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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.

The 'GDC 25' Chronicles: A Numbers Game

[Continuing his 'GDC 25' archival research ahead of the 25th Game Developers Conference in San Francisco next February, official GDC historian Jason Scott unearths a GDC 1997 talk on the arcane art of pricing retail games in the '90s.]

I've been humming along with audio recording digitization for the GDC Vault (and intend to start doing video as well) and as I cast the net wider, I get to listen to a range of subjects I normally wouldn't sit around for. It's like I'm suddenly an attendee who went to every panel, in every year. And in the front row, besides!

With this mega-attending of a quantum GDC, I've gotten a real appreciation for clear and well-spoken speakers, and subjects presented comprehensively. The titles don't have to sound sexy, and they don't have to have speakers' names that are ripped from the cover of top-selling games. They just have to give a great talk.

So with great pleasure, I present to you "Strategic Pricing", a Game Developers Conference 1997 presentation given by Phil Adam and Ann Stevens, and for which the audio is available on GDC Vault for free. A talk in which... hey, come back here! I'm serious!

Phil Adam co-founded Spectrum-Holobyte, a grand game publisher founded in the early 1980s; the company nearly made it to 20 years before being absorbed by Hasbro in 1998. At the time of this presentation, Mr. Adam is working at Interplay, a company he'd ultimately become president of.

As we're all living in the future now, the urge to point where the past got it wrong is pretty strong. But what I think is more useful than pointing out this prediction versus that prediction is the clear, straightforward way the speakers describe the nature of choosing what price to charge for retail games and when, how to assess the lifetime of a game, and some examples of successes and failures they've been a part of.

GDC 2011 Debuts Details For Artificial Intelligence Summit

GDC 2011 organizers have revealed an initial set of Artificial Intelligence Summit talks for the February/March 2011 event, including talks from Rockstar, Double Fine, Electronic Arts and Blizzard notables.

The always-popular summit, taking place on February 28th and March 1st during Game Developers Conference 2011 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, will feature panels and lectures from more than two dozen of the top game AI programmers in the industry.

Organized as a collective effort by the AI Game Programmers Guild, this event promises to "give you an inside look at key architectures and issues within successful commercial games, as well as let you eavesdrop on conversations, debates, and rants on how game AI can move forward."

Advisors for the much-anticipated Summit include Intrinsic Algorithm's Dave Mark, author of the book "Behavioral Mathematics for Game AI", and Nintendo of America's Steve Rabin.

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

- 'AI Unplugged: How Experienced Devs Think Through AI' sees sequential microlectures from notables including Blizzard's Brian Schwab, Double Fine's Chris Jurney, Rockstar Leeds' Brett Laming and more, building on the premise that "designing good AI depends upon analyzing the specific behavior or problem that needs to be addressed and decomposing it in such a way that it can be dealt with in the first place."

GDC 2011 To Feature StarCraft II Postmortem, Dance Central, Valve Talks

Organizers of the 2011 Game Developers Conference have debuted initial lectures from the Game Design and Programming Track for the Main Conference, spanning a Starcraft II postmortem, Harmonix's Dance Central dissected, Valve on forensic debugging, and much more.

As the overall session list for the event further expands, organizers are specially highlighting the initial Main Conference session announcements around these two areas.

The Game Design and Programming 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, business and management, and production.

All of the above Track sessions are open to those with a Main Conference or All-Access Pass. Some of the top sessions debuting in the Game Design and Programming Tracks are as follows:

Game Design Track

Being revealed as a key Design Track talk for 2011's 25th edition of Game Developers Conference is 'Remaking a Classic: The Game Design of Starcraft II' by Blizzard Entertainment's Dustin Browder.

Drawing from the experience of designing the standout RTS, Browder offers a rare glimpse into Blizzard's core design philosophies, as well as insight into the special challenges of Starcraft II's complex game design and the benefits and costs of designing an e-sport.

Another notable lecture is 'The Design Process and Philosophy of Dance Central', led by Matt Boch and Dean Tate of Harmonix. The duo talk about the nuances of designing for full-body motion gaming on the standout Kinect title, also considering unconventional ways to approach exploratory prototyping when starting from scratch.

11th Annual Game Developers Choice Awards Opens Nominations

Organizers have announced that the 11th annual Game Developers Choice Awards, the most prestigious honors in the world of video game development, are now open for nominations through Jan. 4, 2011.

In its eleventh year of honoring the best games and developers, the Game Developers Choice Awards -- the leading awards voted on by developers, and created for developers -- has adopted a new voting methodology.

Nominations - as always - are selected by any game professional worldwide, simply by submitting ballots via the Game Developers Choice Awards website. (Submitters are required to log in with a username and password so professional developer status can subsequently be verified.)

Category finalists and Special Award winners are selected by the 20 person-strong Game Developers Choice Awards Advisory Committee, including notable industry veterans from Harmonix, Valve, PopCap, Ubisoft, BioWare, and more.

In addition, winners are now being selected by the Game Developers Choice Awards-specific International Choice Awards Network (ICAN), which is a new invitation-only group comprised of 500 leading game creators from all parts of the video game industry.

Choice Awards organizers believe that, in tandem with their goal of having the most focused, impartial awards in the game industry, this additional voting transparency will further boost the awards' reputation.

The 2010 award categories are open for nominations to any member of the video game community until January 4th, combining both Regular and Special Award nominations, are:

2010 IGF China Announces Asian, Australasian Indie Winners

Organizers of the second annual Independent Games Festival China have announced winners for the Asian and Australasian indie games showcase in Shanghai, with South Korean developer Turtle Cream's 2D tile-flipping platformer Sugar Cube getting the Best Game prize, and a host of other notable winners.

Following the announcement of the finalists last month, the teams attended a special awards show at the Shanghai International Convention Center during GDC China last night, where the winners of each category were revealed.

Supported by Platinum Sponsor Crystal CG and Gold Sponsor NetEase, the winners of the 2010 Independent Games Festival China announced at the award ceremony include unique modular 'tower defense'-style title The White Laboratory, which won Best Student Game, and The Voxel Agents' addictive iPhone/iPad puzzle hit Train Conductor 2: USA, which took Best Mobile Game.

The winners of the 2010 IGF China awards are:

Best Game: Sugar Cube (Turtle Cream, South Korea) [RMB 20,000, $3,000]
Best Mobile Game: Train Conductor 2 (The Voxel Agents, Australia) [RMB 10,000, $1,500]
Excellence In Audio: Skillz: The DJ Game (Playpen Studios, Hong Kong) [RMB 5,000, $750]
Excellence In Visual Arts: ButaVX: Justice Fighter (Nekomura Games, Singapore) [RMB 5,000, $750]

Best Student Game: The White Laboratory (Huazhong University of Science & Technology, China) [RMB 10,000, $1,500]
Excellent Student Award: Dead Steel (Media Design School, Auckland, New Zealand) [RMB 3,000, $450]
Excellent Student Award: Ponlai (National Yunlin University of Science and Technology, Taiwan) [RMB 3,000, $450]

GDC 2011 Debuts Initial, Wide-Ranging Summit Line-Up

Organizers of the 2011 Game Developers Conference have announced initial line-ups for major Summits at the 25th edition of the industry's leading digital entertainment event next February.

Held alongside the GDC tutorials on Monday, February 28th and Tuesday, March 1st in San Francisco, a large range of key one- and two-day Summits will kick off GDC week with innovative and informative programs led by industry experts -- including notables from Zynga, Area/Code, Google, Klei Entertainment, MIT, and more.

As the overall session list for GDC 2011 continues to grow, organizers are highlighting the top initial talks for the seven Summits, including the expanded Social & Online Games Summit, the new Smartphone Summit, and the long-running Independent Games Summit -- all open to GDC 2011 pass-holders with a Summits & Tutorials or All Access Pass.

Newly announced GDC 2011 summit sessions of particular note include ones from the following Summits:

- The Social and Online Games Summit is expanding even further for 2011 after a blockbuster 2010 Summit, with initial technical-specific highlights including 'Social Speed: Improving Flash Performance for Social Games' from Zynga director of engineering Amitt Mahajan, centering on the different approaches studios can take to making their social games both "load and run fast."

The full lecture list to date for the Summit includes 'Business', 'Essentials', 'Tech' and 'Vision' themed mini-tracks, and spans everything from Playdom's Peter Fishman on 'Behavioral Economics and Social Games' through Spry Fox's provocative Daniel Cook on 'How to Survive the Inevitable Enslavement of Developers by Facebook'.

2010 GDC China Confirms Final Schedule, Adds Ngmoco, Zynga Talks

Game Developers Conference China organizers have now debuted a completed schedule for the December 5th-7th Shanghai event at the Shanghai International Convention Center, with late additions including Ngmoco's Caryl Shaw and Zynga Beijing's Andy Tiang.

Now in its third edition, Game Developers Conference China -- a sister event to the major GDC shows taking place in San Francisco, CA; Austin, TX; and Cologne, Germany -- offers valuable and timely insight into the art and business of making games for an audience of both local and international developers

Leading Chinese and Western developers have once again been recruited, with late additions to the schedule including Ngmoco's Caryl Shaw, a veteran of notable studio Maxis (SimCity, The Sims, Spore). She will discuss 'The Future of Game Production', and another new confirmation sees Zynga Beijing head Andy Tiang presenting a lecture called 'Building Sustainable Social Game Experiences'.

Also now locked down are Sunday's tutorials, with Autodesk presenting two half-day seminars on 3DS Max, Maya, and Mudbox, and a rare Asian appearance from Visceral Games' Matthias Worch (Dead Space 2), presenting 'Level Design in a Day: Best Practices from the Best in the Business'.

A Serious Games Summit is also now confirmed, with speakers including Realtime Associates' David Warhol and NewGame Solutions' Shigeru Bart Chigusa discussing games used for learning, corporate, education, and other uses.

Another highlight of this Summit is a featured lecture from Crystal Digital Technology, analyzing the company's game featured in the recent Shanghai World Expo.

All talks at GDC China will be simultaneously translated into both English and Chinese for attendees, and the two confirmed keynotes for GDC China 2010 are from Square Enix's Hiromichi Tanaka -- on building Final Fantasy XI and XIV, as the latter is poised to become the first-ever official Final Fantasy title to debut in China.

The other keynote features Blizzard, Flagship and Cryptic alumnus Bill Roper on "how the game industry in the Western world has learned from Asia's successes in both development and business models", promising plenty of insight into the history and future of online games.

With the entire schedule locked down, organizers are drawing highlights from the tracks as follows:

The 'GDC 25' Chronicles: Totally Boffo

[Continuing his 'GDC 25' archival research ahead of the 25th Game Developers Conference in San Francisco next February, official GDC historian Jason Scott makes available online for the first time audio of a GDC 1998 talk about storied adventure game studio Boffo Games.]

I had the pleasure of interviewing Mike Dornbrook a few years back related to a gaming history project.

As the marketing genius of Infocom, he figured somewhere in the story I was trying to tell, although at the time I wasn't sure how much. It turned out he was extremely prominent in the story, and beyond that, was one of the best interviews I've done throughout the years (out of over 300).

Involved with companies such as Infocom (some time ago!) and Harmonix (more recently!), Mike has been a playtester, marketer, salesman and no doubt a bushel of other, less formal roles. He's been in the games industry for three decades, a remarkable achievement.

Mike's talents are two-fold - he's great at marketing and management for a video game company, and he's got a razor-sharp memory. While asking someone to remember events of a quarter-century ago is at best a fishing expedition with a lot of chances for bringing up old shoes and tires, Mike provided story after story and backed it up with facts; an interviewer's dream.

So it was with pleasure that I found an audiotape called "Look Before You Leap: The Rise and Fall of Boffo Games", presented by Mike Dornbrook at Game Developers Conference 1998 in Long Beach, CA.

GDC 2011 Announces Art, Audio Talks From Final Fantasy, Pixar, Gear Of War 3

Organizers of the 2011 Game Developers Conference have debuted initial lectures from the Art and Audio Tracks for the Main Conference, spanning Gears Of War 3, Pixar, Limbo, Final Fantasy and beyond.

As the overall session list for the event further expands, organizers are specially highlighting the initial Main Conference session announcements around these two areas.

The Art and Audio 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 programming, design, business and management, and production.

All of the above Track sessions are open to those with a Main Conference or All-Access Pass, with a special Audio Pass also available, and some of the top sessions debuting in the Art and Audio Tracks are as follows:

Art Track

One of the notable Art Track reveals at this early stage is 'Fast and Efficient Facial Rigging in Gears Of War 3' by Epic Games' Jeremy Ernst, showcasing the methodology used for the much-awaited action title.

The lecture is designed to "show developers of any level how to create and think in a way that leads to faster and more efficient ways of building not only face rigs, but any kind of rig or tool."

GDC China Announces Keynote From Final Fantasy XI, XIV Co-Creator Tanaka

GDC China organizers have revealed a keynote from Square Enix senior vice president Hiromichi Tanaka on building Final Fantasy XI and XIV, as the latter is poised to become the first-ever official Final Fantasy title to debut in China.

Following the recent news that leading Chinese MMO operator Shanda Games and Square Enix have announced partnership to bring Final Fantasy XIV to the region, Tanaka becomes the second keynote for the December 5th-7th Shanghai event.

In the keynote, 'Final Fantasy XI & XIV: Developing and Operating a Cross-platform, Cross-region MMORPG', Tanaka will discuss "the managerial know-how fostered during the lifespans of Final Fantasy XI and the newly released Final Fantasy XIV, with a focus on our team's global distribution-based development concept and RMT countermeasures."

Tanaka, one of the original members of Squaresoft (now Square Enix)
when it was founded in 1983 in Japan, contributed game design to the
first three seminal Final Fantasy titles on the NES/Famicom, as
well as producing classic titles like Secret of Mana and Xenogears.

He went on to work as producer on Final Fantasy XI, not only
establishing the overall development policy, but also contributing to
design aspects of the game, such as the user interface for the popular
worldwide MMO, before overseeing the just-debuted FFXIV.

The Square Enix SVP joins a packed
that includes earlier
of Blizzard, Flagship and Cryptic alumnus Bill Roper
as the other keynote speaker, plus a comprehensive
line-up of talks
across the event's major tracks, including Global
Game Development/Outsourcing and Online Game Developer, alongside the
Independent, Mobile, Social and Serious Games Summits.

The GDC Chronicles: A Report from the Second GDC

[In the latest update in his 'GDC Chronicles' articles ahead of the 25th Game Developers Conference in San Francisco next February, official GDC historian Jason Scott analyzes the take-aways from a report on 1988's second ever Computer Game Developers Conference.]

If you want to impress your colleagues with your old-school GDC knowledge, be sure to work in how the 25th GDC will not be the 25th year of GDC.

It worked like this. When the first GDC was organized, it was held at Chris Crawford's home in 1988. It was such a wild success, that a second GDC was put together and held at a hotel in the same year, with a panel/session format that has held to the present day. I wasn't there, but thanks to contributed items, I can have an idea of what went on.

Eric Goldberg wrote an article for the Journal of Computer Game Design, Crawford's journal related to games and game-making, describing in overview what went on GDC #2 (then called CGDC). Here's scanned images (with permission) from the Journal:


You can view the article as a pdf file (4.3mb) or browse the images on the GDC Flickr stream. You can also click on individual thumbnails to get an idea of the article's writing.

The article is effusive in tone, happy that the whole event came off with few hitches and pleased at the amount of support shown by the 150+ attendees on the need for a conference focused on game design and issues related specifically to designers.

The keynote was the legendary Dani Bunten, creator of M.U.L.E. and Seven Cities of Gold, who gave this advice: Start a family, raise children. Grow as a person and learn from your family what people want from games and how games can best serve the needs of adults and children. Bunten, ultimately, wanted to say that being a nerd or a geek was nothing to be ashamed of, and the assembled attendees could feel pride in their accomplishments and talents.

GDC 2011 Reveals Major Roster Of Full-Day Tutorials

Organizers of the 2011 Game Developers Conference have revealed a packed full-day tutorial line-up -- including notables from Epic, Blizzard, and Valve -- for the 25th edition of the industry's leading event for game creators.

With the overall session list for the event starting to fill out, organizers are taking the opportunity to reveal the full-day tutorials available to attendees during the GDC 2011 registration process.

These lower-capacity, first-come first-served tutorials will once again be held alongside the GDC Summits on the first two days of the San Francisco-based event, Monday, February 28th and Tuesday, March 1st.

They will be open to those with a Summits & Tutorials or All-Access Pass, and interested parties can select their preference during the process of registration.

Newly announced GDC 2011 tutorials of particular note include the following:

- A special one-day 'Producer Boot Camp' is being assembled by key GDC Advisory Board members including Laura Fryer, VP and General Manager of WB Games Seattle; Epic Games executive producer Rod Fergusson and Media Molecule's Siobhan Reddy (LittleBigPlanet franchise).

The trio will assemble a full day tutorial -- including themselves and other yet to be announced speakers -- that "focuses on some of the key skills required by producers, both new to the role and seasoned veterans, to be successful in this challenging industry."

GDC China 2011 Adds Marvel, CCP, Hello Games Lectures

GDC China organizers have debuted a near-complete schedule for the December 5th-7th Shanghai event, including a packed main conference and comprehensive Summits on social, mobile and indie games.

Now in its third year, Game Developers Conference China offers "valuable and timely insight into the world of game development in China for an audience of both local and international developers", according to its organizers.

Overall, the December 5th-7th event provides a forum for local and international developers to explore business opportunities, expand their reach to a unique market, and discover the on-going trends emerging in this region.

With only a few lectures left to reveal for the event, organizers are summing up the agenda as follows:

- The Global Game Development/Outsourcing track has added a talk by Concept Art House's James Zhang, discussing "case studies and analysis of successful IP integration and cross platform development", joining major talks by notables from Activision, Intel, BioWare, Volition, and Slant Six.

- In addition, the Online Game Development track has just added 'Bringing Disney's Marvel Super Hero Squad to Online Gamers' from The Amazing Society's Jason Robar, augmenting a host of valuable Asian speakers from companies including NetEase, Joyport, Kingsoft and XPEC, plus CCP on EVE Online, Riot Games on League Of Legends and Bigpoint on European online game success.

- The Indie Games Summit at GDC China includes a newly announced lecture from Joe Danger creator Hello Games' Grant Duncan on successful development and marketing tactics -- as well as lectures from Andy Schatz (Monaco), Erin Robinson (Puzzle Bots), an Osmos postmortem, and Chinese indie lectures from Coconut Island Studio and

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