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11:00amSally Sheppard Wyrdren Games11:00am - 11:45amRoom 4
Character Design: Creating with CareTuesday 11th July11:00am - 11:45amRoom 4
In Character Design: Creating with care, we will talk about why it's important to design characters for video games in a way that's respectful, thoughtful, and caring. Inclusion and diversity shouldn't be an afterthought.
- Inclusive Design and its benefits
- Player representation and Studio representation and why it matters
- Diversifying your design with care
2:00pmJacob Mills Roll72:00pm - 2:45pmRoom 1
Closing the Gap - Designing Levels for a New Genre in RollerdromeTuesday 11th July2:00pm - 2:45pmRoom 1
Rollerdrome combines skating and shooting, two well trodden verbs in games, to create something entirely new - an arena-based skater-shooter. While its influences are worn on its sleeves, the act of blending these two genres births a set of entirely new design challenges that require their own unique solutions for this project.
In this talk, Roll7 Senior Level Designer Jacob Mills will give insight into his experience joining a new team working in an entirely new genre, chronicling the initial stumbles and offering practical advice on utilising the design process to style it out, pull a 180 and hit the ground rolling.
- Starting work in a new or unfamiliar genre is hard - how can we embrace that unfamiliarity and turn it from an obstacle to be overcome into an effective tool to be used?
- Level design extends beyond greybox - taking time to view the new project through a game design lens will provide new insight into what’s needed for the level design to shine
- Understand how to formalise your own process; utilise it to solve fresh problems
3:00pmConor Bradley Soft Leaf Studios3:00pm - 3:45pmRoom 1
Designing An Accessible GameTuesday 11th July3:00pm - 3:45pmRoom 1
This talk will raise awareness to the fact that we can always be doing more to make our own games accessible.
Through the experience gained while developing Stories of Blossom, Conor will share his insights into how we can all make our games more accessible to those in the disability community.
The hope of this talk is to inspire developers to start addressing the accessibility of their own games by sharing the best practices and giving practical advice that can be used to open this form of entertainment to more players.
The talk will look at the common barriers that can block players, how to address them, and how we can work with the disability community to better improve the accessibility of the games we make.
Using Stories of Blossom as an example Conor will deep dive into the lessons he has learned while trying to create an accessible experience from the outset, the challenges faced, and the resources that helped along the way.
- Inspiration to take accessibility forward in your own games.
- The steps needed to take in order to make games more accessible.
- How to involve the disability community in the process of making accessible games.
4:00pmTBC TBC4:00pm - 4:45pmRoom 3
Design SessionTuesday 11th July4:00pm - 4:45pmRoom 3
5:00pmJoel Beardshaw ustwo games5:00pm - 5:45pmRoom 1
How to Build an Approachable and Story Focused Game in the Complex Genre of TacticsTuesday 11th July5:00pm - 5:45pmRoom 1
2022’s Desta: The Memories Between was a different type of project for ustwo games. The games it had made up to that point were usually linear and relatively short, with a set start and end, with no fail states. So the studio set itself a challenge: to make a repayable game that a player could build mastery with over time.
Ustwo games approached this challenge from a simple premise: we often ask players to solve a problem by finding a single solution, but what if we ask the player to solve a problem with many solutions? The answer was meshing together tactics, toylike interactions and storytelling.
In this talk, Joel will explore how this particular approach to game design can work, using the team’s original reference points and its journey towards creating an approachable, character-driven narrative game that allows players to explore a multi-dimensional dream world – all through a tactical and physics-based ball game.
- It is possible to take the most complex genres and make them accessible to brand new players, while also providing new experiences to existing fans.
- Knowing when to break rules is key, even if they’re your own rules!
- Boil down your design to be as small as possible
11:00amDiana Flindt Splash Damage11:00am - 11:45amRoom 3
How to End the World: A Post-mortem of RuneScape 3’s 2022 Season FinaleWednesday 12th July11:00am - 11:45amRoom 3
The live MMO-RPG Runescape 3 created an epic high-fantasy story throughout its 2021/22 season of content, the Elder God Wars. The universe eaters were awake and coming to kill us all - and only our players can stop them. The conflict culminated in the 2022 grandmaster quest, Extinction. I was lead developer and main writer for this quest while a junior developer at the time. In this talk I will share what went wrong, what went right, and lessons learned from building an end-of-the-world story in a live game. I will highlight the unique narrative challenges of trying to create a satisfying ending in an ongoing live game, the importance of scoping out the consequences of your stories, how to get players to care about high-stakes conflict, and how to learn from hostile player reception.
- How storytelling in live games is fundamentally different to storytelling in standalone titles, and how to leverage that.
- How to avoid some common pitfalls when creating stories for live games.
- How to learn from players not liking your stories.
1:00pmAlistair Aitcheson The Incredible Playable Show1:00pm - 1:45pmRoom 3Design FREE
Empowering Creative PlayWednesday 12th July1:00pm - 1:45pmRoom 3
Alistair Aitcheson is the designer and host of award-winning [video game live shows](https://playable.show). Drawing on a portfolio of work that encourages physical movement, cheating and chaos - as well as 5 years’ experience as an amateur clown - he will demonstrate how to design games and challenges that empower players to be creative and expressive.
Alistair will explore creative activities designed to build emotional connections, as well as how he built his latest project - livestream game [Artholomew Video’s Stream Challenge](https://artholomew.video) - to open up painting and performance art to participants who do not see themselves as creative. He’ll also explore the gamelike structures of clowns and the surrealists, and how they can be used to conjure up surprising and unusual experiences in the digital age.
This talk will be ideal for anyone who wants to build games that build personal connections with their players, and provide inspiration for any designer who wants to enrich their projects with flexibility and unpredictability.
* The importance of building trust with players, and how we can go about it as designers
* Understanding the fears and anxieties that may discourage players from participating
* Examples of alternative-controller interfaces that encourage emotional engagement through creativity
* Methods of unlocking freeform creative exploration, as inspired by clowns and the surrealists
* The power of allowing players to claim ownership of the game, and the affordances they need so they can do so
2:00pmTravis Martin Snowed In Studios2:00pm - 2:45pmRoom 1
Making the Most of ADHD in Game DesignWednesday 12th July2:00pm - 2:45pmRoom 1
Game design is a wonderful career for folks with ADHD. However, some tasks that are unavoidable for game designers can be extremely challenging for this kind of brain.
We'll go over the basics of ADHD, and see how they complicate the responsibilities of a game designer. But, have no fear: for each one, we will discuss ways to minimize pain and maximize progress.
Ultimately, this is the story of how one person deals with their highly chaotic brain. If none of the practices work for you, then follow in my footsteps and create your own!
- Basics of neurodiversity and ADHD
- Specific Game Design tasks which are challenging for this type of brain
- Tools and tips for overcoming painful tasks, and keeping everything together
These three end up being broad topics, and we will cover a lot of information!
3:00pmPaula Rogers Sweet Baby Inc.Amy-Leigh Shaw Sweet Baby Inc.3:00pm - 3:45pmRoom 3
In The Room: Running and Participating in Modern Writers’ RoomsWednesday 12th July3:00pm - 3:45pmRoom 3
Paula (Lead Writer, Story Editor, University Professor) and Amy-Leigh (Writer and Narrative Designer) will be in conversation about their experiences running and participating in writers’ rooms, including best practices, structures for fruitful discussion, collaboration techniques, creative team-building exercises, and how best to prepare yourself for working with others. After these discussions, they will also be open to any questions on the subject, including questions about writing collaboratively for genre (comedy, horror, romance) and fostering teamwork.
- Build a supportive and fruitful environment for getting the best ideas out of a writing team
- Provide actionable creative feedback and keep writers feeling motivated and positive
- Prevent or correct harmful and counterproductive group dynamics
4:00pmMark Friend PlayStation Studios4:00pm - 4:45pmRoom 3
Anthology of Accessibility: Research, Advocacy & Accessibility TagsWednesday 12th July4:00pm - 4:45pmRoom 3
In April 2023 the PlayStation Accessibility Tags launched on the PlayStation Store. But a project of that scale didn’t happen overnight. It required robust best practices, effective user testing and involvement from the disabled community, and a company committed to accessibility.
In this talk, PlayStation Studios Accessibility Lead Mark Friend will share key learnings on how accessibility processes and culture have evolved over his 10 years at the company, as well as providing an insight into the creation and development of the PlayStation Accessibility Tags.
- The best practices for creating and using best practices
- Why it’s important to include people with disabilities in user tests, and how to effectively run accessibility research
- How to succeed as an advocate for accessibility and create a culture of inclusion at your company
- How the PlayStation Accessibility Tags were created and an insight into their development
10:00amJon Ingold inkle10:00am - 11:00amRoom 1
Further Up and Further In: Making Richer Gameplay NarrativesThursday 13th July10:00am - 11:00amRoom 1
The late, great science-fiction writer Gene Wolfe said: “My definition of good literature is that which can be read by an educated reader and reread with increased pleasure.” But narrative games are traditionally designed to be disposable: single-play experiences that become purely clockwork things on a repeat playthrough.
However, the more responsive a game is and the broader its content, the more players will miss first time around. So how can we design our games to make replay-ability a core component without the story losing its integrity?
In this keynote, Jon Ingold will present a manifesto for re-playable narratives - games that deepen and enrich themselves every time a player returns to walk their halls. He’ll outline the strategies developed by inkle over a decade’s worth of work, from the “just write everything” approach of Sorcery! and 80 Days, to the re-contextualisation of Heaven’s Vault and the procedural systems of Pendragon and the upcoming A Highland Song.
Narrative is more than content, writing is more than output, and 100% complete is not the limit.
- An example-based overview of narratives that demand to be re-played
- Strategies to reduce the content-creation burden
11:15amJosh Grier Ember LabMike Grier Ember Lab11:15am - 12:00pmRoom 2
Challenges in Creating a Completely New IPThursday 13th July11:15am - 12:00pmRoom 2
Join Josh and Mike Grier, the creative minds behind _Kena: Bridge of Spirits_, as they present their experience in creating new IPs - from marketing campaigns to short films, and, of course, gaming. They will discuss their creative process, inspirations, challenges, and breakthroughs. Afterwards they will participate in a Q&A session.
- Finding the Heart
- Discovering a Visual Style
- Creating the World
- Developing Characters
- Crafting the Story
- Sharing the Vision & Bringing the World to Life
2:00pmNina Roussakoff Lovewish2:00pm - 2:45pmRoom 1
7 Things I Wish I’d Known About Creative LeadershipThursday 13th July2:00pm - 2:45pmRoom 1
Leadership is a skill, and creative leadership asks for even more. A creative leader not only guides their team, but also champions the vision while fostering an environment that encourages creative contribution. Balancing vision with creative input comes with its own unique challenges.
Nina Roussakoff has been in games leadership for the past 7 years, as a lead, as a game director, and eventually a founder of a games studio. She has faced obstacles, made her fair share of mistakes, and lived to tell the tale. In this talk, she shares the insights she gained along the way - a treasure trove for anyone looking to lead with creativity and purpose.
- Ways to balance vision with creative input from the team
- Collaborative communication
- Greater confidence in leadership
3:00pmChloe Patricia Hodgson Ubisoft Reflections3:00pm - 3:45pmRoom 1
UXpected Me to Talk About UI: Prioritising Players Throughout DevelopmentThursday 13th July3:00pm - 3:45pmRoom 1
The role of a User Experience (UX) designer in games is different than in other industries. Despite the common label of ‘UI/UX’, the user-centered mindset should impact all phases of your project’s development to not only ensure usability, but power meaningful experiences for your players. This talk will cover an introduction to UX processes, how to begin taking UX beyond UI in games, and common barriers to fostering a culture of design which prioritises the players’ perspective.
- An outline of the UX process and how it can be used to move a product from functional to meaningful for users.
- How to think about your players’ higher-level goals and motivations to inform design.
- How people of any discipline can begin to apply user-centered approaches to their work, and therefore practice UX in the team.
- Steps you can take to advance your UX maturity and team mindset.
4:00pmStuart Young Failbetter Games4:00pm - 4:45pmRoom 1
Five Practical Production HacksThursday 13th July4:00pm - 4:45pmRoom 1
Production advice is often nebulous and theoretical, or very specific to one team. This is hardly surprising; it's a broad discipline and the work of different producers varies wildly. So in this session, I want to share some practical production behaviours that I've found useful, and you might too. Specific enough to be actionable, broad enough to be applied in other teams, these are five "production hacks" I've learnt on my journey that really pay off.
- You're not too small for build automation
- Meetings aren't free
- Use a scripting language
- Share the numbers
- Bundle your questions