Brandon Boyer

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With GDC Austin coming to down next Tuesday to Friday, now seems as good a time as any to do a quick guide to what you should see, and why, if you still haven’t registered (with the early registration discount still running through today), you probably should.

1.) The debut of AGDC’s Indie and iPhone Game Summits.


This year marks the Austin debut of the two Summits that have always brought some of the most dedicated crowds at the main GDC (many of the Indie Summit sessions this year playing to at-capacity audiences), and — though I might be a bit biased as one of the Indie Summit’s advisors — the lineup here turned out quite good.

Yours truly will actually be speaking this year early Tuesday morning at 10 for a “New Indie Hotness” session that’ll highlight (goes the description) “games and experiments that enchant or confound” — that is, a number of the games you’ll probably be familiar with from Offworld coverage, including some live demos of a few that haven’t been played in front of an audience before.

But you shouldn’t (and won’t, probably) come just for that: the Indie Summit also includes the makers of the Bit.Trip games, World of Goo, Splosion Man, A Kingdom for Keflings, Fantastic Contraption, Minotaur China Shop, And Yet It Moves, Aquaria and Marian, Bunni, Canabalt, and Penny Arcade Adventures, and you honestly can’t do too much better than that. See the full lineup and schedule at GDC’s official Indie Summit page.

On the iPhone side, most notably, Tiger Style Games will be presenting an hour long look at the making of Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor (running alongside my own session — even I can’t help you choose there), with other talks by the makers of Reflexion, Booyah Society, Enigmo, FaceFighter, Words/Chess With Friends and World War Robot, and handfuls more, seen at its own Summit schedule page.

2.) The keynotes and main lineup.


Doing a full breakdown of the main conference sessions is almost too arduous to consider, but the keynotes will include Frank Pearce and J. Allen Brack talking about the Universe of World of Warcraft, Crazy Planets/Pet Society dev PlayFish’s Sebastien de Halleux talking social games, Sony Online’s John Smedley talking about free to play MMOs, with sessions including the writers behind Left 4 Dead, Mirror’s Edge, Infamous, Fallout 3… check the full session lineup or the full speaker lineup to see everyone that’s coming.

3.) The parties, game movies at The Alamo


And then also there’s the real reason you’re all coming: the drunken hob-knobbing, which this year will most notably be taking place at IGDA Austin’s 128-bit party (with ‘Gangsta-Style Rock Band‘ [?!]) — GDC’s got the full list of after-hour parties here .


Also new for 2009, AMODA and local-treasure theater chain Alamo Drafthouse will be hosting two nights of game movies: Tuesday at 10:15 pm they’ll be screening the previously-blogged German TV special that brought together Jason Rohrer and Chris Crawford, and Thursday at 10:20 pm they’ll be showing the documentary TILT: the Battle to Save Pinball. Both of these are open to the public, so even if you aren’t making it to the conference proper, you should come say hello there, and drink beer and eat excellent food.

I’ll be doing my damndest throughout the four days to bring you as much coverage of the conference as I can — look for that all throughout next week.

Official GDC Austin site [Think Services]

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