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GDC 2012 adds Epic, DeNA, Uncharted talks to programming track

The 2012 Game Developers Conference is about a month away, and the event's lineup is still rapidly growing. Today, show organizers have revealed a trio of new programming-focused talks, featuring Epic Games on data analysis, DeNA on server optimization, and Naughty Dog on the effects in Uncharted 3.

These talks fall within the show's Programming track, one of seven main tracks at the show's jam-packed Main Conference. Here, industry leaders will examine the newest challenges presented by next and current gen development, detailing strategies for working on consoles, mobile, the web, and beyond.

Like the rest of the Main Conference, the Programming track sessions will take place Wednesday, March 7 through Friday, March 9 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco.

Those interested in gaining access to all the notable sessions within the Main Conference can do so by registering for an All Access or Main Conference pass at the official GDC website.

Here are the newest talks to be featured in GDC 2012's Programming track:

- In "Gameplay Data Analysis: Asking the Right Questions," Epic Game's senior web developer Ian Thomas will provide an in-depth look at how the studio collects and analyzes data to inform and improve its development pipeline. Along the way, he will showcase examples from Gears of War 3 and Infinity Blade 2, demonstrating how Epic uses game data to manage scalability, make post-launch decisions, and more.

- Elsewhere, Yoshinori Matsunobu, principle infrastructure architect at Japanese mobile gaming giant DeNA, will host "Scaling and Stabilizing Large Server Side Infrastructure." Here, Matsunobu will pick apart the idiosyncrasies of managing and optimizing online game servers, offering insight on the latest technologies that can help developers improve server performance, streamline maintenance, reduce costs, and leverage cloud-based computing.

- Finally, Naughty Dog programmer Marshall Robin will detail the technologies and tools the team used to create the numerous particle effects in Uncharted 3. The talk, dubbed, "Effects Techniques Used in Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception," will showcase the studio's data-driven system and node based shader editor, offering a detailed overview of the tool pipeline behind one of 2011's biggest console releases. In addition, Robin will provide some technical insight to lift the veil on how Naughty Dog gets the most out of its visually stunning console titles.

GDC 2012 details Google, Facebook, Unity dev days

For today's update regarding the 2012 Game Developers Conference, show organizers are revealing initial information on a series of sponsored Developer Days, showcasing numerous talks from major companies such as Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Unity, and more.

Taking place on the first two days (Monday, March 5th and Tuesday, March 6th) of the San Francisco show, these full-day sponsored developer events offer GDC attendees a chance to learn about key development tools and platforms directly from the companies that make them.

These events are open to attendees with Summits & Tutorials and All Access passes -- to register for your own, please visit the official GDC website.

Without further ado, here are a selection of the sponsored Developer Days to be featured at GDC 2012:

- Offering a robust lineup on its latest game-focused tech, Google will host two separate Developer Days, going in-depth with web- and Android-based development, respectively. Each of these events will help attendees become even more familiar with Google's game platforms and technologies, and will feature some key development tactics for leveraging Google+, YouTube, mobile platforms, and more.

- Elsewhere, engine developer Unity Technologies will host a number of case studies, tutorials, and other sessions to help attendees better make use of the company's popular development tools. Along the way, the event's speakers will help developers focus their Unity-based projects and better position their games in front of their target audiences.

- At Microsoft's dedicated event, the company will present numerous sessions on the latest developments with Xbox Live, Windows 8, Windows Phone, and more. These presentations will detail new and upcoming services for these platforms, including new APIs, cloud-based storage, asynchronous gaming, and much more.

- With Facebook gaming quickly becoming one of the industry's most influential markets, the company behind the social networking giant will host a series of talks detailing how to better integrate social apps with Facebook's newest services. Throughout these sessions, attendees will learn the fundamentals of social game development, and will get an in-depth look at how to better leverage Facebook's new Timeline and Open Graph features.

Halfbrick, Bejeweled, Pocket Gems talks added to GDC 2012 Smartphone Summit

With the 2012 Game Developers Conference inching ever closer, show organizers are highlighting new talks within the Smartphone & Tablet Games Summit, featuring Halfbrick on Fruit Ninja and Jetpack Joyride, PopCap on Bejeweled Blitz, and Pocket Gems on post-release development.

These talks join an already jam-packed lineup for the Smartphone & Tablet Games Summit, which will feature sessions covering the latest and most influential practices in mobile development, spanning platforms from iOS, Android, Windows Phone, and more.

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 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco.

Those interested in checking out these Summits can do so by registering for an All-Access or Summits & Tutorials Pass on the official GDC website.

Here are some of the newest talks for the Smartphone & Tablet Games Summit:

- In a postmortem-style presentation, Halfbrick chief creative officer Luke Muscat will examine the ever evolving efforts to update and maintain some of the studio's most popular titles. His talk, "Iterating Design and Fighting Fires: Updating Fruit Ninja and Jetpack Joyride," will cover some of Halfbrick's key lessons learned from updating its hit mobile titles, with anecdotes covering patches that crippled performance to updates that benefited millions of players.

- Elsewhere, PopCap's franchise business director Giordano Bruno Contestabile will host, "Setting Bejeweled Blitz Free: Lessons Learned Moving From Premium to Freemium on iOS." Throughout his presentation, Contestabile will pick apart how PopCap turned Bejeweled Blitz into a free to play game, detailing the studio's primary challenges, the game's integration with iOS and Facebook, and the most important elements of cross-platform social gaming.

- In an effort to examine the importance of post-launch support, Pocket Gems co-founder Daniel Terry will offer a session titled, "Hit Reset: Release is Day One of Development Cycle." Drawing examples from his studio's own Tap Zoo and Tap Pet Hotel, Terry will explain how consistent, long-term development efforts can breathe new life into a given title, and help it maintain its success for weeks, or even months at a time.

Respected designer Warren Spector to receive Lifetime Achievement Award at GDCAs

Deus Ex game director and producer, and Disney Epic Mickey creator Warren Spector will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 12th Annual Game Developers Choice Awards (GDCAs) for his contributions to the art and science of games. The Game Developers Choice Awards, held at GDC yearly, are the leading peer-based video game industry awards celebrating the industry's top games and developers.
With a career in games spanning nearly 30 years, Warren Spector has earned a reputation in the industry as a seminal designer and a champion for the proper execution of ideas in video games.
His work on the career-defining Deus Ex took place while he was serving as a partner at development company Ion Storm and running their Austin-based office. Upon its release in 2000, Deus Ex received wide critical and industry acclaim and in 2009 was named "Best PC Game of All Time" among a list of 100 other titles in PC Gamer magazine.
In 2004 Spector left Ion Storm and the following year established Austin-based video game development firm Junction Point. Junction Point was acquired by Disney Interactive Studios in 2007. Immediately following, Spector began leading the design of Disney Epic Mickey, which released in 2010 and marked his first title as part of Disney Interactive Studios.
The game featured Spector's hallmark style of choice and consequence gaming, which he refers to as "Playstyle Matters," and was praised for its unique storyline, charming art design and tribute it paid to 80 years of rich Disney history.

Since beginning his gaming career at Steve Jackson Games in 1983, Spector has played a key role when it comes to redefining genres. As a producer and designer on titles like TSR, Inc.'s Top Secret/S.I. and Marvel Super Heroes, ORIGIN's award-winning Ultima game series, including Ultima Worlds of Adventure: Martian Dreams, Ultima VII: Serpent Isle and Ultima Underworld, as well as Looking Glass Technologies' critically-acclaimed System Shock, Spector demonstrated his ability to open up new avenues in the role-playing arena and provide players with a fresh gameplay experience.

The Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes the career and achievements of a developer who has made an indelible impact on the craft of game development and games as a whole, and Warren Spector, who has earned a sterling reputation as an innovator able to merge the deep gameplay elements of multiple genres, stands as a shining example of those principles.

"Warren, whose rarified 'big picture' thinking and ideals have done a great deal for the games industry, exemplifies the exact qualities that a Lifetime Achievement Award recipient should possess," said Meggan Scavio, general manager of GDC Events at UBM TechWeb. "In presenting him with this honor, we continue a tradition of highlighting individuals whose work stands as a benchmark for the next generation of developers."

GDC 2012 reveals Star Wars: The Old Republic postmortem, Notch Q&A, more

With less than 48 hours left until the early registration deadline for the 2012 Game Developers Conference, the show's organizers have debuted some major new talks, featuring a look at Star Wars: The Old Republic, a fireside chat with Markus "Notch" Persson, and an exciting rant panel featuring notable game developer moms and dads.

All of these sessions will join the major lineup for the show's Main Conference, which features six specialized tracks, covering Audio, Business, Marketing & Management, Game Design, Production, Programming, and Visual Arts.

To check out all of the notable talks within the show's Main Conference, make sure to purchase an All Access or Main Conference pass on the official GDC website (a specialized Audio pass is also available).

In addition, early registration for the show ends Thursday, February 2 at 11.59pm ET, so interested parties should act soon to save up to 35 percent on full price passes.

Here are the newly announced lectures for GDC 2012's Main Conference:

- Over in the Game Design track, the creator of Minecraft will take part in a rare on-stage Q&A dubbed, "A Fireside Chat with Markus 'Notch' Persson." Speaking to former Maxis veteran Chris Hecker (SpyParty), Persson will discuss Minecraft itself, indie game design, and much more. Questions for Persson will be solicited via Twitter in the coming weeks, so please watch the official GDC Twitter feed for more information.

- In the show's Production track, MMO veterans and BioWare Austin leads Richard Vogel and Dallas Dickinson will discuss how Star Wars: The Old Republic positioned itself to break into the World of Warcraft-dominated MMO market. Throughout the talk, "SWTOR - Creating A True Competitor in the AAA MMO Space," Vogel and Dickinson will discuss the numerous internal strategies the team used to prepare the game for a strong debut.

- Also in the Game Design track is the latest in GDC's long-running series of "rant" panels. This year, the panel will give game developer parents a chance to vent their frustrations about topics of their choosing. The session, "BURN THIS MOTHERFATHER! Game Dev Parents Rant," will be co-hosted by Jason Della Rocca and Eric Zimmerman, and will feature developers and industry figures including Ubisoft's Jade Raymond, Zynga New York's Frank Lantz and his son James, 1st Playable Productions' Tobi Saulnier, and Zebra Partners' Perrin Kaplan.

GDC 2012 adds track keynotes, 'Flash Forward,' reminds On Feb 2nd reg deadline

The 2012 Game Developers Conference has announced a number of new highlights, track keynotes, and the all-new 'Flash Forward,' ahead of the February 2nd early deadline for pass registration.

Sessions this year for the March 5th-9th San Francisco show include a lecture from Heavy Rain creator David Cage from developer Quantic Dream. In "Virtual Actors and Emotion in Games," Cage will give the first public demo of the new technology his studio is using to create emotional resonance, as well as discuss practices for capturing actor performances.

Game design legends Cliff Bleszinski, Sid Meier, Peter Molyneux and John Romero will come together for a discussion on the key games that have and continue to influence them in the panel "Forgotten Tales Remembered: The Games That Inspired Leading Innovators."

Naughty Dog Lead Game Designer Richard Lemarchand will return to host the popular "GDC Microtalks," a one-hour session featuring ten prominent speakers with a variety of points-of-view, this year each considering the theme "Playing for Time."

Details on these and all of the 400+ sessions at GDC 2012 can be found at the official GDC schedule page, with final talk times due later this week.

In addition, this year, the Main Conference content begins on Wednesday, March 7, at 9:00am with the GDC's first-ever "Flash Forward" session. The Flash Forward gives all Main Conference speakers the opportunity to grab attendees' attention by taking the stage for just sixty seconds each to give a brief overview of their session.

The Flash Forward will provide the opportunity to hear first-hand what will be discussed in sessions taking place Wednesday-Friday, and allow attendees to decide which talks best suit their interests. The Flash Forward is expected to be a fun, fast-paced, can't-miss event.

GDC is also introducing a new format for its keynote sessions. Rather than one central main conference keynote, GDC will feature six Track Keynotes, one for each discipline on which the main conference tracks focus, and featuring industry luminaries like Plants Vs. Zombies creator George Fan, ex-EA and current Zynga COO John Schappert, Bungie lead engineer and attendee-favorite GDC speaker Brian Sharp and more. The track keynotes are:

GDC 2012 details Audio track talks, from Bastion to Crysis 2

The organizers of the 2012 Game Developers Conference are highlighting this year's Audio Track, covering Supergiant's indie hit Bastion, Crytek's big-budget shooter Crysis 2, and GDC's ever-popular Demo Derby.

These talks all fall within the show's Audio track, just one of seven main tracks at the show's jam-packed Main Conference. Within this track, the industry's top audio professionals will share their knowledge and experience, offering lectures that span production tactics, technical innovations, aesthetic design, and much more.

The Audio track -- along with the rest of the Main Conference, will take place Wednesday, March 7 through Friday, March 9 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco.

To gain access to all the notable sessions within the Main Conference, please register for an All Access or Main Conference pass at the official GDC website. In addition, if you are just interested in the Audio track, a specialized lower cost Audio pass is also available.

Here are the notable talks newly featured in GDC 2012's Audio track:

- Looking back on the success of the indie darling Bastion, Supergiant Games' audio director, Darren Korb, will host "Build That Wall: Creating the Audio for Bastion." During this session, Korb will demonstrate how he oversaw and coordinated the game's eclectic music, haunting vocal tracks, and even the its dynamic narration and sound effects, all on a very limited budget.

- Four years after hosting an audio-oriented talk on Crysis 1, Crytek returns to host a follow-up session, "Crysis of Audio II." Here, R&D audio engineer Thomas Wollenzin and co-audio director Florian Fuesslin will pick apart the technology and implementation strategies powering the audio of the studio's recent Crysis 2. Along the way, the pair will present numerous audio and video examples, detailing their audio production process and the pipeline that kept the team on track.

- Elsewhere, the Game Audio Network Guild will once again host its Demo Derby event, offering budding audio professionals a chance to get feedback from top developers working at Valve, Loot Drop, Sony, and more. This year, GDC will feature specialized events for music and sound design, and all active, registered members of the Game Audio Network Guild are welcome to submit demos for panel critique -- of course, all other attendees are more than welcome to attend the session.

Fez, Woolsey, Failure Workshop sessions added to GDC 2012 Summits

In the latest update for the 2012 Game Developers Conference, show organizers have revealed three new specialized Summit talks, including a technical postmortem of Polytron's Fez, a localization overview with legendary translator Ted Woolsey, and the indie-focused Failure Workshop.

These talks join an already jam-packed lineup for the show's eight specialized Summits, which cover emerging or otherwise influential sectors of the game industry, from Independent Games to Localization and beyond.

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

Those interested in checking out all of the exciting Summit content 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 are some of the newest sessions to be added to the GDC 2012 Summits:

- Within the Independent Games Summit, programmer Renaud Bedard of Polytron Corporation will host "Cubes All the Way Down: Fez Technical Postmortem." Here, Bedard will outline the challenges of bringing the highly-anticipated IGF nominee Fez to life, while sharing some lessons learned from the game's four year development cycle.

- Over in the Localization Summit, former Squaresoft translation guru Ted Woolsey (Final Fantasy series) and industry veteran Matt Whiting (both from Microsoft Studios) will go over the history of video game localization, while offering a look at emerging trends in the practice. The talk, "Game Localization: Using the Past to Understand the Present and Predict the Future," will begin with a look at the early 90's, and will eventually look toward the future to evaluate the viability of machine translation, crowd sourcing, and more.

- Finally, the popular "Failure Workshop" will return to the Independent Games Summit this year to provide a platform for key indie devs to outline their missteps and lessons learned from some of their most recent projects.

The Indie Fund's Ron Carmel will host this year's proceedings, and
participating developers include Scott Anderson and Steve Swink (Enemy
Airship, discussing Shadow Physics), Jamie Cheng (Klei Entertainment/Shank, discussing Sugar Rush), Amir Rao (Supergiant Games, discussing changed elements in Bastion), and Colin Northway (Fantastic Contraption, discussing multiple projects).

GDC 2012 partners with Iam8bit for 'Magnetic Game-O-Matic,' launches contest

With the 2012 Game Developers Conference just over a month away, its organizers have announced an exciting opportunity to win an All-Access pass to the San Francisco show, revealing a continued onsite partnership with the game artist, marketing, and production group iam8bit for live-drawing of wacky game concepts.

This year, GDC will once again partner with the independent artist group iam8bit (creators of last year's 'Painting With Pixels' art exhibit) to bring a similarly inspirational and syntactical activity to the show.

In its own area on the second floor of Moscone West, iam8bit will host the "Super Magnetic Game-O-Matic" from Monday, March 5th to Friday, March 9th. In this area, GDC attendees will be able to use hundreds of oversized (and magnetic) words to pitch their next great concept for a video game.

Throughout the show, notable industry artists will take a few minutes to sketch their interpretations of some of the most interesting game concepts onto screens. In addition, show attendees will also be able to turn up to draw their own art on screens or paper, alongside the featured artist. (Schedules featuring the featured artists will be posted in the near future.)

GDC organizers encourage everyone to participate in this "social experiment of totally random proportions," since what happens during the event is completely up to the GDC community -- there's no way of telling what everyone will come up with! For more information on the Super Magnetic Game-O-Matic, please check out the event's official page on the GDC 2012 website.

As for the new contest, it hinges on getting creative with GDC 2012's brand-new set of game industry lingo magnets, which have already been mailed to a number of past event attendees. If you've never attended Game Developers Conference or haven't received a set of your own, don't despair, as anyone is welcome to participate.

Using either the physical magnet set or the PDF available online, you must arrange your words into the most creative game industry-related phrase, poem, haiku, or statement you can come up with. After doing so, please post a photo or screenshot of your creation on Twitter with the hashtag #GDC2012.

GDC 2012 adds Meier, Inafune, League of Legends talks

2012 Game Developers Conference show organizers have revealed major new talks featuring game design advice from Sid Meier, a Japanese game industry breakdown from Mega Man creator Keiji Inafune, and Riot Games on League of Legends' success with Dominion.

As part of GDC 2012's Main Conference, these talks will be categorized among its six discipline-specific tracks, spanning Audio, Business, Marketing & Management, Game Design, Production, Programming, and Visual Arts, and will take place between March 6 and March 9 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco.

Those interested in checking out all the exiting content in the show's Main Conference can do so by registering for an All-Access or Main Conference Pass via the event's official website (a specialized Audio pass is also available). Discounted prices for early registration will end Thursday, February 2.

The following major talks are among the newest additions to GDC 2012:

- In the Game Design track, the legendary Civilization creator Sid Meier (pictured) will host "Interesting Decisions," providing a detailed breakdown of how developers can make a player's gameplay decisions more interesting and rewarding.

Throughout his talk, Meier will examine a number of popular games to show developers how they can best present decisions to the player, and provide enough feedback to ensure a well-realized and satisfying experience.

- Elsewhere in the Game Design track, Capcom veteran and Mega Man co-creator Keiji Inafune (now of Comcept Inc.) will offer his thoughts on the challenges facing the Japanese game industry, particularly as Western developers continue to dominate the market.

His simultaneously translated talk, dubbed "The Future of Japanese Games," will consider the current trends and prevailing ideas in modern game development, and will identify what Japanese developers can learn from video game history.

GDC Awards honor Missile Command creator, First Amendment game lawyers

The 12th Annual Game Developers Choice Awards (GDCA), the peer-awarded highest honors in video game development, have revealed the recipients of two of its Special Awards -- the Pioneer Award, given to developers for creating breakthrough video game genres or concepts, and the Ambassador Award, given to those who have helped the game industry advance to a better place.
This year's Pioneer Award will be given to Dave Theurer, one of Atari Inc.'s legendary arcade game designers from the 1980s. Theurer created classic titles such as Missile Command, Tempest, and I, Robot, which helped create modern game genres and define the early days of gaming.
The Ambassador Award will celebrate Ken Doroshow and Paul M. Smith, the First Amendment lawyers in the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case Brown, et al., v. Entertainment Merchants Association, et al., for their support and their fight for game developer rights.
Given away at Game Developers Conference every year as part of the Game Developers Choice Awards, the Pioneer Award celebrates individuals responsible for developing a breakthrough technology, game concept, or gameplay design at a crucial juncture in video game history, paving the way for the many developers who followed them.
This year's honoree, Dave Theurer, began his trailblazing career in the video game world in 1980 with the release of Missile Command, a seminal trackball-based shooter that was a milestone in early computer games.
Following on from this in 1981, Theurer created the iconic, vector-based tube shooter release Tempest, the original psychedelic shooter, which inspired a slew of other innovations in arcade video games and was an early title to use 3D perspective in gameplay.
As his final title in the game industry before moving to a successful career in enterprise software, Theurer then designed cult, groundbreaking arcade title I, Robot. This 1983 arcade game, not commercially successful at the time, is legendary for being the first commercial video game with filled 3D polygon graphics, as well as being the first video game to feature camera control options -- and was years or even decades ahead of its time.
"It's very difficult to find a game developer who doesn't have a single memory of Missile Command or his other classic, Tempest," said Meggan Scavio, general manager of the Game Developers Conference. "We're delighted to honor Dave Theurer for his work as a designer which resulted in shaping so many developers' creative drive in the genre."
Also being honored at the 12th Annual Game Developers Choice Awards are the recipients of the Ambassador Award, which recognizes individuals who have helped the game industry advance to a better place, either through facilitating a better game community from within, or by reaching outside the industry to be advocates for video games to help further the art form.
This year, the Choice Awards Advisory Committee voted the First Amendment lawyers in the historic U.S. Supreme Court case Brown v. EMA as recipients of the Ambassador Award. Ken Doroshow and Paul M. Smith led the legal team that convinced the Court that content-based restrictions on games are unconstitutional. The landmark ruling established First Amendment rights for those who create, develop, publish and sell video games, and is incredibly important to the past, present and future of video games as a creative medium.

GDC Play hall adds 'History Of 3D Games' museum exhibit

Game Developers Conference 2012 organizers have announced a special exhibition open to all GDC 2012 attendees, showcasing the history of 3D graphics in games, from the Vectrex through N64 to PC and beyond.

Batman, Double Fine, Gravity Rush talks revealed for GDC 2012

The lineup for the 2012 Game Developers Conference is growing ever larger, and today the show's organizers have chosen to highlight some notable talks from the Main Conference, including art-focused lectures on Batman: Arkham City and the upcoming Vita title Gravity Rush, as well as an in-depth look at Double Fine's prototyping and production process.

As part of GDC 2012's Main Conference, these talks are categorized among six discipline-specific tracks, which cover Audio, Business, Marketing & Management, Game Design, Production, Programming, and Visual Arts. All Main Conference tracks will run from March 7 through March 9 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco.

Those interested in checking out all the exciting content in the show's Main Conference can do so by registering for an All-Access or Main Conference Pass via the event's official website (a specialized Audio pass is also available).

The following is a selection of the latest notable talks to be added to GDC 2012's Main Conference, ahead of the February 2nd early registration deadline:

- In the Visual Arts track, Rocksteady art director David Hego will host, "Batman: Arkham City - Journey from the Asylum to the City," in which he will dive into the evolution and creative process behind the visuals of the studio's latest comic-inspired action game. Along the way, Hego will detail how the team infused elements of the Batman universe throughout Arkham City's game world, which both excited players and created an avenue for rich visual storytelling.

- In another Visual Arts lecture, Sony artist Yoshiaki Yamaguchi will offer a behind the scenes look at the art direction driving the upcoming action adventure title for PlayStation Vita, Gravity Rush (pictured). The talk, titled "Bringing the Visuals of Gravity Rush to PlayStation Vita," will examine the game's primary artistic influences, and will provide unique insight on creating sharp visuals with Sony's latest handheld.

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