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The Game Developers Conference (GDC) returns to San Francisco next week with another five days of talks and tutorials. Here’s our pick of this year’s sessions.

This year’s GDC features a wide range of tracks that cover all aspects of the games industry, from audio, advocacy and marketing, to programming, monetization and visual arts. VRDC also returns with a week of talks covering the development of virtual and mixed reality games and experiences.

The conference runs from March 19-23, 2018, and will once again be held at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. Here’s our pick from the 350+ confirmed sessions, tutorials, roundtables, and bootcamps.

GDC 2018 highlights

PlayerUnknown: From Mod Creator to Creative Director of PUBG
Speaker: Brendan Greene

PUBG creator Brendan Greene discusses his history in games, from making mods, to creating a legitimate video game phenomenon and becoming Creative Director at Bluehole. The talk will cover the lessons Greene has learned in making the transition from creator to director.

Classic Game Postmortem: Sonic the Hedgehog
Speakers: Hirokazu Yasuhara, Naoto Ohshima

Sonic the Hedgehog designer, Hirokazu Yasuhara, and character designer, Naoto Ohshima, talk about the creation of Sega’s world-famous Sonic IP. They will reflect on the original game’s art direction and development process, as well as the methods used to create a character deliberately designed to become Sega’s mascot.

Classic Game Postmortem: NBA Jam
Speaker: Mark Turmell

Mark Turmell, lead designer of Midway’s 1993 basketball classic, NBA Jam, will speak about the game’s development, influence, and its place in the early ‘90s arcade explosion.

Making a sequel to SteamWorld Dig
Speaker: Brjann Sigurgeirsson

Image & Form’s Brjann Sigurgeirsson explores the challenge of creating a new game within an existing IP. His talk will address the need to make a game that fits within an established franchise, but also one that expands upon the original.

A Star Wars VR Retrospective
Speakers: Kieran Crimmins, Mark Bridges

How do you recreate the childhood fantasy of piloting an X-wing fighter? Kieran Crimmins and Mark Bridges from Criterion Games discuss the fundamentals of dramatic pacing and spectacle, as well as the audio, visual, AI, and design techniques used to create Star Wars Battlefront: Rogue One X-Wing VR mission. An updated version of the excellent talk we covered at Develop:Brighton.

Splatoon: Inventing a Stylish Franchise with Global Appeal
Speaker: Hisashi Nogami

Hisashi Nogami explains the design process that led to Nintendo creating a new IP built around a group of ink-shooting, fashion-loving, squid-transforming kids – and then how Splatoon 2 built upon the success of the first game.

The Art of Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap
Speaker: Ben Fiquet

Ben Fiquet, art director at Lizardcube, speaks about the methods involved in reinterpreting and re-imagining Westone’s 1989 classic in the form of Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap. The talk will reveal unseen art and assets for  a game that we absolutely loved.

Horizon Zero Dawn: A Game Design Postmortem
Speaker: Eric Boltjes

Game designer Eric Boltjes presents a detailed look the design and production processes behind Guerrilla Games’ impressive PlayStation 4 exclusive. The talk follows the development of Horizon Zero Dawn from paper prototype to open-world action RPG.

The Art of Monument Valley 2
Speaker: David Fernandez Huerta

David Fernandez Huerta explores how the Monument Valley team found creative inspiration for their puzzle game sequel in personal,real-life experiences.

Destiny 2: Linear Music in an Open World
Speaker: Skye Lewin, C Paul Johnson, Michael Sechrist

The Bungie audio team present a detailed talk covering the design and composition of a musical score that has to adapt to open and linear gameplay without repetition, and also be of consistently high quality.

15 Years of Ratchet & Clank: A Lombax Story
Speakers: Brian Allgeier, TJ Fixman 

As the franchise marks its 15th anniversary, Brian Allgeier and TJ Fixman look at the enduring popularity – and occasional re-inventions – of the Ratchet & Clank games.

GDC Mircotalks 2018
Speaker: Richard Lemarchand

Richard Lemarchand returns with a top-notch lineup of guests to present a fast-paced look at the current sate of  game design. This year’s lineup includes Ubisoft’s Liz England, Campo Santo’s Jane Ng, plus Michelle Clough, Bob Bates, and Liz Ryerson.

In addition to the main conference, GDC will also feature a selection of interactive spaces. Returning events include Alt.Ctrl.GDC, the Indie Megabooth, Day of the Devs, GDC Play, Mild Rumpus, and the inaugural GDC Film Festival.

The annual Game Developers Choice and Independent Games Festival Awards also return, and will be held on Wednesday, March 21, 2018.

GDC Registration

General GDC registration is open until March 17, 2018, with on-site registration open throughout the week of the conference. All pass holders get access to the GDC Expo Floor, as well as the Game Careers Seminar, and the Independent Games Festival exhibit.

GDC 18 prices

Check out the full GDC 2018 programme at the official session scheduler.

Images: Official GDC Flickr

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