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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

The 'GDC 25' Chronicles: The Sound of Adventure

[Continuing his 'GDC 25' archival mining ahead of the 25th Game Developers Conference in San Francisco next February, official GDC historian Jason Scott presents newly unearthed audio of a 1998 Game Developers Conference lecture led by Steve Meretzky.]

Besides the comprehensive pile of material from Game Developers Conference organizers itself, attendees have been sending in photos, stories, and home movies of their times at various conferences throughout the years. Sadly, nobody is has yet mailed in any console prototypes or cardboard standups, but I'm patient. I'll wait.

Meanwhile, there's this massive pile of tapes, both audio and video, that need some digitizing. I've started with the audio tapes, recordings of sessions and symposiums at GDCs past. Pretty much all I have are recorded professionally, by companies hired to capture the event, and therefore recorded off the mixing board. Eventually, GDC moves away from audio tapes (actual tapes) and shifts over to CD-ROMs with recordings on them, and of course video.

I've always had a soft spot for adventure games, so I thought our first digitized exhibit on this 'GDC 25' journey would be Tape #109 from the 1998 Game Developers Conference, held in Long Beach, California from May 4th-8th. The title of this tape is 'Are Adventure Games Dead?', hosted by Steve Meretzky, and it's now available to listen to on GDC Vault.

Meretzky, now at social game giant Playdom, probably needs no introduction for most of you, but if so, by 1998 he was already recognized as a giant in the field of game design, having made fifteen games for companies such as Infocom, Legend Entertainment, and Boffo.

Many of these were adventure games, of both the text and graphics variety, and in this hour-long seminar (which he calls "a roundtable but with a lot more people"), he presents his thoughts on the state of adventure gaming in the late '90s, and then invites audience members to comment and questions.

While I think the whole tape is worth listening to, I'll just mention some highlights. After a short introduction about how the seminar will go, Meretzky shows the audience (unfortunately, not in a way we can know what was shown) the sales of 18 recent adventure games (1996-1998). The list is dominated at the top by Myst and Riven, with other games' sales leaving Meretzky "shocked" at how low they are.

2011 Independent Games Festival Announces Audio Award Jury

Organizers of the 2011 Independent Games Festival are pleased to announce the jury panel that will determine the finalists and winner of its Excellence in Audio award, a category which seeks to highlight the best musical & sound innovation, quality, and impressiveness in independent gaming.

Prior finalists and winners of the IGF Excellence in Audio award, which will be given out at Game Developers Conference 2011 next March, earned recognition for games that took an entirely new and unique to approach to sound in games or otherwise excelled at their craft.

These have included Queasy Games' abstract acoustic guitar shooter and 2007 award winner Everyday Shooter, 2008 finalist guitar-controller platformer Fret Nice, 2009's ultra-stylized finalist PixelJunk Eden from Q-Games and Osaka musician/DJ Baiyon, and the atmospheric 2010 award winning Closure (pictured).

This year, the jury will receive recommendations from the wider body of over 150 IGF Main Competition judges (itself including notable former IGF winners, finalists and indie game notables including Ron Carmel, Andy Schatz, Ramiro Corbetta, Kellee Santiago, and Olivier Lejade) as they consider the merits of each of the five finalists and eventual award winner.

The 2011 IGF Excellence in Audio award jury consists of the following:

- Danny Baranowsky (Founder of dB soundworks and musician behind games like Canabalt & 2010 Excellence in Audio finalist Super Meat Boy.)
- Vincent Diamante (Composer and sound designer behind PS3 indie hit Flower, audio & game design teacher at USC's School of Cinematic Arts.)
- Jordan Fehr (Sound designer/editor/mixer with credits on Super Meat Boy, Donkey Kong Country Returns, SteamBirds, Realm of the Mad God, & Spewer.)
- Dylan Fitterer (Creator of music-puzzle racer and 2008 IGF Excellence in Audio winner Audiosurf.)
- David Lloyd & Larry Oji (Respectively, musician and founder of game music site OverClocked ReMix; OCR head and soundtrack director on Capcom's Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix.)
- Matt Piersall (Founder of GL33K, the indie audio studio behind games like Splosion Man, Comic Jumper, Epic Mickey & Donkey Kong Country Returns.)
- Emily Ridgway (Music director and audio designer on games like BioShock, Brutal Legend & Costume Quest.)
- William Stallwood & Dain Saint (Respectively, creative director & technical director of Cipher Prime Studios, creator of ambient music puzzler Auditorium.)
- Rich Vreeland (Composer, sound designer, netlabel curator, and chiptune musician performing as Disasterpeace.)
- Josh Whelchel (Independent composer behind The Spirit Engine 2 & Bonesaw: The Game and works for UbiSoft, MTV and Zynga.)

GDC Vault Adds Free Game Narrative, 3D Stereoscopic-Themed GDC Online Videos

The GDC Vault service has debuted new Summit-related video talks from October's GDC Online event in Austin, Texas, including a Game Narrative Summit talk from comic and video game writer Antony Johnston, as well as a 3D Stereoscopic Game Summit talk on the history and future of 3D in games.

Following the successful developer and business event that ran in Texas early last month, organizers of the Game Developers Conference series of events are making specially recorded versions of the talks available for free -- while also archiving all of the GDC Online content in video form for future use.

This process started in October with the debut of almost 90 recordings for GDC All-Access Pass holders and other subscribers, plus Brian Reynolds' keynote on lessons from Zynga's Frontierville, and Richard Bartle's acclaimed talk on the history of the Multi-User Dungeon (MUD).

Alongside other free content from GDC Online presenters, the two freshly added free GDC Online video lectures are:

- Experienced comics writer Antony Johnston (Daredevil, Wolverine, Wasteland), who also has experience writing games for EA and Sega, discussed how games can learn from comics in terms of writing and narrative in 'From Comics To Consoles'.

Along the way, British native Johnston, who was well-rated by Summit attendees for his wit and insight, focused on "the similarities and differences between comics and games, the effect of transmedia on both media, and what games writers can learn from studying -- and writing -- comics."

- In addition, Neil Schneider, executive director of The S-3D Gaming Alliance, presented 'The Past, Present And Future Of 3D Gaming' at the 3D Stereoscopic Game Summit, explaining how modern stereoscopic 3D gaming -- perhaps about to flourish, thanks to console and Nintendo 3DS advancements -- came to be.

The 'GDC 25' Chronicles: The Inbox and the Starting Line

[In a new series of posts, official GDC historian Jason Scott will be presenting video, audio, photos and attendee recollections from the last twenty-four iterations of CGDC and the Game Developers Conference event, ahead of GDC 25 in San Francisco next February.]

Hello, my name is Jason Scott, and this is my inbox.

Jason's Tape Inbox

What you see here is the first of what I hope will be hundreds of tapes, documents and artifacts related to the nearly quarter-century history of the Game Developer's Conference.

A short while ago, I agreed to be GDC's official historian and archivist to help celebrate the 25th conference by digitizing as many records of past events as I can. A short time after agreeing to this task, huge piles of boxes arrived on my front porch. The digitization has begun!

GDC Item Catalog

In a twice-weekly posting leading up to the 2011 GDC, I'll be bringing you highlights and discoveries from this process, and posting them for you at the GDC Vault to enjoy and share.

2010 GDC China Adds Notable Chinese Speakers To Packed Roster

GDC China organizers have announced a host of new Chinese speakers, including NetEase, 6waves, Joyport and Ubisoft Chengdu notables, alongside a multitude of Western talks for next month's leading Shanghai-based event.

With the schedule for the event filling up with both notable Western and Chinese speakers, organizers are taking the opportunity to highlight some of the higher-profile Chinese speakers recently added to the program for the event.

Some of the newly added talks, which will be simultaneously translated between Chinese and English languages, as will all of the event's lectures, are as follows:

- In 'Establishing a New International Development Studio, Richard Tsao of Ubisoft Chengdu (Scott Pilgrim) discusses how "the key to creating an international development studio is hiring the right kind of people, providing training, and placing them in an appropriate work culture bubble that fosters global game development values."

With examples from the major Ubisoft studio, "attendees in this talk will learn what are the global game development values that are necessary in any studio."

- The Social Network summit sees Arthur Chow, COO of 6waves, discussing 'The Global Phenomenon of Social Games: How to Monetize the Global Audience'. As the description notes, "within two short years, 6waves has [assembled] a network of over 50 million monthly active users", and Chow will look at how "distribution, localization and monetization" helps 6waves "to maximize the significant opportunities in the increasingly competitive Facebook market."

- Bo Chen, CEO of Joyport Technology, is giving a talk called 'Designing Successful Strategy Webgame - How We Did That with Kingory', offering introduction to the browser-based game industry's background and the success of Kingory products by discussing his company's decision making process, product design, team building approaches, and the "successful and unending efforts to improve user experience."

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