My GDC11 Wishlist

Game Developers Conference

Oh, that my heart could have it’s desire, without giving pause to the limitations of money, schedules, or logistics.

This year’s Game Developers Conference (02/28/11 – 3/4/11) has quite a few tutorials, lectures, and workshops I would love to be able to attend. Since I can’t, I thought I would be fun (and slightly tortuous) to slap together a schedule of what I would be doing if I was there. Come and shed a tear with me as we take this journey together, into the lands of Wouldn’t It Be Cool If?

Workshops I wish I could attend:

Game Design Workshop

This intensive 2-day workshop will explore the day-to-day craft of game design through hands-on activities, group discussion, analysis and critique. Attendees will immerse themselves the iterative process of refining a game design, and discover design concepts that will help them think more clearly about their designs and make better games.  The workshop presents a formal approach to game design, in which games viewed as systems, and analyzed in terms of their Mechanics, Dynamics and Aesthetics.

Emerging Issues in Game Dev Deals – Building on the Present as We Careen into the Future

This tutorial will start with the constants – the issues that do not change in any deal – then move into issues never considered when we were making basic console deals – but are now part of the landscape when applied to emerging technology, platforms, and content.

Sessions I wish I could attend:

What Can Video Games Learn from CCG’s?

We will discuss general lessons from CCG’s and how those might be applied to video game design, especially where objects are sold independently from the initial game, and over an extended time. It can be useful to treat objects in ways more similar to individual products rather than as extra content inside the game. Other lessons from CCG’s are the merit of long-term planning and the need to understand how community behavior can greatly affect an individuals purchases. Also discussed are how game and metagame tools such as randomness and tournament design can influence player engagement.

Seven Ways a Video Game Can Be Moral

What does it mean for a story to be moral? Many developers see the honest exploration of morality as part of the great potential of video games. Though games such as Ultima IV, Fallout 3, Alpha Centauri and The Sims have dipped their toes into moral waters, other media have been exploring morality for centuries and have done so much more effectively than games. This fast-paced follow-up to the popular GDC 2010 talk, Five Ways a Video Game Can Make You Cry, examines moral storytelling from a variety of mediums to see what structures and techniques have worked. We then look at how these techniques can be transformed to work with gameplay, using interactivity to deliver moral storytelling in an entirely new way.

The Identity Bubble – A Design Approach to Character and Story Development

Who is the actor in a game? Is it the person holding the controller in the real world, or the player-character who moves through the game-world? The answer is Both, and the game designer must work carefully to keep the interests of these two consciousnesses aligned. This session presents a design approach for reconciling developer-defined and player-derived character identities. Games often feature strong pre-authored characters and story arcs, while trying to give the player the feeling of uninhibited agency. The practical techniques presented here show how to design stories that dont simply provide a context for the players actions, but instead create impulses and motivations within the player that are in alignment with those of the avatar. Player and avatar float along in unison inside an identity bubble, working towards a common goal.