|    Game Design

Creating compelling, immersive games requires understanding, visualizing, demonstrating, and tuning the interactions of an ever-increasing number of game tools and systems. While game designers need to understand and exploit the possibilities of new technologies such as realistic physics, facial expressions, and lighting techniques; they must also continue to master the traditional disciplines of drama, game play, and psychology.

The Design Track explores the challenges and ramifications of the interaction between new technologies and established techniques.

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The Players are Loose! Developing a Seamless Multiplayer Sandbox for Dead Island 2
Joerg Friedrich (Yager Interactive)
Is it possible to build a huge seamless multiplayer sandbox world while keeping the tension and fidelity of a single-player action game, and how do you do this with team of 80 developers? How do you create meaningful narrative for a game that never ends? What are the most common and re-occurring mistakes during development and what can you do to avoid them? This talk will give some answers to these questions and tell about the challenges Yager was facing when it moved from the linear game that was Spec Ops: The Line to the non-linear sandbox multiplayer experience that is Dead Island 2. We learned a lot by doing and mainly by doing it wrong. We were able to derive a number of design principles that resulted while developing Dead Island 2, and this talk will you give a look behind the scenes that led us to them.
Conquering New Frontiers: Angry Birds and Their EPIC Adventure
Christian Kluckner (Chimera Entertainment)
Miika Tams (Rovio)
With one of the biggest mobile IPs of all time under their belts, Rovio set out to advance their brand even further: Angry Birds Epic, a tactical role-playing game was born. How did they meet the challenge of transferring a brand known to everyone for its simple slingshot mechanic to a totally different genre, and how has it been received by the crowd? Chris and Miika will tell the story of how Angry Birds Epic came into existence, from the original concept pitched to Rovio by Chimera Entertainment, to the release of the game in June 2014. A renowned brand as big as Angry Birds needs a lot of care put into every game developed in its wake, from the humorous touch to the child-friendly visuals -- while simultaneously conquering the role-playing genre and tapping into new target groups with a gameplay as simple and yet complex as Epic turned out to be.
Emergent Stories in Crusader Kings II
Henrik Fahraeus (Paradox Development Studio)
"Emergent gameplay" is still a buzzword in the field of game design, and it remains an enticing idea because it is the key to near infinite replayability. An important subset of the concept is "emergent narrative," that is, the unwritten stories that appear out of the simulation itself. This talk explores the (often bloody) emergent stories of the open-ended strategy RPG Crusader Kings II, the quest for balance between narrative forms, and the vast untapped potential of this type of game. Can emergent stories ever be as immersive as written stories? The experiences gained during the development and life cycle of Crusader Kings II might point the way.
Developing UX Practices at Epic Games
Celia Hodent (Epic Games)
User experience has become very trendy in the gaming industry, and an increasing number of studios want to create an internal UX team, sometimes even with a staff psychologist. When that new team comes together, however, they are often perceived as fighting against the design team. In reality, their role is to empower the designers to form true hypotheses (rather than subjective opinions) using knowledge in psychology that can be validated through a rigorous methodology. This talk will cover how UX practices are developed at Epic games - as a tool for the studio to help achieve their design intentions faster.
I, Outsider
Brenda Romero (Romero Games / UC Santa Cruz)
Inside the game industry, we praise the outsiders and applaud their tremendous innovation, whimsy and creativity. We crave the freedom we perceive they have. Yet, outside the game industry, those who push the boundaries often feel quite alone, not certain if their ideas are worthwhile or worthless. They have neither parallel nor peer and crave the validation that comes from being inside. Inside wants out, outside wants in. In this talk, Romero explores this paradox, the struggle for self-validation and acceptance, and considers an inside/out outside/in path that works for all.
Fun or Frustration: Game Balance Pitfalls and Recipes
Maciej Szczesnik (11 bit studios)
Balancing game difficulty, pacing and progress can be a horror, and game designers often fear this stage of the project. Their whole work can be wasted if this last task fails. We all know that game balance can make or break the whole experience. This talk will present the problems and pitfalls that Maciej has encountered while working on The Witcher RPGs and other titles. The talk will highlight methods and guidelines that solve these problems and will you help balance your games.
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