If I counted correctly (and a case can be made that I’m not that good with numbers), there were 30 talks in the Game Dev Camp 2015 not counting the opening keynote. This is my top 3 of those talks plus a couple of honourable mentions. Obviously my list is biased towards production, business and analytics. I’m sure there are some fine art and development talks there but I can’t really give a intellectually honest opinion in areas where I don’t feel I have something to add. There is a surprising number of design ones on my top 3, reason being… they are quite analytical behind the curtain. Not that it is obvious during the talk itself, but from my own experience, that is the kind of stuff analysts help quite a lot.
Without further ado… my top 3!
Number 1: Going Indie
Luis António (The Witness, Twelve Minutes)
Luis has done it all. He left Portugal to work on AAA games and he did has a 3D Artist at Rockstar and as a Lead and Art Director at Ubisoft. After these experiences he went indie, working with the designer of Braid on The Witness and his own project: Twelve Minutes.
His talk is one of the most personal and introspective journeys in the world of game development, from AAA to Indie. A must see for any new and/or indie developer.
Number 2: How to design fairer game in-app purchases
Oscar Clark (Unity Evangelist)
This was the most surprising talk to me. I expect the worse every time I hear someone has something to say about how to make IAP (in-app purchases) better or fairer. This talk should serve as a good lesson to me. That I should believe in mankind no matter what.
Oscar makes a brilliant case in favour of IAP while advocating for a better user experience. He showed good examples of IAPs and how to approach their inclusion in the game design process with the objective of intensifying the player’s appreciation of the game. And like any analytical aware person, he knows and shows that retention is king.
Number 3: Ten things you need to know about psychology
Carmen Menéndez (Gameloft)
This was THE TALK I wanted to watch. Unfortunately it was at the same time as mine. Fortunately there’s a video!
The talk is about things that get neglected or at least not consciously thought of by game developers. A lot of it is supported by research and, you guessed it, analytics.
+1 Game Design by Matthew Buxton (King)
Let me start by saying that I’ve worked with Matt and he is fantastic! He is one of the most data oriented designers I’ve met.
His talk is one that has more data informed background of the event. He explores how to design iteratively and creatively.
Key Learnings from a decade developing MMO games by Rui Casais (Funcom)
I’m not sure I agree with the title of this talk. While it isn’t exactly incorrect, it is much more than that. It is about thinking about the business of making games, facing adversity, making decisions.
Rui started as a coder at Funcom and he now is the CEO. Through his path he saw a lot of stuff and his vision is worth knowing. Even if you don’t agree, the thought process is priceless.
Pain is Good – Level Design for Action Games by Miguel Rafael (Tio Atum)
Unfortunately a big part of this talk is in Portuguese which is kind of bad for an international audience. However the content is the thought process behind the creation of an action packed old school game.
I don’t know if Miguel thought of this but this is filled with stuff that analyst could use. The reason for it is that the design is filled with assumptions and hypothesis that can be enhanced by data.