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SIEGE 2017 Sessions

Keynotes in Salons D&E

5 pm Friday: Game Studio Management: You Can Do It

Jesse Schell

Being a leader at a game studio is terrifying. Most of us have had no formal leadership training, and the training that exists often does not apply to game development. But there are simple principles of game studio leadership that can help anyone become a better leader, no matter how big or small your team.

5 pm Saturday: How to Use the Next Evolution in Livestreaming to Get Your Game Discovered

Gersh Payzer

Do you worry about your game getting lost in a sea of new releases? This problem is only going to get worse. However, interactive livestreaming opens a new, blue ocean of opportunities to get your game discovered. It represents one of the most fundamental shifts in how we design and market games. Come to this talk to learn why.

This phenomenon is still in its infancy and there is a short time window for first movers to take advantage. This talk will reveal the future of livestreaming. It will give you the design and market insight you need to be successful in this exciting, new space.

Friday, 3:30 Session Block 0

Breaking In: Getting Into Digital Entertainment - Salons D&E

Allyssa Lewis (m). Scarlet Dangerfield, Curtis Hartung

Find out from the gatekeepers the best ways to make it into the games industry. These experts will share tips on what to do to land a job and the red flags that get candidates denied. From ways to excel at your interview to how to get your resume past the recruiter screening, we will answer your questions to help you score the job of your dreams. Whether this is your first job in the industry or your fifth, you will gain insight on what recruiters and hiring managers love and hate about candidates.

10 Legal Tips for Starting a New Studio -  Albany Room

(You Won’t Believe #11!)

Brandon Huffman

This session provides an overview of the key legal issues faced by new studios in a fun, bullet-point driven presentation. To avoid the typical legal talking head, Q&A will be encouraged. In keeping with SIEGE’s theme, a skill tree will be used to illustrate various legal knowledge sets, and how they relate to one another (e.g., “what is a copyright?” dovetails into “how does my independent contractor agreement affect ownership of the copyright?” etc.)

Game Design Improv - Athens Room

Ian Schreiber

You’ll spend the weekend learning about games, so how about making some of them now? Back by popular demand, this fast-paced, challenging workshop stretches 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 any problem and make a viable and fun solution. Game Design Improv gives both practical advice and plenty of practice, with challenges based on real-world situations.

Friday 7:00 pm: Session Block 1

Sneaky Tactics to Avoid: Gain Appstore Rank the Right Way -  Salons D&E

Peter Heinrich

How do you make your app successful when others have bigger budgets? Sometimes the shortest path to the top 10 is to bend the rules a little. At least, that’s what some developers think. They’ve created sneaky ways to manipulate the system at the expense of honest developers, and the Amazon Appstore has seen them all. This session will describe the unsavory details, recount some of our experiences dealing with the worst offenders, and discuss how you can protect your own creative work to make app downloads better for everyone, regardless of app store.

All You Wanted to Know About Voiceover But Didn’t Know Who to Ask - Albany Room

Chris Rickwood (m), Ariel Gross, Bob Carter, Jesse James Allen

What do you get when you combine a fool, an audio director, a voice actor and a Renaissance man?  An excellent panel talking about getting the best dialogue for you next game.

The Psyche of a Successful Entrepreneur - Macon Room

Rob Hassett (m), Maria Cahill, Dr. Meldrena Chapin, Pat Henry, Judy Suiter, Suresh K. Sharma, Alan Wilson

Have you ever wondered what makes entrepreneurs tick?  Do you want to know if you are on the right track to be a successful one? We have put together a panel of entrepreneurs, investors, and behavioral scientists to explore the fascinating psyche of entrepreneurship. Join us for a lively discussion on the aptitudes and psychological qualities that one needs to be fully equipped to build their own enterprise.

Preparing Tomorrow’s Designers for Success -  Athens Room

Jennifer Hartshorn (m), Ian Schreiber, Jesse Schell, Ron Williams

Game design degrees are attracting more and more students, but are we preparing students with the skills they’ll need to succeed as designers? See how college syllabi and the responses of working professionals match up - or don’t.

Friday 8:00 pm Cobb Ballroom

Tripwire Interactive Opening Night Reception

Portfolio Review  

Indie Game Extravaganza

Saturday 10:00 am: Session Block 2

Game Balance -  Salons D&E

Ian Schreiber (m). Lee Hammock, Marcus Montgomery, Michelle Menard.

Nearly every game requires some form of balance, whether it be tuning the difficulty curve of a shmup, tweaking character abilities in a MOBA, or balancing individual cards against one another in a TCG. The goal in all of these cases is to create a game that feels subjectively fair to the players. But how is this accomplished? Our panel covers the basics of mathematical modeling and shares its experiences on creating balance (or the appearance thereof).

Unpacking the Audio Mentoring Project -  Albany

Ariel Gross

The Audio Mentoring Project is creating meaningful connections between game audio developers across the industry. We’ll discuss its origins, how it works, and what it actually is. This will be the first behind-the-scenes glimpse into the inner workings and outcomes of the project and our vision of elevating the entire game audio industry one mentorship at a time.

360 Legalities: VR, AR and Games - Macon

Deborah Gonzalez, Esq.

Much was made of the success of Pokemon Go’s as a global phenomenon bringing awareness to the mainstream the potential augmented reality has for converting a simple card game into an economic engine as businesses of all shapes, sizes and industries took advantage of the craze.  But all was not fun and games, and some serious legal concerns were raised and lawsuits pursued as ambitiously as some of the Pokemon themselves.  Virtual reality on its end is becoming more feasible as headsets gets cheaper and apps bring it to the forefront.  But it too comes with some legal vulnerabilities game and app developers need to be aware of.  From Sphero to Oculus, from SXSW to Main Street, the time for VR and AR as serious tools of gaming storytelling is upon us.

Participants will leave with an understanding (and checklist) of what these legal issues are and some basic tips on how to address the legal challenges they present.

Taking Your Concept Art from Good to Great -  Athens

James Simpson (m), Larry Elmore, John Bridges

Great game art begins with great concepts, and great concepts start with great communication. Our panel of celebrated game artists discusses how they develop their concepts, their techniques for bringing them to reality, and then how they get translated into the final game. Come armed with your questions and your sketchbooks - drawing while they speak is encouraged!

Saturday 11:30 am: Session Block 3

Marketing & Media: Attracting Press Coverage for Your Game - Salons D&E

Kathryn De Shields (m), Stephen Johnston, Jr., Auverin Morrow, Jonathan Moore, Blane Humphries

In this session, we’ll share simple marketing tips and ways to attract media coverage for those putting games out into the market. Topics include must-have marketing items, requesting reviews, social media guidelines, and guidance on developing great press relationships.

Hanako: Honor & Blade - Multiplayer Storytelling & Art Direction  - Albany

Matt Canei

This session will cover how we approached the art direction for Hanako, and telling story through different themes of maps and territories, writing the game world. I will showcase examples of symbols and flythroughs of different maps and leave lots of time for Q&A and discussion.

Model-View-Controller: Organizing your Entities in Unity - Macon

Zane Everett

Attendees will learn the benefits of MVC architecture, including code organization and easier debugging. Unity’s Entity-Component architecture provides a unique challenge to implementing MVC. This talk will cover two methods of implementing MVC in Unity. Since no architecture is perfect, when not to use MVC will also be covered.

We Are Game Devs -  Athens

Marcus Montgomery

The mission of WeAreGameDevs.com is to celebrate the diverse talent of the video game industry. Our goal is to feature artists, game designers, programmers and producers through candid conversation about the craft, business and culture of the video game industry and while encouraging others to become developers. Join us for an interactive discussion of the growing array of voices creating great games, and how we can support an even more diverse world in gaming and tech

Saturday 2:00 pm: Session Block 4

Thinking Like the Customer: How to Make Money in Indie Games - Salons D&E

Ian Fisch (m), Joe Cassavaugh, Peter Heinrich, Tim Kipp, Tobe Sexton

Can My $15 Game Compete with ALL Other $15 Games (Including AAA)? Is there EVIDENCE that people will like my concept? Am I taking my Customer to a place where he WANTS to be? Trailer and Screenshots: How weak is my weakest link? Word of mouth: how long will my game be in my customer’s head? Marketing: do my marketing assets grab attention in a list with 100 others?

Performance-Based Sound Design - Albany

Matt Piersall

Utilizing tools that were primarily intended for live electronic music performance opens up an inspiring work flow. The workflow keeps the process of creation fresh and constantly provides an inspiration that has taken Matt’s design and approach to a new level.

TrustStamp Presents: The OTHER Game Industry -  Macon

Ron Williams II (m), Chris Bivins, Simon Rakestraw, Jeremy Tuck

Gaming: The OTHER game industry. This session will be a dive into the real-money gaming industry and will discuss the similarities and difference between it and the entertainment video game industry.

Going from D3D12 to Vulkan: Vulkan on the Desktop - Athens

Dan Baker

A technical deep dive discussion, presented as lessons learned using the Nitrous Engine, of what it takes on moving your own engine from supporting D3D12 to the Vulkan API, or even to supporting both. Vulkan is ready for primetime on the desktop, and refactoring your engine code to support the API now can help position your team strongly for the future. Topics include descriptor differences, shader stacks, texture uploading, memory management, pipeline barriers, and render passes.

Saturday 3:30 pm: Session Block 5

You Are Here Presents: VR or Bust - Salons D&E

Jesse James Allen (m), Orion Cherry, David Consolo, Morgan Godat, Curtis Hartung

With the VR explosion, we are seeing some games make their mark and others just leave scorched earth. Our presenters have succeeded in making highly regarded VR games and experiences, and you can learn from their efforts. Join us for an analysis of lessons learned from Killing Floor: Incursion and other leading VR titles.

Rickwood Music Presents We’re All Ears: Ask Us Anything Audio - Albany

Chris Rickwood (m), Ariel Gross, Eric Lorenz, Matt Piersall, Watson Wu

This panel of audio professionals answers all of those burning questions you have about game audio. Bring your questions and listen up. We will solve all of your problems in one hour.

The Art of Artist Collaboration - Macon

Mike Stumhofer (m), Burton Posey, Sebastian Vakerics


Nothing is more critical to the success of most game projects than the art. The first impression gamers and reviewers will make of your project is based almost entirely on it and you can’t work with gray boxes forever. We’ll discuss our experiences finding, interviewing, selecting, paying and managing artists to create concept and in-game art assets for upcoming projects, including Depth of Extinction.

How to Make Procedural Worlds for Strategy and Tactical Games - Athens

Andrew Greenberg (m), Dan Baker, Tim Kipp, Michelle Menard, Mike Phillips

Crafting beautiful, believable worlds that a player wants to spend time in and return to can be challenging, regardless if you’re a designer, artist, or programmer.  But what if those worlds also need to be procedural or contain dynamically-generated content as well?  Your procedural content requirements could be just a few quests, some NPCs for flavor, a research tree, or even the entire world map itself.  Where do you start? What caveats should you keep in mind? How you do balance consistency, player agency, believability, flow, and pacing, or stop the code from generating genetic monstrous horrors of your flora and fauna (unless of course that’s your aim)?  Join the developers of Civilization V, Ashes of the Singularity, and The Elder Scrolls: Online as we discuss these topics, common pitfalls and traps, and more. Dynamically.

Saturday 8:30 pm

Indie Rants (Part of the GGDA Saturday Night Party) - Cobb Ballroom

Joe Cassavaugh (m), Jesse James Allen, Stephanie Chergi, David Consolo, Leigh Ann Kinnison, Allyssa Lewis, Michelle Menard, Kim Nguyen, Ian Schreiber, Michael Stumhofer

Sunday 10:00 am: Session Block 6

Skill Collectors Unite -  Salons D&E

Jesse James Allen (m). Stephanie Chergi, David Consolo, Robin Cowie

In the modern business world, we are expected to be classified as having a specific title; a specialist of one thing or another. However, those who have mastered the skill of adaptation, known commonly as multipotentialites or renaissance men, have a unique perspective on how to learn multiple skills bridging gaps between various disciplines. This talk is aimed at helping those who have many career aspirations understand how to succeed in the long term as well as offer team leads some insights on how multipotentialites can help your teams and projects.

Audio Organization for Game Projects - Albany

Watson Wu

So many sounds and so little time. Learn how to deal with and organize files from raw recording to finished game asset using real vehicle and weapon sounds.

Advanced Spreadsheeting for Game Design - Macon

Ian Schreiber

To most game designers, spreadsheets are about as essential for life as oxygen. In this presentation, veteran systems designer Ian Schreiber will dive in and show many advanced features and applications that he has collected from dozens of other designers and his own experience over the last decade. Attendees will start with the basics of formulas, and ultimately learn how to shuffle a deck, make better visualization graphs, and simulate an entire turn-based game... no programming required!

Educational Game Design & Development -  Athens

Brian Miller (m), Dov Jacobson, Stephen Borden

How do you combine the need to teach with the need to be fun? Some games have done it very well, and others have failed to do either. Join our presenters for a look at how you can make educational games that entertain and entertaining games that educate.

Sunday 11:30 am: Session Block 7


Algorithm Design Basics for Designers -  Salons D&E

Michelle Menard

How do you use a problem-driven approach to new algorithm designs? Once you identify a system or behavior you want to change, how do you actually achieve that in math, code, or even just explanatory text? What already exists in the fields of applied mathematics and algorithm design, and what heavy lifting do you need to do yourself? This session will go through all of that, as well as hitting on other really fun math concepts like Bayesian stats operations, game theory strategies, and other research analysis methods. Yay, math! It’s good for all designers (whether or not you know it...)!

Best Audio Tools for the Job and Why You Might Not Be Getting Them - Albany

Eric Lorenz

The audio experience can make or break a game, so you want the best tools for the job, right? Well, not every team is going to give you that luxury, and your game’s experience shouldn’t suffer because of it. In this talk, we will look at some of the ways your plans for designing a great sounding game might go wrong, and how to overcome them to still make a great sounding game with what you have.

What the Heck is UX? -  Macon

Stephanie Chergi, Sarah Massagee.

UX, short for User Experience Design, has become a buzzword lately, but what does it actually mean? It’s often associated with UI, but user experience goes beyond the interface. Join us as we discuss what UX is, how it applies to game design, and how your own projects can benefit through UX research and testing.

Photogrammetry for Use in the Production of Virtual Humans - Athens

Zachariah Inks

Photogrammetry allows for the capture and reproduction of humans within a virtual space. In this talk, we will discuss the hardware, software, and techniques for capture, cleanup, and implementation of virtual humans using photogrammetry, Maya, and Unity. This talk will highlight the challenges for capture and reconstruction of a human head using photogrammetry. We will discuss considerations and techniques for creating character facial rigging setups for realistic animation that leverage the power of this pipeline. Finally, we will show the implementation of these techniques within the Unity game engine.

Sunday 2:00 pm: Session Block 8

Herding Cats, Remotely - Salons D&E

Garrett Nantz

Understand better systems to work with team members who work remotely. Discover many of the benefits to a company when its employees and freelancers are no longer bound by traditional office space and time. We will go through game production, project management systems, ticketing, tracking, and best ways to communicate through webcam, phone, screen share, email and online management tools.

Automating Creativity - Albany

Chris Rickwood (m)

Staring at a blank screen is a surefire way to not get any work done.  Luckily that screen you are staring at is attached to machine that will do your bidding.  In this talk we'll take a look at how to use your tools to jumpstart new music ideas, create sound variations, and more.

Localization - Macon

Tobe Sexton (m)

Having your game succeed in distant lands requires more than just translating the words. Localization involves an understanding of the culture and its people, especially if you want your game to be a top seller and not a punchline. Take a look at some of the best ways to make your game work around the world.

Advanced Game Design Improv - Athens

Ian Schreiber

You’ve spent the weekend learning about games, so how about showing off all those new skills? The advanced version of this challenging workshop stretches 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 any problem and make a viable and fun solution. Game Design Improv gives both practical advice and plenty of practice, with challenges based on real-world situations.

Sunday, 3:00 pm

GEL Awards, GGDA Town Hall & Annual Meeting - Cobb Ballroom

All SIEGE and GEL attendees are invited to join us at our Town Hall meeting Sunday at 3:00 pm in the Cobb Ballroom. Here we discuss this year’s expo for SIEGE 2017 and award the Excellence in Indie Game Design award. If you have any comments, thoughts or suggestions about SIEGE, please feel free to share them with us. This session also encapsulates our official, annual GGDA membership meeting, to which everyone is invited.