November 6, 2004

You’re Going to Meet Some Gentle Gamers There

by Andrew Stern · , 10:53 am

The website is now live for the 2005 Game Developers Conference, to be held in early March in San Francisco. The variety and quality of presentations and panels are as superb as ever (see last year’s list, post-conference impressions).

Here are this year’s sessions that should be of particular interest to GTxA folk:

Dissecting Interactive Design, Cliff Bleszinski — theory of how any game can be split up into a series of “loops” of varying complexity; added understanding of the ever elusive concept of fun

Education of a Game Designer, Roundtable, moderated by Katie Salen — the curricular needs and challenges of teaching and learning game design

Experimental Gameplay Workshop 2005, organized by Jonathan Blow — somewhere out there, people are pursuing fresh and exciting game design ideas
Indie Game Jam — a yearly game design and programming event designed to encourage experimentation and innovation in the game industry. A very small volunteer team of professional game developers creates a new custom game engine with a single technology focus, and then we invite a slightly larger group of game programmer-designers to get together and make as many innovative games as possible over a four-day period

Fable: Lessons Learned, Gameplay Moves Forward into the 21st Century, Peter Molyneux — two talks: a postmortem of Fable, and “the future of gameplay as exemplified by Lionhead’s projects”
(So, tell me again why Fable‘s name got changed from its original title, Project Ego? – ed. ;-)

The Future of Content — “Will Wright discusses the future of content in the games industry. What more do you need to know?”

Game Design Atoms: Can Game Designs Be Diagrammed? Raph Koster — an exploration of a proposed refinement to the game design process in which a more efficient method of laying out game design elements is explored

Game Design Challenge: The Emily Dickinson License, Panel, moderator Eric Zimmerman, panelists Richard Garriott, Peter Molyneux, Will Wright — Will Wright returns to defend his crown as the Game Design Challenge champion. This year, he and his two opponents attempt to design a game around the poetry of Emily Dickinson

Independent Games Festival — See and play 20 experimental independent games in competition for cash and glory. Showcased on the expo floor, which is a relatively inexpensive registration fee.

Indie Power: Can You Make a Better Game? Christopher Williamson — explore and discuss ways to succeed as an indie developer

Interactive Narratives Revisited: Ten Years of Research, Ernest W. Adams — examining the advances made in interactive narratives since 1995

Looking for the Hard Core of Game Studies, Frans Mayra — the current state and future potential of game studies and academic involvement in the game industry

None Dare Call It Censorship, Daniel Greenberg — is the games business heading into an era of unprecedented government intrusion and censorship?

Overcoming the challenge of making a creatively and financially successful new game, Doug Church — the daunting process of making a creatively and financially successful original game

Preserving Videogame History: Looking For Data In Several Wrong Places, Roundtable, moderated by Simon Carless (Managing Editor, Gamasutra) — discuss and explore the need for preserving our history and how to make it happen

Serious Games Summit, organized by Ben Sawyer — a sequel to the standing-room only tutorial launched in 2004 and October 2004’s sold-out Serious Games Summit DC. This year’s summit will focus on improving the game development industry’s ability to produce and sell its work to non-entertainment clients

Sophisticated Real-Time Machine Learning on Today’s Consoles, John Funge, Xiaoyuan Tu — new advanced machine learning techniques called Context Learning enable a game to observe human players as they play, construct models of that play, and then use the models to drive the activity of other characters in the game

Understanding the Player: Natural Language Processing for Games, Michael Mateas, Andrew Stern — a tractable rule-based approach to natural language understanding (NLU) within games, supporting robust characters that players can talk to in their own words, and using the example of the interactive drama Facade

Why Isn’t the Game Industry Making Interactive Stories? Panel, moderator Andrew Stern, panelists Neil Young, Warren Spector, Michael Mateas, TBD — what is it truly going to take for the game industry to reach the point of building mass-appeal interactive story experiences?

Why We Play Games Together: The People Factor, Nicole Lazzaro — insight from how popular games leverage social interaction to increase impact, without narrative, huge asset libraries, and lots of AI

Wiring Narrative into Play: a Practical Primer, Hal Barwood — the definitive guide to integrating narrative into gameplay. Learn why narrative is vital, learn to use story elements to inform game structure, learn how to prevent dissipating narrative vitality, learn how to construct flexible narrative that accomodates play, and learn how to control narrative efficiency

Other very interesting sessions include:

Adaptive Music Jam, Jason Booth, Chuck Doud, Guy Whitmore — a presentation of multiple interactive music systems being actively used in games today

AI Interface Standards: First Specifications, Alexander Nareyek, Nathan Combs — the latest AI spec updates from the Interface Standards Committee

Attracting Women Into Game Development, Sande Chen, Michelle Sorger

Befuddlement in Action: Classic Usability Problems in Games and How to Avoid Them, Ramon Romero Tom Lorusso

Casual Games Summit, organized by Steve Meretzky — a full day of examining casual games in depth. Aspects of design, art, production, and marketing will be discussed
The Death of 3-in-a-Row: A Brave New Casual Game World, Joel Brodie — examination of the casual game market for those looking to enter this burgeoning space

Counting Women: The Dollars and Cents Behind Female Gamers, Panel, Clarinda Merripen, Schelley Olhava, Aleks Krotoski, Mia Consalvo, Richard Ow

Persistent Versus Instantiated Spaces: The Great Online Game Debate, Panel, Starr Long, Raph Koster, Jack Emmert, Jeff Strain — roundtable discussion of online gaming and the differences between Diablo-style instantiated spaces and Everquest-style persistent spaces

Quality of Life Summit: An IGDA Think-Tank
Quality of Life – Best Practices
Jason Della Rocca; Francois Dominic Laramée — is it possible to be successful in the games industry, while enjoying a high quality of life?

The CTOs Talk, Ned Lerner, Doug Church, David Brickhill, Scott Cronce, Chris Satchell, Brent Iverson — what do the top technical officers in the top game companies think about our business?

What Design? Design Communication Methods That Work, Carl Schnurr — methods for keeping communication lines open between your artists, designers, programmers, producers, publishers, marketers, and anyone else involved in the development process