The Largest Conference for Game Developers on the East Coast
Listen. Ask. Learn. Grow.
The Future is in Our Hands: How Gamers Can Save the World
Speaker: Keisha Howard
In this keynote, we explore the unique strengths that gamers bring to the table and how they can use these qualities to shape emerging technology in a way that is accessible, inclusive, and human-centric. I discuss the challenges that the gaming community must overcome and offer practical steps that gamers can take to have a positive impact on the world. The keynote concludes with a call to action, encouraging gamers to join forces and work together to create a brighter future for humanity and the technology we use.
How To Become an Esports Coach
Speaker: Joshua Hilton
More people are playing video games than ever before, with an estimated 3 out of 4 households in the United States containing at least one gamer. As the audience grows, so does the demand for coaches. While there are many free resources for getting better at most games, people often prefer to have another person help them improve in a one-on-one setting (e.g. a personal trainer at the gym or a golf instructor at a driving range). With platforms like Gamer Sensei, Metafy, and even Fiverr expanding the market, now is a great time to launch your video game coaching career. Learn how to get started with Joshua Hilton, former CEO of Gamer Sensei and founder of Coachify.GG.
Casting Voice Actors for Games
Speaker: Ian Russell
So you decided to add voice to your game … but … you don’t know where to start, how to manage the process, how to budget, after all you’ve never cast before. Or perhaps you have and found that the process eats time. Or that the avenue you used flooded you with submissions with no quality control. In this session, Ian will venture outside the booth and provide useful tips and tricks that can help you get great talent submissions, manage them efficiently and control both the quality and the budget. Key Takeaways include:
- At what point in development should I cast my talent
- Where should I look to find talent
- What should I include in my casting brief
- When preparing a funding application, how much should I include for voice acting
- How much time should I allow for casting
Flow: Friend or Foe
Speaker: Josh Ether
Have you ever been so focused on a task that your mind seems unconcerned with anything else except what you’re doing. There are no roaming thoughts. There is almost no time to even contemplate action, your energy seems to just flow.
The term Flow was coined by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi author of the book “Flow — The Psychology of Optimal Experience” where in: “people typically experience deep enjoyment, creativity, and a total involvement with life.”
It’s not all sunshine and rainbows however, quoting from the book of Flow again: “a state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience is so enjoyable that people will continue to do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it”
– Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Between the lines of positivity there lurks a negative we need to be aware of : “will continue to do it even at great cost”. The risk in flow is enjoying the feeling so much that we don’t want it to end..
Photogrammetry: The Secret Sauce for Digital & Physical Convergence
Speaker: David Morris
Are you laser-focused on developing a sound strategy for digital-physical convergence?
Join this session to learn how photogrammetry can help you build a powerful foundation for digital-physical convergence and your overall web3 strategy. Experiential Consultant David Morris from NYCAP3D will share how this technology can support valuable customer data collection and retention, drive more strategic marketing campaigns, elevate ambassador and influencer strategies, and optimize omnichannel experience design.
Preparing Early Career Game Makers through an Indie Studio Experience
Speaker: Heather Cole
In this talk, Cole will go through the creation, direction, and management of the new MonRiverGames, a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit indie game studio whose goal is to provide affordable professional experiences in game design. This talk will highlight growing pains as well as tips for success in creating and guiding similar studio experiences. Cole will also go through specific projects and detail methods she employed to help create a cohesive team for each session. More information about monrivergames can be found at https://www.monrivergames.com/.
Unreal: Beyond Editor Utility Widgets with Python
Speaker: Randy Nash
In Unreal, Editor Utility Widgets and Editor Utility Scripts can do a lot to improve the lives of the team without the need to modify native code, but what should be used when the problem is too complex to realistically implement in Blueprint? Python has the potential to bridge the Blueprint / C++ gap while presenting interesting opportunities not possible in either solution. This talk will shed some light on the pros, cons, and unique things possible when using Python in Unreal Editor so attendees can utilize the right tool for their problem.
The Tech Designer Shaped Hole in Tech Art
Speaker: Randy Nash
Technical Designers often shape themselves to the ever changing needs of a project but one thing we don’t always have is art skills. Thankfully, the world of Tech Art isn’t as far away as it sometimes appears. This talk seeks to give an extremely high level overview on a wide range of topics including Maya and Houdini scripting, art pipeline basics, and performance analysis. By the end, the world of Tech Art should be a little less scary the next time you hear “can you help out the tech art team for a couple weeks?”
Text to Pixels: Turning Colossal Cave Adventure into 3D
Speaker: Amber Johnson
Colossal Cave is a parser game from 1976 which has the distinction of being the first adventure game. How do you honor one of the most influential video games made and adapt it to modern game visuals and design? This talk discusses the design process that Roberta William and Amber Johnson went through with designing the levels as well as the art direction the art team took with this project.
Expressing Narrative Design through Level Design
Speaker: Stefan Hall
Continued advances in video game technology have allocated more resources (memory, storage, graphic processing) to both narrative design and level design. As many video games have become increasingly narrative in orientation, how might designers use elements in their levels to orchestrate player experience so that the players understand more about a game’s world without having to rely on heavy exposition, extended cutscenes, and interactive dialogue? By examining the diegetic elements present in a variety of levels from indie and AAA titles, this talk will focus on ways to create immersive game worlds by layering visual cues and representational shortcuts to suggest broader narrative possibilities for players. Genre conventions, mise-en-scène components, and graphical aesthetics will be evaluated for their useful deployment in enhancing game narrative.
Overcoming Business and Legal Challenges of Non-US Team Members
Speaker: Rachel Presser
Indie teams today are no longer limited by talent and business opportunities in their backyards. Unfortunately, our legal system has not yet caught up to this reality. What happens if you have international team members? What if you are not from the US, but want to sell your game in US markets? Inversely, what if you want to reach foreign markets as a developer?
With over 10 years of experience in international tax matters and advising indie teams of all types, plus the speaker having had a foreign business partner and able to speak from firsthand experience, this talk will teach attendees how to navigate some of the inevitable headaches that come with working with international team members. Here are key topics that will be covered so attendees with foreign team members can be better prepared:
- ITINs and tax treaties
- State-level legal challenges
- Forming a stateside vs. a foreign company
- When is it worth working with a foreign or US publisher?
- and much more!
I Don’t Know What I Don’t Know- Demystifying the Laws of Making a Video Game
Speaker: Branden Moore
As attorneys, we constantly have clients meet us and say “I don’t know what I need, I just know I need something.” This talk is to help answer that question for developers, programmers, artists, or any other medium of video game creation. For new companies starting, this begins with creating your business, all of the legal processes having to take place to own your LLC, your trademark, and begin hiring employees with contracts that protect you. Then, looking for incentives your state may offer and other things, such as handling independent contractor contracts to guarantee your IP is yours and does not leak.
For others, it’s about how to protect what YOU are doing for a company or yourself. What to look for in contracts (and what to put in your own) to make sure you are protecting your valuable intellectual property. Branden will go through these steps with you and help you walk away with a clear roadmap for where to head next.
Strong Communities Make Better Indie Games
Speaker: Yiyi Zhang
I come from a background in indie game dev, art, and community organization in NYC. I’ve seen throughout the course of my career that early, consistent, and empathetic communication with one’s community is key to the successful launch and ongoing sustainability of a game, particular ones built by indie devs or small studios.
I’d like to discuss how the existence of game collectives like Gumbo Collective, online Discord communities, and other means of constantly engaging with player bases and collecting feedback are critical elements of game development. This discussion will further be informed by my full time role as community + PR manager at Heart Machine, best known for Hyper Light Drifter. I would like to highlight the success of Hyper Light Drifter, which was very much developed with the support of its community members, and compare it against Solar Ash, which was developed in a vacuum. I believe building and retaining community trust are essential business + marketing factors.
Revolutionizing Esports through Education and Youth Development
Speaker: Caleb Smith
I will talk about how esports was a growing trend in 2019 and it got hit hard in 2020 and is still on a decline. During the decline I have been able to successfully build a business that is in the industry by focusing on education and youth development. Esports and video games get kids excited about technology. They will want to learn about how technology works, how to make games, etc. which will lead them to pursue careers in video game design, cyber security, etc. We also teach the soft skills such as being punctual, teamwork, integrity and more. I will educate the audience on how schools, parks & rec, nonprofits, and other organizations can benefit from the industry.
Getting a Job in Video Game Development … Tips, Tricks & Hints!
Speaker: Paxton Galvanek
Paxton will discuss how to get hired in game development, how to create a brand for yourself, how to navigate HR/hiring at different game dev studios, what to expect during the interview process, how to get your foot in the door, how a resume should look, some tools/resources to get interviews, etc.
Paxton spoke at ECGC over the years and will be returning plus adding to his successful presentation. Hopefully, participants will walk away with some “tips, tricks & hints”. Paxton recently founded Studio Hermitage an Amplifier/Embracer Group company where he is staffing up and developing a new video game and various multi-media projects. Prior to this, Paxton built the team at Funcom over 5+ years, not only in Raleigh but also internationally at their locations including Norway, Portugal, Romania, Stockholm & more. Before that, he built game dev teams for Activision, Firaxis, Tripwire, and many others.
The Veteran VO Narrative (Pending on Panel)
Speaker: Eli Harris
Pending the panel, I will be discussing the basic overview of veterans in gaming, focused on proper representation and education while our experiences bring value to the development process. The unique perspective of what we bring to the table and the importance of implementing VO in the beginning stages.
Generating Responsive Open World VFX for Saints Row (2022)
Speaker: Ryan Hoss
An open-world game like Saints Row (2022) challenges players to embrace the unpredictable. This talk breaks down the creative solutions Volition’s VFX team fostered through interdepartmental collaboration to add life to the “living world” of the game so it comes across as a dynamic and satisfying part of the player experience. Learn how the team took data from gameplay materials to drive numerous systems such as weapon impacts, specialist enemy combat, vehicle skids and explosions, cinematics, weather events, and destructible objects. Finally, discover how leaning into this engine feature produced some unexpected wins and areas of improvement for future titles.
Teaching Gamers like Games Do: Iterative Experiences Aren’t Just for Tutorials, Any More!
Speaker: Jeff Rodgers
Gamification was a great buzzword for a while, but games have gone far beyond token systems and basic leveling. Modern games are more than a distraction, they are a human experience. To create a truly meaningful moment, game developers have to understand how to meet a player where they are. Games teach players exactly what they are ready for by giving them real experiences and plenty of room to explore. By using game theory and player psychology, we can create immersive, experiential learning in the classroom and in the game to make real connections and learn real skills.
Jeff Rodgers will discuss real-world tutorials and the crossover between game theory and education. Students at multiple stages in the Game Art & Design program at Atkins High School will discuss their experience with iterative, first-person curriculum.
Releasing a Game When You Already Have a Full-time Job — Atama
Speaker: Hunter Nance
My proposed talk would primarily deal with my experience releasing a game as a hobbyist / while still having a full-time job, and describe pain-points and tips for how to get a project to reach completion.
I would probably break it into the following parts:
Introduction – Talk about myself for a few minutes, my actual job, game experience, etc.
Atama – Talk about Atama: how the team formed, what the premise of the game is, the overall scale, the development process, the game modes, and how things changed throughout.
How to actually release a game on your own – Go into the difficulties and the various ways you can actually complete a project (not setting scope too high, having teammates and regular meetings, not being afraid to use existing resources or to have some things not be ‘perfect’).
Was it a good idea to release on our own? – Talk about how the game has done, our expectations vs our goals, whether publisher, Kickstarter, etc might be better idea.
Developing Tools as an Indie Game Developer … all in One Draw Call!
Speaker: Porrith Suong
As indie game developers, we don’t have the time nor budget to think about optimization. Sometimes we keep adding in more tools which may slow down our game. This can be detrimental when trying to get critical information about a bug/situation. This talk will go over the need to create in-game tools to efficiently debug information and the development of our in house tool, NimGui, which is an efficient 1 draw call UI system in Unity.
General talk outline:
- Why build a 1 Draw Call UI System?
- What were the problems we were facing with Unity/DOTS?
- Design philosophy/techniques of NimGui
- Why the team benefits from this
- List of tools/resources (not just NimGui!)
Attendees will walk away with tips/techniques on building their own UI system and potential resources to existing tools that may fit their needs.
Before the Monomyth: Motifs and Why They Matter
Speaker: Seth Hudson
Joseph’s Campbell’s Monomyth is old; Hollywood’s Hero’s Journey grows more tiresome year by year. While game storytellers can still find value in understanding these basic concepts, a deeper look at what inspired Campbell, and decades of Western popular story as a result, can shed new (more) light on how to advance narrative in games. This talk presents an accessible overview of the Jungian concepts that ground the Hero’s Journey. Using examples from classic and current games, the speaker offers a series of comparisons to illustrate how the use of archetypal motifs—birth, death, mothers, fathers, apocalypse, deluge, etc.—can guide small decisions to make an impact. Additionally, the speaker argues for the potential of motif-informed decision making to increase sophistication and inclusion in game storytelling by focusing on shared human emotions rather than formulaic structures.
The 3D Art Production Pipeline for That Damn Goat
Speaker: Jesse O'Brien
This talk will be an overview of the 3D art production pipeline used to create That Damn Goat, a game being developed by MAGIC Spell Studios. MAGIC is a professional game development studio owned by the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), and housed on the RIT campus. We will walk through all the tools and techniques that made up our pipeline, and will show the evolution of props and characters as they were worked through the pipeline. We used several different software packages throughout our pipeline, we will explain how we used them. MAGIC employed a hybrid professional/educational development model. This is a game project being led by faculty, but predominantly being developed by paid student workers. This talk is written for educators that may want to adapt these pipeline processes into their own educational context. The talk is also for students and recent graduates who will see a professional 3D art pipeline developed for student workers.
Blender Addon Development
Speaker: Steven Wyatt
I would like to do a demonstration of how to create an addon for Blender. It would start by showing where everything is and how to navigate the blender structures using the terminal and UI. For example. Showing how to accesses the blender file data, the current context, accessing mesh data, look at how the UI is programmed. Blender comes with templates as well that could be shown for fast examples. Once the foundation of where the data is and how to accesses it, I would then begin to show how to structure an addon (I would supply a template online if needed). Once that has been explored I can then show how to link it to blender and start performing automated actions from the Blender UI. Here is a link to a course I made on this same topic. https://blendermarket.com/products/st3-blender-addon-course
My Journey: From Voice Actor, to Director, Writer and Game Dev
Speaker: Stephen Weese
Originally driven by a passion for acting, Stephen Weese moved to Los Angeles to begin his adventure. In his first month, he was in the Hellsing Ultimate anime and the Samurai Heroes game for the Wii. Then someone asked him to write a story, then someone else. Along the way Stephen met big voice actors like Richard Epcar from Mortal Kombat and Cristina Valenzuela who is Miraculous Ladybug. He learned to direct, and started casting and directing, eventually working on a SEGA game. He made his own feature film, Altered Spirits, staring Richard and Cristina. Then he decided… “I want to make my own games!” Since he also has a computer science degree, he was able to get started and using his new skills and put together Letters From the Moon, which was released on Steam through his company, Marvelous Spiral Studios. He now has several games he has written and is looking for partners to create. Join him on the crazy journey and the exciting future ideas of someone who loves working on video games — in every way!
Narrative Dreams & Living Nightmares
Speaker: Jesse Scoble
Writing is easy, right? It’s just words! (Heck, even an AI can do it now). Listen to stories of breaking in, lessons learned, and woe and hardship from veteran writers of the video game industry. We’ll talk about projects that went right, some that went wrong, and how to recognize and course correct where possible! ——- Panelists: Bonnie Jean Mah – Narrative Director at TiMi Montréal (previously Gears of War 4 & 5, Gears Tactics, Age of Empires IV, Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine) Heather Albano – Senior Narrative Designer at Deep Silver Volition (previously the author of A Study in Steampunk and other Choice of Games titles; Jurassic Work Revealed; Wildermyth) Justin Hellstrom – Junior Narrative Designer at Crytek (Previously creator audio drama podcast: The Great Chameleon War).
Changing The Esports Model
Speaker: Glen Swan
Esports is a hot topic right now and many new entrepreneurs and brands are looking to break into the market. This talk will outline how Bad Machines, the first esports bar in North Carolina, is breaking into the esports market with a innovative and unique approach that is likely to disrupt the model. Glen (Owner), will cover costs to entry, challenges of starting a business in esports, and how he is positioning Bad Machines to be something unique that aims to support the players over the brands.
From the Controller to Infinity: Developing Games-First Transmedia
Speaker: Justin Achilli
Games are the a powerful first step into brands that keep players and audiences entertained for as long as you can keep their attention. But how do you do that when they have millions of hours of other entertainment to choose from? This talk showcases toolbox techniques for turning ideas from “It would be cool if…” into practical games and other transmedia expressions.
Games of Expression vs Escapism
Speaker: David Klingler
Making games is supposed to be fun. Playing games is supposed to be fun. Why does it feel like games aren’t as fun as they used to be? Why does it feel like making games isn’t as fun as it used to be? Why is it so complicated? Sometimes you just want to get away from it all. Where do we turn? This talk is about examining why you play games in the first place, why you will play games in the future, and using that information to influence how you make games, talk about games, think about games, and play. Afterwards, you will be able to see the path to make games in a positive way that are positive for other people. This is the way we can all win.
A Decade of Vibes: Lessons Learned Scoring FTL, Into the Breach, Subnautica: Below Zero and Others
Speaker: Ben Prunty
After making music professionally for a decade and working on a dozen games, I’ve learned a lot of lessons about game music that I haven’t seen discussed elsewhere. In this talk, I’ll share many of these concepts. Some examples: – Silence: How a lack of music can enhance a game’s soundtrack. – Vibes > Genre: Genre is merely a tool you use to achieve a vibe, rather than a rigid guideline. – Punching mudcrabs – How implementation is just as important as the music itself, as demonstrated by the ludicrously epic battle music that plays when fighting a low-level mudcrab in The Elder Scrolls: Morrowind. – The 30 second battle track – Learning exactly where and how long a player spends their time in the game will help inform you where to spend YOUR time as a composer. I have several of these lessons, and each is presented as a sort of microtalk.
6 Reasons to Track Your Work Hours on Indie Side-Projects
Speaker: Michael Schmitt
In the field of game development, side-projects can quickly evolve from a fun creative outlet into something that feels like a heavy burden. Whether you’re working on a solo project or with a team, keeping a log of your work hours can help you turn this “overwhelmed” feeling into one of intentionality and accomplishment. In this talk, I’ll share 6 reasons why you should be tracking your work hours when you decide to take a commitment to your side-project (and personal well-being) more seriously. For a lot of my life, I struggled with keeping motivation and momentum going on side-projects outside of work. It wasn’t until I started tracking my hours and setting small time-based milestones (rather than progress-based milestones) that I truly learned about my rhythms for creative work/rest. I’ll share my tips, tricks, and spreadsheets that helped me move my side-project from a production nightmare back into a fun creative outlet.
On the Wind’s Breath: Tales from Modding a Twenty-Year-Old Game
Speaker: Dylan Ascencio
In this talk, I will discuss my experiences with video game modding, focusing on the 2002 Nintendo GameCube game The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. I will go over how I got into it, what technical challenges are involved with working with a 20-year-old game engine, and what I’ve noticed about how they designed the game as I have worked with it – how they implemented gameplay objects, cutscenes, text data, etc. I will also highlight some of the modding tools I have created and talk about some of the problems I have had to solve while writing them, including both backend hurdles and issues of UI design. Finally, I will reflect on how this hobby has affected my life and how it has helped me grow as a programmer and as a game design enthusiast.
Narrative Dreams & Living Nightmares
Speakers: Jesse Scoble, Justin Hellstrom, Heather Albano
Writing is easy, right? It’s just words! (Heck, even an AI can do it now). Listen to stories of breaking in, lessons learned, and woe and hardship from veteran writers of the video game industry. We’ll talk about projects that went right, some that went wrong, and how to recognize and course correct where possible! ——- Panelists: Heather Albano – Senior Narrative Designer at Deep Silver Volition (previously the author of A Study in Steampunk and other Choice of Games titles; Jurassic Work Revealed; Wildermyth) Justin Hellstrom – Junior Narrative Designer at Crytek (Previously creator audio drama podcast: The Great Chameleon War)
3D Digital Human Facial Construction
Speaker: Saritdikhun Somasa
The presentation focuses on 3D human facial modeling and sculpting techniques and includes digital sculpting and modeling workflow in Maya and Zbrush. The lecture consists of the following topics. – Adapting the traditional sculpting techniques for digital sculpting in ZBrush – The concept of human facial construction for digital sculpting in ZBrush includes a skull structure, primary forms, landmarks, and the eye-nose-ear-mouth-neck structures. – Retopology surface model in Maya 3D to produce a clean mesh for animated ready-for-game or film models. – Basic mesh layout for a facial structure to support the flow of facial expression – Mesh uniformity and spacing – Quads and triangles – Discussion about UDIM and traditional UV.
The Battle Royale of IP
Speakers: Patrick Messenger, Mary O'Brien, Gary Greenstein
Game Developers regularly leverage real world concepts, ideas, music, brands and people to provide commentary on real world events or to build a more realistic world for gamers to explore. In order to incorporate intellectual property owned by a third party, game developers must have an understanding of the permissions or approvals necessary to do so or alternatively, the legal defenses to claims of unauthorized use to enable them to avoid litigation and liability. By incorporating real-world examples from a number of lawsuits and our own first-hand experience, this session will provide an overview of (a) copyright and trademark concepts relevant for game developers, (b) the legal steps necessary to incorporate third-party content into games, (c) when a use may be a “fair use,” (d) and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) and how it can be critical for a company that permits users to create worlds and add content to their game play.
Building A Live Game That Endures
Speaker: Matt Dondelinger
Designing a live game is a challenging endeavor. You and your team need to have a compelling game, ability to survive in the short term, and flexibility to plan for the future. When done correctly, a game can be successful for years and years. However, even games with massive budgets will fail if they don’t focus on the fundamentals of live game design. Matt will use his years of experience in live game development and working with Unity to show key principles of live game development. This presentation will cover some history of live games, how to build a solid foundation at launch, and what you need to plan for future success. The target audience would be indie and smaller development teams who are looking to make a live game for the first time. Attendees will leave with an understanding of what live games are, what is required to launch a new live game, what support is needed for the game’s life, and some useful tips/tricks.
So You (Don’t) Want to Write for Mobile Games
Speaker: Jedidjah Noomen
Writing for mobile games is often dismissed by budding gamewriters as a non-viable or uninteresting option – just like experience in mobile is often not taken seriously by companies that develop for console. But is that fair? In this talk I will focus on the skills needed to write for (big) mobile games, as well as the skills you gain from it that can be used outside of the mobile realm.
Life Experience to Puzzle Pipeline
Speaker: Mostafa Haque
The speaker talks about how any life experiences can be used as a basis for puzzle creation. The speaker will cover specific examples from three published puzzle titles they worked on to demonstrate the principles in practice: -Adventure Escape Mysteries: Picture Perfect -Adventure Escape Mysteries: The Sultan’s Inventor -Adventure Escape Mysteries: Lost Ruins – Revenge on Atlantis.
How to Make an Apple Pie from Scratch: A Series of Lenses for Building Immersive Story Worlds
Speaker: C J Kershner
The late Dr. Carl Sagan famously claimed on his PBS documentary series Cosmos, “If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.” As interactive storytellers, we do this every time we embark on a new project, regardless of genre – players may only see the apple pie (the game), but there’s an entire universe (the lore) that makes it possible. This talk will offer writers, narrative and gameplay designers, artists, producers, and anyone interested in building immersive experiences, a series of lenses – from the atomic to the cosmic – to look at how their stories and systems can be created, intertwined, and realized to create rich, detailed, authentic-feeling spaces, and craft worlds and characters that players will be talking about for years to come. It will leverage examples from games and the real world to hopefully inspire thinking on a deeper level about life, the universe, and everything… from baked goods to logistics networks to quantum physics.
Into The Fray: Dissecting the Game Programming Technical Interview
Speaker: Max Litvinov
It can already be a daunting task to land an interview as a gameplay engineer in the industry. What about the actual interview process itself and its technical aspects? Over my gameplay engineering career I’ve gone through a large number of interviews, and I’d like to share what I learned along the way. This session will cover the ins and outs of technical interviews for gameplay engineering candidates.
Coins, Card Towers, and Casinos: Modelling Attraction and Chemistry Through Narrative Design
Speaker: Michelle Clough
Relationships aren’t about “say and do nice things until you’re rewarded with love or sex.” Yet the dominant romance model in games – the infamous “kindness coins” – often unintentionally does just that. This talk explores how to evolve (or subvert!) that model by shifting focus onto attraction and personal chemistry, and how to tell hotter, sweeter stories through EVERY system of the game, not only dialogue and text. We’ll cover: -the “kindness coin” model and its pros and cons. -chemistry as a more nuanced alternative to generic “kindness” -how chemistry can be expressed through different game systems, from conversation to character creation to combat. -how to mentally reframe kindness coins as the “chemistry card tower,” trading transactional dynamics for building up inter-personal chemistry -how to use things like RNG and narrative sleight-of-hand to keep chemistry and romance unpredictable, mysterious, and suspenseful – the “chemistry casino” (NOTE: expanded from my GDC talk!)
Tilting at Windmills: The Quest for Better Quest Design
Speakers: Jesse Scoble, Michelle Clough
You COULD be the chosen one, destined to save us from certain ruin. But before I can tell you how to find the Golden MacGuffin, I need you to prove yourself…by killing ten rats. Quest design has come a long way, or has it? A panel of veteran writers & narrative designers discusses what’s right and wrong with current day quest design and offer ways we might improve it, with a particular focus on storytelling and narrative design. What tools do we have to make our quests more engaging? How can we get more out of them with no additional development cost? What can we do to get our players to care about more than just the rewards they offer? Find out at The Quest for Better Quest Design.
Forming the Perfect Indie Team: Finding True Collaborators
Speaker: Barret Vasilchik
As an indie game developer, one of the biggest challenges is finding the right people to work with on your project. Whether you’re a solo developer looking for a team or a small team looking to expand, building a team of passionate, skilled, and aligned individuals is crucial to the success of your project. In this talk, we’ll explore the different ways you can find the perfect collaborators for your indie game development project. We’ll discuss how to leverage platforms like Fiverr, Discord, and Twitter to find like-minded individuals who share your vision and passion for the project. We’ll also discuss the importance of finding people who are aligned with your vision and how to make sure everyone is on the same page. Lastly, we’ll discuss the importance of treating your team as true collaborators and not just contractors or workers.
Designing Content Agnostic Serious Games
Speaker: Joshua Peery
Many Serious Games are often topic specific. If one applies the concept of a “platform” that uses a universal game mechanic, Serious Game content can be delivered with less over head and greater flexibility than developing a different game for each subject matter area. This presentation will explore this idea using a ECU project, S-Chat, as a case study.
Motivation Isn’t a Stat, It’s a Class
Speaker: Garrett Swanson
In western society, motivation is considered something you either have or don’t on a given day, week, or even project. I’ve found motivation is more like a body type, or a class in a video game. Motivation is complex. Could you imagine everyone was clothed in the average clothing size simply because it was the average? In this talk, we’ll go over the video-gamified versions of the 3 big motivational types (Doshas) from Ayurveda, a school of thought and medicine from over 5000 years ago. There are the Wind (Dynamic), Fire (Driven), and Earth (Resilient) types, and each have vastly different pitfalls and techniques to excel in motivation. You wouldn’t wield a sword when you’re classed as a wizard, so stop listening to motivational speakers that tell everyone “Just try to use Fireball more often.”
Developing Mobile App Games With Purpose (And A Marketing Plan To Distribute!)
Speaker: Bonnie Mauldin
Bonnie Mauldin will use her leadership and expertise as an award-winning author, investor, entrepreneur and game developer to talk about her new game – FAST DOT, the development and marketing process, and share tips with anyone interested in developing games that improve cognitive function while being visually stunning, engaging and fun.
Optimization and Porting: Fitting Large Games in Small Packages
Speaker: Allen Oliver
This talk will go over the broad process of taking a project and porting to another platform. Then after that is established, I go over the publishing process. I will break down key areas developers can optimize and save resources on in-game assets, as well as some core code and shader optimizations. The talk is intended to be engine-agnostic and should be useful for any developer looking to optimize or port to a new platform.
DLSS, Frame Generation and Generative AI Models for Games and Content Creation Pipelines
Speaker: Chris Alvarez-Russell
Deep learning and AI continue to excite and amaze both gamers and developers alike. Attend to hear the latest on generative workflows, language models and interesting AI for games and game development. The session also takes a deep dive into DLSS; in particular the latest DLSS Frame Generation and how to use the Streamline frame work to integrate DLSS (DLSS Super Resolution, DLSS Frame Generation and NVIDIA Reflex) into games and rendering engines.
Humans and NLP – How to ask the right questions!
Speaker: Kenneth Hubbell
Key Objectives: What is NLP? What can it do for you? How to ask the right question(s) Try this at home There is a new role in many companies, and game development is no different. Using generative AI, specifically Natural Language Processing, it is now possible to have AI draft complex narratives, branching logic for games, and even write code to help in development. The trick is knowing how to ask the right questions to get the results you desire. In this talk, I will cover the fundamentals of asking the right questions and understanding how best to use the results to help your game and your production go well from beginning to end. Save days of writing and planning by adding AI to your design and development team.
I’m Stressed, You’re Stressed, the Cat’s Stressed, Too: Understanding What Your Player Really Wants
Speaker: Suzanne Peterson-Warr
Using my background as a published author of traditional books and as a developmental editor of national bestselling novels, I’ll share a few tricks and secrets from the other side of the entertainment industry. We’ll explore the relationship between pain and stress, and the approach a game or narrative designer can use to make sure that a player gets what they’re looking for from a game. This will include tips for how to increase the player’s sensory immersion in game’s you make and ways to honor the unwritten emotional contract you’ve extended to your player.
Level Up Your Art Skills by Leveraging Your Limitations
Speaker: Jesse Henning
Limitations are and always will be a part of life as an artist, no matter how developed your skills may be. If we learn to embrace our limitations in the way we practice our craft, we can actually find more freedom to create. Through this practice we can achieve a greater ability to focus on direction, work faster, work more efficiently and actually increase our value to the companies that hire us. Having every tool available at your disposal and being given the freedom to make whatever you want sounds appealing, but it can often be crippling, leaving you with too many options to choose from. Limitations can help free you, by narrowing those options in order to move forward in creating the art you enjoy, to explore new areas of your craft and grow in skills that you might not normally focus on without having certain crutches removed. In this talk I will demonstrate how I have practiced and had to navigate limitations in both professional and personal projects.
Tying Knots in Virtual Reality
Speaker: Austin Caskie
The talk will be a discussion of the technical execution of my thesis project programming an interactive-knot tying simulation for virtual reality, which includes a custom and robust rope simulation. I will cover topics including Position Based Dynamics, soft-body physics, procedural meshes, and designing a dexterous control system for rope manipulation in virtual reality. I will also discuss the learning process and how to maintain enthusiasm through difficult projects.
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