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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."

2011 Independent Games Festival Debuts Record Student Entry Numbers

The organizers of the 13th Annual Independent Games Festival -- the longest-running and largest festival relating to independent games worldwide -- are proud to announce another year of record entry numbers for IGF 2011's Student Competition, following its submission deadline this week.

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 most prestigious universities and games programs from around the world.

While 2010's content saw an impressive 193 entries, this year sees that number increase another 47% to 283 total games, making the Student IGF one of the world's largest showcases of student talent.

Together with the record Main Competition entries, this year's IGF has taken in roughly 650 total entries -- the largest number in the festival's history across the Main and Student competitions.

This year's Student Competition includes a number of entries from students tackling intimate personal issues through the medium of games, including Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab's Elude, a game which mirrors "the rising tide of depression, and the search for a path to happiness".

Also in this vein is the University of Portsmouth team's self-reflective portrait of a single man in Dinner Date, which looks at "his desires and doubts to reflections on his friends and his place in the world" as he waits alone for a would-be romantic evening.

2010 Independent Games Festival China Announces Finalists

Organizers of the second annual Independent Games Festival China have revealed finalists for both the Main and Student competitions, including over 10 stand-out indie games from across Asia.

High-quality submissions for the second iteration of the event -- a newly formed sister competition to the main yearly Independent Games Festival in San Francisco -- were received from multiple Chinese provinces, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Iran, India and beyond.

Finalists were chosen by a panel of distinguished local judges, including representatives from Shanda Games, Tencent, IGDA Shanghai, TipCat Interactive and more.

IGF China finalists are invited to Shanghai for the Game Developers Conference China event from December 5th to 7th, where they will be showing their games at a special Pavilion on the Expo Floor, open to all GDC China attendees.

In addition, finalists are eligible to win up to RMB61,000 ($9,100) in cash prizes, as well as specially created awards and All Access Passes to GDC San Francisco 2011 worth thousands of dollars.

The Main Competition finalists for the 2010 Independent Games Festival China are:

Sugar Cube (Turtle Cream, South Korea)
Hazard: The Journey Of Life (Alexander Bruce, Australia)
Train Conductor 2 (The Voxel Agents, Australia)
Cut & Paste (Turtle Cream, South Korea)
Skillz: The DJ Game (Playpen Studios, Hong Kong)
ButaVX: Justice Fighter (Nekomura Games, Singapore)
Crossout (Coconut Island Studio, China)

The Student Competition finalists for this year's IGF China event are as follows:

2011 Independent Games Festival Announces Nuovo Award Jury

Organizers of the 2011 Independent Games Festival are announcing the distinguished jury panel that will determine the eight finalists and overall winner of its Nuovo Award.

This special award, part of the IGF, which takes place at Game Developers Conference 2011 next February, is dedicated to honoring abstract, shortform, and unconventional game development which "advances the medium and the way we think about games."

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 to include eight finalists.

The Nuovo has previously been awarded to Jason Rohrer's abstract multiplayer title Between and to Tuning [YouTube link] -- the perception-warping platform puzzler from Swedish indie Cactus.

This year's Nuovo Award jury has been selected to represent a diverse body of developers both independent and mainstream, academics, art world notables, and -- in general -- some of our industry's top thinkers on the future of art and the video game medium.

The jury will receive game recommendations from the wider body of over 150 IGF Main Competition judges (itself including notable former IGF winners and finalists including Petri Purho, Kyle Gabler, Jakub Dvorsky, Tyler Glaiel, and Dylan Fitterer).

The 2011 IGF Nuovo jury consists of the following:

GDC Celebrates 25th Conference With Official History Outreach

The organizers of the 2011 Game Developers Conference are announcing a call for written memories, photos and videos from the past twenty-four iterations of the Game Developers Conference.

The public call comes as the event approaches 'GDC 25' in February 2011 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, and organizers plan an unprecedented digitization push from its own archives, utilizing an official GDC historian.

With almost a quarter-century at the forefront of the art and business of game creation, the first ever GDC (at that time the Computer Game Developers Conference) took place all the way back in 1988.

There were two events in the show's inaugural year, and a yearly conference going forward, growing to over 18,000 attendees and encompassing events like the Game Developers Choice Awards and the Independent Games Festival.

Along the way, GDC has seen keynotes and signature lectures from Shigeru Miyamoto, event founder Chris Crawford, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, design legends like Sid Meier, futurist Ray Kurzweil, and a host of others - and inspired tens of thousands of game creators to take their skills and inspiration to the next level.

To celebrate 'GDC 25', the conference organizers have appointed an official historian for the show in the form of noted technology archivist Jason Scott, known for his Textfiles.com digital archive and his history of preserving important digital artifacts.

2010 GDC China Adds Happy Farm, Bigpoint, League Of Legends Talks

This December's Game Developers Conference China is debuting further new Chinese and Western speakers for its December 5th-7th Shanghai event, including major talks from Happy Farm's creators, Riot Games (League Of Legends) and German browser game giant Bigpoint.

These announcements, with all talks simultaneously translated between English and Chinese languages, add to multiple high-profile speakers already confirmed for the event. GDC China is run by the UBM TechWeb Game Network, as is this website, and takes place at the Shanghai International Convention Center.

Some of the the newly announced speakers include the following:

- In 'League Of Legends Postmortem: One Year Later', Riot Games president Marc Merrill will look back at the last year of live operation on the popular multiplayer online battle-arena title, recently the winner of multiple awards at the Game Developers Choice Online Awards in Austin.

Merrill will discuss "lessons learned and some key factors for developing, launching and supporting a core game that is operated as a live service", including surprises and challenges the team faced, spanning strategies to optimize the live feedback loop, key roles and live team structure.

- Presenting 'Philosophies and Principles of Creating Social Games for Everyone' is Shaofei Gao, CEO and co-founder of Five Minutes Inc., the noted social game developer and maker of Happy Farm (pictured), which launched in 2008 in Asia -- predating Zynga's famous Western social network game hit FarmVille.

GDC Vault Adds Free FrontierVille, Bartle Videos, Nearly 90 Subscriber Talks

The GDC Vault service has debuted both free and subscriber-only videos from October's GDC Online event in Austin, Texas. Free-to-watch talks debuting include Brian Reynolds' keynote on lessons from Zynga's Frontierville, and Richard Bartle's acclaimed talk on the history of the Multi-User Dungeon (MUD).

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

These new free talks debut alongside an update making available nearly 90 lecture videos from GDC Online for subscribers at the GDC Vault website. The site features video technology that allows users to simultaneously view a presenter's slides alongside video and audio of their presentation.

Alongside free slides from GDC Online presenters, the two new free GDC Online video lectures are:

- In 'Bears and Snakes! The Wild Frontier of Social Game Design', Zynga's chief game designer Brian Reynolds -- formerly at Firaxis and Big Huge Games and notable for his work on titles like Civilization II -- discussed the launch of Zynga's game FrontierVille and work around melding social and traditional game design that went into it.

Reynolds' introduction notes of the lecture: "We'll look at key
features such as missions, 'doobers', and varmints and explore how they
take traditional social game models and make them more entertaining.
Well also look at the ways we took traditional social game interactions
and made them more social" for the title, which currently has over 30
million monthly unique users.

- Also featured in video form is the acclaimed lecture 'MUD: Messrs Bartle and Trubshaw's Astonishing Contrivance'
from Multi-User Dungeon co-creator Richard Bartle, who was voted the
first Online Game Legend during the debut Game Developers Choice Online
Awards at the Austin show -- a show that is also available for viewing at GDC Vault.

2011 Independent Games Festival Announces Record Main Competition Entrants

The organizers of the 13th Annual Independent Games Festival -- the longest-running and largest festival relating to independent games worldwide -- are proud to announce another year of record entry numbers for IGF 2011's Main Competition, following its submission deadline this week.

In total, this year's Main Competition, which will see finalists showcased and winners announced at GDC 2011 in San Francisco next March, took in just under 400 game entries -- many of them new titles from leading indie developers -- across all platforms.

This includes 150 entries for mobile hardware like the iPhone, iPad, DS, PSP and Android devices, with all mobile entries now eligible for all IGF 2011 prizes, including a unique Best Mobile Game award.

In-depth information and entrant-provided screenshots and videos on each of the IGF Main Competition entries are now available on IGF.com, a feature unique to the contest.

This total entry tally for the event comprises almost 30 percent more games than last year's record 306 Main Competition entries. This is itself a 35 percent rise over the previous year -- emphasizing the continued popularity and importance of both independent games and the IGF itself.

GDC China Adds Angry Birds, Monaco Creators To Summits

This December's Game Developers Conference China is debuting a host of new Chinese and Western speakers for its December 5th-7th Shanghai event, with all talks simultaneously translated between English and Chinese languages, and multiple new Summit speakers now confirmed.

These announcements, which include Angry Birds creators Rovio, Monaco's Andy Schatz, and Chinese indie Coconut Island Studio, are part of a GDC China Summits line-up which includes the Independent Games Summit, being held alongside the second annual IGF China, plus a Mobile Games Summit and a Social Games Summit.

Some of the the initial highlights for the Summits, which run alongside or preceding the major Online Game Development/Business & Global Game Development tracks, include:

- Independent Games Festival grand prize winner Andy Schatz will be presenting the cheekily named 'How to Win the IGF in 15 Weeks or Less' at the Independent Games Summit. He notes: "Monaco was entered into the IGF after 6 weeks of work by only one person. It became a finalist in the Grand Prize and Excellence in Design after 11 weeks of work. And it won both after 15 weeks."

In the simultaneously translated talk, the Pocketwatch Games one-man
team "will show how design-by-brownian-motion can not only lead to a
better finished product, but a faster schedule as well. Monaco's fanciest tech tricks and failed experiments will be revealed."

- The Mobile Game Summit talks include 'Angry Birds
- An Entertainment Franchise in the Making' by Peter Vesterbacka of
Finnish developer Rovio. He will examine the business and development
steps that led to massive success for the iPhone, iPad, and now Android hit, which has over 6.5 million App Store downloads as of August.

- In addition, Chinese-specific lectures in the Independent Games Summit include 'Surviving in the iPhone App Store - a Chinese Indie Story' by Wesley Bao, co-founder of Coconut Island Studio (iDragPaper,
which has 7 million downloads), as well as a research-oriented lecture
by Dongfeng Wang of 4399, examining indie opportunities in web
browser-based games, including "the common bottlenecks of developing web
games, what kind of gamers would like to spend money online while
playing."

Canadian Games Conference Announced For May 2011, Including 'Best Of GDC' Track

Event organizer Reboot Communications is announcing a new wholly-owned event, the Canadian Games Conference, debuting in Vancouver in May 2011 alongside the second annual Canadian Videogame Awards.

This newly branded event will offer cutting-edge keynotes, lecture and roundtable content from local, national, and international game creators, focusing on core topics like game design and programming alongside emerging smartphone and social game areas. It will also include a bustling expo floor.

In addition, the 2011 Canadian Games Conference is also the first-ever event to feature a special 'Best Of GDC' content track, including some of the best speakers and topics from the worldwide Game Developers Conferences.

This unique agreement for the 'Best Of GDC' content at the Canadian Games Conference evolves a partnership built around the former Game Developers Conference Canada event, which the Canadian Games Conference replaces and expands on. Reboot also ran the popular Vancouver International Game Summit from 2006 to 2008.

The official dates for the Canadian Games Conference will be May
19-20th, 2011 at the Vancouver Conference Centre. Once again, the show
will be preceded on May 18th by the 2nd Annual Canadian Videogame
Awards, also produced by Reboot Communications in conjunction with
Greedy Productions and DigiBC.

GDC 2011 Opens Registration, Extends Summit Submission Deadline

Organizers have announced that registration and an improved hotel booking system have opened for next February's Game Developers Conference 2011 in San Francisco, also reminding attendees of impending deadlines for GDC Summit lecture submissions and IGF game entries.

GDC showrunners have confirmed that passes are now purchasable for GDC 2011, which returns to the Moscone Convention Center from February 28th to March 4th for five days of summits, tutorials, lectures, panels and roundtable discussions presented by leading industry experts.

The first deadline for purchasing passes for this historic 25th GDC show is December 10th, for Alumni registration, and GDC 2010 attendees should be receiving an email with special registration codes in the next few days.

However, early registration passes -- with up to 35% off final pass prices -- can be bought by prospective attendees at any time.

In addition, GDC organizers have worked with lodging experts Passkey International to set up a special GDC-specific hotel finder, making booking your GDC 2011 hotel much easier. A dedicated site compiles space in all the hotel blocks for the show, making search and finding one or multiple rooms a single-step process.

2010 GDC Online Debuts Choice Awards Video Footage

GDC Online organizers have debuted a fully streaming version of the Game Developers Choice Online Awards on the GDC Vault website, including an Ultima Online tribute and full awards footage.

The presentation of the inaugural event last Thursday, was hosted by Mindspark Interactive Network's Mike Goslin at GDC Online in Austin, Texas. Following the live show, a free, chapter-ready version of the 50-minute long award ceremony, including acceptance speeches, game showcases and special awards was posted to the GDC Vault website.

Leading the night with wins in five categories was Riot's standout "multiplayer online battle arena" title League of Legends, which earned awards for Best Online Technology, Visual Arts, Game Design, and New Online Game.

Other Choice Online Award recipients include CCP, which received the Best Live Game award for EVE Online, World of Warcraft by Blizzard Entertainment receiving the award for Best Community Relations, Social City by Playdom for Best Social Network Game, and more.

Particularly worth watching is the section on Origin and Electronic Arts' seminal MMO title, Ultima Online, recognized as the first Hall of Fame game by the GDC Online Awards.

The award for the honor was accepted on stage by key members of Ultima Online's original development team: Rich Vogel, launch producer, Starr Long, associate producer & director, and Raph Koster, lead designer, and many of the game's other producers (pictured above) were also introduced onstage by EA's Eugene Evans.

Riot's League of Legends Leads Game Developers Choice Online Award Winners

Riot Games' acclaimed online strategy title, League of Legends, received five awards at the first annual Game Developers Choice Online Awards, presented at a ceremony this evening at GDC Online in Austin, Texas.

The inaugural event, which was hosted by Mindspark Interactive Network's Mike Goslin, is a 'for developers, by developers' awards show.

It brought together developers of persistent online games -- including social network games, free-to-play titles and large-scale MMOs - to celebrate the rich history, technical excellence and continued innovation in the arena of online games.

Leading the night with wins in five categories was Riot's standout 'multiplayer online battle arena' title League of Legends, which earned awards for Best Online Technology, Visual Arts, Game Design and New Online Game.

The title also took home the coveted Audience Award, which honors the favorite game of the worldwide game community, after over 120,000 total votes were cast - nearly 70,000 of them verified, with an honorable mention going to KingsIsle Entertainment's Wizard101, which was a runner-up with tens of thousands of votes.

Other Choice Online Award recipients include CCP, who received the Best Live Game award - honoring exceptional new content and player-facing interactivity through expansion packs, patches, or other updates - for its futuristic and engaging sci-fi MMO, EVE Online.

In addition, World of Warcraft by Blizzard Entertainment received the award for Best Community Relations, honoring the highest quality community feedback and experience, including customer support, forum moderation and leadership, weblog and information updates, and real-life events.

Other award winners include the hugely popular Social City by Playdom, which boasts almost 5.5 million active monthly users, and which won the award for Best Social Network Game. In addition, the audio visually lush and immersive Aion by NCsoft earned the award for Best Audio for an Online Game.

The Choice Online Awards acknowledged more than just games, honoring Richard Bartle as the recipient of the first ever Online Game Legend Award, in recognition of his indelible impact on the craft of online game development. Dr. Bartle will also present a lecture at GDC Online on Friday at 9:30 a.m. titled, "MUD: Messrs Bartle and Trubshaw's Astonishing Contrivance" covering the development history of the original MUD, which he co-developed.

Finally, seminal MMO title, Ultima Online, was recognized as the first Hall of Fame game, the award for the honor was accepted on stage by key members of Ultima Online's original development team: Rich Vogel, Launch Producer, Starr Long, Associate Producer & Director, and Raph Koster, Lead Designer, as well as a video message from 'Lord British' himself, Richard Garriott. The honor reflects the huge influence that the title has had as the longest continually running massively multiplayer online game in history.

The recipients of the First Annual Game Developers Choice Online Awards are:

 

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