With hundreds of sessions crammed into the week, it’s easy to miss the best of GDC. Develop is on hand to help with our pick of the best talks from this year’s show

GDC 2016: 14 Must-See Sessions


Blending autonomy and control: Creating NPCs for The Division

10 to 11am, Room 134, North Hall

AI Summit

Massive Entertainment’s senior AI programmer Philip Dunstan and game designer Drew Rechner reveal how they’re populating The Division’s devastated New York City with enemy NPCs that can navigate an open world

Rendering Hitman with DirectX 12

11.20 to 11.50am, Room 135, North Hall

Tutorials & Bootcamps

IO Interactive details the tools that help give the new Hitman its stylish visuals and reveals how the team makes the most of DirectX 12.

Catch ‘Em All: Pokémon Go and Real World Gaming

3 to 3.30pm, Room 2001, West Hall

Smartphone & Tablet Games Summit

Niantic CEO John Hanke will give attendees a first look at the upcoming mobile spin-off Pokémon Go and discuss how the team used its learning from Ingress to build a game where players are encouraged to interact.


Raid on Rise: Narrative creation on Rise of the Tomb Raider

10 to 11am, Room 3016, West Hall

Game Narrative Summit

Rhianna Pratchett is joined by the narrative and creative teams from Crystal Dynamics as they reflect on the continuing reinvention of gaming icon Lara Croft and how story and characterisation can be essential to success in the triple-A space.

The Vainglory Story: Five lessons from building a touch screen eSport

3.50 to 4.20pm, Room 2020, West Hall

eSports Summit

Super Evil Megacorp COO Kristian Segerstrale will share the biggest insights from the rise of Vainglory, a title that has become a major eSports player within a year of its launch.

Immersive Cinema: Stories from the experiments underway at Lucasfilm’s ILMxLAB

5.30 to 6.30pm, Room 2002, West Hall

Entertainment VR/AR track

The experts at Industrial Light & Magic and Skywalker Sound give a rare look at the experiments the creative minds behind Star Wars are working on.


Texturing Uncharted 4: A matter of Substance

11am to 12pm, Room 2014, West Hall

Visual Arts track

Naughty Dog artists discuss how they used Allegorithmic’s Substance toolset for texture and asset creation in the upcoming Uncharted 4.

Best Practices: User conversion, payment flows and in-game economy management

2 to 3pm, Room 2011, West Hall

Monetisation track

SuperData’s Joost Van Dreunen and Stephanie Llamas explore the biggest challenges devs face when asking players to open their wallets.

Fallout 4’s Modular Level Design

3.30 to 4.30pm, Room 135, North Hall

Design & Visual Arts tracks

Putting in a rare GDC appearance, Bethesda Game Studios will offer an analysis of the techniques used to help a relatively small content team design Fallout 4’s enormous game world.


Lighting the City of Glass – Rendering Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst

10 to 11am, Room 2020, West Hall

Visual Arts track

Fabien Christin, senior lighting artist at EA DICE, talks attendees through the tools and technology used to create the metropolis setting of this year’s Mirror’s Edge reboot.

Assassin’s Creed Syndicate: London wasn’t built in a day

4 to 5pm, Room 2005, West Hall

Programming track

Ubisoft’s lead tools developer Damien Bastian reveals the methods of
world-building that saw last year’s Assassin’s Creed take shape, such as road mesh generation and building placement, as well as showing the evolution of the virtual Victorian London.

History and Game Design

5.30 to 6.30pm, Room 2001, West Hall

Design track

Paradox Interactive shares how it balances creating a game that is historically accurate while still mechanically enjoyable. The studio will be using examples from its own franchises, such as Crusader Kings.


Rules for Development (of People)

10 to 11am, Room 3005, West Hall

Business track

Blizzard’s senior HR manager Julie Farbaniec lays down four rules that will help you accelerate your staff’s development, using practical examples from the studio’s own experiences.

Classic Game Postmortem: Diablo

3 to 4pm, Room 134, North Hall

Design & Programming tracks

Veteran developer David Brevik dissects the transformation of the iconic RPG and reveals how it became a modern classic.

There are, of course, hundreds more sessions to choose from. Find them at schedule.gdconf.com.

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