Developing room-scale VR games
Zach Barth (Valve)

Developing games for VR presents many opportunities, but also many challenges. In this talk we'll explore some of the common problems encountered when designing and developing VR games and look at solutions developed by Valve and other game studios. Topics covered include the exciting game design possibilities of room-scale VR and using SteamVR to write hardware-agnostic games.

Submissions and Indie MEGABOOTH
Christopher Floyd (Indie MegaBooth)

You want to show at the Indie MEGABOOTH. You submit your game, and then what happens? Let's talk about that. Q&A session to follow.

Friendly Fire: Designing TowerFall
Matt Thorson (TowerFall)

Notes from the process of designing a local multiplayer hit. TowerFall is at once a casual party game and a hardcore tournament game. This talk will explore how TowerFall was designed to explore both styles of play simultaneously, and transition players smoothly between them. 

The Heart of Darkness
Tyler Sigman & Chris Bourassa (Darkest Dungeon)

Drilling deep into the conceptual and thematic core of your game can take you places you never thought you'd go! This talk breaks down our creative process on Darkest Dungeon - one that is characterized by a strong commitment to our game's identity. Working outward from a clearly defined vision gave the game a life of its own, and demanded that we step out of our comfort zones in order to do it justice.

Friendship, Partnership, and Hardship: Mixing friendship and business.
Tommy Refenes (Super Meat Boy)

When the desire to create becomes so strong that an individual or group of individuals wants to throw caution to the wind and start a gaming studio, the instinct for most people is to work with their friends. This is usually because people feel like “This person is my friend, this will be awesome”. This can turn out great, or it can turn out terrible. After a highly successful game, some legal problems, and a few hurt feelings I will share my wisdom on common pitfalls people should avoid and plan for when mixing business and friendship.

The Bear Necessities
Justin Smith (Envirobear, Desert Golfing)

Tales of features I didn't add and how to amp up the minimalism in your game.

Pricing, Sales, and Bundles: Building a Sustainable Business.
Jeff Vogel (Spiderweb Software)

In this tough, competitive market, it is important to extract as much cash from your game as possible. At the same time, there is still much that is not known about the right way to price a game, both initially and during sales. This talk hopes to provide some possible answers or at least help you to ask the right questions.

Twitch + Indie Devs = <3
Clara Sia (Seriously, Clara?, Twitch Streamer)

A brief overview of why indie devs should keep streamability in mind, the potential synergy between broadcasters and indie devs, pitfalls, and the power of community and peer reviews.

The Art and Science of Procedural Puzzle Generation
Ty Taylor (The Bridge, Tumblestone)

Puzzle lovers know that the best part of any brainteaser is the aha! moment—the stroke of genius that comes from performing some seemingly counter-intuitive action to reach a solution. While designers are certainly capable of creating great puzzles, the most interesting puzzles come from procedural generation which doesn’t take into account any heuristics that a human player has an instinct to use. This talk details algorithms and AI used to generate and solve any type of discrete spatial puzzle.

Game design in VR
Kimberly Voll (Fantastic Contraption, Radial Games)

VR places players literally in the game, the believability of that experience based on the interactions supported and the affordances implied by the presented environment. Violations of these expectations expose the player to the artifice, often abruptly compromising the immersion and illusion of presence. This is an in-depth look at VR design through supporting natural player behaviour, building player trust, and uncovering hidden affordances using Fantastic Contraption and other VR work as examples. Key to this design approach is starting simple, observing, and filling in gaps to create a perceptually whole experience for the player.

Designing Better Games Using Artificial Intelligence, Automated Play Testing, and Computational Creativity
Aaron Isaksen (NYU Game Innovation Lab)

Making great games requires searching a massive space of all possible games to discover the hidden gems — which takes a huge amount of effort from designers and many hours of play testing. At the NYU Game Innovation Lab, we have developed methods to automate this process and assist designers in improving their games. I will show how we use artificial intelligence and player simulation to estimate the difficulty of different variants of Flappy Bird, using automated play testing to help a designer understand the effects of changing each game parameter. I also will show how we use genetic algorithms and computational creativity to find new variants of Flappy Bird that are as different from the original as possible. This talk will focus on practical methods coming from academic game labs which indie game designers can try to integrate into their own design process.