5 GDC Talks Every Aspiring Game Designer Must Watch

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As the video game industry continues to mature, the techniques designers use to craft better experiences keeps raising the development curve. Each day, bright minds create novel ideas and innovative concepts that continue to transform our favorite medium.

If you wish to become a game designer, it is important to keep track of the latest trends in the field. One of the best ways to do so is following the Game Developers Conference (GDC) channel on YouTube, where the masterminds of the industry share their thoughts about the current state of video games and what the future holds.

With this in mind, we have picked five GDC talks you must watch if you are an aspiring game designer and want to keep updated with the latest trends in the industry.

Narrative Lego

In 2014, Ken Levine, the mind behind the BioShock franchise pitched the concept he wishes to implement in his next game.

“Narrative Lego”, as he calls his idea, consists of creating a story-driven experience in which the choices of the player will dictate the course of the story.

Many games, such as Fallout 3, for instance, have featured choice-driven narratives in the past, but what makes Levine’s concept unique is the fact that players will have the freedom to create their own stories and choices, rather than following what the designers and writers scripted.

Building to an Emotional Theme

As video games continue to feature more complex and emotionally engaging narratives, a good game designer needs to have a clear understanding of how storytelling in this medium works, in order to design a system that makes best use of the plot.

In order to help you getting a clearer picture on how to craft an emotional story in a video game, watch this talk from 2016. Lead writer of the Dragon Age franchise, Patrick Weekes, and narrative designer, John Epler, discuss the process of designing the narrative of the "Trespasser" DLC.

How To Make Your Game Funny

Throughout the years, the video game industry has embraced a variety of genres, but still has not invested in one: comedy.

In the Borderlands franchise, developers at Gearbox Studios aimed at combining an FPS with humor and the success of the series has proven that comedy does have a place in video games, but we are yet to see a major movement from other companies in this regard. Therefore, there is a big opportunity to upcoming developers to innovate and invest in this under-explored niche.

In his talk, William Pugh, the co-creator of The Stanley Parable, shares his thoughts on why his game was successful and how to make a video game funny.

 

How to Make Great Game Tutorials

Some gamers may not like to admit this, but the days when developers made games especially for gamers are long gone. Nowadays, game designers attempt to reach out to the largest audience possible and in some cases, this has led to an inferior product.

As the Portal franchise has shown us, however, it is possible to design a game that is accessible to even those who do not play games and still be a compelling experience for those who do.

We currently live in an era in which the budgets for AAA games have gone through the roof and as a designer, it will be your job to ensure this money is an investment, not an expense. In order to do this, you will need to design great tutorials and to make your game accessible even for people who are not familiar with video games, thus making your target audience wider.

In order to discuss how to create a good tutorial, Asher Vollmer spoke on the GDC 2014 about the topic.

AI Behavior Editing and Debugging

To craft an emotionally engaging experience, a game designer cannot think exclusively about how to drive the behavior of the player, but also the interaction with the game's various NPCs.

In 2016, Jonas Gillberg joined GDC to discuss the different behaviors of NPCs in Tom Clancy’s The Division and how to design the attributes of the NPCs that players encounter throughout the experience and how to make the interaction with the player and the AI as impacting as possible.

These five talks are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes down to the content featured on the GDC YouTube channel. With an expanding list of more than 500 videos, the best minds in this industry share their experiences and ideas for the future.

If you wish to work in this field, it is wise to listen to those who have thrived in it and with half a thousand of videos available, there certainly is one that perfect for the role you want to occupy, regardless of being a game designer or a writer.

Grab your popcorn, create your playlist and enjoy an evening of learning.

Published Nov. 13th 2016

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