Human Head’s GDC Vault Picks

Human Head
08 / 06 / 18
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For one week a year, San Francisco, California is home to the world’s largest video game development conference. Indie and triple-A developers congregate to network, play new games, and, most importantly, learn from each other’s successes and failures. Even if you can’t score a ticket to the Golden State each March, you can still find many of these sessions online thanks to the GDC Vault. Here are some of Human Head’s favorites from over the years.

The Nature of Order in Game Narrative
In this 2018 gem, Jesse Schell, author of The Art of Game Design, predicts the future and explains the relationship between galaxies and good narrative design.

Embracing Push Forward Combat in DOOM
id Software’s Kurt Loudy and Jake Campbell break down how they designed DOOM 2016 to stay true to the original.

The Worlds of Sunset Overdrive
Liz England of Insomniac Games joins Level Design in a Day to discuss the struggles of making the open world of Sunset Overdrive in this 2015 talk.

ARK: Survival Evolved’: Lessons from the Trenches of Early Access
The creative directors behind ARK: Survival Evolved give insight into their journey through Early Access, and offer advice for studios in a similar position.

Put a Face on It: The Aesthetics of Cute
In this 2017 talk, Jenny Jiao Hsia promotes the importance of cuteness in game design, and how it can help serious topics resonate.

Moving the Needle: User Research at the End of the Production Cycle
Electronic Arts’ Veronica Zammitto presents a case study of Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare and what it taught about taking games from good to great through user research.

Killer Portfolio or Portfolio Killer 2018: Advice from Industry Artists
Art directors and lead artists from companies such as Ghost Story and Insomniac tell aspiring artists what to do and what to avoid when submitting portfolios to game studios.

Decisions That Matter: Meaningful Choice in Game and Level Design
Matthias Worch of 2K Games explains the importance of choice in game design and how it relates to psychology and human behavior.

Intensely Practical Tips for Growing an Indie Studio
Alexis Kennedy recalls his time at Failbetter Games, and offers advice to indie studios based on what he’s learned about the games industry since then.

The 2018 Failure Workshop
Hugh Monahan and Tanya X. Short explain how their failures in the indie scene have helped them grow as developers.

Animation Bootcamp: An Indie Approach to Procedural Animation
David Rosen’s 2014 session breaks down the methodical approach to procedural animation that he’s used for indie games like Overgrowth.

IK Rig: Procedural Pose Animation
In this 2016 talk, Alexander Bereznyak explains how inverse kinematic rigs can push your game’s animation to the next level.

Designers Are from Saturn, Programmers Are from Uranus
Prolific game developer Brian Schwab discusses how to bridge the communication gaps between designers and programmers.

One-Page Designs
Stone Librande shows how a one-page design document can help your team maintain a high level of understanding throughout development.

Level Design Workshop: Designing Celeste
Matt Thorson, founder of Matt Makes Games, describes how he constructed Celeste’s unique and challenging platform levels.

Do you have any favorite GDC sessions in the vault? Let us know in the comments!