos Montreal's acclaimed franchise update Deus Ex: Human Revolution, also all multiple award-nominated.

Other titles with multiple nominations include Naughty Dog's action adventure Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception, and Team Bondi's detective title L.A. Noire. A diverse set of overall nominees include titles with digital-physical crossover (Toys for Bob's Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure - for Innovation), free-to-play elements to the fore (NimbleBit's Tiny Tower - for Best Handheld/Mobile Game), and even no visual display at all (Die Gute Fabrik's Johann Sebastian Joust - for Innovation).

Overall, the Game Developers Choice Awards are open to any video game, with no restrictions or payment for game submission, with open nominations from a plethora of game professionals helping to choose this year's finalists. Winners will now be selected by the Game Developers Choice Awards-specific International Choice Awards Network (ICAN), which is an invitation-only group comprised of 500 leading game creators from all parts of the video game industry.

GDC 2012 debuts Sweeney, Notch, Mechner 'Return of Indie' panel

This week, Game Developers Conference 2012 has announced three new Main Conference talks, featuring a panel on the indie renaissance, a look at emerging technology trends, and a breakdown of the tech pipeline for Assassin's Creed.

The 26th GDC show will take place Monday, March 5 through Friday, March 9 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, and the Main Conference (March 7th-9th) offers six tracks covering key disciplines in the games industry, including Audio, Business, Marketing & Management, Game Design, Production, Programming, and Visual Arts.

The following lectures are the newest highlights for GDC 2012's Main Conference:

- The Business, Marketing & Management track is revealing a signature panel, "Back to the Garage: The Return of Indie Development," featuring industry notables including Epic founder Tim Sweeney, Prince of Persia creator Jordan Mechner, Canabalt developer Adam Saltsman, Mojang's Markus "Notch" Persson, with moderator, UCSC's associate director of the Center for Games and Playable Media, Jane Pinckard.

Drawing from their varied and prolific careers in the game industry, these panelists will examine the explosive growth of small-scale and indie game development. Each of them will use their prodigious experience to discuss key indie opportunities and risks, "while offering advice on how to make the most of digital distribution, new platforms, and much more."

- Elsewhere, in a key talk in the show's Programming track, Square Enix's global CTO Julien Merceron will host "Designing a Technology Strategy for a Large Publisher." Merceron, drawing from his experience working at Ubisoft, Eidos, and now Square Enix, will explain how developers need to tailor their technology to support the varying needs, strengths, and weaknesses of major publishers.

Merceron, who oversees technology across the entire merged entity of Square Enix and Eidos, including franchises from Final Fantasy through Tomb Raider and Deus Ex, will outline how a company's technology alters its approach to internal development, and will point to emerging trends developers should be aware of.

GDC 2012 adds HTML5, physics, Scrum, usability tutorials

Organizers of Game Developers Conference 2012 have debuted the latest batch of tutorials for the March event in San Francisco, featuring full-day sessions on HTML5, physics simulation, Scrum, and game usability.

These first-come first-served tutorials will take place alongside the GDC Summits on Monday, March 5th and Tuesday, March 6th -- the first two days of the five-day San Francisco-based event.

The tutorials will be open to those with an All-Access Pass or Summits & Tutorials Pass who select the tutorial during the registration process, and those interested in learning more about either of these options can do so at the official GDC website's passes page.

The newly-announced tutorials for Game Developers Conference 2012, part of a growing selection, include the following:

- In the in-depth "HTML5 Tutorial Day," Google software developer Rachel Blum and Bocoup programmer Darius Kazemi will share their experience and offer advice on creating games in HTML5. The full-day tutorial will open with a detailed overview on what game developers need to know about HTML5, followed by a series of lectures on art APIs, WebGL programming, brief postmortems of HTML5 games, and much more.

This session is targeted primarily at experienced game programmers, and will ensure that even developers with no prior knowledge of HTML5 will leave with a solid understanding of what it takes to build games for the web.

- Physics simulation has become an increasingly important aspect of game development, and the "Physics for Games Programmers" tutorial will return to GDC to focus on the tools and techniques developers should know when implementing physics in their games. A panel of speakers from Nvidia, AMD, Sony, Blizzard, and more will go over the various aspects of the simulation pipeline and demonstrate how common problems can be solved with standard mathematics and engineering know-how.

- Industry veteran and consultant Clinton Keith will host the "Scrum Essentials Tutorial," providing an in-depth overview of how Scrum works and what it means for game development. Keith has been actively employing Scrum development for more than eight years, and will leverage this experience to show how it can be used in studios of all sizes and for any type of game.

GDC 2012 Adds Valve, Double Fine, Arkham City Sessions

This week, GDC 2012 has revealed three notable Main Conference sessions, featuring Valve on dynamic dialog systems, Double Fine on kid-friendly design, and Rocksteady on the soundtrack for Batman: Arkham City.

The 26th GDC show will take place Monday, March 5 through Friday, March 9 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, and the Main Conference (March 7th-9th) offers six tracks covering key disciplines in the games industry, including Audio, Business, Marketing & Management, Game Design, Production, Programming, and Visual Arts.

The following lectures are the newest highlights for GDC 2012's Main Conference:

- In the Programming track, Valve's Elan Ruskin will break down the process the studio uses to create dynamic and responsive dialog systems in games like Left 4 Dead. The talk, dubbed, "AI-driven Dynamic Dialog through Fuzzy Pattern Matching. Empower Your Writers!", will delve into the mechanisms used to track thousands of possible scenarios and ensure that in-game characters always react appropriately.

Ruskin will also detail how this system allows writers to easily edit and add new lines of dialog without putting a heavy burden on the studio's programmers.

- Over in the Design track, Double Fine project lead Nathan Martz will host "Fun for Everyone: Lessons in Accessible Design from Sesame Street: Once Upon A Monster." Looking back on the studio's recent Kinect-based children's game, Martz will explore how to best introduce mechanics and teach players about a game, even if it's the first one they've ever played.

- Finally, the Audio track will feature a Rocksteady-led lecture on composing the score for the studio's highly-acclaimed Batman sequel. In the talk, "Composition Process in Batman: Arkham City," audio director and composer Nick Arundel will offer some tips for composing a score that remains cohesive and fresh, even over the course of a 20 hour game. In addition, Arundel will look beyond Arkham City to examine whether formal musical development has a place within the game industry at large.

In addition to the above sessions, GDC organizers recently added new Main Conference talks covering the visual effects in Gears of War 3, a breakdown of our psychological need to play, and Ninja Theory's approach to motion capture. Show organizers have also announced new Summit talks featuring a look at the localization of StarCraft II, a talk from Triple Town creator Daniel Cook, and a series of mini AI lectures.

GDC 2012 Debuts 200+ Sessions, Including Gears 3, Ninja Theory Talks

Game Developers Conference 2012 organizers have debuted 200+ GDC sessions in its Schedule Builder, with new highlights featuring a behind the scenes look at Gears of War 3, a breakdown of our psychological need to play, and Ninja Theory's approach to motion capture.

The 26th GDC show will take place Monday, March 5 through Friday, March 9 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, and the Main Conference (March 7th-9th) offers six tracks covering key disciplines in the games industry, including Audio, Business, Marketing & Management, Game Design, Production, Programming, and Visual Arts.

The following lectures are the newest highlights for GDC 2012's Main Conference:

- In the Visual Arts track, Epic Games artist Francois Antoine will detail how a very small art team managed to create all of the effects for the studio's big-budget shooter, Gears of War 3 (pictured).

The talk, dubbed, "Production Culture: How Two and a Half Artists Completed the FX for Gears of War 3," will provide an inside look at Epic's approach to game production, exploring how it affects nearly all elements of the game development process, from hiring, to tool development and beyond.

- In the Game Design track, the always enthusiastic Jason VandenBerghe (creative director at Ubisoft on Far Cry 3) will host "The 5 Domains of Play: Applying Psychology's Big 5 Motivation Domains to Games."

Drawing from research and scientific evidence, VandenBerghe will examine the five psychological traits linked to motivation, and explore the ways developers can use this information to improve their approach to game design, playtesting, and reaching out to new audiences.

- In this week's second Visual Arts lecture highlight, Ninja Theory chief creative officer Tameem Antoniades will pick apart the motion capture process his studio uses to create believable in-game cinematics in titles like Enslaved and the upcoming Devil May Cry.

The talk, "Performance Capture: A Creative Primer," will detail the procedure from beginning to end, offering tips on how to best work with mocap actors, direct virtual scenes, and more.

GDC 2012 Adds StarCraft II, AI Postmortem, Triple Town Creator Sessions

GDC 2012 organizers have announced a trio of new Summit talks for the upcoming show, examining the localization of StarCraft II, new online game genres, and the AI in titles like Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, The Darkness II, and Skulls of the Shogun.

The GDC Summits will take place Monday, March 5 through Tuesday, March 6, at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, and will offer specialized looks into emerging or otherwise influential sectors of the games industry.

The latest sessions and lectures to be featured at the GDC 2012 Summits include the following:

- As a lead talk in the Localization Summit, Blizzard's senior manager of platform services, William Barnes, will host "StarCraft II - Carte Blanche Localization," offering a detailed overview of how Blizzard brought its newest RTS to a global audience.

Barnes will point to a number of anecdotes from "the amazing roller coaster ride that was the localization of StarCraft II" (pictured) to explain why comprehensive localization went a long way toward helping the game achieve worldwide success.

- Over in the packed multi-track Social & Online Games Summit, Triple Town co-creator Daniel Cook of Panda Poet developer Spry Fox will provocatively detail what it takes to carve out a new genre with an online game.

The talk, dubbed "Create New Genres (and Stop Wasting Your Life in the Clone Factories)," will encourage developers to seek out new and unexplored realms of persistent online game design, while simultaneously offering advice to protect new ideas from copycats and 'fast followers'.

- Finally, the Artificial Intelligence (AI) Summit has announced its first sessions, starting with "AI Postmortems: Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, The Darkness II and Skulls of the Shogun" -- featuring a trio of industry veterans as they reflect on the challenges and lessons learned during the development of three soon-to-be-released games.

Here, 38 Studios' Michael Dawe, Digital Extremes' Daniel Brewer, and Haunted Temple's Borut Pfeifer will each pick apart their respective titles, and offer insight on some modern challenges AI programmers should be aware of.

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