The upcoming 2010 Game Developers Conference, which begins on Tuesday in San Francisco with its two Summit days and moves onto the Main Conference from Thursday to Saturday, offers a wealth of talks from prominent speakers in and outside of the game industry.
To help prospective attendees choose what talks to attend, and to help readers who can't attend to get a bead on what coverage they should be looking for on the web, we've put together this feature which covers the show's lecture in detail.
The show's content ranges from talks by storied game developers like Nintendo's Yoshio Sakamoto, one of the original creators of the Metroid franchise to outspoken, experienced indies like Chris Hecker, who sets his sights on achievement systems.
Along the way, game industry veterans will pick apart agile development, writers will criticize process, studio heads will share secrets, and a Roman fabulist will tell mysterious tales - all part of the eclectic mix of talks about the art and business of making games.
Full coverage of the show -- which is put on by Gamasutra's parent company UBM TechWeb -- will begin on the site on Tuesday and continue through this Saturday, so be sure to check back starting tomorrow for coverage of all of the important announcements and talks.
There is a wealth of exciting talks at this year's GDC. Of course, we can't spend time recounting them all here; you'll want to pore over the descriptions on the official GDC website to make sure you don't miss anything that truly matters to you.
We're also assuming you're going to be tuning in for Sid Meier's keynote, catchily named 'The Psychology of Game Design (Everything You Know Is Wrong)', and discussing why 'including player psychology as a fundamental part of game design can lead us to some strangely counterintuitive places and save us millions of dollars in time and resources.'
That said, here are thirteen sessions that are bound to be compelling for one and all, bringing together some of the biggest names and exciting perspectives in the game industry.
For talk time and location information, be sure to click through.
From Metroid to Tomodachi Collection to WarioWare: Different Approaches for Different Audiences
Speaker: Yoshio Sakamoto (Group Manager/Software Planning and Development Department, Nintendo)
In his first-ever Western lecture, Nintendo's Sakamoto will present a talk called "From Metroid to Tomodachi Collection to WarioWare: Different Approaches for Different Audiences", spanning his seminal multi-decade contribution to video games.
Yoshio Sakamoto has been here from the start. In 1982 he joined Nintendo a year before the arrival of the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in Japan. He's worked as a developer for the entire history of the modern video game era, and is perhaps most noted for the Metroid franchise, where he has directed or supervised nearly every game in the series.
However, his development credits span a wide range of projects, with titles as diverse as WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgame$ and Rhythm Heaven. At times he and his teams juggled multiple notable projects such as these simultaneously.
Last year, while hard at work helping to supervise the upcoming Metroid title for the Wii system, titled Metroid: Other M, he also produced the Nintendo DS hit Tomodachi Collection. In this game Mii characters converse, sing and dance, and even dream. To date, it has sold more than 2.5 million copies in Japan.
In an industry that frequently draws a bold line between core and casual games, Sakamoto develops for both worlds. He challenges himself and his teams to find ways to satisfy every type of user, no matter what type of taste, or level of experience. At Game Developers Conference 2010, Mr. Sakamoto will talk about his thought processes and techniques on game designs that have allowed him to find market acceptance for his expansive portfolio of titles.
The Complex Challenges of Intuitive Design
Speaker: Peter Molyneux (Head of Studio, Lionhead Studios), Josh Atkins (Studio Design Director, Microsoft Games Studio)
Game development legend Peter Molyneux will present a lecture called "The Complex Challenges of Intuitive Design" with fellow designer Josh Atkins, discussing ways to "ensure that gamers of all abilities can quickly and easily immerse themselves in the game world." With examples from the upcoming Fable III, Molyneux will show examples of long-established game mechanics which Lionhead intends to replace with more user-friendly and modern iterations.
Storyboarding/Story Development at Pixar: Work Methods and Insights
Speaker: Matthew Luhn (Storyboard Artist, Animator, Pixar)
Character Animation at Pixar: Work Methods and Insights
Speaker: Andrew Gordon (Animator, Pixar)
Here's a cheat: one entry, two sessions. Seminal CG movie makers Pixar are giving a pair of two-hour lectures at the event -- the Toy Story and Up creators' Matthew Luhn will lecture "Storyboarding/Story Development at Pixar: Work Methods and Insights", while the Bay Area company's Andrew Gordon will speak on "Character Animation at Pixar: Work Methods and Insights".
Making a Standard (and Trying to Stick to it!): Blizzard Design Philosophies
Speaker: Rob Pardo (VP, Game Design, Blizzard Entertainment)
In a rare talk, VP of game design Rob Pardo discusses how the Warcraft, StarCraft and Diablo franchise creators "establish our own core [game design] values in the ongoing challenge to deliver a consistent, epic game experience", specifically referencing some of the successes and failures they've experienced along the way.