As part of Gamasutra's preview of this year's Game Development Conference, editors from Game Developer Magazine and Gamasutra selected their picks for mustn't-miss sessions. This selection of top picks comes from Game Developer managing editor Jill Duffy:
The Game Design Challenge (panel)
Hosted by Eric Zimmerman (Gamelab)
Imagine a video game that’s played using a square of fabric, a needle, and some thread. Now imagine three of them. Part game show, part stand-up comedy routine, The Game Design Challenge pits the wits of three contestants in a battle to devise the best game idea, given a few parameters. Reigning champion Harvey Smith will battle David Jaffe and Tetris
creator Alexey Pajitnov. I’ll be attending for two reasons: 1) for a rowdy break in my day and 2) to hear what these design pros have to say about avant-garde approaches to control systems.
Interactive Storytelling Boot Camp (day-long tutorial)
David Freeman (The Freeman Group), Hal Barwood (Finite Arts), E. Daniel Arey (Naughty Dog-SCEA), et al.
Listening to either David Freeman or Hal Barwood always brings me back to my first years at college, when the words of orating professors were meant to be scribbled down and ruminated on until sheer genius (or at least a neat idea) sprung forth. Even when the lecture ideas themselves were idealized or impractical, they epitomized they way things ought to be, the way creativity ought to be nurtured, or in this case, the way games ought to affect emotion. This boot camp is likely to attract long-time GDC veterans who come to the conference for the full week (seeing as this full-day session takes place Monday) as well as writers who are seeking a storyteller’s retreat.
3D Tricks: Engineering Innovation on the Nintendo DS (lecture)
Chuck Homic (Vicarious Visions), Gregory Oberg (Vicarious Visions)
In this intermediate level talk, two Vicarious Visions programmers explain how they used the Nintendo DS hardware to develop Over the Hedge
DS, divulging many of the obstacles (like having only one 3D engine, and VRAM and software limitations) that are unique to the platform. Homic and Oberg promise to share their experiences in sufficient detail that the audience will be able to take home specific ideas to test on their own games.
Burning Mad: Game Publishers Rant (IGDA panel)
Eric Zimmerman (Gamelab), Greg Costikyan (Manifesto Games), Bing Gordon (Electronic Arts), Alex St. John (WildTangent)
I guess it’s fair to give publishers a chance to rant. But do these guys really need or deserve an airing of grievances? From a developer’s point of view, publishers control the purse strings. They have jurisdiction over marketing and advertising. They pretty much make all the final calls. Or maybe that’s not the full story. Maybe publishers put up with more frustration than developers realize. And this may be my one and only chance to hear about it.
Lead Artists/Art Directors Roundtable (roundtable)
Moderated by Seth Spaulding (Firaxis Games)
GDC is, for me, something of a guiding light to get me through the rest of the year. In this roundtable, I’m hoping to learn what topics in visual arts cause the most enthusiasm and the most heartache, which are debated, and which are responded to uniformly. Being an intermediate level discussion, the panelists are likely to share their solutions to common problems, for better or worse, as well as best practices for video game art production.
[This story originally appeared in the February 2007 GDC preview issue of Game Developer magazine.]