GDC speakers spotlight – Interview with Ex-Bioware-Producer Ethan Levy and Niklas Smedberg of Epic Games

Redaktion   //   Juli 12, 2012   //   0 Kommentare

From August 13-15 the GDC Europe is held in Cologne again and Making Games is taking part as official media partner. We interviewed several renowned speakers in advance and asked about their respective lectures, their expectations from the conference and their opinion of current developments in the industry.

  

 

 

Ethan Levy
is Independent Developer and Ex-Producer at Bioware.

 

Making Games What is the topic of your lecture?
Ethan Levy My lecture, »Game Design is Business Design«, is a series of lessons on monetization for game designers. I begin the talk by explaining the importance of the free to play business model in the games industry today and encouraging designers to learn the skills of designing for free to play instead of leaving these decisions to the product managers and business people on their teams. I then explain my view that emotion is the key to designing fun free to play games, and present case studies of some of the best uses of emotion to drive purchasing in a variety of games. Next, I talk about the importance of designing accessible purchasing experiences and give examples of how to make purchases present for players repelling them from your game. Finally, I discuss the importance of designing your game to allow for the possibility of »whales« who can spend a lot of money without taking advantage of players.

Making Games Why is this specific subject so important for you personally?
Ethan Levy I believe that proliferation of cheap, mobile computers and the explosion of gaming in low friction environments like web-browsers, social network and cloud streaming mean that free to play business models are the most important thing happening on the business side of the games industry today. I believe that it is very hard for freemium games to be well designed and that it is easier to repel players through poor design choices than attract them by building positive experiences. I also believe that any game designer who cedes control of the monetization elements of their game design to other disciplines, for whatever reason, are inherently »disenfranchising« themselves as game designers. Because I am passionate about being involved in a community of game developers, I love to share these views and the lessons I've learned about designing for monetization with my industry peers.

Making Games What should your listeners take home with them when leaving GDC Europe?
Ethan Levy Attendees of my talk, regardless of what discipline they practice, will take away a deeper understanding of the importance of free to play business models as well as practical advice they can use to improve the freemium elements of their games' designs.

Making Games In general: What are your expectations for this year’s GDC Europe?
Ethan Levy It has been nine years since I attended GDC Europe and now that I am more experienced as a game developer, I am greatly looking forward to meeting peers in the games industry from outside of the US. I am especially looking forward to the talk from Russel Kay of YoYo Games, since I am currently using Game Maker Studio to develop iOS and Android games, as well as the talk from Ben Cousins of ngmoco, since I was blown away by the short version of the talk at last March's GDC in San Francisco.

Making Games What are the most exciting developments in the gaming industry for you at present (technically and economically)?
Ethan Levy This is the most exciting time in our history to be a game developer! The tools of development are cheaper and easier to use than ever. The audience is bigger, broader, more informed and more comfortable paying for games than ever. There are more devices, platforms, app stores and points of distribution with lower barriers to entry than ever. There are more marketing channels with lower barriers to entry than ever. Combining all of these developments has allowed someone like me, who is primarily a designer and not that skilled with programming or art, to leave my corporate job at BioWare to pursue indie development and have my first demo running on the iPhone within a week. This opportunity, for individuals or small teams of people to develop, promote and distribute their own ideas without having a giant organization like EA behind them, is the most exciting part of the gaming industry today.

 

 

 

 

Niklas Smedberg
is Senior Engine Programmer at Epic Games.



Making Games What is the topic of your lecture?
Niklas Smedberg The topic of my lecture is to make all game developers aware of how different it is to implement advanced AAA graphics for mobile devices, compared to game consoles and desktop PCs. The tile-based graphics processors on mobile have many strengths and weaknesses that must be addressed in order to successfully implement graphics effects such as god rays or stencil shadows.

Making Games Why is this specific subject so important for you personally?
Niklas Smedberg Epic Games are pushing very hard on mobile platforms. We have already released Infinity Blade 1 and 2 and are working on Infinity Blade: Dungeons for iOS. In addition, any techniques or features we add for our games are available to all game developers with Unreal Engine 3. As an experienced game engine programmer, I think it’s very exciting to be able to implement advanced graphics effects that can actually work on a cell phone – effects that were previously only possible on high-end dedicated gaming consoles.

Making Games What should your listeners take home with them when leaving GDC Europe?
Niklas Smedberg I would like attendees to get a deep understanding of tile-based graphics processors and how it is to develop high-end graphics on mobile platforms, to give them a good foundation for building advanced graphics solutions in their games. I will also give attendees a peek into what is coming in the future on the hardware side.

Making Games In general: What are your expectations for this year’s GDC Europe?
Niklas Smedberg I hope to meet a lot of game developers at GDC Europe to discuss technology and programming, and make great connections with developers for future collaborations.

Making Games What are the most exciting developments in the gaming industry for you at present (technically and economically)?
Niklas Smedberg I’m very excited about the very rapid progress of mobile hardware, both performance-wise and feature-wise, making it possible to implement very high-end AAA games for smartphones and tablets. I also think that the drive towards digital distribution only and free-to-play gaming is really great for both developers and gamers and will change the whole industry in drastic and fundamental ways. It’s very exciting times.
 

 


 

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