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Limbo, Red Dead, Mass Effect 2 Lead 11th Annual Choice Awards Nominees

Organizers have revealed the finalists for the 11th annual Game Developers Choice Awards, the leading peer-based video game industry event celebrating the industry's top games and developers.

Nominations for games released in 2010 are led by indie developer Playdead's Xbox Live Arcade hit Limbo. The evocative monochrome puzzle platformer, which was winner of last year's Independent Game Festival Awards for Visual Art and Technical Excellence, received seven Choice Awards nominations in all, including one for Game of the Year.

The indie stand-out is closely followed by two other Game of the Year nominees, Rockstar San Diego's western-themed open-world adventure game, Red Dead Redemption, with six nominations in total, and BioWare's emotionally-charged science fiction adventure Mass Effect 2, with five nominations.

Treyarch's Call of Duty: Black Ops and Ubisoft Montreal's Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood also received multiple nominations, including one each for Game of the Year.

And, showcasing the diversity of the 'for developers, by developers' awards, other retail and digital games receiving multiple nominations include Double Fine's Costume Quest, SCE Santa Monica's God of War III¸ Quantic Dream's Heavy Rain, Uber Entertainment's Monday Night Combat and Team Meat's Super Meat Boy.

Swedish developer Mojang's Minecraft was also a multiple nominee, receiving three Game Developers Choice nominations, particularly notable because of a concurrent-year first: the game is also a finalist for this year's Independent Games Festival, where it also received three nominations.

Nintendo President Satoru Iwata To Keynote GDC 2011

Organizers have revealed that Satoru Iwata, President of Nintendo, will keynote the 2011 Game Developers Conference, held this March in San Francisco.

Coinciding with the 25th iteration of GDC, the world's largest professionals only video game event for learning, networking, and inspiration, Nintendo's Iwata will present a major keynote around this milestone entitled "Video Games Turn 25: A Historical Perspective and Vision for the Future."

As a leading player during the last 25 years of the modern video gaming era, Nintendo has a unique perspective on what makes gamers grin, what defines the term 'gamer' and what is essential to ensuring industry growth. In this keynote address, Mr. Iwata will talk not only about how video gaming has evolved, but also his views on where we go from here.

A longtime friend of the GDC, Mr. Iwata first appeared on the keynote stage of the Game Developers Conference in 2005, where he gave developers the first information about the technology being used for the console then codenamed "Revolution" -- which has since become known as the Wii system; in 2006 where he spoke about "disrupting development," and introduced the Western development community to philosophies on engaging new players; and in 2009, where he debuted a new game in The Legend of Zelda franchise and a host of other notable insights.

"We are honored and pleased to welcome Mr. Iwata back to the keynote stage for our 25th conference," said Meggan Scavio, GDC director. "Nintendo continues to innovate and captivate developers and gamers alike, and we're looking forward to their unique insights into both the history and future of the game business."

GDC 2011 Details 'SGS Gamification Day' Debate, Lectures

GDC 2011 organizers are targeting 'gamification' for a one-day Serious Games Summit segment this March, including a 'passionate debate' on the utility of the subject with Jesse Schell, Jane McGonigal and more.

The second day of the Serious Games Summit, taking place on March 1st during Game Developers Conference 2011 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, will specifically address the emerging trend with both skepticism and insight.

As the advisors explain in the description, the day "will be devoted to the rising trend of 'gamification' - a debatable term and sometimes questionable process of building game-like incentives into non-game applications, to address issues like productivity, health, marketing, and so forth."

The centerpiece of the day will be 'The Great Gamification Debate!', in which some of the leading thinkers in the space, including Schell Games' Jesse Schell, the Institute For The Future's Jane McGonigal, Playmatics' Margaret Wallace, Digitalmill's Ben Sawyer and The Inspiracy's Noah Falstein, debate the contentious subject.

As noted: "[Such] strong opinions exist on both sides of the pro/con
debate that it seems suitable to have an actual honest debate over the
merits, incarnations, and future of gamification", featuring "a who's
who of passionate GDC regulars and gamification developers who've
deployed actual solutions into the field" in an intriguing debate

2011 Independent Games Festival Announces Student Showcase Winners

The Independent Games Festival has announced the eight Student Showcase winners for the thirteenth 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 include slapstick physical comedy adventure Octodad, from DePaul University's Team DGE2, University of Montreal student Richard E. Flanagan's boldly styled Myst-like adventure Fract, and Tiny and Big, an ambitious, comic-book styled 3D action platformer from Germany's School of Arts and Design Kassel.

In total, this year's Student Competition took in more than 280 game entries across all platforms -- PC, console and mobile -- from a wide diversity of the world's most prestigious universities and games programs, a 47% increase from entrants in the 2010 Festival, 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 historic 25th Game Developers Conference, to be held in San Francisco starting February 28th, 2011. Each team will receive a $500 prize for being selected into the Showcase, and will are finalists for an additional $2,500 prize for Best Student Game, revealed during the Independent Games Festival Awards on March 2nd.

In conjunction with this announcement, IGF organizers are also revealing that this year's Independent Games Festival Awards at GDC will be hosted by Anthony Carboni. Carboni is host and producer of Bytejacker, the acclaimed indie and downloadable game video show and website, and one of the most enthusiastic and devoted followers of the independent game scene.

The full list of Student Showcase winners for the 2011 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 'GDC 25' Chronicles: A Quake Aftershock

[Continuing his 'GDC 25' archival research ahead of the 25th Game Developers Conference in San Francisco this February/March, official GDC historian Jason Scott goes back to CGDC 1996 for a classic keynote speech on id's Quake from Mike Abrash.]
The videos of Game Developers Conference and CGDC speeches in the boxes mailed to me from headquarters go back to 1996, with a few in 1997, more in 1998, and then a lot more after the turn of the century.
The later ones are on BetaSP and other high-end format tapes, while the pre-2000 recordings tend to be on VHS (or the previously revealed audio tapes).
There's something about those VHS tapes that give them a sense of authority, that we're looking in on a window of a time lost, even though it's barely a decade ago.
The videos are especially interesting considering the huge leaps in computing power since then, where the people in the video talk about boundaries and pushing limits that barely register on our modern radar.
But if you want someone talking about pushing boundaries in the most intense fashion, then you can't do much better than a CGDC 1996 keynote talk from Michael Abrash, formerly of id Software.
Here's some screengrabs from the VHS that we retrieved from the GDC archives:



In a sign of id Software and John Carmack's open policy, Abrash presents this speech about internal coding methods of seminal first-person shooter Quake just after he left the company (and very soon after Quake was released).

GDC 2011 Adds Battlefield 3, Failure Workshop, Thief Talks

Organizers of the 2011 Game Developers Conference have debuted key new talks including Battlefield 3 tech talks, a fascinating 'failure workshop' and a reveal of the new Thief's generative music system.

As the overall session list for the February/March event further expands, organizers are specially highlighting new Main Conference session announcements released in the last few days.

These talks are part of the Main Conference, which takes place at the Moscone Center from Wednesday March 2nd to Friday March 4th, 2011 during the pre-eminent, San Francisco-based event, featuring discipline-specific Tracks dedicated to programming, design, art, audio, business and management, and production.

Some of the top new lectures added to the GDC roster include the following:

  • One high-profile talk is 'The Failure Workshop', featuring rapid-fire presentations from notables including PopCap's George Fan (Plants Vs. Zombies), 2D Boy's Kyle Gabler (World Of Goo), Stardock's Brad Wardell (Galactic Civilizations franchise).

The talks, which also feature Kyle Gray (Henry Hatsworth), Chris Hecker (SpyParty) and Matthew Wegner (Offroad Velociraptor Safari), feature "successful developers on their less-than-successful projects", as "the Failure Workshop focuses on the glorious failures we all have, and the successful games that emerged as a result."

GDC 2011 Education Summit Reveals Notable New Talks

GDC 2011 organizers have revealed notable GDC Education Summit talks for the February/March 2011 event, including prestigious speakers from USC, MIT, Parsons and more discussing the state of game education.

The revamped summit, taking place on February 28th and March 1st during Game Developers Conference 2011 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, will be a key new part of GDC for those involved in teaching aspects of game development.

The Summit will see educators exploring "experimental and inventive educational approaches that attendees can bring back to the classroom. It aims to bring scholars together with experienced professionals willing to learn, share their ideas and great achievements."

Advisors for the Summits include Facade co-creator Michael Mateas of the University Of California Santa Cruz, as well as the USC School of Cinematic Arts' Tracy Fullerton (Fl0w, The Night Journey) and noted game developer and professor Ian Schreiber.

A number of major talks have been revealed on the Summit homepage and the GDC Education Summit section of GDC's Schedule Builder. Highlights include the following:

- In 'Edu to Indie: Teaching Students Self-Reliance', USC faculty member Jeremy Gibson explores the lessons needed to "successfully prepare students for indie greatness from the perspectives of both students and faculty."

He'll be joined by Paul Bellezza of The Odd Gentlemen (The Adventures Of P.B. Winterbottom), who is one of several student teams from the University of Southern California such as Thatgamecompany who have founded notable indie game startups.

2011 Independent Games Festival Reveals Main Competition Finalists

The Independent Games Festival has announced the Main Competition finalists for the thirteenth annual presentation of its prestigious awards, celebrating the brightest and most influential creations to come out of the independent video game development community in the past year.

This year's finalists for the most prestigious indie game awards are led by multiple nominations for standout titles including Frictional Games' psychological horror game Amnesia: The Dark Descent and Mojang's acclaimed 3D worldbuilding sandbox title Minecraft, which received three nominations each.

Other multiple-nominated titles include QCF Design's short playtime 'dungeon crawl' adventure Desktop Dungeons, Messhof's two-player retro fencing game Nidhogg, which received 3 nominations including a Nuovo Award nod, and Supergiant Games' lush isometric adventure title Bastion.

In addition, with the Best Mobile Game award integrated into the IGF Main Competition, there was stiff competition across all categories from games on platforms including iPhone, Android, iPad and beyond, with Best Mobile Game finalists including Ratloop's unique 'line of sight' puzzler Helsing's Fire and former IGF Grand Prize winner Erik Svedang's 'minimalistic dueling game' for iPad, Shot Shot Shoot, as well as Mikengreg's popular App Store title Solipskier.

All of the finalists announced today will be playable on the Expo show floor at the historic 25th Game Developers Conference,
to be held in San Francisco starting February 28th, 2011. In addition,
nearly $50,000 of prizes in various categories, including the $20,000
Seumas McNally Grand Prize will be awarded to these games at the
Independent Games Festival Awards on the evening of March 2nd.

The almost 400 Main Competition entries
represents almost 30 percent more games than last year's record 306
titles, itself a 35 percent rise over the previous year. This emphasizes
the continued popularity and importance of the IGF, which has helped to
highlight and popularize the major independent games of the last
decade, from Darwinia and Braid through World Of Goo to Limbo and beyond.

The full list of finalists for the 2011 Independent Games Festival,
with jury-picked 'honorable mentions' to those top-quality games that
didn't quite make it to finalist status, are as follows:

GDC Vault Debuts Invitation-Only Beta For Individual Subscribers

The GDC Vault, which holds hundreds of streaming video, audio and slides-based presentations to the multiple Game Developers Conference yearly events, has opened Beta invitations to individuals for a yearly subscription.

Though it was available to All-Access GDC Pass holders and to group subscribers over the past few months -- and entire studio and school subscriptions are still available, a limited-time Beta offer for individuals is now in place.

For a limited initial period only, the invite-only GDC Vault individual subscription Beta will offer a year's access to hundreds of specially recorded videos of the top Game Developers Conference talks, for less than the price of a GDC Main Conference pass.

The free section of GDC Vault showcases just a fraction of the content recorded by GDC organizers, with Vault subscription-only audio recordings currently stretching back to GDC 2004, and subscriber-exclusive synced video, audio and slides starting during GDC 2009.

With the majority of the content from Game Developers Conference 2009 and every GDC event in 2010 to be recorded in video form, a total of nearly 400 hours of GDC talks are already available to Vault subscribers, allowing those who missed out on specific programming, design, business, art, or audio talks to catch up in full.

The 'GDC 25' Chronicles: We Have (IGF) Video

[Continuing his 'GDC 25' archival research ahead of the 25th Game Developers Conference in San Francisco next February, official GDC historian Jason Scott puts his first digitized video online -- a showreel of the first-ever Independent Games Festival finalists.]

As part of my contract as GDC's archivist and historian, I am tasked with digitizing audio and video from GDC's multi-faceted and multi-decade past. Audio has been getting all my attention, as it's pretty simple to do, and so dozens of talks will show up in the Vault. But video was always going to be the most difficult part... I just knew it would be, and I wasn't wrong.

First, the video is primarily on VHS tapes. Remember VHS tapes? They're nowhere near as popular anymore, and especially not for the kind of thing you connect to a computer and have it "just work".

There's also issues with getting the right video framing, the best method of recording, and also the whole "turning it into a digitized file" thing. It was, in other words, an excellent way to spend an entire Sunday.

(For the techs at home, I am using a LG DVD/VHS Combo I got at Best Buy (Model #RC897T) going through a Hauppauge! USB-Live2 video ingesting connection, to a Hauppauge! program called WinTV which has 4:2:2 sampling, into TS streams. Then I deinterlace and render out in Sony Vegas.)

So if I'm going to go through all this effort, the first video should probably be something reasonably fascinating, and so here's a screengrab of what I dug up (click to access it on GDC Vault):

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GDC 2011 Smartphone Summit Adds Infinity Blade, Google, Smule Talks

GDC 2011 organizers have revealed notable GDC Smartphone Summit talks for the February/March 2011 event, including an Infinity Blade postmortem and talks from Google and Smule (Magic Piano).

The brand new summit, taking place on February 28th and March 1st during Game Developers Conference 2011 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, will feature lectures from the top iOS and Android developers, and other smartphone game creators.

The Summit is intended to "share ideas, introduce best practices and discuss the future of gaming on established and emerging smartphone and related platforms, including the iPhone and iPad, Android OS phones and tablets, Blackberry and a cornucopia of similar handheld devices."

Advisors for the Summits include Tiger Style's David Kalina (Spider: The Secret Of Bryce Manor) and Korean mobile veteran Gamevil's U.S. president Kyu Lee (Baseball Superstars).

With a final set of lectures to be announced soon, a number of major talks have been revealed on the Summit homepage and the Smartphone Summit section of GDC's Schedule Builder. Highlights include the following:

- In a talk called 'Infinity Blade: How We Made a Hit, What We Learned, and Why You Can Do it Too!', Chair Entertainment co-founder Donald Mustard will discuss the design and implementation of the fastest-selling iOS game of all time.

The session from the Shadow Complex creators claims to "share the methodologies we have learned that are unique to the process of creating a critically and commercially successful mobile title", discussing "how to take the limitations of the platform and turn them to your advantage [and] how to quickly and successfully find the fun in your title."

2011 Independent Games Festival Reveals Nuovo Award Finalists

The Independent Games Festival (IGF), the prestigious GDC-held video game industry event highlighting and awarding the talents of independent game developers, has announced the finalists for the 2011 Nuovo Award, which honors "abstract, short-form, and unconventional game development."

Some of this year's finalists include unconventional party game Brutally Unfair Tactics Totally OK Now (B.U.T.T.O.N.), first-person dinner simulation title Dinner Date, Messhof's chunky 2-player fencing title Nidhogg, and zen-like tree simulation title Bohm.

The Nuovo Award, the top video game art prize, is announcing an increase to $5,000 for this year's award winner, thanks to the quality of this year's entries. The winner of the award will be revealed at the Independent Games Festival Awards on March 2, 2011 at the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco, during Game Developers Conference 2011. In addition, all Nuovo finalists will be playable in a special section of the IGF Pavilion on the GDC show floor from March 2nd to 4th.

Now in its third year, the Nuovo Award allows more esoteric art games from among the almost 400 IGF entries to compete on their own terms alongside longer-form indie titles, and has been newly expanded this year to include eight finalists.

The full list of this year's Nuovo Award finalists, with links to screenshots and videos of the titles on their official entry pages, is as follows:

- Bohm, created by Monobanda - ("Gives you control over the life of a tree. It's a game based on slow gameplay and the act of creation.")

- A House in California, created by Cardboard Computer - ("A surreal, narrative game about four characters who bring a house to life... with environments and activities drawn from a combination of memory, research, poetry, and fantasy.")

- Nidhogg, created by Messhof - ("A 2 player fencing game with football & platforming elements".)

- Dinner Date, created by Stout Games - ("You play as the subconsciousness of Julian Luxemburg, waiting for his date to arrive. You listen in on his thoughts while tapping the table, looking at the clock and eventually reluctantly starting to eat...")

- Loop Raccord, created by Nicolai Troshinsky - ("Manipulate a series of video clips in order to create... continuous movement.")

- The Cat and the Coup, created by Peter Brinson and Kurosh ValaNejad - ("A documentary game in which you play the cat of Dr. Mohammed Mossadegh, the first democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran.")

- Brutally Unfair Tactics Totally OK Now (B.U.T.T.O.N.), created by Copenhagen Game Collective - ("A one-button party game for 2-8 players. ... rather than let the computer carry out all the rules, the players are themselves responsible for enforcing (or not enforcing) the rules.")

- Hazard: The Journey Of Life, created by Demruth - ("A philosophical first person single player environmental puzzle game. The game presents no goals directly to the player, but they create goals for themselves based on what they know of the world.")

GDC 2011 Adds Biz, Production Talks From Sony, WB, CCP Veterans

Organizers of the 2011 Game Developers Conference have revealed Production and Business & Management Track talks spanning Sony, Warner Bros. and CCP veterans for the Main Conference at the 25th edition of the industry's leading digital entertainment event next March.

The Production and Business & Management Tracks take place from Wednesday March 2nd to Friday March 4th, 2011 during the pre-eminent, San Francisco-based event, alongside other discipline-specific Tracks dedicated to art, audio, programming and game design.

As the overall session list for the event further expands, and following notable Game Design/Programming Track and Art/Audio Track highlights, organizers are spotlighting these two final Main Conference tracks.

All of the above Track sessions are open to those with a Main Conference or All-Access Pass. Some of the top new sessions debuting in the Production and Business & Management Tracks are as follows:

Production Track

Newly revealed as a key GDC 2011 Production Track lecture, 'More Pirates on a Burning Ship and Other Leadership Challenges' sees WB Games Seattle GM and Microsoft veteran Laura Fryer discussing key game business learnings.

GDC China 2010 Sees Record Attendance, Show To Return In 2011

Now that 2010's Game Developers Conference China has concluded, organizers are revealing that the three-day event saw a record 3,300 attendees from China, Asia, and worldwide -- and will make its return to Shanghai in 2011.

GDC China 2010 hosted nearly 40 international speakers and over 50 exhibitors and sponsors for the December 5th-7th event, and also was the stage for the second annual Independent Games Festival China.

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