Building a game that people play for years is no simple task and has no magic formula. However, at GDC 2015 Clash of Clans developer Jonas Collaros took a shot at deconstructing the hit game's development history and asking: what lessons can developers learn from Clash?
The mobile, free-to-play marketplace is rife with challenges, even for veteran developers, and Collaros believes the greatest challenge is maintaining a focus on the essentials.
A project's essential needs change again and again, especially over the span of years. In exploring the "three eras" of Clash development, Jonas revealed the specific needs, challenges, and pitfalls they encountered along the way.
It was a thoughtful, earnest talk that offered some useful insight into both Supercell's design process and the challenges of maintaining a popular mobile game throughout years of play. If you missed Collaros' talk at GDC back in March, you can now watch the whole thing for free over on the GDC Vault.
User interface design is often neglected until the final stages of game development, but giving the issue even a modicum of consideration at the outset of your project can pay big dividends down the road.
Blizzard's remarkably successful Hearthstone is a prime example; "our game is UI" exclaimed Hearthstone senior UI designer Derek Sakamoto at GDC 2015, where he took the stage to deliver a detailed breakdown of how the company went about designing, scrapping and redesigning the user interface for its breakout free-to-play digital card game.
It was a good talk, and the recorded version is worth watching for artists, designers and anyone who struggles with making their game more enjoyable to interact with. Now, you can watch it for free via the GDC Vault.
Oculus CTO and id Software co-founder John Carmack believes the dawn of widespread mobile VR technology is close. Many game developers agree, and they're scrambling to sort out how to design compelling games and experiences that take advantage of the unique advantages (and shortcomings) of contemporary VR headsets.
At GDC 2015, Carmack offered them some concrete advice by sitting down to chat about the technical details, techniques and strategies you should know to improve the quality of your VR games, applications, and experiences.
He also shared some thoughts on the future of VR, including what it means for the mobile ecosystem, and answered questions from the audience for as long as he could.
As usual, Carmack's talk was thorough, frank and done completely without notes. It was also quite lengthy, and if you missed seeing all 90 minutes of it in person you can now watch it for free over on the GDC Vault.
Procedural generation can be a lifesaver when you need to build a big game with a small team, but building tools that can quickly generate content which conforms to high standards of design is still tricky business.
While there exists a myriad of well-documented algorithms for generating procedural content, the combination and usage of these techniques is far more of an art than a science. At GDC 2015, 17-Bit engineer Zach Aikman explained that many approaches were considered when building procedural levels in the studio's '80s anime space-shooter Galak-Z, and almost as many were rejected.
Aikman discussed a few different failed approaches before presenting a detailed breakdown of Galak-Z's dungeon generator, including its usage of some unorthodox math, and his thoughts on the proper balance between hand-crafted and procedural content.
It was a very thorough, frank talk on the contemporary challenges of this approach to design, and if you missed it in person you can now watch it for free over on the GDC Vault.
How do you design a multiplayer level to support sustained play at a professional level? If you're Valve, you work directly with the people who are ultimately the biggest stakeholders: the players themselves.
As part of the GDC 2015 eSports Summit, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive community level designers Shawn Snelling and Salvatore Garozzo stepped up to speak frankly about the process of building CS:GO levels and how it can inform multiplayer game design at large.
To hear them tell it, modern level designers can learn much from reaching out to expert players and keeping tabs on whether environments are being designed to be functional first and visually appealing second, rather than the other way 'round.
It was an interesting talk, and developers who missed it can now watch it for free over on the GDC Vault.
If Fullbright's 2013 game Gone Home didn't pioneer the genre of first-person exploration games ("walking simulators"), it certainly popularized the term and inspired a host of developers to try their hands at crafting games with narratives that are found, rather than told.
At GDC 2015, Fullbright's Kate Craig and Steve Gaynor took the stage to discuss the techniques they used to breathe life into the lifeless 3D levels that make up Gone Home.
Together they shared approaches for connecting with player psychology and emotion via level layout, design, and decoration.
It was a good talk, rife with best practices for researching and constructing authentic, believable spaces for players to inhabit, and now you can watch it for free over on the GDC Vault.
Developing genuinely novel game mechanics means you often end up navigating more problems than you'd ever anticipated.
During the GDC 2015 Independent Games Summit, Klei designer James Lantz showcased how you might overcome those challenges while discussing the design of Invisible, Inc.'s procedural stealth, from its conception to its conclusion.
His talk covers how Klei approaches new mechanics, and presents examples of how you can fall into every single hidden pitfall, climb your way out, and come out on the other side with something fun.
It's a warm, insightful talk that's indie-focused but broadly applicable to all developers, no matter what you're working on. If you missed it, the video recording is now available to watch for free right here on the GDC Vault.
More than a year passed between the PlayStation 3 release of Naughty Dog's visual showcase The Last Of Us and its revamped PlayStation 4 version The Last Of Us Remastered.
Much of that time was spent getting the studio's engine tech up and running on Sony's new console, and at GDC 2015 Naughty Dog programmer Christian Gyrling gave a detailed walkthrough of the many modifications the team discovered and implemented along the way.
It's a good, deeply technical talk that covers the fiber-based job system Naughty Dog adopted for the game, the overall frame-centric engine design, the memory allocation patterns used in the title, and the studio's strategies for dealing with locks.
Now you can watch the recording of his talk, "Parallelizing the Naughty Dog Engine Using Fibers" right here for free on the GDC Vault.
The groundbreaking 1990 adventure game Loom helped pioneer what would become LucasArts' adventure game design philosophy: that players should never have to deal with dead ends, accidental deaths or forced restarts.
At GDC 2015 Loom designer Brian Moriarty, whose lengthy game development career spans stints at Infocom, Lucasfilm Games/LucasArts and other ventures, delivered an in-depth postmortem of Loom's intriguing development.
The game proved to be a remarkably mature fantasy adventure with an innovative musical interface and a flexible, beginner-friendly design, and Moriarty's talk spanned the entire history of the project, from conception to shipping, together with amusing production anecdotes, little-known facts, and rare artifacts from his personal collection of Lucasfilm memorabilia
It was an excellent talk, and now you can watch a recording of it for free over on the GDC Vault.
Game industry veteran Howard Scott Warshaw took the stage at GDC 2015 to deliver a Classic Game Postmortem of his very first game, the seminal Atari 2600 title Yars' Revenge, and in the process he shared some valuable insight into a pivotal period of game industry history.
Warshaw's efforts at Atari in the '80s helped advance the practice of game design; his work on Raiders of the Lost Ark is one of the earliest examples of highly successful licensed game development, while the unreasonable pressures put upon him to create a game with the E.T. license led to a financial failure that presaged the North American game industry crash of 1983.
He touched on all these topics during his GDC talk, which was predominantly focused on diving deep into his work designing and coding Yars' Revenge, widely believed to be one of the most popular Atari 2600 games.
It was a remarkable talk, and now you can watch a recording of it for free over on the GDC Vault.
Virtual reality game development is a hot button topic, and few studios have been experimenting with VR games longer than Valve.
The firm has been creating advanced prototype VR HMD's since mid-2013, and Valve engineer Alex Vlachos believes that experience has afforded him and his colleagues a ton of unique VR-specific rendering knowledge.
At GDC 2015, Vlachos took the stage to share that knowledge with VR-curious developers and deconstruct the unique rendering challenges that come with VR game development.
Beginning with the basic requirements of VR rendering, Vlachos walked his audience through topics like efficient stereo rendering, reducing rendering latency, constrained anisotropic lighting, and other practical tips and tricks relating directly to VR rendering performance and quality.
It's a fascinating talk that runs down a ton of technical insight in just over an hour, and now you can watch it for free over on the GDC Vault.
Designing and operating a massively multiplayer online game is a Herculean effort in itself -- but how do you rapidly pack it with enough stuff to do that your players don't get bored?
In a talk recorded at GDC Online 2011, BioWare's Georg Zoeller uses Star Wars: The Old Republic to explain how spatial analysis can be used to support a rapid content iteration process during the late stages of MMO development.
He reveals how BioWare's homegrown 'HoloProjector' spatial visualization toolkit is used in day to day development to surface user behavior metrics to The Old Republic's developers for decision making and content validation, then discusses lessons learned by the team and provides information on how to get started with the topic on your own game.
It's a thorough, informative talk that you can now watch for free over on the GDC Vault.
Here's a fun design challenge: How do you make a first-person game that tells a cogent story, while still allowing players to explore and make meaningful choices, without common FPS game mechanics like combat or player death?
Campo Santo aims to do just that with Firewatch, and at GDC 2015 developers Nels Anderson and Jake Rodkin spoke at length about how Firewatch is being built with those objectives in mind.
Level design is the primary focus of their talk, but they also cover world structure, goals and gating, "encounter" design and the technical tools used as they explain where the design of a non-combat exploration game mirrors other first-person games -- and where it differs.
It's a design-centric talk worth watching for all developers -- especially those working on first-person experiences -- and now you can do just that for free here on the GDC Vault.
Veteran programmer Michael Abrash currently serves as Chief Scientist at Oculus VR, but he didn't always work on virtual reality; from Valve to Microsoft to id to Rad Game Tools, Abrash's long career has spanned multiple corners of both the video game and computer graphics industry.
At GDC 2000, Abrash took the stage after a two-year sabbatical from games with a new appreciation for the beauty of game programming and new perspectives on some key areas.
He delivered a thoughtful talk on what he'd learned over nearly two decades of performance-oriented game and graphics programming, and how that time away from the field helped him understand what makes games programming such an exciting and idiosyncratic field.
The recording of his talk has been digitally preserved for posterity, and now you can watch it for yourself right here for free on the GDC Vault.
When Creative Assembly set out to make Alien: Isolation, creative director Alistair Hope claims the goal was to make "the Alien game we had always wanted to play" -- a game that emulated the original film's "mise-en-scène" of a haunted house in space, where just one enemy could be terrifying, and provide meaningful encounters to an underpowered and underprepared player.
At GDC 2015, Hope took the stage to discuss how the studio went about designing such a game and share the story of how Alien: Isolation's developers overcame their own fears and uncertainties during development.
He also plotted the journey from initial vision through the studio's practical design efforts, paying special attention to the design of the game's visual and aural landscapes and how they evoke dread.
If you missed it in person, Hope's "Building Fear in Alien: Isolation" talk is now available to watch for free via the GDC Vault.
Most people have great ideas for games -- how do you go about taking those ideas and turning them into a full-fledged release?
During the recent GDC 2015 Independent Games Summit, Ivy Games lead developer Erin Robinson shared her experiences developing her charming physics-based puzzler Gravity Ghost from a simple idea to a complete, critically-acclaimed game.
It was a good talk that provided developers a detailed breakdown of the many design decisions necessary for turning an experimental gravity mechanic into a full, well-rounded game. Robinson explained how she dealt with frequently abandoning ideas that didn't work, learning what to listen for when playtesting, and staying true to a central theme in every aspect of the art, design, and story.
The video of her talk is now available to watch for free via the GDC Vault.
At GDC last month Fred Ford and Paul Reiche III, the game design duo who cofounded the venerable Toys For Bob 25 years ago, delivered a classic postmortem on their influential 1990 space adventure series Star Control.
As one of the first games to place players in command a starship and allow them to chart their own course -- either alone or with a friend -- in a remarkably well-realized virtual galaxy, Star Control and its many sequels blazed a trail that many game developers still follow today.
Speaking onstage at GDC 2015 with writer/developer Rob Dubbin, the Star Control creators spoke at length about the influences that inspired their design and the challenges they faced during development. It was an insightful, candid talk, and now you can watch it for free via the GDC Vault.
80 Days writer Meg Jayanth believes a game-writer is often seen as a fixer, and the story as a tool to explain mechanics and motivation.
But as part of the GDC 2015 Independent Games Summit, Jayanth spoke about how stories can do much more for players, and for the games themselves.
Drawing on her experience as the writer of the critically-acclaimed 80 Days, she made an argument for the collaborative process she used in conjunction with Inkle Studios to build a machine for telling stories, and how indies in particular are ideally placed to create game stories which engage, surprise, discomfit and delight players.
It was a good talk, and now you can watch it for free via the GDC Vault.
Veteran programmer, designer and The Learning Company founder Warren Robinett took to the stage at GDC 2015 last month to deliver a thorough, engaging postmortem on the creation of his hit 1979 game Adventure for the Atari 2600 console.
If you're not familiar with the game, know that Adventure is particularly notable for (among other things) being one of the first graphical action-adventure games ever released.
Adventure also contained one of the earliest known "Easter eggs" ever hidden in a game by a designer -- in this case, a hidden screen revealing Atari employee Robinett's name and authorship at a time when Atari was unwilling to publicly credit game makers for their work.
Thus his efforts to create Adventure meaningfully advanced both the practice of game development and the fight for developers to be recognized for their work. His talk on the topic was excellent, and you can watch it right now for free via the GDC Vault.
Games often draw inspiration from big-budget summer blockbusters, but in the long history of film and theater there lies a wealth of other genres and techniques that developers can learn from.
For example, Cardboard Computer's Tamas Kemenczy took to the stage during the GDC 2014 Independent Games Summit to deliver an intriguing talk about the the environment design and cinematography of Kentucky Route Zero that delves into his studio's use of theatrical stagecraft and "slow cinema" in game design.
Borrowing the lens of scenography, Kemenczy runs down some notable set designs, architecture, and filmmakers that influenced Kentucky Route Zero's art direction, and how the game balances mood, realism and the mundane through its various set pieces.
Now you can watch his talk right here for free via the GDC Vault.
What's the best way to go about building all the in-game content you need to sell in a free-to-play game?
Speaking at GDC 2014, Valve's Bronwen Grimes says that the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive team faced two huge challenges in doing just that.
First, they needed to create enough content to satisfy over a million players with only two artists. Second, they had to figure out what their players valued -- and what they would pay for.
Her talk illuminated how Valve's CS:GO team reduced their content creation time so they could focus on design, and shed light on what makes a free-to-play game economy successful.
Watch it now for free via the GDC Vault.
What goes into making a cult hit?
At GDC 2014 Taro Yoko, director of games like Nier and the Drakengard series, talked about the process he uses to create worlds and stories that get noticed and foster dedicated fans.
Recounting his experiences on those games and others, Yoko explained his personal development methods, such as backwards scriptwriting (where the ending defines the entire setting), and what he calls "photo thinking" -- thinking photographically to maintain a cohesive setting.
His "Making Weird Games For Weird People" talk is worth watching, and you can do so right now for free (with live English translation) over on the GDC Vault.
Japanese speakers may also appreciate this untranslated version of Yoko's presentation.
Romantic relationships between lead characters are a staple of role-playing games, dating sims and other titles; for some players, they're the most memorable part of the story.
But veteran writer Chris Dahlen believes that developers have been exploring the most basic models of building affinity between characters for so long that the results are getting predictable.
During the GDC 2014 Narrative Summit, Dahlen took to the stage to explore new models that introduce more surprise, tension and challenge, taking lessons especially from romantic comedy films.
It's a talk worth watching for all developers intent on crafting compelling character relationships in their games, and you can do so right now for free on the GDC Vault.
Prior to launching Infinifactory this year, developer Zach Barth was perhaps best known for SpaceChem, a design-based puzzle game about fake science and cosmic horror.
At GDC 2013 Barth dug into the differences between SpaceChem and other puzzle games, offered advice on how to make your own design-based puzzles, and demonstrated how to build community features around them.
It's a good, timeless talk that also includes cautionary tales from the development of SpaceChem regarding appeal, difficulty, and tutorial design.
Barth also covers rapid-fire, post-launch insights and sales data, and now you can watch the video of his talk for free courtesy of the GDC Vault.
Game worlds with touch interfaces are everywhere, but is it possible to build a world you can feel with your fingertips?
With Tearaway, Media Molecule set out to build a digital papercraft adventure that you can hold in your hands, and interact with, in a uniquely tactile way on Playstation Vita.
At GDC 2013, Tearaway creative lead Rex Crowle described the challenges of designing and building a world that can flex, fold, tear and crumple under the fingertips of players.
He also explained in detail how the team designed digital tools to allow the game world to be built so realistically that it can be spooled out of any printer and remade in real paper as players progress on that journey.
It's a talk worth watching, and you can do so right now for free via the GDC Vault.
The art in SimCity has a big job to do.
According to EA's Ocean Quigley, it's providing the player with a toolkit for city creation, it's enabling the illusion of a living city, and it's showing the player what's going on in the underlying simulation.
At GDC 2013, Quigley spoke in detail about the motivations that drove SimCity's aesthetics and the methods that were developed to achieve them.
He also described the techniques that were used to make SimCity's dynamically composable world, and the techniques that were used for authoring the buildings, vehicles, networks, and Sims that populate it in his talk, "Building SimCity: Art in the Service of Simulation", which you can watch right now for free via the GDC Vault.
As part of the GDC 2014 Independent Games Summit, 22cans founder and industry veteran Peter Molyneux talked through his ideas of connecting millions of people together as a newly-independent developer who "grew up indie."
He shared some learnings gleaned from Curiosity: What's Inside the Cube?, the Steam early access debut of Godus, and how they fed into his attempt to re-invent the god game genre with Godus.
He also spoke a bit about why he chose to leave Microsoft and found 22cans in the first place, addressing the "creatively energizing" risks of being an indie developer.
Plus, Molyneux ruminated a bit on how the experience of working in big AAA teams shaped him into the (indie) designer that he is today during his talk, which you can watch right now for free here on the GDC Vault.
From Cave Story to Guacamelee! and Axiom Verge, the long-running "Metroidvania" genre of 2D action/adventure platformers continues to exert an undying allure upon both developers and players.
At GDC 2014, veteran designer Koji Igarashi examined the evolution of the Metroidvania genre through the lens of his own experience working on some of its most iconic games in a talk entitled "There and Back Again: Koji Igarashi's Metroidvania Tale."
Igarashi's talk spanned the genre's beginnings with 8-bit classics like Metroid, through its rebirth via Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and the many games that have since been released in the series, right up to the current generation of console hardware.
Igarashi also shared some of his own personal experiences and his game design methodology during the talk, which you can watch (translated into English) right now for free here on the GDC Vault.
China-based Reality Square Games has seen remarkably growth in the past three years, expanding from rural central China to modern Shanghai on the strength of its work as a game localizer and operator, and at GDC 2014 Reality Squared's Shaun Newcomer shared lessons learned along the way.
From gameplay to monetization, linguistics to UI/UX, Newcomer explained how foreign developers can tackle the challenges of Chinese game localization and shared an insider's perspective on the nature of China's game market.
His talk, "Journey to the West: A Chinese Game Localization Primer", is now available to watch for free via the GDC Vault.
At GDC 2014, a panel of Brazilian game makers offered insight into how the Brazilian indie game development scene operates, how you can nurture a game development culture in a region where it doesn't exist, and why it's important for the health of the industry to do so.
Their talk, "Emerging Communities: A Snapshot of the Brazilian Indie Game Development Scene", is now available to watch for free via the GDC Vault.
Over two decades ago, in the middle of a firestorm of criticism against video games caused by the release of Mortal Kombat, Ernest Adams asked several friends to help him set up a professional society for game developers.
He didn't want it to be a union or a trade association, and he knew it would be a tough sell to traditionally independent-minded game makers.
At GDC 2014, Adams took a wry and humorous look back over the 20-year history of the International Game Developers Association with reflections on what went wrong, what went right, how in some ways it has exceeded his wildest dreams, and why he sees it to be more valuable than ever as our industry continues to evolve.
"Herding Cats Doesn't Begin to Describe It: Reflections on 20 Years of the IGDA" proved to be an interesting talk, and now you can watch it right here for free on the GDC Vault.
Contemporary game development quality assurance tends to involve players predominantly in beta testing, with some productions getting players to test alpha builds as well.
That works well enough, but crowdsourcing researcher Jedrzej Czarnota believes far more beneficial applications of players' skills and ability can be found beyond the simple toolkit approach.
Based on extensive research on games like EVE Online, Czarnota detailed some advanced QA approaches as part of the GDC 2014 QA Summit, and offered developers practical advice on how and why to implement them.
Now you can watch his talk, "Harnessing Your Players as a QA Resource: Benefits and Practice", right here for free on the GDC Vault.
At GDC 2014's Localization Summit an indie developer and an experienced game localizer gave a great talk on localization using the indie game Expeditions: Conquistador as a case study.
Their brief talk offers key info that indie game developers should know about localization, like: how much does it cost? Will you recoup the investment of the localization? What's the best way to go about it?
Now you can watch their talk, "Indie Game Localization: Is It Worth It?" right here for free on the GDC Vault.
The game industry is evolving at a breakneck pace, and every aspect of game development needs to keep pace or risk being left behind.
Quality Assurance teams are no exception, and at GDC 2014 a panel of QA experts from across the industry (Blizzard, Riot, Microsoft, Sony and more) came together to share lessons learned and offer advice on how game developers can take their QA efforts to the next level.
Now you can watch it right here for free on the GDC Vault.
Designing, developing, distributing and publishing games is perhaps one of the riskiest businesses around.
But you don't have to be a finance droid to make a few effective changes to your operation that will give you a better chance of long-term sustainability, and therefore, more creative freedom.
At GDC Next 2014, SuperData CEO Joost van Dreunen identifed the major stumbling blocks that game companies face, and examined how others have either overcome or succumbed to them to help developers stay in business while pursuing their passions. You can watch it now right here for free on the GDC Vault
Developing in public via Kickstarter or Steam's Early Access service is a new challenge for many developers, but French indie developer Amplitude Studios has been actively courting input from its fans for years.
According to Amplitude's Jeff Spock, the studio now shipped three games (one of which, Endless Space, won the 2013 Unity Award) while keeping its community fully involved in design, balancing, development priorities and feature suggestions.
Real talk about financing options, development planning, community recruitment and marketing make his "Bringing the Community into the Dev Team - A Look into Open Development" talk worth watching (for free!) via the GDC Vault.
Making a game is hard enough, but how do you take your idea for a game and successfully take it from concept art to finished product?
Every developer's path is different, and each holds valuable learnings for the industry. At GDC Next 2014, Three One Zero founders Adam Orth, Omar Aziz and independent artist Hogarth de la Plante went in-depth on the unorthodox development process that took Three One Zero's current game project ADR1FT from a concept on paper to a unique game/VR prototype to a publishing deal with 505 Games in the span of five months.
"Ten Weeks, Three Guys, One Shot: Taking ADR1FT from Concept to Publishing Deal" is a good talk that clearly details how they set goals at the beginning of the process, how they achieved them, and everything they learned in-between. Watch it here for free on the GDC Vault.
To hear Drinkbox Studios' Chris McQuinn tell it, a key quandary facing all developers is: how can you best maximize your game's exposure while spending "X" marketing dollars?
Speaking at the 2014 Game Developers Conference, McQuinn sought to help answer that question by running down how Drinkbox went about trying to get the word out about its first game, Tales From Space: About A Blob, the lessons it learned from doing so, and how it went on to apply those lessons towards partnering with PR firms to market its second and third (more successful) games, Mutant Blobs Attack and Guacamelee!
The talk, 'Indie Game Public Relations: 5 Years of Painful Lessons' is available to watch here on the GDC Vault.
Meaningful choice is one of the staples of good and compelling game design, but as a concept it's still poorly understood and rarely explored in detail, especially through the lens of level design.
s part of the GDC 2014 "Level Design In A Day" series of talks, 2K Games' Matthias Worch (former lead designer of the cancelled Star Wars 1313) took a deeper look at choice in games: why it is important, how it ties into the psychological underpinnings of why we play games, and how it connects to other fundamental concepts of game design like the space of possibility, motivation, player agency and the actual level design of a game.
The talk, 'Decisions That Matter - Meaningful Choice in Game and Level Design' is available to watch here on the GDC Vault.
Eugene Jarvis, the influential game designer best known for his work creating seminal arcade titles like Defender and Smash TV, delivered an upbeat classic game postmortem of his work on Robotron: 2084 at GDC 2014.
Jarvis, who currently serves as president and cofounder of the Raw Thrills arcade game studio, spoke at length about the creation of the arcade classic and revealed some interesting insight into the play mechanics, hardware, software, enemy dynamics and sound synthesis of Robotron.
His talk, 'Classic Game Postmortem: Robotron: 2084' is available to watch here on the GDC Vault.
NYU Game Center director Frank Lantz sees a deep schism in the contemporary world between rationality and emotion, reason and intuition, logic and feeling.
Games can actually offer us deep insight into this conflict, and at GDC 2014 Lantz spoke at length about how developers can study and create games that explore the gap.
The talk, 'Hearts and Minds' is available to watch here on the GDC Vault.
As more and more games are free-to-play or released to the public in alpha status, it's more important than ever for game makers to nurture long-lasting communities around their work so they can continue to thrive long after release.
Professional eSports broadcaster Sean "Day" Plott has managed to build a thriving audience for his work over the last five years, and at GDC 2014 he gave an excellent business-minded talk guiding developers through the principles he uses to stay connected and relevant to his audience.
The talk, 'Keeping a Community for Five Years: The Story of DayTV' is available to watch here on the GDC Vault.
The critical and commercial success of Bioshock Infinite owes much to the work Irrational Games did in modeling, animating and scripting the companion character Elizabeth.
Shawn Robertson served as animation director on the project, and at GDC 2014 he took the stage to explain in remarkable detail how the character design of Elizabeth evolved throughout the game's development and ultimately involved someone from every department of Irrational.
The talk, 'Creating Bioshock Infinite's Elizabeth' is available to watch here on the GDC Vault.
Game designer and GDC speaker Raph Koster hustled indie developers Adam Saltsman (Canabalt), Rami Ismail (Luftrausers) and Zach Gage (SpellTower) into a room at GDC Next earlier this year to ask them a series of questions about a central concern: how can a contemporary indie game maker stand out and get their games noticed in a market that grows more crowded by the day?
Their recommendations span the gamut, from adopting an eclectic style to taking advantage of indie-focused real-world events and subverting traditional grassroots marketing tactics.
The talk, 'Indie Grassroots Marketing' is available to watch here on the GDC Vault.
The story of how Ubisoft Montreal discovered Child of Light's iconic look is convoluted, and during a GDC talk earlier this year creative director Patrick Plourde walked through it from concept art to final product.
Using artwork, concept art and behind-the-scenes footage, Plourde goes through the various steps the team took to achieve its unique watercolor art style, covering the various successes and failures faced throughout the process.
His talk, 'The Art of Child of Light' is available to watch here on the GDC Vault.
Super Time Force, Capy Games' time-bending 2D puzzle-shooter, tackles several unusual design challenges that are probably familiar to you if you've ever worked on a game with time travel.
Capy Games' Kenneth Yeung addressed these issues and offered a first-hand look at the development of Super Time Force during a talk on the topic at the GDC 2014 Independent Games Summit.
His talk, 'Super Time Force: Solving the Time Travel Paradox' is available to watch here on the GDC Vault.
Rockstar North's Alastair MacGregor gave an excellent talk at GDC earlier this year that offered some fascinating insight into the audio design of Grand Theft Auto V, one of the most high-profile and heavily-produced games of 2013.
MacGregor ran down the audio production technologies and processes used by Rockstar North's audio team to replicate a realistic city environment, explaining how the techniques used to acoustically model Grand Theft Auto V's Liberty City evolved from the studio's earlier work on Red Dead Redemption and other Rockstar titles.
His talk, 'The Sound of Grand Theft Auto V' is available to watch here on the GDC Vault.
Nightclubs, libraries, art festivals -- these aren't typically places you'll find video games, but London-based Wild Rumpus organizer Marie Foulston believes they should be, and she explained why as part of a GDC 2014 panel on curating culture through video game events featuring a number of cutting-edge game event organizers.
It's worth watching, as these events are potentially bringing your games to new audiences, helping to build a more diverse, playful culture and community, and furthering the dialogue around games as an artistic medium.
The talk, 'Curating Video Game Culture: The New Wave of Video Game Events' is available to watch here on the GDC Vault.
In recent years, accessibility has exploded for the more than 20 percent of game enthusiasts with disabilities alongside the establishment of new design patterns for disabled players, rising awareness of the issue and a and broader customer base for developers who make accessible games.
But we're not perfect, and there are some common pitfalls in developing games for disabled players that all game makers should understand.
Expert Ian Hamilton spoke about the topic at GDC 2014 earlier this year, sharing lessons learned from when accessible game development hasn't gone well, and examples of success stories - both human benefit stories and examples of business cases.
His talk, 'Accessibility: Lessons Learned from Designing for Gamers with Disabilities' is available to watch here on the GDC Vault.
Ten days before launching SteamWorld Dig last August, Brjann Sigurgeirsson and his team at Image & Form thought they had a great game -- but only vague ideas on how to market it.
SteamWorld Dig went on to become an indie hit, and a year later Sigurgeirsson took the stage during the 2014 GDC Europe Independent Games Summit to deliver a postmortem on how it happened.
Watch "SteamWorld Dig Postmortem: How to Fail and Still Succeed at Launching an Indie Sensation" here on the GDC Vault.
Developers, how do you find the perfect art style for your game? Does the art serve the gameplay, or vice versa?
Veteran 3D game artist Luis Antonio believes it's important to think about your art direction only after you nail down the core mechanics and goal of your game. Doing so allows you to zero in on exactly what you need to show the player to best accentuate the experience of playing your game.
As part of a behind-the-scenes look at his role in the art creation process for Jonathan Blow's upcoming puzzle game The Witness, Antonio spoke at GDC 2014 about how important it is for developers to pare down the "noise" in their games and develop art styles that are clear, readable and subservient to the player experience.
Watch "The Art of The Witness" here on the GDC Vault.
Earlier this year, game industry veteran Ste Curran gave an impassioned presentation about the seemingly unending litany of fatal threats to the game industry as part of the Independent Games Summit at GDC Europe 2014.
There's no simple way to succintly sum up Curran's talk, but it's worth watching in full by anyone who works in development and seeks some small measure of catharsis.
Watch "Killing the Games Industry [Abridged]" here on the GDC Vault.
From Mario to Gone Home, video games have explored the concept of love in many different ways. But what happens when love is on the other side of the screen?
By drawing on experiences and examples of partnership in life and the creative industry, Claudia Molinari and Matteo Pozzi of We Are Muesli (Cave! Cave! Deus Videt) gave a talk at the GDC Europe 2014 Independent Games Summit about why and how love can impact independent game development in terms of workflow, project management, design choices and reciprocal inspiration.
Watch "All You Need Is L.O.V.E. - Indie Couples in Game Development" here on the GDC Vault.
Two years ago, independent developers Martin Jonasson and Petri Purho (Jesus vs. Dinosaurs), argued that one of the the best ways to make a satisfying game is to make it "juicy" -- the "juicier" your game is, the more fun it will be to play, as they explained in their "Juice It Or Lose It" talk at GDC Europe 2012.
Sets and Settings developer Folmer Kelly thinks that approach has value, but also significant weaknesses. He gave a talk at the GDC Europe Independent Games Summit this year in which he countered the "Juice It Or Lose It" philosophy of design by suggesting that while adding polish makes a game feel more alive, we're actually losing a level of immersion.
Watch "Don't Juice It Or Lose It" here on the GDC Vault.
This year marked the debut of the GDC Europe Innovative Games Showcase, a curated exhibition of innovative or experimental games, with 10 micropresentations from indie developers about diverse and new ways to demonstrate gameplay, art style, play style or anything in between.
Coordinating and MC-ing the showcase was game designer Jonatan Van Hove, who was part of a panel of judges that selected games like Metrico, Bounden, Perfect Woman, Gang Beasts and more to be featured in the inaugural showcase session.
Speakers in this hour-long GDC Europe 2014 panel include: Thijmen Bink, James Brown, Michael Brown, Adriaan de Jongh, Sherida Halatoe, Eliott Johnson, Eline Muijres, Geert Nellen, Leonard Ritter, Sylvia Ritter, Lea Schoenfelder, Luke Spierewka, Jonatan Van Hove, Matthew Warshaw, and Andreas Zecher.
Watch "The 2014 European Innovative Games Showcase" here on the GDC Vault.
Indie developer, Train Jam organizer and former satellite engineer Adriel Wallick gave herself a simple challenge: make a game a week, every week, in order to stay motivated and learn as much as possible by trying -- and often failing -- to make many games.
As part of the Independent Games Summit at GDC Europe 2014, Wallick spoke about what inspired her to embark on the project and what she learned from the experience. To hear her tell it, making a game a week taught her valuable lessons about both the technical side of making games and the emotional impact of releasing creations.
Watch "Game a Week: How to Succeed, Fail and Learn" here on the GDC Vault.
Ubisoft designer James Everett says he faced some tricky challenges when he started work on Splinter Cell: Blacklist, chief among them the problem of making players feel like they're a modern military professional.
Series protagonist Sam Fisher is a weapons expert with decades of experience under fire; for players, Everett believes this should translate to gunplay which feels precise, crisp and almost surgical -- so long as they can keep their cool. Focusing on the research and design for Splinter Cell: Blacklist, Everett game a thoughtful GDC 2014 talk exploing low-level gunplay mechanics in third-person action adventure games.
Watch "Modernizing Splinter Cell's Gunplay" here on the GDC Vault.
In this talk from GDC 2014, game industry consultant Ben Cousins examines the morality of all past and present games industry business models and tries to answer three questions: Is free-to-play inherently more unethical than other business models? Are there any changes we need to make as an industry to avoid unwanted government meddling? Is there a template we can apply to a game while it is in development to make sure that it doesn't cross any unwanted ethical boundaries?
Watch "Is Your Business Model Evil? The Moral Maze of the New Games Business" here on the GDC Vault.
Developers, how do you make your next project stand out in an increasingly crowded mobile game market?
One solution might be to make your game as little like a "traditional" mobile game as possible. Speaking at GDC Europe 2014, Monument Valley lead designer Ken Wong reveals how the impossible art of M.C. Escher and being embedded in a UX studio led ustwo games to create a unique, highly successful mobile game in which every screen was a piece of art.
Watch "Designing Monument Valley: Less Game, More Experience" here on the GDC Vault.
In today's market, many companies are trying to find success by emulating the ideas and methods of others; but Paradox Interactive CEO Fredrik Wester believes the path to true success lies in daring to stand out, following your craziest ideas, and incorporating those ideas into every facet of your game.
Speaking at GDC Europe 2014, Wester explained the business advantages of originality, how to find and express your vision, why passion is unclonable, and the power of community -- based on his experiences leading Paradox (Europa Universalis IV, Magicka) through a decade of independent success.
Watch "Clash of Clones: The Importance of Standing Out" here on the GDC Vault.
Charles Cecil, the influential British game designer best known for his work creating seminal adventure games like the Broken Sword franchise and Beneath A Steel Sky, recently delivered an engaging Classic Game Postmortem talk on seminal '90s adventure game Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars at GDC Europe 2014.
If you're not familiar with the name, know that Cecil is a game industry veteran who has released a string of award-winning adventure titles and earning a number of top honors, including an appointment to Member of the Order of the British Empire in 2011. Cecil currently serves as the managing director of Revolution Software, the venerable U.K. game development studio he co-founded in 1990.
During his presentation, Cecil speaks about his work writing and directing Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars, the award-winning 1996 adventure game that developers at studios like Telltale Games (The Walking Dead) cite as a
Watch "Classic Game Postmortem: Broken Sword" here on the GDC Vault.
Early access is fast becoming a dominant force in video game development.
From independent studios to huge, publisher-backed AAA titles, opening up a game to players ahead of its official launch provides real benefits across design, QA, marketing and more. However, these rewards come at a cost.
Using a range of examples from the development of Arma 3 -- from its public alpha to its beta, final release, and post-launch support -- Bohemia Interactive creative director James Crowe examines the failures and successes of his studio's early access strategy in this GDC Europe 2014 talk. Crowe also suggests some techniques that can be used by other developers to perfect their own plans.
Watch "A Great Disturbance in Development: The Dark Side of Early Access" here on the GDC Vault.
The ever-popular #1ReasonToBe GDC panel, inspired by the #1ReasonWhy and #1ReasonToBe hashtagged discussions that erupted across social media in 2013, is a rapid, fun microtalk-style celebration and exploration of how the game industry treats with gender and why alternative voices matter.
The panel made its European debut at GDC Europe earlier this year, where it was hosted by industry veterans Brenda Romero and Leigh Alexander. Panelists included European industry members like Annakaisa Kultima, Auriea Harvey, Zuraida Buter, Henrike (aka Riker Lode) and Siobhan Reddy. Each panelist shared their experience, its highs and lows, and explored their vision for a future industry that is inclusive for all..
Watch "#1ReasonToBe: A Celebration of Diversity in the Industry" here on the GDC Vault.
"If you don't have YouTube videos with people showing off optimal layouts of their city or restaurant, then you don't have smart depth. The best example of having smart depth is people starting to share a picture of 'Hey, take a look at how smart I was.'"
Speaking as part of the Social Games Summit at GDC Europe 2011, Wooga studio head Henric Suuronen shared some interesting insight into how developers can create engaging game loops in games that are meant to be social.
Watch "Killer Game Loops in Social Games" here on the GDC Vault.
"The future of games is emotions, of course, but it's also meaning. Can we create games that have something to say?"
In this presentation from GDC Europe 2013, Quantic Dream director David Cage explains the visual art techniques used to create his last tech demo, The Dark Sorcerer, and his most recent title, Beyond: Two Souls.
Watch "The Dark Sorcerer and Beyond: Shooting, Directing and Filming Virtual Actors" here on the GDC Vault.
"Whenever revolution cools into evolution, then both technology and culture turn up the burner to try and bring things back to a boil."
Ubisoft's Steven Masters delivers a design-centric GDC Europe 2013 presentation on a simple topic: how do you approach the practical challenges of designing an Assassin's Creed game?
Watch "This Time It's Different: Treasures and Traps in the Next Gen Transition" here on the GDC Vault.
"You do need to have a curator, but to ignore the creative power of your team is just nuts."
Ubisoft's Steven Masters delivers a design-centric GDC Europe 2013 presentation on a simple topic: how do you approach the practical challenges of designing an Assassin's Creed game?
Watch "Designing Assassin's Creed III" here on the GDC Vault.
"To reproduce the real world, you need to study the real world."
In this talk, Hideo Kojima and the Kojima Productions staff took the stage at GDC 2013 to spend nearly 90 minutes demonstrating and explaining the workflow and development process of Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes on the Fox Engine.
Watch "Photorealism Through the Eyes of a FOX: The Core of Metal Gear Solid Ground Zeroes" here on the GDC Vault.
"Talk to other people. Don't just have your one lesbian friend that you base everything off of."
Drawing on the expertise of game designers, writers, critics and scholars, this GDC 2014 panel offers suggestions on how developers can, in a number of small and easy ways, work LGBTQ characters and themes into their work. Each panelist -- Samantha Allen, Mattie Brice, Todd Harper, Christine Love and Zoe Quinn -- offers their own practical advice to developers looking to make their games more inclusive and more representative of the world at large.
Watch "How to Subversively Queer Your Work" here on the GDC Vault.
"There is no person who needs to learn business more than the most passionate, artistic, sensitive game designer -- because they're the ones I really want to see running things."
In this GDC 2013 IGDA-sponsored talk the 'EA_Spouse' herself, Erin Hoffman, looks back on how conversations about work-life balance in the game industry since 2004, and what it all might mean for the future.
Watch "The Right Side of the Ocean: EA_Spouse Then and Now" here on the GDC Vault.
"Our games are creating a rich, productive, happy world -- but only for players who know what they're doing."
In this GDC 2013 IGDA-sponsored talk, author and game designer Jane McGonigal reminds developers that their games really do affect the lives of their players and gives design advice to ensure those effects are positive.
Watch "There Is No Escape: Designing Games for Maximum Real-life Impact" here on the GDC Vault.