Ubisoft outline their GDC 2014 panel schedule

Assassins-Creed-4-Black-Flag

This week sees the Game Developer’s Conference (GDC) 2014 take place in San Francisco, between March 17th – 21st, at which Ubisoft will play host to 23 panels that will see them discuss their development experiences over the past year.

Those that more closely relate to Nintendo and their Wii U, involve discussions around Splinter Cell: Blacklist, Rayman Legends, Child of Light, and Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, with attendees sure to learn about all assets of game design.

The publisher’s full schedule for this week, is as follows:


Monday 17th March
* Beyond Fun: Difficult Topics Inspire Story and Design – 10:00am-10:25am
Panelists: Hugo Giard, Level Designer at Ubisoft, and Jill Murray, Narrative Design Director at Quebec Studio
Summary: This panel seeks to explore the ways in which story impacts gameplay. The speakers will be giving scriptwriters advice on how they can use diverse and even difficult narrative subjects to inspire game and mission design.

* Animation Bootcamp: Animating the Spy Fantasy in Splinter Cell – 1:45pm-2:45pm
Panelist: Kristjan Zadziuk, Animation Director at Ubisoft Toronto
Summary: A more technical presentation focusing on the animation pillars for Splinter Cell: Blacklist and the technical challenges the team faced, as well as how they overcame those challenges.

* Microtalks: Retention Tips for Free-to-Play Genres – 4:30pm-5:30pm
Panelist: Teut Weiderman, Senior Online Games Supervisor at BlueByte
Summary: How do you keep players interested in your free-to-play game? This presentation calls upon 5 seasoned vets to discuss the topic of retention.


Tuesday 18th March
* It’s Not in the Writer’s Manual: A Q&A Session for New Writers – 12:30pm-1:30pm
Panelist: Jill Murray, Narrative Design Director at Quebec Studio
Summary: Straight Q&A where beginning writers can ask vets whatever they so desire.

* Technical Artist Bootcamp: Virtual Camera System – 1:45pm-2:45pm
Panelist: Kevin O’Neal, Ubisoft Montreal
Summary: This is a tech-heavy presentation focusing on the new virtual camera system built in conjunction with the Watch Dogs production team.

* Meaningful Companion Apps for AAA Console Titles – 3:00pm-3:45pm
Panelists: Andree-Anne Boisvert, Associate Producer at Ubisoft Quebec, and Marie Eve Vignola, Game Designer at Ubisoft Quebec
Summary: How do you use companion apps to provide players with a better overall experience? This session details the process of making a meaningful AAA companion app for a AAA console title.

* World of Tanks: An Outsider’s Analysis – 4:30pm-5:30pm
Panelist: Teut Weiderman, Senior Online Games Supervisor at BlueByte
Summary: Teut analyses World of Tanks to show the audience how World of Tanks became so successful. Audience members will hopefully also come away with an understanding of how to monetize their own progression-based games fairly.

Wednesday 19th March
* Rayman Legends: The Design Process Within the UbiArt Framework – 11:00am-12:00pm
Panelist: Chris McEntee, Level Designer at Ubisoft Montpellier
Summary: This presentation details how the team behind Rayman Legends used the unique UbiArt Framework to build the world in the game.

* What Modern Interior Design Teaches Us About Environment Art – 11:00am-11:25am
Panelist: Dan Cox – Level Artist at Ubisoft Toronto
Summary: Have you ever wondered if there’s a connection between interior design techniques and level art and design? Well there is and this panel sheds some light on those connections.

* Game Writers’ Roundtable: Tricks, Tips and Techniques: Beginners & Students – 2:00pm-3:00pm
Panelist: Richard Dansky, Central Clancy Writer at Red Storm
Summary: This is the first of three roundtable sessions on game writing moderated by Richard Dansky (regular blog contributor). This presentation focuses on the things every new game writer needs to know.

* Modeling AI Perception and Awareness in Splinter Cell: Blacklist – 2:35pm-3:00pm
Panelist: Martin Walsh, Lead AI Programmer at Ubisoft Toronto
Summary: This presentation is about what works and what doesn’t for modeling perception and awareness in a realistic game.

* Make Things Worse: Enabling Setbacks for Consequential Play – 5:00pm-6:00pm
Panelist: Patrick Redding, Creative Director at Ubisoft Toronto
Summary: Patrick Redding believes there must be some setbacks in a game in order for players to have a meaningful experience. But how do you ensure these setbacks enhance the game and don’t stray into the dangerous territory of tedium and guesswork?


Thursday 20th March
* Where are the Sharks? User Research in the Far Cry Production Pipeline – 10:00am-11:00am
Panelist: Ian Livingston, User Research Project Manager at Ubisoft Montreal
Summary: When is the right time to run playtests? How often should you run them? How do you use the feedback in a way that doesn’t compromise the creative vision for the project? This presentation answers all these questions by explaining how the team at Ubisoft Montreal went through the process with Far Cry 3.

* Game Writers’ Roundtable: Tricks, Tips and Techniques: Working Professionals – 10:00am-11:00am
Panelist: Richard Dansky, Central Clancy Writer at Red Storm
Summary: The second Game Writers’ Roundtable focuses on working writers and provides helpful insights on interacting with a team and improving the working experience, among other topics.

* Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag – Road to Next-Gen Graphics – 11:30am-12:30pm
Panelist: Bartlomiej Wronski, 3D Programmer at Ubisoft Montreal
Summary: This highly technical presentation is all about nest-gen advancements and what we achieved with new consoles, using Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag as an example.

* High Value Monetizers – Debunking Assumptions Using Personality Psychology – 11:30am-12:30pm
Panelists: Nicolas Ducheneaut, Director of Gamer Behavior Research at Ubisoft San Francisco, and Nick Yee, Senior Research Scientist at Ubisoft San Francisco
Summary: This presentation features a case study of how to apply robust psychometric and statistical tools to understand gamer behavior.

* Enter the Stage: Cinematic Dialogue in Performance Capture – 2:30pm-2:55pm
Panelist: Richie Nietro, Team Lead Audio at Ubisoft Toronto
Summary: This presentation provides a step-by-step look at how the team at Ubisoft Toronto produced the cinematic dialogue in Splinter Cell Blacklist.

* The Art of Child of Light – Thursday 2:30pm-3:30pm
Panelist: Patrick Plourde, Creative Director at Ubisoft Montreal
Summary: How did the team behind Child of Light create the stunning living watercolor art for the game? This presentation explores the process of creating the art as well as various iterations the main character went through before landing on the final version.

* Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag Multiplayer – Crafting Good Monetization on the Traditional Console – 5:30pm-6:30pm
Panelist: Damien Kieken, Game Director at Ubisoft Montreal
Summary: This is another panel focusing on monetization and how to make it work while ensuring it doesn’t hinder a player’s experience or make them feel “trapped” into paying to play.

* Smoldering Conflicts: Managing Cross-Cultural Teams – 5:30pm-6:30pm
Panelists: Benedikt Grindel, Director of Live Operation at Blue Byte, and Christopher Schmitz, Director of Product Development at Blue Byte
Summary: It’s incredibly common for development teams to be comprised of members from many different nations. How do you properly manage a cross-cultural team and keep each team member comfortable in their work environment?


Friday 21st March
* Super Spy Crash Course: Teaching Players in Splinter Cell Blacklist – 10:35am-11:00am
Panelist: Laurent Malville, Lead Game Designer at Ubisoft Toronto
Summary: How do you make the perfect tutorial? Laurent Malville shows the audience how his team used tutorials to teach players how to be stealthy in Splinter Cell Blacklist.

* Modernizing Splinter Cell’s Gunplay – 2:30pm-3:30pm
Panelist: James Everett, Game Designer at Ubisoft Toronto
Summary: How do you find the balance between realistic weapons and fun weapons? That’s something the makers of Splinter Cell Blacklist spent a lot of time researching and James Everett is bringing their findings to this session.

* Game Writers’ Roundtable: Tricks, Tips and Techniques: Experienced Experts – 2:30pm-3:30pm
Panelist: Richard Dansky, Central Clancy Writer at Red Storm
Summary: The final Game Writers’ Roundtable is aimed at the more experienced game writers and covers specific issues they face.


Written by
After starting out with a Yellow Game Boy and a copy of Donkey Kong Land, Alex once hid in his room to play The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time one Christmas. Now he shares his thoughts on Nintendo Insider, keeping track of everything to do with Nintendo.

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