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SIEGE 2016 Sessions


Myst Opportunities: The Real and Virtual Realities of being an Independent Game Developer

Rand Miller was an indie game developer long before “Indie” was even a term. He has spent 30 years creating immersive worlds and designing games that have left a deep impact on their players and on the game industry itself. Now with the release of his latest game, Obduction, Rand shares how he continues to push the boundaries as an independent game developer. Please join Rand for an open and honest conversation about his work, being truly independent, holding true to your vision and always having fun along the way.

Presenter: SIEGE Keynote, 5 pm Friday Oct. 7. Rand Miller comes from the trailblazer end of the video game industry - meaning he has gray hair. He co-founded Cyan with brother Robyn about 30 years ago with the release of The Manhole - an award winning world for kids. Since then he's managed to create everything from small mobile apps to massively multiplayer online games, including the bestsellers Myst and Riven. His passion is discovery, and when he's not exploring the real world with his wife he concocts ideas of strange places that can only be explored virtually. His latest project Obduction was released this year to wonderful reviews, and even though Myst is now officially a museum-piece, he optimistically feels that his best years are ahead.


Personal Leadership: Too Many Kirks in the Kitchen, or, Where are All the Spocks?

In game development, when it comes to senior level directors and producers, leadership is in an expectation. In our industry we spend a great deal of time defining the traits of leadership. We are not alone in this pursuit. Large-scale organizations such as multi-national corporations and militaries around the world dedicate their vast resources and time to understanding what makes a good leader and how to cultivate them.

It is easy to assume that this is an attempt to create the next Jack Welch or George Patton. More accurately though, it is about the impact of the individual on the business or mission. This is the value of personal leadership. Leadership is not limited to just the top-level directors, managers and executives. Instead, leadership is critical at every level.

This talk explores the subject of personal leadership in the game development setting. Individuals from all phases of their game development careers will find this subject valuable. This ranges large-scale studio executive who bring back concepts of leadership that complement rather than conflates with management to the junior developers or recent hires who can go to a game job with new knowledge reinforcing the positive impact they can have on their environment, their contributions and ultimately their shipped product.

Presenter: SIEGE Keynote 5 pm Saturday, Oct. 8. Back in 1999 Nick started at his first games job after a brief stint in comic book books. Since then, he’s worked on all kinds of games, from award-winning "edu­tainment" games to massive AAA blockbusters. His publishers have included EA and Microsoft while he worked on teams of two up to teams of more than 200. In his career, he moved from art to design then on to production. Nick currently works as a senior producer for Turn 10 on the Forza Motorsport franchise. In 2015 he gave the second highest rated talk at GDC Europe on the hard life of being a great producer. (Rumors still abound as to whether he pulled some punches to grab the number two spot and not outshine the keynote which landed at number one...) In his spare time, he prowls the mean streets of game development everywhere fighting inefficiencies of all kind when they rear their bloated heads.

We are good. We can be better. Nick can help.
@VigilantRex | https://www.linkedin.com/in/nicklaing

Friday 3:30 pm: Session Block 0

How "Not" to Get into the Games Industry

Learn all the common mistakes to avoid in your attempt to get hired from the very people who are looking to hire talented and prepared artists.

Panelists: Thomas Holt (m); Sandy DiCocco, Harrison Pink, Chris Rickwood, Nick Laing (Salons D&E)

Game Design Improv

You're about to spend the weekend learning about games... why not go ahead and make one right now? Back again by popular demand, this fast-paced, challenging workshop will stretch your mind and your game design skills. Participants take on a variety of game design challenges based on IP and other constraints. No experience necessary! The value of a game designer lies in his or her ability to turn anything into a game, and to take a problem and make a viable, fun solution. Game Design Improv gives both practical advice and plenty of practice, with challenges based on real-world situations.

Presenter: Ian Schreiber (Albany)

From 0 to 300x: Lessons Learned From a Small Team Turnaround

What do you learn when you take a team from decline to 300x growth in one year? This session takes the recent history of the IGDA Foundation and generalises takeaways that apply to game development as well as non-profit management.

Presenter: Luke Dicken (Athens)

Professional Concept Art: Drawing the Line on Off-Color Remarks

Concept art sets the tone for all that is to come. Join our experts to learn how to make sure that tone fits the art melody and does not leave your viewers rubbing their eyes in pain and disbelief.

Presenters: Louice Adler, John Bridges (Macon)

Friday 7:00 pm: Session Block 1

Founder Failures: The Do's & Don'ts of Start-Up Leadership 2.0

Join us for our 2nd SIEGE Founder Failures workshop on entrepreneurship. Learn how you can navigate business pitfalls by setting up your company to prepare for long-term success.

By attending this workshop you will learn:

* How to handle a founder or critical team member exiting: Communicating to your team, to your clients, to your partners, how to set-up a company in case this happens, as well how to adjust to fill that key role;

* How to know you have the right team (board) to pursue this adventure;

* How an advisory board can help you avoid mistakes and who should be on it;

* How to know if your board can be leaders at growth;

* Knowing when to challenge versus when to reward team members and ways to reward team members on a tight budget.

Presenters: Brandon J. Huffman; Ashish Mistry (Albany)

The Final 10%

Most of us agree that the hardest part about developing a game is finishing it. So many games run into issues that greatly extend the project life cycle, or ultimately keep them from being completed. Join in a discussion highlighting some of the most common pitfalls, and strategies that can help you avoid/combat them.

Panelists: Ron Williams II (m). Joe Cassavaugh, Harrison Pink, Tobe Sexton, Edie Woefle. (Salons D&E)

Rickwood Music Presents: Ask Me Anything

Bringing together audio professionals from all walks of the industry to answer audience questions with no holds barred. Come prepared to learn the truth, audience questions with no holds barred. Come prepared to learn the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth except where NDAs apply.

Moderator: Chris Rickwood (Macon)

Anatomy of a Deal: Evolution of Publisher/Developer Agreements

How have deals changed in the last ten years? What role do publishers play in today's market? Learn how deals have evolved, and how to best position yourself in today's market as a developer.

Presenter: Mona Ibrahim (Athens)

Saturday 10:00 am: Session Block 2

Game Dev #Livestreaming: #LetsPlay for Real!

As #livestreaming genres emerge, how can developers of all sizes and budgets plan successful entries into the field?

Panelists: Matt Franklin (m); Rodrigo Obando, Matt Canei, Samantha "Tyger" Moody (Macon)

Writing for Franchises

Stuck trying to create your own IP? Inspired by one of the greats? Surely writing for a rich setting that others have already explored must be easier than cobbling together your own. Oh, wait until you hear the stories! Learn about the challenges of writing for an established franchise.

Panelists: Eddy Webb (m); Bill Bridges, Paul Jenkins, Matthew Schwartz (Salons D&E)

The Sound of SPEED 2: Recording Motorcycles!

In 2014 we raced muscle cars around the parking lot … I mean, presented a professional automobile recording session for your edification. This year, recordist Watson Wu demonstrates how he approaches the field recording of a motorcycle. From mic selection to mic placement, this hands-on workshop shows you everything you need to know about capture the best motorcycle sounds.

Moderator: Watson Wu (Outside!)

Immersive Games & VR

For years, VR was the next hot thing. Now it is THE hot thing. Join developers who have both worked on VR and who have shipped VR titles for an inside look at what works, what doesn't, and how you can avoid their mistakes.

Presenters: April Arrglington (m), Jami Becker, Orion Cherry, Gaspar Ferreiro, Morgan Godat, Burton Posey, Peter Stolmeier (Albany)

Saturday 11:30 am: Session Block 3

Collaboration Techniques for Game Designers & Artists

A discussion of different methods that game design artists and developers can utilize to more effectively work in a team environment.

Panelists: Leah Knighton; Annick Huber; Brandon Moulton; Matt Canei (Albany)

Creating Interactive Multiplayer Experiences with Firebase

Let’s twist the traditional rock-paper-scissors into a web based, Firebase powered multiplayer happy-surprised-angry game using player facial expressions

Presenter: Mark Mandel (Macon)

Crafting an Experience: Designing a Game Feelings First

In this talk, Harrison Pink explains how a "feelings-centric" approach to game design can help you avoid the common pitfalls that plague development. You will learn how to focus in as early as possible on your game's core feeling, and how to provide as strong as possible an experience to your player.

Presenter: Harrison Pink (Athens)

Gaining Client Opportunities

How to verify, gain, keep and handle clients.

Panelists: Troy Hipolito, Michelle Menard, Abby Joslin, Cat Wendt (Salons D&E)

Saturday 2:00 pm: Session Block 4

The ESA Presents: The Future of Your Industry

The Entertainment Software Association has been in the front of industry efforts to fight censorship and improve our image. Over the past 20 years, ESA has been successful in mitigating industry-harming legislation, while also creating positive industry-related laws that have generated increased tax incentives, pro-STEM and computer education-related initiatives, and has positioned the industry as a technology leader across the country. It represents the industry before all levels of government, with issues reaching federal, state and local jurisdictions. Join it for this wide-ranging discussion about the future of game development, from new censorship threats to little-known economic opportunities. Learn how the ESA has been effective in turning detractors into allies and our friends into our most vocal champions, and how you can be part of this continuing effort.

Panelists: Tom Foulkes (moderator). Asante Bradford, Alex Cantatore, Richard Dillio, Andrew Greenberg (Macon)

Introduction to Amazon Lumberyard

Amazon Lumberyard is a free cross-platform AAA game engine with built-in integrations for AWS and Twitch. This session will introduce you to basic Lumberyard concepts as well as how you can get started using services with Lumberyard like Cloud Canvas and GameLift.

Presenter: Daniel Winters (Athens)

Philosophy of the DOOM Soundscape and Weapon Sound Design

DOOM, in all its iterations, has been one of the most influential and identifiable games in history. Chad Mossholder was senior sound designer of the most recent version, and had to craft a soundscape that was both true to its history and created its own identity. Join him for an inside look at how he made the games audio both recognizable and uniquely its own.

Presenter: Chad Mossholder (Albany)

Developing and Enforcing a Game's Art Style

The first thing players notice is a game's distinct look. However, it can also be the first thing players complain about when it comes across sloppy or poorly thought out. How does a team craft its own art style and then stick to it? Join our pros as they reveal how they did it, and what they should have done differently.

Panelists: Thomas Holt (m), Matt Canei, Daniel Flores, Dave Montes (Salons D&E)

Saturday 3:30 pm: Session Block 5

Technical Challenges in Tetherless Large Scale VR

Discover the challenges of throwing 12 people in a 5,000 sqft space equipped with HMDs, full body tracking, and wireless man worn computers for the ultimate fully immersive multiplayer virtual reality experience.

Panelists: Shaun Sheppard (m),Travis Hamrick, Jesse Jacobson, Robert Lane, Adam Massingale, Corey Wilder, (Albany)

Brand Leadership for Indies

Learn how to hone a public identity for yourself, your game, and your company, so that your fans and financial support can find you.

Presenters: Cat Wendt; Blane Humphries (Salons D&E)

Ready Player Two: The Emerging Feminine Gamer

New forms of gaming have engendered new kinds of players. This session analyzes the messiness (the persuasive and the problematic) of feminized game design.

Presenter: Shira Chess (Athens)

Sound Design and Ambisonic Recording for the Future

Game audio allows artists to use a wide variety of tools and techniques. Award-winning composer/audio engineer Richard Devine provides an inside look at his work with synthesis, modular/analogue/digital technologies. He also looks at sound design work with virtual instruments patch programming, utilizing various hardware/software plug-ins. He will also cover field recording work, use of different microphones, and getting into VR ambisonic recording.

Presenter: Richard Devine (Macon)


Sunday 10:00 am: Session Block 6

Studio vs. Indie Rants Part Duh: This Time It's Personal

Ranting our lives away with this year's theme: "Fixing the Games Industry".

Ranters: Joe Cassavaugh; Nick Laing; Allyssa Lewis; Mark Mandel; Michelle Menard; Lee Morin; Chris Rickwood; Alan Wilson; Matt Woomer (Salons D&E)
(more coming soon!)

Educational Games Done Right

Educational games currently have a bad reputation. People often don't want to play them just because they're "educational," and those that exist in schools are often not that fun.

Presenters: Charlotte M. Ellett & Jesse W. Schirmer (Athens)

Uh oh! I made a mistake! Go back! GO BACK!

Have you ever been deep in a project and thought, "Oh man... if I could only go back to where I was yesterday"? We've all been there, and lucky for us there are solutions. Many of you may have heard or version control, and some of you might even use it. Either way this session is for you. Learn from our presenters what works for them, how they integrate it into their workflow, and what might work for your team.

Panelists: Josh Skelton (m); Stephen Borden, Clint Doriot, Zack Schneider, Edie Woefle. (Macon)

The Sound of SPEED 2 (cont): Editing Motorcycles!

You very professionally recorded motorcycle sound effects yesterday. Now learn how to turn your rough files into the perfect sounds for your game.

Presenter: Watson Wu (Albany)

Sunday 11:30 am: Session Block 7

Unity Presents

Come learn what is latest and greatest for the Unity3D game engine.

Presenter: James Simpson (Salons D&E)

Research Driven Analytics & Game Design

Metrics and analytics have become a key part not only of a game’s success but of providing a superior player experience. What should you track? Why should you track it? And, most important, how should you incorporate that knowledge in your design.

Panelists: Jesse Jacobson, Molly Proffitt, Alex Cantatore (Macon)

Strategic Staffing: Finding & Hiring Creative Leaders

As the economy continues to rebound, prospects for employment are the highest they've been in over a decade, and company efforts to retain top talent are taking priority. Learn how to avoid costly employer mistakes and foster lasting employee satisfaction at all levels of your business. Finding good help on a tight budget can seem next to impossible, but you've got more in reach than just those on your "friend's list". Uncover resources and underutilized strategies in hiring, developing, and retaining top talent.

Panelists: Allyssa A Lewis (m); Kelly Marble, Ian Schreiber (Albany)

Game Design Improv - The Iron Designer Challenge

Are you ready to tackle the impossible and level up? In this advanced version of the Game Design Improv session, teams will compete to make the best non-digital game given a series of successive constraints. Based on attendee vote, one team will reign supreme as the SIEGE 2016 Iron Designers.

Presenter: Ian Schreiber (Athens)

Sunday 2:00 pm: Session Block 8

Portfolio Review

Artists, programmers, level designers and almost everyone else in the games business have portfolios. Is there an interview in your future where you will need your portfolio to be at the top of its game? Just want it to be the best it can? Bring it to this session and let the pros tear you down and build you back up again. Admittance prioritized for SIEGE volunteers, students of sponsoring colleges, and other attendees. (Albany)

From Plans to Planes: The conceptual made playable

When learning objectives are conceptual, players often need concrete examples. Designers must develop examples that illustrate the abstraction- using details that delight without distracting. In this presentation, we explore how to do this with a process of analysis, design and testing. We will be working a recent game made for Boeing engineers, in which players "make plans to make planes" on Mars as our case study.

Presenter: Dov Jacobson (Macon)

Localizing for the World Cultures: The Prep, The Crunch & The Aftermath

Is your game ready for global domination? This panel and discussion will give a window into what it takes to localize your game for different regions and cultures. From assessing viability in an international marketplace and nailing the localization with your teams to being prepared for updates and culturaliztion issues, we will review what it takes to be ready and remain culturally relevant as you extend your global reach.

Presenters: Tobe Sexton (m); Parker Cain, Jaclyn (Jackie) Simmons (Athens)

The Secret to using HoloLens Spatial Mapping in Unity

One of the most exciting aspects of the HoloLens is the device's ability to do spatial mapping. This is the ability the device has to scan the environment and understand it as a 3D mesh. You can then write code to handle working inside of this environment.

The game Fragments uses the data to either position actors sitting down on your couch, or standing in the room. Young Conker places the level objectives and obstacles based on the environment that was scanned.

In this talk, Chad Carter, a HoloLens and Unity 3D consultant, will show you how to use Unity and HoloLens together to work with the spatial mapping data.

You will learn, step by step, how to setup the development environment for HoloLens, how to deploy Unity code to the HoloLens, how to import the scanned meshed from the HoloLens back into Unity so that the development iteration cycle can be shortened.

Presenter: Chad Carter (Salons D&E)