GDC
 

CONFERENCE  

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  2014 ANNOUNCED SESSIONS

Business    BUSINESS & MARKETING

7 Steps to Mastering Native Advertising on Mobile
Stephen Chung (AppLift Inc.)
In this session, we start off by comparing the various mobile monetization models and see why advertising is a great option for app developers. We then shed light on the main metrics to consider for ad-based monetization, and give an overview of the most common formats available. We continue by explaining some of the challenges that traditional mobile advertising entail. We then show how novel, innovative forms of advertising, such as native ads, overcome these challenges by taking the user into consideration to achieve effective monetization with minimum churn. We go on by providing practical tips on the best ways to successfully implement ads maximize monetization and give them a native feel; we'll see that ad's placement, trigger as well as its level of integration into the UI and UX of the app are thereby key. We finish by explaining how to achieve a complete native advertising experience within your app.
Managing Game Development Process and Creativity Across Regions and Cultures
Andy Zhong (FunPlus)
Developing a successful game when team members are located in different countries can be daunting. Factors from culture, language and time differences must all be considered. FunPlus has developed a solid stable of casual games such as Family Farm, Family Farm Seaside, Fantasy Slots and Royal Story, with teams in Beijing, Xi'an, San Francisco and Vancouver. Co-founder and CEO Andy Zhong will share key takeaways on how a global team was brought together to develop innovative "sticky" games that have become hits in the West.
Profitably Launching Jelly Splash to #1: A marketing postmortem
Eric Seufert (Wooga)
This session will walk through the marketing processes necessary to launch a broad, mass-market mobile game to the top of the app store. The session starts at the concept phase, in which the marketing team gathers data around consumer preferences, market receptiveness, and general revenue generating potential for various game themes, aesthetics, and mechanics. The session then describes in great detail the market analysis necessary for launching the game, as well as the general quantitative methods used to estimate the number of downloads needed (and total cost of the campaign) to reach a top app store position. Additionally, the session presents some conceptual topics within mobile user acquisition, such as LTV calculation, virality calculation, and the purpose of a marketing team in a mobile gaming company.
Publishing Mobile Games in China to Become Global Hits
Jung Suh (Yodo1)
While the global game industry is very interested in China as a market, it's paid little attention to China-based developers publishing games for a global market. This talk will discuss the best practices Chinese developers can apply to successfully bring their games to an international audience, drawing on lessons from the publication of OMG:TD!, a Greek god-themed casual tower defense game which currently has over 3 million players, over half in the West, developed by Shanghai-based studio Red Rocket Games and published by Beijing-based Yodo1.
Simple Skills to Rapidly Improve the Business Value of Mobile Game Products
Shiying Wang (Linekong Enteractive Co., Ltd. )
Taking the examples of several mobile games of 10 million monthly Income published by Linekong such as The Legend of King, Sword of Heaven and Blade Of God, this session will teach how to overall improve the business value of the products by applying the psychology theory and some simple skills. In order to make a product more appealing to the gamers, increase the retention, for the gamers happier to spread by word of mouth, and build the tipping point of the marketing promotion, how shall we name the game to be the most attractive? How shall we design the icons to stimulate the desire to click? How shall we build the moe points? How shall we simply improve the next-day retention? Make a comprehensive wrapping on your projects, to reach the effect of launch in the millions!
Success of CP: Learning from Products of 10 Million Monthly Income
Tony Ni (FL Mobile)
In this session, Dr. Tony Ni will tell some skills on how the small to medium content providers in early days could be discovered by domestic first tier publishers, using the games of 10 Million Monthly Income such as To Attack Cities and Capture Territories and Snapped Three Kingdoms as examples. He will also introduce a full set of game evaluation criteria from the publishers, and describe how the users could be specifically imported to the product community from the product, then back to product from the community, through the detailed community operation, and how to have targeted one by one analysis and improvement on the related products, to achieve the final successful publication.

Business    DESIGN

Every Game is a Hit - A User Research Process to Deliver Successful Games
Graham McAllister (Player Research)
Making sure games resonate with, and are enjoyed by, players has never been more important, but many games are only playtested late in the development where making changes are costly, if they are playtested at all. This talk will outline a complete games user research process, that is much more than playtesting, and can be implemented from day one of design right up until after the game has shipped. The stress will be on teaching developers what they can realistically achieve in this area, no matter their budget.
From Theory to Practice: Data-Driven Design
Nils Pihl (Traintracks.io)
Behavioral Engineer Nils Pihl gives live demonstrations how A/B testing and behavioral analytics can help improve the metrics that most matter to your game, using familiar games and genres to show how to avoid common and costly mistakes. Using a Flappy Bird clone and a generic platformer as an example, the speaker demonstrates how a small initial investment in A/B testing and behavioral analytics can improve your game and increase your revenues, while teaching the audience how to spot and avoid common and costly mistakes.
How to Produce Memorable AAA Game Character Models
Wei Wu (Virtuos.Ltd)
The character in an AAA game is a key point. Realistic and refined characters immerse players in the gameplay and have an emotional resonance. The usual challenges are super high quality standard and uncertain production plan. How to get high quality in a reasonable timeline and budget? In terms of production what's the main differences between western and eastern games? In this talk, Wei Wu will answer these questions by giving the examples of Final Fantasy XIV and The Last of Us, etc. In addition, he will also share his experience on the production , efficiency and pipeline software.
What Could Gaming Learn from UI/UX Design?
James Chaytor (Sprung Studios)
User experience/User Interface design can make or break a game. As games have evolved, users want quick access, convenience and little upfront commitment before being able to enjoy and feel rewarded by the experience. This session will look at why user experience/design is important in 2014 in all countries, what it is, how it fits within game design process and production pipeline, and how to undertake user experience design in your games.

    PRODUCTION

EA Sports UFC: The Fight for Believable Characters in Games
Richard Burgess Dawson (Electronic Arts Canada), Jenny Freeman (Electronic Arts Canada), Daniel Sewell (Electronic Arts Canada)
The EA Sports UFC team was challenged to make a visual experience so convincing that the player would not only see, but "feel the fight". Dealing with the most complex near-naked entanglements of any game, these two fighters lock into combat, writhing and straining, allowing the camera to pore over every detail of their fat, bone, skin, cloth and hair. From soft flesh simulation to eyelid occlusion, dichromatic bruising to blood translucency, all under hundreds of fully dynamic lights. This is a no holds barred look at how the world's most visually advanced sports game came to be.
Optimizing Audio for Mobile Development
Ben Houge (Berklee College of Music)
In this session, we will discuss audio development for mobile deployment and compare different strategies for minimizing audio's data footprint, including editing, compression, and implementation techniques, with audio examples allowing developers to hear the difference between solutions. We will examine approaches to real-time manipulation of sounds, which can effectively create new variations without requiring additional audio data, enhancing the sense of immersion and realism in games. The session will include an overview of how digital audio works, and we will finish by discussing tools, pipelines, and middleware to streamline audio workflow on a mobile project.
Powerful and Effective Animation for 2D/3D Games
Mariel Cartwright (Lab Zero Games)
How do you make your animations effective in 2D/3D games? 2D animation in games comes with its own number of struggles as everything has to serve the gameplay first. Using the 2D fighting game Skullgirls as an example, find out the importance of keyframing, anticipation, smears, and timing and how to effectively apply these principles within a restrictive gameplay environment. Those can be easily applied to 3D animation as well.
Prototyping for Innovation: How to Prototype Effectively
Kellee Santiago (OUYA, Inc.)
Game making and stability can seem like opposite pursuits at times. However, by starting with the fundamental principles of prototyping and iterative design, you can apply them to effectively manage your project, whether your game idea has its roots in the conventional, or totally unique. In this talk, Kellee Santiago will discuss the lessons she's learned in starting her own studio(thatgamecompany), and working with many more through Indie Fund and OUYA, on how to navigate the emotional and financial ups and downs of video game development using these principles.

    PROGRAMMING

A Data-Oriented Programming Paradigm for Optimal Performance
Milo Yip (Tencent Technology Co., Ltd.)
Object-oriented programming (OOP) is the most widely used programming paradigm, but OOP may not achieve optimal efficiency in computationally intensive applications due to the hardware bottlenecks shift from processor to memory. Therefore, the game industry has been worked on an alternative programming paradigm in recent years, called data-oriented programming (DOP). It aims at optimizing data storage and access patterns in order to achieve performance closed to hardware limit. This session will analyze the advantages and disadvantages of AOS/SOA storage layout for SIMD implementation. Then a design pattern called flexible table will be presented. It is flexible for storage layout and at the same time saves memory and improves performance. Finally the talk will show how these techniques are applied in games.
Advanced Real-time Path Find in Dynamic Environment in Supernauts
Harri Hatinen (Grand Cru)
Efficient path-finding and navigation algorithms are a very essential part of any game AI. In Supernauts we used path finding heavily on both client side for control mechanics and on server side for NPC AI. That meant that our algorithm required to work on dynamic environment, with minimal pre-calulation and very fast. After a lot of research work and experimentation we ended up implementing a NavMesh type of data structure that creates itself on-the-go depending of the requests from the game. The session will show you how we processed existing research for our specific needs and the implementation details of our final data structures and algorithms.
Creating Dynamic Character Behavior with Utility-Based AI
Dave Mark (Intrinsic Algorithm LLC)
Traditional AI architectures such as finite state machines and behaviors trees have started to buckle under the weight of this complexity leading to huge workloads for designers and brittle, error-prone behaviors for the characters. The past 5 years has seen the rise of utility-based AI to help address this problem. Once used primarily in titles like The Sims or strategy games, utility methods have worked their way into the AI of other genres such as RPGs and shooters. This lecture explains utility-based AI and shows how to use it to create more expressive, responsive characters.
Scope Control on Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag
Julien Desaulniers (Ubisoft Montreal)
AAA console game development is a delicate process during which a lot of things can potentially go wrong. One thing teams should carefully manage is their scope: how big is the game. With a release date set in stone and a resource count pretty much fixed, scope is the only variable left to actually play around with. The game needs to be ambitious to create a memorable experience the players will enjoy. But still, the team needs to feel they have a real shot at shipping it on time. This session aims at exposing the audience to how the Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag team approached this problem, the various phases it went through, the decisions that were made and hopefully share with the audience a few good practices along the way.

    SUMMITS


Independent Games Summit

80 DAYS Post-Mortem: Letting the Game Tell the Story
Jon Ingold (inkle)
Our initial design for 80 DAYS was simple - a choice-based story, laid out across a globe map, with a resource management element for health and money. But during development, it expanded in scope and ambition to become something quite different: a board-game, which narrates itself, with the narrative adapting to the circumstances of the game, but sometimes changing them as well. In this talk, we'll outline the iterations we went through, and discuss in detail how we built the story content to be flexible while remaining consistent and compelling. We'll show in detail how the various game-elements - the art, the in-world economy, and the multiplayer - work together to create the narrative momentum, and how removing constraints from the content freed us up to write more interesting stories.
Learning from Feedback with Gunhouse: Improve your Game through Playtesting
Brandon Sheffield (Necrosoft Games)
Everyone says you should playtest, and learn from your feedback. But how do you know what to look for, and what to throw away? How can you turn off the cuff comments into statements that actually make a difference for your game? This session doesn't have all the answers, but will guide you through the process of taking feedback that got Gunhouse from a 48 hour game jam to a well received, full fledged game for touch devices.
Single-Player Card Game Three Kindoms: Way of Survival from Desperate Situation
Michael Tong (OneOne Games)
Single-player card game Three Kindoms, originally an underachieving mobile game, has obtained remarkable results by quickly covering the developing cost after its launch in APP store. As the game developer, OneOne Games was once at the edge of the entrepreneurship failure. It was very inspiring that a small team of 5 could achieve that success, which looked accidently but actually was a result of finding a new way out. Several problems are inevitably encountered when starting the mobile game business, such as money, team, development, marketing and the particular problems for single-player games. This session will share with the audience the experiences and lessons learned from the developing process.
Squeeze the Max out of a Kickstarter Campaign: C-Wars Postmortem
Loup Zhou (Onipunks Software)
Kickstarter is the best place to pre-market your upcoming game. A tiny team need to face some incredible difficulties before even getting there. How to predict the result of a Kickstarter campaign? How to deliver a good game after running a successful one? Loup Zhou from Onipunks Software will share their experiences on C-Wars through the journey with Kickstarter.

Smartphone & Tablet Games Summit

Keynote: Monument Valley, and What We Leave In Hearts and Minds
Ken Wong (ustwo)
Mobile game creators now face an opportunity to create not just cheap disposable entertainment, but meaningful experiences that can affect the lives of millions. Today we have better tools, more choice in economic models and more diverse audiences than any other time in video game history. Development of our artistry, however, lags behind. With all our power, what are we doing to bring more joy, beauty and ideas into the world? When the player stops playing, what have we left in their hearts and minds?

We were delighted when Monument Valley became a critical and commercial success despite breaking almost every convention in mobile game design. What we didn't expect was for the game to create such a powerful emotional and intellectual connection especially with people who don't normally play games. This prompted us to reexamine the potential of mobile games as a unique medium for story, meaning and art.
Building Durable Mobile Franchises for the Western Market
Weiwei Geng (Kabam, Inc.)
In a crowded App Store market, where mobile games can easily fade into an endless library of titles, Kabam's Weiwei Geng will discuss what it takes to build a great mobile game and maintain it for long-term success. Weiwei lends his knowledge and insight as an executive producer of Kabam's most successful mobile games The Hobbit: Kingdoms of Middle-earth and Kingdoms of Camelot: Battle for the North, which have each grossed more than $100 million since their 2012 debuts.
Designing Educational Games: Not Just Child's Play
Matt Mayer (ReignDesign)
Nancy Lu (Piiig Inc.)
Kids love games, particularly on phones and tablets. School subjects like Math and Science: not so much. As game designers, how can we focus kids' appetite for touch-based games into an educational direction? Nancy Lu from Piiig Inc. and Matt Mayer from ReignDesign share their experiences and best practices of developing apps which teach kids about scientific concepts, and how to keep your audience - of kids, and their parents, enthused.
Naughty Kitties Postmortem: Making Breakthroughs from Compromises
Wesley Bao (Coconut Island Studio)
This session will share a thorough introduction on the developing process of Naughty Kitties and the way to develop No.1 iOS game in China App Store by the indie developer, which also ranks Top 25 in the US and Japan Stores. How we achieve the transition from casual game developer to mid-core F2P game developer, and how we preserve the innovation of games and meanwhile make them profitable will be explained. Wesley will reveal the compromises, the persistence and the shortcomings they have made during the development.
The Road Not Taken: Lessons Learned Transitioning from Mobile Games to Console Games
Daniel Cook (Spry Fox)
Spry Fox has seen reasonable success with mobile games such as Triple Town. However, we decided to release our new game The Road Not Taken on the Playstation 4. It was Spry Fox's first console title and we needed to relearn many of the lessons that we had relied upon over with other platforms. Daniel will cover the trials and tribulations of big bang releases, market timing, the media cycle, update cycles and what it means to succeed. He will highlight differences in both process and gamer culture. Danile will also cover mistakes they made so you can learn from their errors.
Unexpected Growth: Surge in Gamers in Southeast Asia and in China
Xiaofeng Zeng (Niko Partners)
This session will be a look at Niko Partners' data and analysis on Chinese mobile gamers and the trends in mobile games revenue, usage and distribution in 2014 and beyond, as well as the fast growth in PC and mobile gaming in Southeast Asia. The July 2014 Chinese Mobile Games Market Report, looks at the results of multiple gamer surveys, interviews with industry professionals, Niko's market size and forecast, and current games rankings. The December 2013 Southeast Asian Games Market Regional Report, covered six primary markets in the region (Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam), and included results of a large survey on hard-core PC gamers in the region.
Unlocking World Game Markets from China
Charlie Moseley (Tap4Fun)
What make 95% of games developed in China unable to find success overseas? Learn the secret to unlocking worldwide markets from China in this session delivered by the Creative Director of one of China's most successful game developers, Tap4Fun. From game design and production, to localization and marketing, this is a comprehensive overview of the necessary ingredients you'll need to overcome China's cultural borders and take on the world.

Business    TUTORIALS

Profiling & Optimizing Mobile Games on Android Devices
Remi Breton (iDreamSky)
The Android device fragmentation is giving the game developer a big challenge to reach as many users. Specially in a place like China where low-end device still occupy a big part of the market. Profiling a game using the right tools can provide useful information about the game weakness and help developer to adjust assets and codes to find the right balance between compatibility and performance. During this tutorial, many techniques will be shown to identify different problems affecting performance & RAM consumption as well as solutions to modify the game to access even more devices.

    SPONSORED

2014 Q1 to Q3 Game Player's Analysis and How to Make Your Next Successful Game
Amanda Han (Zhidong Guohe Information Technologies (Beijing) Co.,Ltd)
Guohe Ad is a seasoned mobile advertising platform, which aims at offering service to mobile developers and provides mobile advertising plan, optimization and data service to mobile applications. This session is about:
  • 2014 Q1-Q3 oversee iOS game player's behavior in China
  • To analyze what kind of mobile games players like
  • To see what successful point we can learn and how to make next successful games
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