On Monday, the Game Developers Conference kicks off in San Francisco. Develop will be there offering live coverage and email flashes of the biggest announcements. In the meantime, we've put together a list of what our editorial team thinks are the 20 most important and/or intriguing sessions…

GDC 07: The 20 Must-See Sessions

Serious Games Squared

WHEN: Monday, March 5th, 9am – 10am
Ichiro Otobe, Square Enix’ chief strategist, explains why the company has taken on Serious games.

25 Years Of Indie Power

WHEN: Monday, March 5th, 10.00am – 11.00am
Llamasoft’s leftfield designer discusses his career and design philosophy and talks Xbox Live Arcade.

Our Journey From Narbacular Drop To Portal
TRACK: Indie Games Summit
WHEN: Monday, March 5th, 5.30pm – 6.00pm
Kim Swift explains how a rag-band of modders went straight from the indie scene to working for Valve.

Game 3.0

WHEN: Wednesday, March 7th, 10.30 – 11.30am
SCE WWS president Phil Harrison opens the main conference, set to reveal more secrets about PS3 online.

The First Year of Media Molecule
TRACK: Production
WHEN: Wednesday, March 7th, 2.30pm – 3.30pm
The indie start-up team with a hot PS3 game on the cards look back at their first year.

The Future of Innovative Studios: Team and Tools Behind Alan Wake
TRACK: Production
WHEN: Wednesday, March 7th, 4pm – 5pm
Remedy’s Lasse Seppanen explains how the studio’s team structure, tools, and processes are tailored to meet the challenge of producing a new IP title

The Look of Viva Pinata
TRACK: Programming
WHEN: Thursday, March 8th, 9am – 10am
If you thought Rare’s game had characters so sugar-sweet-looking that it made your teeth hurt, check out programmer Michael Boulton’s tour of the game’s graphics engine

Designing Gears of War: Iteration Wins
TRACK: Gears of War
WHEN: Thursday, March 8th, 9am – 10am
Epic’s game designer Cliff Bleszinski explains how his collaborative and iterative production process made a million-seller

The Creative Vision
WHEN: Thursday, March 8th, 10:30 – 11:30 AM
Nintendo (and Japanese games development’s) most famous designer Shigeru Miyamoto discusses his work ethic – and undoubtedly offers a glimpse into the future of the Nintendo Wii.

Final Fantasy XII Postmortem
TRACK: Visual Arts
WHEN: Thursday, March 8th, 12pm – 1pm
Producer Taku Murata looks back at the development of a new RPG touted as an all-time high-point for the otherwise long-in-the-tooth series.

Outsiders in the Entertainment Industry
TRACK: David Braben
WHEN: Thursday, March 8th, 12pm – 1pm
David Braben uses his studio Frontier’s new game The Outsider to explain how new ideas and big productions can be cost effective and low-risk.

Innovations in Fable 2
TRACK: Game Design
WHEN: Thursday, March 8th, 12pm – 1pm
Come back – it’s not going to be your typical Peter Molyneux speech. Okay, it will – but he’s also promising to reveal some hot secrets from Fable 2. Keep your eyes on the Develop site for an exclusive report after the lecture.

Creating New IP and Innovation in Games: Destroying the Box
TRACK: Production
WHEN: Thursday, March 8th, 2.30pm – 3.30pm
The EA Montreal team discusses how its approach (described by its own team in this magazine as ‘the black sheep of EA’) aids innovation

A LocoRoco Postmortem: Making Happiness into Gameplay
TRACK: Game Design
WHEN: Thursday, March 8th, 4pm – 5pm
‘Can you make a game that is pure happiness?’ asks LocoRoco designer Tsutomu Kouno. His BAFTAs say ‘Yes’. This session says ‘Here’s how’.

Non-profit Games: How Can the Industry Give Back?
TRACK: Business and Management
WHEN: Thursday, March 8th, 5.30pm – 6.30pm
Former Guerilla man Martin de Ronde discusses OneBigGame, a charity raising money for disadvantaged children by making games through a collaborative industry-wide effort.

Reflections on Zelda
TRACK: Game Design
WHEN: Thursday, March 8th, 5.30pm – 6.30pm
Nintendo’s Eiji Aonuma discusses the team’s continual evolution of the Zelda series across the format-holder’s various hardware platforms.

The Videogame Piracy Problem: Fifteen Men on a Dead Man’s Chest
TRACK: Business and Management
WHEN: Friday, March 9th, 10.30am – 11.30am
Id CEO Todd Hollenshead details the studio’s experiences battling pirates and hackers over the past ten years.

Hair Styling: A Teenager’s Dream, An Artist’s Nightmare
TRACK: Programming
WHEN: Friday, March 9th, 12pm – 12.20pm
In truth, we primarily picked this mini-session on name alone. Secondarly, it’s Bioware’s take on how to make characters believable, so will prove illuminating, if not hair-raising.

Small Changes, Big Results
TRACK: Game Design
WHEN: Friday, March 9th, 2.30pm – 3.30pm
Sims designer Robin Hunicke explains how she’s helping rebuild The Sims, traditionally a PC title, for the Nintendo Wii.

Punk’s Not Dead
TRACK: Game Design
WHEN: Friday, March 9th, 2.30pm – 3.30pm
Grasshopper boss Goichi Suda, creator of Killer 7, talks creating successful games from original IP.

This is an amended version of an article that appeared in issue 69 of Develop. For more detailed information on GDC, head to the official site.

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