Thursday, March 1, 2012

Giving a talk at plague stricken GDC 2012 on sexy-sexy innovation

It is that time of year when I bodysurf the sweating developer crowds in San Francisco and inevitably contract to some horrible nerd-specific viral infection. Current theory: Never touch the glasses.  The past three years have resulted in the entire week of GDC being a blur of  fever and fatigue-induced hallucinations interspersed with violently explosive sneezing fits.  Here's to GDC 2012: Reliving Twelve Monkeys for the fourth year in a row.

Somewhere in the midst of all this, I'll be giving a talk on game design.  David, who somehow manages to thrive on the additional contact with humanity, is doubling down on two talks.  His immune system must be made of titanium.  Alternatively, I hear if you eat a school teacher at the first sign of illness, you double the effectiveness of Cold-Eeze.  No wonder there is a teacher shortage.  I blame GDC.

Here's my plan.  I'm just going to stand on some stage, deep in a fog of over-the-counter drugs and say something, anything.  Last year, people looked like rhubarb-colored elephants.  I hope my mouth movements makes sense to the mysterious minds behind those enormous loxodontal ears.  I never watch the videos afterwards so I'm blissfully ignorant of the actual outcome.

Realm of the Counter-Intuitive God (SOGS Postmortem)
SPEAKER/S: David Edery (Spry Fox)
Monday 11:15-12:15 Room 135, North Hall
Social and Online Games Summit / 60-Minute Lecture
Description: Realm of the Mad God is a web-based f2p MMO with a penchant for breaking rules. It’s a MMO bullet-hell-shooter… in Flash. It is based on open source art. It features permadeath (the ultimate in retention challenges)! And it just so happens to be surprisingly popular and very profitable. This lecture will review some of the unusual design and business choices we made and explore which worked, which didn’t, and why. Financial and other data will be shared (and not just the stuff that makes us look good).

Create New Genres (and Stop Wasting Your Life in the Clone Factories)
SPEAKER/S: Daniel Cook (Spry Fox)
Tuesday 3:00-4:00 Room 135, North Hall
Social and Online Games Summit / 60-Minute Lecture
Description: Re-releasing old designs with pretty new graphics means me-too titles fighting off a crowd of similar products. This is the path to mediocrity. To become a master designer, you need to break past a slavish devotion of past forms and create vibrant, new experiences. This design talk covers practical techniques for reinventing game genres. The goal is the invention of a unique and highly differentiated customer value proposition that makes both strong business sense and is also deeply creatively fulfilling. We cover designing from the root, reducing design risk, and igniting original franchises. We also cover the pitfalls of design innovation including fending off shark-like fast followers and other cloners. The presentation covers personal examples from recent titles such as Steambirds, Realm of the Mad God, Triple Town and other innovative successes.

How F2P Games Blur the Line Between Design and Business
SPEAKER/S: Soren Johnson (Game Developer Magazine), Ben Cousins (ngmoco Sweden), Matthias Worch (LucasArts), Tom Chick (Quarter to Three) and David Edery (Spry Fox)
Friday 4:00-5:00 Room 2003, West Hall, 2nd Fl
60-Minute Panel
The free-to-play movement is here to stay and will touch every corner of the games industry. However, the format blurs the line between game design and game business, so that business decisions will become increasingly indistinguishable from design decisions. Free-to-play content must be fun enough to attract and retain players but not so much fun that no one feels the need to spend some money. Managing this tension makes free-to-play design extremely difficult, especially for traditional game designers who are used to simply making the best game possible. Our panelists will discuss this transition and best practices for building free-to-play games with soul.

See you there.