GDC Europe 2013: recommended sessions

GDC Europe

Next week sees GDC touch down in Europe at Cologne’s Koelnmesse. It begins an important week for the trade, with Gamescom taking place later that week, in the same venue. Below, we’ve selected some of the schedule highlights for developers attending the trade show.

Monday August 19

Ubisoft creative director Patrick Plourde will kickstart GDC Europe by revealing a new game for the first time in his opening session Small Projects in AAA Studios: Making of Child of Light (9:30-10:30, Congress Saal 1). Plourde will also be discussing the change from big-budget development (he has worked on games including Assassin’s Creed II, Rainbow Six: Vegas and Far Cry 3) to developing a game with an indie mentality within a major studio like Ubisoft Montreal. Elsewhere at the same time, Big Fish’s Christopher Williams will be running through his Five Key Best Practices in Free-to-Play Gaming (9:30-9:55, Europasaal).

GDC’s regular series of Classic Game Postmortems continues with Kick Off (11:00-12:00, Offenbachsaal), in which its creator Dino Dini, now a lecturer at the NHTV University of Applied Sciences in Breda, will recount tales from the making of the classic football game, and the evolution of its design. The postmortem will also touch upon his Player Manager series and Dino Dini’s Goal. Elsewhere, as part of the Visual Arts track, Crytek senior 3D artist Felix Leyendecker will offer insight into the processes and decisions made during the production of Crysis 3 in his talk Crafting the World of Crysis (11:00-12:00, Congress Saal 2).

Be What’s Next: Microsoft’s Commitment to Indie Success (13:00-14:00, Rheinsaal West) might sound like part of Microsoft plan to help indies self-publish on Xbox, but instead it promises to offer advice for studios making games for the Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 platforms. Flaregames’ Royal Revolt will be the main case study – the game reached one million downloads in just four weeks on Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 with Microsoft’s assistance. Fellow platform holder Nintendo continues its indie drive with a session on Nintendo Wii U Application Development with HTML and JavaScript at the same time (13:00-14:00, Sudliches Sitzungszimmer), though the focus here is on the creation of Wii U apps, rather than games.

League Of Legends creator Riot Games will speak on the subject of community building at its GDC Europe talk.

The community that has grown around Riot Games’ League Of Legends is the envy of many a game developer, and in its talk Building Real Life Communities in Online Gaming (13:35-14:00, Offenbachsaal), the studios’ community manager Matt Elliot will explain how Riot is building ties with the biggest League Of Legends fans in order to help spread the word about the game. Shortly after, The Settlers and Anno developer Ubisoft Blue Byte will explore the idea of Getting Past Pay To Win (14:30-15:30, Congress Saal 1), arguing that ‘pay to win’ simply doesn’t play a role in the biggest free-to-play games like League Of Legends, World Of Tanks and Farmville.

The second Microsoft-led session of the day starts at four with Building Tomorrow’s Blockbuster Today Across Phones, Tablets, and PCs (16:00-17:00, Rheinsaal West), in which Dlala Studios CEO Anthony James Grand-Scrutton and Microsoft’s game development evangelist Kristina Rothe will explain how to capture a greater number of players across multiple devices. At the same time, King.com’s Tommy Palm will give attendees insight into how it birthed a casual games monster in his Candy Crush Saga postmortem, Luck in the Right Places (16:00-17:00, Europasaal).

Oculus VR rounds off GDC Europe’s opening day with its talk on Virtual Reality Gaming and Game Development (17:30-18:30, Offenbachsaal), in which founder Palmer Luckey and VP of product Nate Mitchell aim to give game developers a better understanding of the opportunities and challenges VR games represent.

Tuesday August 20

Flurry’s all-encompassing knowledge of the mobile games market always make its trade show sessions packed with genuinely useful information, and it’ll begin the second day with Smartphone & Tablet Apps: Mobile Game Metrics (Europasaal, 9:30-9:55), in which Guillaume Larrieu will reveal plentiful data on player usage across different genres, and how that information could inform game design.

Developers can also join Google for an entire day of sessions (10:00-18:00, Rheinsaal West) on Tuesday that’ll touch upon a broad range of subjects, including making money from the search giant, analytics and keeping players engaged.

Google will host a developer day designed to help studios get the most from its Android and Google Play ecosystem.

Those looking for indie inspiration will find a charming tale in Kelly Wallick’s talk Building the Indie Megabooth: Showcasing Indies Above the Noise (11:00-11:25, Congress Saal 3), in which she’ll recount the story of how 16 indies all pitched in to show a united front at PAX East over a year ago, and how the idea has grown since its debut.

At the same time elsewhere in the Koelnmesse, Quantic Dream’s David Cage will host The Dark Sorcerer and Beyond: Shooting, Directing and Filming Virtual Actors (11:00-12:00, Offenbachsaal), which will explain some of the techniques used in his tech demo and in his forthcoming PS3 release, Beyond: Two Souls. Cloned at Birth: The Story of Ridiculous Fishing (Congress Saal 3, 13:00-13:25) will look back at the creation of the much-loved mobile game, and the experiences that shaped the game and its creator, Vlambeer. Nintendo hopes to gather further indie support at GDC Europe with Unity, Wii U and You (13:00-14:00, Sudliches Sitzungszimmer), a session which will push Unity as the devtool of choice as well as explain how indies can get their games published on Wii U.

”You will come away with much less respect for Tom as a human being, but hopefully some useful ideas about how to learn from the games you love and the ones you don’t,” is the intended takeaway for former PC Gamer critic Tom Francis’ session How Reviewing Games for Nine Years Helped in Designing Gunpoint (14:30-14:55, Congress Saal 3). It’s sure to be a fascinating peek into what actually makes a game enjoyable.

Crytek’s Nick Button-Brown will explain the studio’s decision-making process during the seven-year development of its free-to-play shooter in 10 Decisions That Took Warface to Our First 10 Million Users (16:00-17:00, Offenbachsaal), while also encouraging the audience not to make the same mistakes it made.

Remember Me, the subject of DONTNOD’s GDC Europe session.

DONTNOD’s Laurent Harduin and Sebastien Lagarde promise insight into being creative when working with constraints and the technical challenges it faced with their talk The Art and Rendering of Remember Me (16:00-17:00-Congress Saal 2), while discussion around the question Will Unconsoles Become the Real Next-Gen Consoles? (16:35-17:00, Europasaal) hosted by PlayJam, MOGA, Fishlabs and nVidia will explore the potential and perils of this new marketplace. Rounding off the day wil be the rather self-explanatory Designing Assassin’s Creed III (17:30-18:30, Offenbachsaal), hosted by Ubisoft Montreal lead game designer Steven Masters.

Wednesday August 21

Our pick of the sessions squeezed into Wednesday morning before Gamescom begins is Paradox Interactive’s talk Keep It Complex, Stupid! Creating Games as a Service (12:00-13:00, Eurpopasaal) – sure to be a cheery exploration of its talent for carving out a niche and serving the players within it.

The full schedule can be found on the GDC Europe site.