Of course, the talks we've just covered are part of the conference's Main Program. On Tuesday and Wednesday, the conference halls of the Moscone Center will be given over to a host of summits in a wide variety of compelling topics.
The AI Summit, Mobile/Handheld Summit, Game Localization Summit, IGDA Education Summit, Independent Games Summit, iPhone Games Summit, Social & Online Games Summit, and Serious Games Summit each have their own unique windows into game creation.
Here's a pick of a talk from each summit that should not be missed:
Experimental Game AI: Live Demos of Innovation
Speaker: Richard Evans (Lead Simulation Engineer, Maxis), Ian Holmes (Assistant Professor, University of California, Berkeley), Adam Russell (Games Studio Manager and Lecturer, University of Derby), Michael Mateas (Associate Professor, University of California, Santa Cruz), Steve Rabin (Principal Software Engineer, Nintendo of America)
Rather than present dry, academic data, the speakers will demonstrate innovative new AI techniques live on stage at GDC. Says the conference description, "Prepare to be inspired to push the boundaries of traditional game AI!"
Club Penguin DS: Elite Penguin Force - Postmortem
Speaker: Patricia Pizer (Consultant)
This session promises to be interesting. Pizer, a veteran with industry roots that go back to the late '80s at Infocom, will deconstruct the attempt to bring the massively popular kids' virtual world to Nintendo's most popular platform ever.
Pizer promises "A new way of thinking about cross-platform development: players satisfied that they're experiencing the world they've come to love and feel fulfilled by the game rather than feeling like the name of their beloved game was simply slapped on the box to get them to buy more merchandise."
Advanced Localization Methods for Japanese Games
Speaker: Peter Fabiano (Localization Manager, Capcom), Fabio Minazzi (Founder, Binari Sonori), Mark McDonald (Executive Director, 8-4), Saeko Inoue (Localization Manager, Game Arts), Yeonkyung Kim (VP of International Software, Sony Computer Entertainment)
This roundtable summit concentrates on Japanese games, of course, but the insights provided by the experienced staff should be fascinating to both fans and those with an interest in bringing international products to or from Asia -- and should provide insight to "publishers willing to address the international markets with deep knowledge of global game development and advanced localization methods."
Leadership: A 21st Century Skill
Speaker: Kellee Santiago (President and cofounder, thatgamecompany)
Thatgamecompany has quickly become an indie darling and fan favorite thanks to innovative and moving games like flOw and Flower. In this talk, co-founder and president Kellee Santiago will discuss the company's struggle towards finding effective leadership -- something the team quickly discovered was lacking, despite the company's creativity.
Per the talk's descrption, "Kellee will detail the trials and tribulations thatgamecompany suffered during the development of Flower, how they turned things around, and what they hope to see in future years of game graduates."
Increasing Our Reach: Designing To Grab and Retain Players
Speaker: Randy Smith (Owner & Game Designer, Tiger Style)
Randy Smith will keynote the Independent Games Summit. Tiger Style is the developer of the critically and commercially successful iPhone game, Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor, named by Apple as its top-rated game of 2009. Smith, who is also a veteran of Thief creator Looking Glass, will deliver a broad keynote address.
New Dogs, New Tricks: Breeding Social Networking and Virtual Pets
Speaker: Andrew Stern (Stumptown Game Machine), Matthew Roberts (Producer, ngmoco:))
Stern, who's known both for launching the original games in the Petz series before its acquisition and rebirth from Ubisoft as well as his pioneering AI work on indie game Façade, will discuss here the design of his ngmoco-published iPhone pet game Touch Pets: Dogs.
Taking in "how the game's design had to grow and adapt as the iPhone game market filled with limitless low- and no-cost gaming and entertainment options, and how the team progressed the game mechanics to meet a wide variety of audiences' tastes and budgets," this talk should address the fast-changing world of the iPhone from a seasoned perspective.
How Friends Change Everything
Speaker: Gareth Davis (Platform Manager, Facebook)
Of the major Summits, Facebook's platform manager Gareth Davis will deliver a keynote at the newly formed Social & Online Games Summit, titled "How Friends Change Everything". It will discuss Facebook's massive disruption in who plays games, as well as how games are best discovered, distributed, designed and monetized on the service.
Seriously, Make YOUR Game!
Speaker: Jason Rohrer (Independent), Paolo Pedercini (Professor, Carnegie Mellon University), Ian Bogost (Associate Professor, The Georgia Institute of Technology)
Serious games are a challenging space to work in -- frequently, the games are created for large organizations which both may be unfamiliar with the game development process and require elaborate checks and balances throughout the course of the project.
Here, three speakers who are experienced indie developers -- two also academics -- discuss how to work within the system to produce good work. "What if instead of looking at the serious games space through the lens of sponsored projects, always in need of satisfied risk curves, we envisioned it more as a space filled with development risk takers in control of their own games, visions, and ideas of what can serious games can be?" asks the panel.
Of course, these lectures are just a fraction of the content on display at Game Developers Conference, with more than 450 sessions available to attend - full details of the line-up are available on the GDC 2010 Schedule Builder, and the official GDC 2010 news section has a lot more individual highlights of standout lectures at the show.
And as well as Gamasutra coverage of the major sessions, the vast majority of this year's lectures are being recorded with sync-ed video, audio and slides for GDC Vault. Game Developers Conference 2010 All-Access Pass attendees get complimentary access to the full vault for the next year, and the Vault will also be releasing free-to-watch sessions weekly or bi-weekly for the rest of the year.
Other major happenings at GDC this year include the GDC Expo Floor, open from Thursday to Saturday and filled with notable tools companies, console manufacturers and the Career Pavilion, as well as Thursday night's Game Developers Choice and Independent Games Festival awards, being streamed live for the first time.