Naughty Dog at GDC 2012

GDC 2012 is almost here - just next week - and Naughty Dog is in a veritable TON of sessions. Oh, and don't forget that Wednesday, March 7, is the 12th Annual Game Developers Choice Awards. If you're attending GDC 2012, we hope to see you in some of our sessions!

By arne | Twitter @arnemeyer | Saturday March 03 2012

Naughty Dog at GDC 2012

After a relatively quiet GDC 2011 (only four talks that year), the Dogs are hitting GDC 2012 full force. I know plenty of Dogs always look forward to GDC and it's definitely one of my favorite conferences each year. Actually, I think they're all my favorites. Regardless of your discipline in the industry, or if you're a student, if you pick the right sessions, GDC almost always manages to be informative and inspirational. Keep checking the GDC12 tag on this blog to get daily updates on the talks for that day and anything else that may happen which we don't know about right now!

The full list of sessions, along with dates, times, locations and descriptions, is reproduced below. Visit our Facebook events page or the GDC Schedule builder if you want to add these sessions to your calendar, export them or print them out.

Water Technology of Uncharted
Wednesday, March 7, 2012
11:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Room 2016, West Hall, 2nd Fl

Speakers
Carlos Gonzalez-Ochoa (Naughty Dog) 

Description
Uncharted is a series of games that have constantly improved its graphics rendering technology. As the quality of the graphics has improved with each game so has the water technology. In this talk we describe the features of the water system, including the rendering techniques such as mesh generation and the flow shader. For Uncharted 3 a new ocean system was created specifically for the cruise ship sequence. We use this as an example to describe the mesh LOD system and the wave generation methods.

Carlos says
"All you really wanted to know and much more about rendering water and were afraid to ask. There will be lots of eye candy and dive into the details of how we render a calm puddle to rivers and finally to a stormy ocean." 


Upgrade Humanity in 60 Seconds Flat: The Game Design Challenge 2012
Wednesday, March 7, 2012
2:00 - 3:00 PM
Room 3014, West Hall, 3rd Fl

Speakers
Eric Zimmerman (Independent), Noah Falstein (The Inspiracy), Richard Lemarchand (Naughty Dog) and Jason Rohrer (Independent)

Description
The Game Design Challenge is back for a ninth year of bizarre and innovative game concepts. Join us as last year's champion Jason Rohrer returns to face off against two new contestants. In the past, designers have taken on challenges from a game incorporating real-world death to last year's challenge of designing a game that was also a religion. The design challenge this year? Design a game with a measurably positive impact on its players - that can be played in 60 seconds or less. Every year, the game design challenge explores current industry trends. This year we embrace the idea of a game with real-world impact - but also one that fits the social media addicted, ADD lifestyle of contemporary society. At the session, the panelists will present a unique solution to this game design problem. As always, you will play a crucial role. After each panelist presents, the audience will vote to see who will become the winner of the 2012 Game Design Challenge.

Richard says
"Naughty Dog’s Richard Lemarchand faces down reigning champion Jason Rohrer and veteran designer Noah Falstein as Eric Zimmerman hosts this year’s Game Design Challenge: Upgrade Humanity in 60 Seconds Flat. Who can create the biggest measurable human impact with a game that takes under a minute? You, the audience, will be the judge!"


Attention, Not Immersion: Making Your Games Better with Psychology and Playtesting, the Uncharted Way
Wednesday, March 7, 2012
5:00 PM - 6:10PM
Room 134, North Hall

Speakers
Richard Lemarchand (Naughty Dog)

Description
We use the words "immersive" and "engaging" all the time when we're discussing the things that are most important about great videogame experiences and yet, how well do we really understand the concepts that these words point to? Richard Lemarchand, lead game designer at Naughty Dog, will use this session to try and dispel some of the confusion about how videogames keep us fascinated, by introducing the psychological concept of attention to our ongoing conversation about play and games.

Attention! The process of selectively concentrating on one perception or thought, while ignoring other things has been one of the most widely discussed concepts in the one hundred and fifty year history of modern psychology, but it is rarely, if ever, mentioned on stage at GDC. What is attention? How does it work? What is its relationship with the overlapping phenomena of entrancement, compulsion and depth in games, and how can we use our awareness of our players' attention to make our games better?

By using practical examples from his involvement in the playtesting of the Uncharted games, Richard will describe how you can use metrics data and other methods to get a handle on the elusive subjects of your players' attention, without breaking the bank on elaborate equipment.

Richard says
"Attention is one of the most widely discussed concepts in the history of psychology, but we hardly ever talk about it at GDC. How does it relate to the concept of immersion, and how can thinking about it make our games better? Come to Richard's talk, and find out!"


The Cameras of Uncharted 3
Thursday, March 8, 2012
10:00 AM - 11:00 AM
Room 2006, West Hall, 2nd Fl

Speakers
Travis McIntosh (Naughty Dog)

Description
This session reviews the different types of cameras in Uncharted 3. It also looks at how they are managed in engine. Player cameras such as follow, aim, melee, and cover cameras are discussed, as well as how they can be tweaked by designers. Other cameras, such as fixed, spline, and animated cameras are covered in depth, as well as the designer/programmer's interface for fading them in/out and priority schemes. Next, Uncharted 3's camera shake system is detailed, a separate layer of additive cameras keyed off of player animations. Finally, this session will include Uncharted 3's use of Depth of Field and 3D as it relates to cameras, and plans for future improvements.

Travis says
"My talk is on everything there is to know about Uncharted cameras."


Creating the Flood Effects in Uncharted 3
Thursday, March 8, 2012
11:30 AM - 11:55 AM
Room 2006, West Hall, 2nd Fl

Speakers
Eben Cook (Naughty Dog)

Description
This session is a break down of one of the flood effects in Uncharted 3. It discusses how a fluid simulation was used to inspire the final look and how it was used to create an animated surface mesh that made it into the engine. It covers the particle techniques used to complete the look of the flood. Shader features for both the surface and the particles are covered, as are a couple of particle optimizations. The session concludes with the technique used to light the particles.

Eben says:
"Join me as I dig deep into the specifics of how I made the effects for the flood water that chases Nathan Drake down the corridor of a capsized cruise ship." 


Effects Techniques Used in Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception
Thursday, March 8, 2012
2:30 PM - 3:30 PM
Room 3009, West Hall, 3rd Fl

Speakers
Marshall Robin (Naughty Dog)

Description
This talk will examine the technology and tools used to produce particle effects in Uncharted 3. We use a highly data driven system coupled with a node based shader editor to control particle behavior and rendering. The particle runtime is SPU based and all particle processing is done without PPU synchronization. The presentation will give an overview of the tool pipeline used to author and process particle assets, a detailed walk through of the simulation and rendering runtime, and some shader techniques used in our effects.

Marshall says:
"I will be digging way down into the guts of the Uncharted engine to show you how we make things burn and explode. Get the technical details on the effects system that enabled our artists to create the awesome effects in Uncharted 3."


GDC Microtalks 2012: One Hour, Ten Voices, Countless Ideas
Thursday, March 8, 2012
4:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Room 3014, West Hall, 3rd Fl

Speakers
Amy Hennig (Naughty Dog), Alice Taylor, Cliff Bleszinski (Epic Games), Dan Pinchbeck (thechineseroom), Heather Kelley, Mary Flanagan (Tiltfactor, Dartmouth College), Richard Lemarchand (Naughty Dog), Dave Sirlin, Erin Robinson, and Brandon Sheffield

Description
The GDC Microtalks are back with another hour of short talks loaded with big ideas, presented by a host of your favorite game industry speakers! The Microtalk concept is simple: each of the session's ten speakers gets 20 slides, each of which will be displayed for exactly 16 seconds before automatically advancing. That gives each speaker exactly five minutes and 20 seconds to speak about subjects that they might not otherwise get to address on-stage at GDC. Don't miss this thought-provoking, creativity-inspiring session that never hesitates to shine a light on the many futures of game design!

Richard says:
"Join Amy Hennig, Alice Taylor, Brandon Sheffield, Cliff Bleszinski, Dan Pinchbeck, David Sirlin, Erin Robinson, Heather Kelley and Mary Flanagan, along with curator and host Richard Lemarchand, for an hour of short talks loaded with big ideas based on this year's theme, "Playing for Time"!"


The Tricks Up Our Sleeves: A Walkthrough of the Latest Techniques Behind FX of Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception
Thursday, March 8, 2012
4:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Room 2003, West Hall, 2nd Fl

Speakers
Keith Guerrette (Naughty Dog)

Description
Join us for an in-depth look at the evolution of Naughty Dog's visual effects pipeline across the Uncharted franchise and walk-through of the latest solutions for the challenges raised during production on Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception, including: Using scrolling normal maps and a particle-space light vector to create billowing, self-shadowing smoke-stacks; texture biasing and animating the Z-Depth of fire particles to efficiently give the illusion of a wall burning from the inside; and utilizing our new screen space projected particles, vector fields and the world normal buffer to bring natural interactions and life to a desert.

From the most basic illusionary tricks to the larger technical innovations, we'll take an inside look at the secrets and tricks supporting the visual effects of Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception.

Keith says:
“Learn the secrets behind the special FX of Uncharted 3” 


Uncharted Outsourcing
Friday, March 9, 2012
10:00 AM - 11:00 AM
Room 130, North Hall

Speakers
Erick Pangilinan (Naughty Dog) and Solomon Temowo (XPEC)

Description
An insight to Naughty Dog's outsourcing experience through the Uncharted series. It will be a joint presentation with Naughty Dog's first outsourcing partner, XPEC, and they will share their perspective on how they adjusted to match the quality requirements and agile working environment of Naughty Dog. The areas to be discussed will include basic principles of outsourcing and how we built systems to fit the Naughty Dog pipeline, the vendor selection process, creating technical and art style bibles, setting up a spec sheet, giving feedback and iterating work. Finally we will present, in context, a typical workflow by deconstructing and sharing our experiences in creating levels with outsource vendors; specifically XPEC. The success and failures we encountered along the way, and how we plan to adjust for the future projects.


Killer Portfolio or Portfolio Killer: Part 1 - Advice from Industry Artists
Friday, March 9, 2012
10:10 AM - 11:10 AM
Room 135, North Hall

Speakers
Jeremy Bennett (Valve), Alison Kelly (Independent), Wyeth Johnson (Epic Games, Inc.), Teagan Morrison (Naughty Dog Inc.) and Shawn Robertson (Irrational Games)

Description
This is a two part panel consisting of five artists from Firaxis, Epic, Irrational, Naughty Dog and Valve. The first session will focus on the dos and don'ts when trying to get your portfolio noticed. Panelists will discuss common mistakes that most artists make, as well as some of the more unique approaches they have seen. Audience participation is encouraged during the Q&A session.

Teagan says:
"Your portfolio sucks. Make it not suck."


The Last 10: Going From Good To Awesome
Friday, March 9, 2012
10:35 AM - 11:00 AM
Room 132, North Hall

Speakers
Benson Russell (Naughty Dog)

Description
Naughty Dog is known for the level of polish that we apply to our shipping titles. We believe it is one of the most important aspects of the game development cycle, yet it also seems to be one of the most marginalized in our industry. This talk will go over the approach and principles that we use to make our games as polished as possible. We'll go over the methods we use internally, the approach to scheduling that we take, the level of detail that we look for and how we strike the balance of making the game awesome while still shipping on time.

Benson says:
"This talk is about how we fit and applied polish into our tight schedule to focus on quality over quantity!! smile"


The Art of Uncharted 3
Friday, March 9, 2012
12:05 PM - 12:30 PM
Room 132, North Hall

Speakers
Robh Ruppel (Naughty Dog)

Description
What goes into concepting a game at Naughty Dog? Join art director Robh Ruppel as he walks you through the conceptualizing of the latest installment of the Uncharted series. Color scripts, character sketches and environmental designs are all covered with never seen before art and sketches. This is an in depth look into the art behind Uncharted you won't be able to see anywhere else but at GDC

Robh says:
"Come see all the crazy ideas and sketches that aren't in the game!" 


Killer Portfolio or Portfolio Killer: 1-1 Portfolio Reviews
Friday, March 9, 2012
1:00 PM - 4:00 PM
Room 300, South Hall

Speakers
Alison Kelly (Independent), Wyeth Johnson (Epic Games, Inc.), Teagan Morrison (Naughty Dog Inc.), Shawn Robertson (Irrational Games), Jeremy Bennett (Valve), Kevin Johnstone (Epic Games, Inc.), Kevin Bradley (Firaxis Games) and David Johnson (Infinity Ward)

Description
Whether it is your first job in the industry or you are looking to switch jobs, getting a job as an artist in games has never been more competitive. This session will focus on one-on-one portfolio reviews from the panelists. Participants will receive constructive critiques and advice to give their portfolios an edge in this competitive market without the pressure of an interview.

Teagan again says:
"Your portfolio sucks. Make it not suck."


Breaking the Rules of Game Design: When to Go Against Competence, Autonomy and Relatedness
Friday, March 9, 2012
1:00 PM - 4:00 PM
Room 300, South Hall

Speakers
Kaitlyn Burnell (Naughty Dog)

Description
A psychological result that is being heavily used in game design these days is that the strongest known correlation between player retention and game design is whether the game provides Autonomy (player choice) Competence (players feel capable) and Relatedness (players receive recognition). As designers we've learned how to follow these rules, but when is it right to break them?

This talk will explore games that break autonomy, competence and relatedness in powerful ways, from Valve's Portal to Brenda Brathwaite's Mechanic is the Message board games and analyze the value these games gain by breaking rules. These examples will be distilled to a design technique that lives at the intersection of ludology (game mechanics) and narrative, along with analysis of when to use and when not to use such techniques.

Kaitlyn says:
"These days psychology is providing us with game design rules well-tested in labs.  But when is it right to break these rules?  My talk attempts to answer this question, in a blend of game design, psychology, and game writing."


Experimental Gameplay Sessions
Friday, March 9, 2012
2:30 PM - 4:30 PM
Room 3014, West Hall, 3rd Fl

Speakers
Nicolo Tedeschi (Santa Ragione), Ramsey Nasser (Pizza Party), Robin Hunicke (thatgamecompany), Daniel Benmergui (Independent), Steve Swink (Enemy Airship), Jenova Chen (thatgamecompany), Douglas Wilson (Die Gute Fabrik), Pietro Righi Riva (Santa Ragione), Nicholas Clark (thatgamecompany), Rami Ismail (Vlambeer), Mathias Nordvall (Linkoping University), Robin Arnott (WRAUGHK), Alex Kerfoot (RPM Collective), Anna Anthropy (Auntie Pixelante), Mars Jokela (Self Aware Games), Kurt Bieg (Simple Machine), Bennett Foddy (foddy.net), Richard Lemarchand (Naughty Dog) and John Sear (WallFour)

Description
The Experimental Gameplay Session is back for its 10-year anniversary at GDC!

In this fast-paced, game-packed session we will showcase a selection of surprising and intriguing prototypes made by innovation-minded game developers from all over the world. By demonstrating games that defying conventions and traditions in search for of new genres and ideas, this session aims to ignite the imagination of all game makers. Many games debuted at this session have enjoyed critical and commercial success- including Katamari Damacy, flOw, Braid, Portal, World of Goo and Today I Die. Come see what's happening on in the world of Experimental Gameplay and be inspired!

Richard says:
"Showcasing a selection of surprising and intriguing prototypes made by innovation-minded game developers from all over the world, this session defies conventions and traditions in search of new genres and ideas. Naughty Dog’s Richard Lemarchand is on the board of the EGS, and encourages you to come along and ignite your imagination!"


 

The Game Developers Choice Awards will take place on Wednesday, March 7, 2012, starting at 6:30 PM PST (what time is that in my city?) and the awards ceremony will be streamed live on GameSpot.

Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception is nominated in three categories this time around: Best Narrative, Best Technology, and Best Visual Arts. As always, we're up against some tough competition with the other nominees, so we'll have our fingers crossed that we walk away with one of these awards!

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