[We're continuing to announce neat lectures for GDC Online this October in Austin, and here's the new design track highlights, including insights into some pretty neat social games and MMOs.]

Organizers of this October’s GDC Online (formerly GDC Austin) have announced several major sessions for the conference, featuring speakers from Sony Online Entertainment, Carbine, and Relic.

The Austin, Texas based GDC Online conference is focused on the development of online games, including free-to-play titles, social network games, and traditional MMOs, with a veteran online game industry advisory board evaluating and selecting the lectures.

There are already more than 70 panels, lectures and tutorials currently scheduled for the October 5th-8th event -- and organizers have newly announced a number of important talks in the ‘Design’ track, which discusses trends, strategies, and techniques to help developers create more successful online games.

As its official description explains, the design track -- unique to online game conferences worldwide -- focuses on "improving player retention, satisfaction, and lifetime value, applying principles of MMOs to new genres and platforms, and designing games for a wide range of audiences."

Some of the newly announced highlights from notable sessions in the GDC Online design track and elsewhere include:

- 'I’m a Special Snowflake: The Art of Participatory Story Telling in MMOs' sees Tim Cain, the design director of MMO developer Carbine Studios, drawing from his experience in the industry "to discuss the art of taking storytelling from single-player RPGs to the world of massively multiplayer online games."

Using his work writing for games like Fallout -- the seminal Interplay title that Cain also produced and lead programmed -- and Arcanum, Cain will showcase an "exclusive first look at Carbine Studios' work" regarding storytelling in the NCSoft-formed studio's unannounced MMO.

- In 'Surviving Social Media: Advice From The SOE Playbook', Sony Online's Linda Carlson will discuss best practices for interacting with your online game players while avoiding pitfalls and money sinks. As she says: "Learn from real-world examples of SOEs experience in developing a comprehensive social media program. We've experimented so you don't have to!"

-Relic Entertainment’s Brian Wood will present ‘Lead Into Gold: How Company of Heroes Online Turns Losers Into Winners,’ which will examine the company’s free-to-play RTS game project, and explain "the core design changes made to the original Company of Heroes with regards to the tutorials, reward mechanisms, customization and expanded mission content to ensure that this highly competitive, hardcore multiplayer game is successful in the free-to-play market."

These newly announced GDC Online lectures join other design track talks from Playdom, Schell Games, PlayStation Home, Bioware Austin, Habbo, CCP Games and many more -- to be showcased from October 6th-8th during the GDC Online Main Conference.

The overall event will also host the first ever Game Developers Choice Online Awards, which celebrates the accomplishments of the creators of persistent online games of all kinds, from traditional MMOs to social network titles, and has just awarded Ultima Online and Richard Bartle for their services to online games.

GDC Online is operated by the UBM TechWeb Game Network, as is this website, and will take place October 5-8, 2010 at the Austin Convention Center in Austin, Texas. To learn more about lectures across all tracks for the event, for which reduced-rated registration is open until September 1st, please visit the GDC Online’s official website.