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ArenaNet details the tech powering Guild Wars 2 at GDC Online

Creating a modern MMO requires an enormous range of technical expertise. From the server backend, to the client graphics engine, to the web hosting infrastructure, studios need to be prepared to tackle a lot of challenges to get their game running smoothly.

ArenaNet's recently launched Guild Wars 2 is of course no exception, and at this month's GDC Online, the studio's technical director, Cameron Dunn, will outline the various technical challenges the team had to overcome when crafting this large-scale online RPG.

During his session, "Guild Wars 2: Programming the Next Generation Online World," Dunn will discuss the tech that powers Guild Wars 2's combat system, its World vs. World PvP arenas, and much more. He'll also pull back the curtain on the game's patching system, which allows ArenaNet "to roll out new builds in a matter of minutes without requiring downtime."

Attendees at this talk will walk away with a better understanding of what it takes to create and launch a game like Guild Wars 2, and they'll also learn how the tools used to create these major MMOs can also benefit other types of online games.

As part of GDC Online's Programming track, this talk will be open to All Access pass holders. The show itself will take place October 9-11 at the Austin Convention Center in Austin, Texas.

In addition to the above presentation, GDC Online recently added the following talks to the show's Main Conference:

- As part of the show's Programming track, Electrotank's RJ Lorimer and Versant Corporation's Robert Greene will examine how to maximize online game performance in "Lag Sucks: Making Online Gaming Faster with NoSQL, and without Breaking the Bank." During this session, the pair will discuss "how Electrotank used their existing, Java-standard based skills to migrate their database to a NoSQL solution," and created a codebase that could more easily support online games.

IGF China 2012 unveils Main Competition, Student finalists

The Independent Games Festival China has revealed the Main Competition and Student finalists for its 2012 award ceremony, which celebrates the most creative indie games from throughout the Pan-Pacific area,

The GDC China co-located event is now in its fourth year, and this time around the finalists include indie games such as the action-platformer Dustforce, the retro-inspired puzzler Cubetractor, the mobile action game Flying Daggers, and more.

Drawing from a prize pool totaling 45,000 RMB (roughly $7,150), IGF China's Main Competition will give away five distinguished awards, covering Excellence in Audio, Design, Technology, and Visual Arts, as well as the Best Mobile Game and Best Game awards. In addition to the prestige and prizes, winners will also receive two All-Access Passes for the upcoming GDC 2013 in San Francisco.

Alongside IGF China's Main Competition, the ceremony will also host the Student Competition, which honors six of the top regional student games, with teams this year hailing from Mainland China, Singapore, and Taiwan.

This part of the competition includes two awards -- for Best Student Game and Excellent Student Winners -- and offers roughly 13,000 RMB (roughly $2,050) in cash prizes.

Winners in both competitions will be chosen by a panel of expert jurors including Kevin Li (CEO, TipCat Interactive); Monte Singman (Founder/CEO, Radiance Digital Entertainment); Xubo Yang (Director of Digital Art Lab and Assistant Professor; Shanghai Jiaotong University's School of Software), Haipeng Yu (Producer, Tencent Shanghai), and jury chairman Simon Carless, IGF Chairman Emeritus and EVP of the GDC shows, Gamasutra, and Game Developer magazine.

This year's awards ceremony will take place the evening of November 18, and will run alongside the rest of GDC China, which will be held November 17-19 at the Shanghai Convention Center in Shanghai, China.

Here are the finalists for this year's IGF China.

Main Competition

Army and Strategy: The Crusades, by Pied Pipers Entertainment, South Korea [Website, Video]

Cubetractor, by Ludochip, Singapore [Website, Video]

Diggin' Dogs, by Soap Creative, Australia [Website, Video]

Deus Ex, Fallout notables talk 'the art of the reboot' at GDC Online

In today's market of follow-ups, reboots, and trilogies, developers need to understand what it takes to make a good video game sequel.

There are plenty of challenges that come with working on a beloved or classic IP, but at next month's GDC Online conference in Austin, Texas, a panel of experienced industry pros will share their advice for getting the most out of your next major sequel or reboot.

The session, titled "In the Shadow of Greatness - Sequels and Reboots Deconstructed," will feature seasoned designers and writers including Mary DeMarle (Eidos Montreal), Tom Abernathy (Microsoft Studios), Chris Avellone (Obsidian Entertainment), Raphael Van Lierop (HELM Studio) and Ivan Mulkeen (Eidos Montreal).

These speakers have worked on some of the most notable sequels and follow-ups recent memory, with credits spanning Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Halo: Reach, Knights of the Old Republic II, Fallout: New Vegas, Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine, and much more.

During this talk, these developers will discuss the major considerations studios will need to make when creating a follow-up to a successful game. Along the way, they'll also touch on some common misconceptions about working on a sequel, how DLC can fit into your narrative structure, and the future prospects of new IP.

As part of GDC Online's Game Narrative Summit, this talk will be open to All Access and Summits & Tutorials pass holders. The show itself will take place October 9-11 at the Austin Convention Center in Austin, Texas.

GDC Online highlights Travian, YouTube, new business talks

With just two weeks to go until this year's GDC Online, the Austin show's organizers have debuted several new business-focused talks examining how YouTube's plans for game integration, Travian on how existing companies can adopt metrics driven design, and more.

These talks all fall within the Business & Marketing track in GDC Online's Main Conference, which will take place take place Tuesday, October 9 to Thursday, October 11 at the Austin Convention Center in Austin, Texas.

The full details on these new Business & Marketing track sessions are as follows:

- First, Lars Janssen of the German browser game company Travian Games (Travian, Miramagia) will explain why companies should use special procedures and tools to analyze player behavior if they hope to grow their games in today's market. In his talk, "Moving a Games Company from Gut Feeling to Metrics," he'll discuss how developers can overcome the challenges of introducing metrics to their existing design processes.

- Elsewhere, YouTube developer advocate Jarek Wilkiewicz and content partnerships manager Cliff Samaniego will present "Start Playing the Mobile Distribution Game on YouTube." Video games have become one of the top categories on the popular video streaming site, and during this session the pair will explain how you can convert those millions of viewers into actual players by integrating YouTube into your next mobile game.

Wilkiewicz and Samaniego will highlight some top examples of games that have benefitted from YouTube integration, and will cover the best practices for using these videos from a technical and business perspective. And of course, they'll take a moment to share some of their favorite gameplay videos with GDC attendees.

- Have you ever wanted to host your own session at one of these GDC events? If so, you're in luck, as Playdom developers and GDC advisory board members Steve Meretzky and Gordon Walton will help you do just that in "How to be Accepted to Speak at GDC." During this talk, Meretzky and Walton will detail how the GDC board reviews and selects the talks that make it to these shows. Along the way, attendees will learn how to make their submissions stand out, and how they can craft a solid presentation.

GDC China 2012 adds Bejeweled Blitz, Zombie Gunship smartphone talks

The growing session lineup for this November's GDC China in Shanghai is quickly gaining steam, and today the show's organizers have revealed three new talks in the Smartphone & Tablet Games Summit.

This time, these new sessions include an examination of PopCap's Bejeweled Blitz, a case study from Limbic Software on the challenges of mobile game growth, and Appy Entertainment on pivoting from 'premium to freemium' in the smartphone space.

As part of the Smartphone & Tablet Games Summit, these sessions will run alongside the rest of GDC China from November 17-19 at the Shanghai Convention Center in Shanghai, China, and will offer specialized content covering the ins and outs of mobile game development.

The full details on these new Summit sessions are as follows:

- In "Bejeweled Blitz: One Year in the Life of a Top-Grossing Mobile Game," PopCap's Giordano Bruno Contestabile will discuss how Bejeweled Blitz made the jump from Facebook to iOS, and became one of the platform's most long-lasting success stories. Along the way, he'll explain how other cross-platform social game developers can emulate that success by combining smart game design, data analysis, and more.

- Elsewhere, Limbic Software co-founder Iman Mostafavi will host "Getting out of the Garage: Managing Teams, Customer Relationships, Cloud Servers and 97 Other Things to Handle Growth." During this session, Mostafavi will examine Limbic titles like TowerMadness, Nuts!, and Zombie Gunship, and will detail the technical and operational challenges the studio faced as its games began to grow. It'll be a great chance to learn from Limbic's experience and gain a better understanding of how to deal with rapid changes in scale.

- Finally, Appy Entertainment brand director Paul O'Connor (SpellCraft School of Magic, Trucks & Skulls) will present "Premium to Freemium: Pivoting Monetization Method for Best-Selling Apps," detailing how his studio "converted two best-selling premium apps to freemium monetization and increased their audience, grew their revenue and made the games better in the process."

GDC Online debuts Age of Empires Online, community management talks

With GDC Online's final event in Austin less than a month away, show organizers have revealed a handful of new talks in the show's Customer Experience track, spanning a presentation on Microsoft's Age of Empires Online, a panel on modern community management, and more.

These talks all fall within GDC Online's Customer Experience track, which will feature numerous sessions to help developers better attract, retain, and monetize their players. Like the rest of GDC Online, these sessions will take place Tuesday, October 9 to Thursday, October 11 at the Austin Convention Center in Austin, Texas.

The full details on these new Customer Experience track sessions are as follows:

- First, Microsoft executive producer Kevin Perry will discuss the importance of transparent community management in "Age of Empires Online: Radical Transparency Clearly Works." Age of Empires Online had an extremely rough launch when it debuted in 2011, and as developers worked to fix its issues, the community team made sure to keep fans in the loop by giving them frequent updates about the game's process. During this talk, Perry will discuss how this open approach benefitted the game, and drastically changed the mood and behavior of the game's once-irate community.

- Elsewhere, former BioWare developer Jason Livingston will outline how he created a strong user support system in "Building a Successful Online Customer Support Program From Scratch." While working at BioWare, Livingston helped craft the customer support solution behind Star Wars: The Old Republic, and in this talk he'll discuss the best practices for building or improving a customer support organization on any budget.

- Finally, GDC Online's Customer Experience track will feature a robust panel titled "Community Relations Management Across the Board," in which speakers from all over the industry will discuss their approach to community management. Featuring speakers such as Meghan Jenks (Rebel Entertainment), Richard Weil (Metaverse Mod Squad), Linda Carlson (Sony Online Entertainment) and Alex Von Minden (Spacetime Studios), this panel will give attendees the change to learn more about how developers are approaching community management across a wide variety of platforms.

GDC China 2012 adds talks from Naughty Dog, Volition, more

The lineup for November's GDC China in Shanghai continues to grow today, adding some of the creators of key titles like Saints Row: The Third, Uncharted 3, and more.

These three newly announced sessions -- along with the rest of GDC China -- will take place November 17-19 at the Shanghai International Convention Center in Shanghai, China, and will bring together the world's leading developers to share knowledge and ideas that will benefit the Asian game industry and beyond.

The full details on GDC China's newest sessions are as follows:

- As part of the Production track, Volition player experience researcher Jordan Lynn will examine the best practices for making satisfying games in "Playtesting and Metrics: Getting the Most Out of Your Usability Testing." Drawing examples from games like Saints Row: The Third and Red Faction: Armageddon, Lynn will explain "how to integrate back-end telemetry into an existing playtest program," noting how it can help developers gather valuable information and ultimately make better games.

- Over in the conference's Game Design track, Naughty Dog senior game designer Benson Russell will host, "The Last 10, Going From Good To Awesome." Here, Russell will examine how the acclaimed studio behind Uncharted and The Last of Us ensures its games launch as polished as possible. He'll discuss the team's approach to managing development schedules, the level of detail developers should shoot for, and how to make a high-quality game while still shipping on time.

- Finally, Ubisoft Shanghai's Xu Wang will present the Game Design track lecture "From Console to Mobile: the Best Practices to Build Multi-Platform Games." During this session, Wang will discuss how developers can use some principles from console game development to make their mobile projects go much more smoothly. Looking at everything from development pipelines, technology and communication, Wang will examine the ways in which console expertise can benefit nearly all forms of multiplatform development.

See how Meridian 59 set the stage for modern MMOs at GDC Online 2012

The 3DO Company's Meridian 59 became one the first true 3D MMOs when it debuted on PC in 1995, and the game even laid the foundation for games like EverQuest, World of Warcraft, and more. It's remembered as one of the most seminal games of the 1990s, and at next month's GDC Online, you can see how the title came to be in a newly announced classic game postmortem.

In addition to this presentation, GDC organizers have also revealed a talk on securing top placement on digital marketplaces, as well as a robust hiring session featuring a handful of the industry's top developers.

These new talks all fall within GDC Online's Main Conference, which offers some of the world's leading content on persistent and online games. The event will be held Tuesday, October 9 to Thursday, October 11 at the Austin Convention Center in Austin, Texas.

The full details on GDC Online's latest sessions are as follows:

- In GDC Online's newest classic game postmortem, Meridian 59 lead designer Damion Schubert, now a BioWare developer working on Star Wars: The Old Republic, will share "how he and his team created a game that would inspire decades-worth of massively multiplayer online RPGs."

Schubert will run through the game's creation from beginning to end, detailing how the game took creative risks and broke new ground for the many online games that followed in its wake.

- Elsewhere, Jason Ing, Microsoft's head of marketing for the Xbox Live Marketplace, will host an in-depth session on the importance of getting favorable placement for your game on Xbox Live, the iTunes App Store, and other digital storefronts.

Ing believes games that secure a prominent spot are much more likely to find success, and in "Getting Storefront Placement for Discoverability," he will outline the process he uses to identify high-profile titles, and will share some general principles to help developers maximize the discoverability of their digital games.

- Finally, GDC Online will host a "Massive Multi-Recruiter Developer Hiring Session," in which major studios from all over the industry will try to attract new talent by discussing their teams and the positions they're hiring for. The event is open to all GDC Online attendees, and is a great opportunity for anyone looking for a big break, a lateral move, or the next step in their career.

Featured recruiters at the event include Emily Gabrian (Harmonix), Kriste Stull (Sony Computer), Kevin Moot (The Nerdery), Mara Flores (Multimedia Games, Inc.), Michael Sheets (Kabam), Ashley Pierce (Bioware) and James Rivers (Nexon America, Inc).

GDC Online debuts talks on Fallout DLC, pen and paper games, and more

This year's Game Narrative Summit at GDC Online next month in Austin, TX is quickly becoming one of the event's most robust yet, and today GDC organizers have revealed even more Summit sessions featuring a behind the scenes look at the DLC for Fallout: New Vegas, a talk on writing for both paper and electronic games, and more.

Now in its seventh year, the Game Narrative Summit -- formerly the Game Writers Conference -- will once again take place at GDC Online, showcasing leading industry professionals on the many facets of interactive storytelling, with sessions ranging from roundtable discussions, workshops, case studies, and more.

This Summit will run alongside the rest of GDC Online, which will take place October 9-11 at the Austin Convention Center in Austin, Texas.

The full details on these new Summit sessions are as follows:

- In "A 4 Hour Story in 400 Simple Steps: Fallout DLC," Obsidian Entertainment's creative director, Chris Avellone, will explain how the studio created small-scale RPG narratives in its 2010 hit, Fallout: New Vegas. Throughout his talk, Avellone will offer a number of tips to help game writers create story flowcharts, build emotional vistas, proofread their scripts, and edit their interactive storylines.

- Elsewhere, game scriptwriter Daniel Greenberg will host, "How NOT to Freelance," detailing some common mistakes among independent game writers. Drawing from his experience working with licenses like The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Crysis, and more, Greenberg will discuss his own mistakes, how he handled them, and what other writers can do to avoid those same errors.

- Finally, a panel of pen and paper game designers will discuss how their experience in the non-digital world helped them become better video game developers. During the talk, "The Journey from Paper Games to Digital Games - What Writers Have Learned," the panelists will discuss how the history of the pen and paper industry has played a major role in shaping modern game development.

Speakers at this panel include ArenaNet's Angel Leigh McCoy, Zenimax's Sam Lewis, and Crossover Technologies' Eric Goldberg, freelancer Thomas Reid, and Schell Games veteran Sheri Ray.

GDC Online adds Ultima Forever postmortem, Unity, startup sessions

With GDC Online's October kickoff quickly approaching, the show's organizers have revealed a trio of new talks, including a postmortem of BioWare Mythic's Ultima Forever, a Unity session on multiplatform game development, and some bootstrapping tips from social startup PerBlue.

These new talks all fall within GDC Online's Main Conference, which offers some of the world's leading content on persistent and online games. The event will be held Tuesday, October 9 to Thursday, October 11 at the Austin Convention Center in Austin, Texas.

The full details on GDC Online's newly announced sessions are as follows:

- In Ultima Forever: Reimagining a Classic, BioWare Mythic senior creative director Paul Barnett will discuss how the studio drew inspiration from the classic Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar, and reimagined it as an all-new free-to-play online game. This lecture will join the previously announced Ultima Online classic game postmortem, and will showcase how the renowned Ultima franchise has been updated by modern game designers to put a distinctly different spin on the IP.

- As part of GDC Online's Production track, Unity director of games monetization Adam Gutterman will host "The Challenges (and Promise!) of Multiplatform Production." Here, he will outline the challenges of multiplatform game development, and will offer some business-focused advice to help developers decide whether this production strategy is the right fit for their game.

- Elsewhere, highly rated GDC speaker Justin Beck will share some tips for getting a startup off the ground in the Business & Marketing track session, "Bootstrapping 101: How College Kids Built a Thriving Game Company in Under Three Years." Here, he will share lessons learned from the social startup PerBlue (Parallel Kingdom), detailing "why we turned down seed funding and how we compensated team members when we had no money."

GDC China 2012 reveals first Smartphone, Indie Summit sessions

In the latest update for this November's GDC China, event organizers have revealed the show's first three Summit sessions, which cover how to achieve long-term success on mobile platforms, some tips for improving user acquisition, and whether indies should find a publisher or work on their own.

These sessions fall within the Smartphone & Tablet Games Summit and the Independent Games Summit, which will run alongside the show's Main Conference, and offer specialized content focused on these two very important realms of the modern video game landscape.

These Summits will take place alongside GDC China's Main Conference on November 17-19.

The full details on these new Summit sessions are as follows:

- As part of the Smartphone & Tablet Games Summit, NaturalMotion Games' Struan Robertson will discuss how his studio has maintained success on mobile devices with games like My Horse and the extremely popular CSR Racing (pictured). His talk, "Mobile Social - The Future is Quality," will discuss how to attract a dedicated, sophisticated player base by focusing on specific gameplay mechanics and crafting a high-quality user experience.

- In that same Summit, Chartboost's Maria Alegre will host, "User Acquisition: The Latest Trends, Tools and Best Practices." Here, Alegre will examine a number of iOS and Abdroid games that have found their way to the top of the app charts, detailing the tools they used, how successful they were, and how the mobile user acquisition market is changing.

- Over in the Independent Games Summit, noted Chinese indie Wen Chen of Coconut Island Studio (One Tap Hero for iOS) will discuss the best way to distribute your independent game in "Self-Publishing or Find a Publisher?" Chen will compare these two very different publishing strategies, and will give indie developers a better understanding of how they can get their games into players' hands.

IGF China reminds on Monday entry deadline for 2012 competition

Following another successful event in 2011, this November's Independent Games Festival China is beginning to take shape, and developers looking to feature their games at the event should act soon, as the call for indie game submissions ends on Monday, September 10.

IGF China -- which will take place alongside GDC China in Shanghai -- is accepting submissions from developers from throughout the pan-Pacific area, which includes both Asian and Australian regions. To enter, simply fill out the submissions form on the official GDC China website.

As in previous years, IGF China will be divided into three main segments: The IGF Summit, the IGF Pavilion, and the IGF Awards. The IGF Summit will feature sessions from some of the world's top developers, while the IGF Pavilion will showcase some of the region's best independent and student games.

The prestigious IGF Awards, meanwhile, will be split into both Main and Student competitions, and will honor the many talented developers in both China and its surrounding regions.

The 2012 IGF China Main Competition will give out awards and cash prizes in five categories, including:

- Best Game (RMB20,000 ~ $3,150 USD)
- Best Mobile Game (RMB10,000 ~ $1,570 USD)
- Excellence in Audio (RMB5,000 ~ $780 USD)
- Excellence in Technology (RMB5,000 ~ $780 USD)
- Excellence in Visual Arts (RMB5,000 ~ $780 USD)

The Student Competition, meanwhile, will offer two awards, for Best Student Game (RMB10, 000 ~ $1,570 USD, 1 Winner) and Excellent Student Winner (RMB3, 000 ~$470 USD, 2 Winners).

GDC Online 2012 adds Koster keynote, new game design sessions

With experience working on titles ranging from Ultima Online to Star Wars Galaxies, industry veteran Raph Koster has developed quite a bit of expertise on online game design, and at next month's GDC Online, he'll present a robust keynote detailing his theory for creating fun in the modern online game industry.

Alongside his keynote, GDC Online organizers have also revealed two new Design track sessions, covering the best practices for video game analytics and the evolving tastes of female players.

These new talks all fall within GDC Online's Main Conference, which offers some of the world's leading content on persistent and online games. The event will be held Tuesday, October 9 to Thursday, October 11 at the Austin Convention Center in Austin, Texas.

The full details on GDC Online's newly announced sessions are as follows:

- In Raph Koster's keynote, the 2012 Online Game Legend Award recipient will reflect on a speech he gave 10 years ago at the very first GDC Online - then known as the Austin Game Conference. In that keynote, Koster explored why games matter, how they teach players, and what fun is.

In his upcoming presentation, dubbed "A Theory of Fun 10 Years Later," he'll revisit those ideas and address how his theory has changed over the last decade, reexamining the importance of how games interact with their players.

- Elsewhere, Bigpoint's Christian Godorr and Stefanie Hels will host "Separating Signal from Noise: Leveraging Creative Analytics for Game Design." Here, the pair will explain how to look past cliched terms like "Monthly Active Users" and "Lifetime Value" to find the proper way to blend data-driven analytics with real, creative game design.

- Finally, Real Life Plus creative director Terry Redfield will examine female player demographics in "It's Not Your Game, It's Me: How a Woman's Taste in Games May Change As She Ages." Redfield, who has also worked on titles such as Psychonauts and Gardens of Time, will use the latest research on female hormone and neurological studies to examine how certain game mechanics appeal to distinct female age groups.

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