Design

Creativity in games has recently undergone a renaissance due to Indie developers, new formats, smaller budgets and online distribution channels as well as mainstream innovations. So contemporary game design is a challenging mix of cutting edge tech versus old school techniques like storytelling and game play. Come and be inspired by some of the world's most innovative and successful game designers offering their own top tips, and insight.

Design sessions

Designer War Stories: Tales from the Trenches

Monday 2nd November: 13.00 - 13.30 :

These two veteran designers will swap war stories that will give a unique perspective to their career longevity. They'll discuss the essential questions on how their design style has evolved over the years.  The chat will include insight into the importance of pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone and being excited about what you are doing every day. Are you motivating yourself and your team?  Don't miss this intimate discussion that will make you laugh and remind you that you aren't alone in the trenches. 

Spatial communication in level design. How your level communicates ideas to a player and how to take control of what it is saying.

Wednesday 4th November: 13.00 - 13.30 :

20 level design techniques that communicate ideas to your players. Every decision you make when building your level will tell the player something. From locked doors and broken drain pipes to a fallen tree or a rocky outcrop lodged into the side of a hill. These all form a dialogue that the player has with the level as they play, and if used in the right way can lead the player through a space in the exact way that you intended. This talk breaks down an example level and highlights 20 level design techniques that help you take control of what your level is communicating to the player.

Takeaway:

  • How to make key moments more impactful
  • How to use spatial design to create tone and atmosphere
  • How to use create more visually interesting spaces

Getting the Job Done: Using Everything to Make your Game

Wednesday 4th November: 16.00 - 16.30 :

Grant Allen started out as a concept artist and, within just 7 years, significantly extended his skillset to become the Lead Designer on the upcoming sequel to “Battletoads”.

Grant’s talk will cover his approach in designing a game without a formal education in game design, as well as the important key techniques and lessons learned over the course his time in the industry. In particular, he will be covering prototype techniques, working with and becoming a mentor, and the transformation of a hobby into a research-focused approach to design.

Takeaway:

  • Prototyping: paper, playable and even live action
  • Playing to learn: how to focus playing video games into targeted research
  • Learn from others: good resources and recommended articles/videos
  • Mentorship: working with a mentor and being a mentor yourself
  • Getting the job done: how everything translates into making a game

KEYNOTE: Talking 'Animal Talking' with Gary Whitta

Monday 2nd November: 15.00 - 15.30 :

With late-night talk shows forced to make dramatic shifts due to the COVID-19 pandemic, screenwriter and author Gary Whitta found a way for the format to thrive: by putting it inside of Animal Crossing.

In this fireside chat, Whitta sits down with journalist Rebekah Valentine to discuss the explosion of his Twitch show Animal Talking and its numerous celebrity guests, his shift to holding talk shows in Fall Guys and a Dungeons & Dragons campaign in Animal Crossing as he built a community around his shows, and his broader work as a writer for film, TV, games, and literature.

Hosted by Rebekah Valentine, GI.biz

KEYNOTE: Twenty Years of Designing Games, Managing Teams and Learning to Make Your Own Luck

Tuesday 3rd November: 17.00 - 17.30 :

Creative Director at PlayStation and Pixelopus, Dominic Robilliard, sits down in this fireside chat to discuss his 20 year career in the industry.  The discussion will cover his beginnings in QA at SEGA, then starting in design at Sony London Studio, working on such titles as The Getaway Franchise, and 8 Days.  During his time at Lucasfilm/LucasArts he got a taste for full scale AAA but also small team development with the Special Edition re-release of Monkey Island and Lucidity (LucasLabs). If we are lucky, Dom might share his experience of working with George Lucas for two years as the director of Star Wars 1313. 

He’ll talk about how his past influenced his current passion project: PixelOpus and managing a team made of students and recent graduates having their first experience in the game's industry. Mentoring them from their first small project, Entwined and growing them to a more senior team capable of Concrete Genie and beyond. Dom's passion for gameplay driven narrative, managing large and small teams, and breaking into the industry will be an exciting 45 minute session.

Interview by Will Freeman, Freelance Games Journalist

Stronger Together: How Your Players Can Make You a Better Developer.

Monday 2nd November: 12.00 - 12.30 :

At Jagex, developers are encouraged to have a regular open dialogue with our players. Players are a core part of the design and decision-making process‚ as part of our player obsessed approach to living games. They're empowered to have their say in how RuneScape and Old School RuneScape evolve and we involve them from idea generation through to post-release feedback.

This session discusses the learnings we've gained from over 19 years of taking this approach. Why does Jagex put so much importance on our developers talking to our players regularly? How do Jagex's developers get so much value out of a free-talking crowd? What methods do Jagex's developers employ to take this largely subjective and qualitative feedback source and turn it into actionable feedback? Players won't always like what you have to say, and, in some cases, dialogue can get toxic. What methods do Jagex's developers employ to deal with this?

Overall this session aims to offer developers the understanding and the tools needed to decide if this player-focused approach is right for them and apply it.

Takeaway:

  • Why regular dialogue with players can make you a better developer.
  • How to efficiently converse with players.
  • Methods for turning subjective and qualitative feedback into actionable feedback.
  • Methods to help improve social media resilience.
  • An understanding on if this is the right approach for you as a developer.

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