- [Apologies for more cross-posts than normal this week - firstly, GDC (which we organize!) is rapidly coming up and neat stuff is happening there related to us, and secondly, IGF and mag/website organizing is making my hair catch on fire. Getting there, though! Take it away, Jamil...]

As part of his latest Director's Cut post, GDC 2008 executive director Jamil Moledina has revealed new talks on writing process from Oblivion, Blizzard's Rob Pardo on tuning for player-to-player experiences, Harmonix's Rock Band postmortem postmortem, and LucasArts' converged pipeline story.

The 'Director's Cut' section of the weblog is slated to run regularly leading up to the GDC 2008 show itself (part of CMP, as is Gamasutra), and Moledina's second entry reads, in part:

Ken Rolston and Mark Nelson worked on Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion together, and are giving a talk on Collaborative Writing and Vast Narratives: Principles, Processes, and Genteel Truculence. Writing frequently has a black box aura to it, and being able to apply a reliable process to something as purely creative as writing is a model that should be relevant to any discipline in game development. Plus, if you've ever met Ken and Mark, you know you're in for an incredibly mind-altering time!

Rob Pardo, Vice President of Game Design for Blizzard and a member of our advisory board, has kindly agreed to present a talk on tuning for player to player experiences, in a session titled Rules of Engagement: Blizzard's Approach to Multiplayer Game Design. Chris Hecker makes the strong point that AI is the ultimate technical challenge in creating athentic experiences in games, but then the ultimate AI is that which isn't artificial at all, but consists of real people in real time. Rob has had the opportunity to iterate on best practices for online multiplayer over several successful titles such as World of Warcraft, and will present some of the lessons learned and applied forward.

On a slightly different note, a lot of us spent Thanksgiving assembling instruments, or have the largest game box ever wrapped nicely under the tree. Rock Band is a whole new ball game for gamers, and no surprise, it changed a lot of processes at Harmonix. Greg LoPiccolo, Vice President of Product Development at Harmonix, will give a talk on how they revamped their production and process assessment for the game, in a session that is a first for GDC: the Rock Band Postmortem Postmortem.

Finally, in what is shaping up to be one of the most coveted games of 2008, we have a revealing session by Haden Blackman, Executive Producer for LucasArts, titled Star Wars: The Force Unleashed: How LucasArts is Building a Game, a Development Team and a Technology Pipeline... At the Same Time. This session has been a long time coming, in that the converged pipeline story has been presented in many ways but rarely with proof behind it. Finally, we will learn what worked and what required a Force push to combine Industrial Light and Magic, LucasArts, Euphoria, and a Star Destroyer, across both the Xbox 360 and the PS3.

Game Developers Conference 2008 itself is scheduled for February 18th-22nd 2008 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco - more information is available at the official show website.