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Next week at Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, developers from Naughty Dog will be sharing behind-the-scenes insights on the production of Uncharted 4. The team will cover tons of topics, including art, animation, systems design, programming, narrative, and more.
Take a look at the plan of talks below.
Animation Bootcamp: Animating ‘Uncharted 4’: Workflow and Prototyping
Date & Time: Monday, 2/27 at 11:20am | Location: Room 132, North Hall | ND Speaker(s): Jeremy Yates, Lead Animator and Almudena Soria, Lead Animator | Schedule Link
Part One: Animation Workflow
In this presentation, Jeremy Yates, Lead Animator at Naughty Dog, uncovers the methodologies used by Naughty Dog to bring the characters of ‘Uncharted’ to life. He will delve into the unique culture of Naughty Dog as well as uncover the animation pipeline from concept to console, including previs, their motion capture process, achieving seamless transitions, tracking assets, and communicating feedback.
Part Two: Prototyping
In this talk, Almudena Soria Lead animator at Naughty Dog will show how animation prototyping can play a very important role in development. Instead of waiting for design or programming to make decisions about a feature, animators, can help to make those decisions easier by creating prototypes that help visualizing features. Prototypes from ‘Uncharted 4’ will be showcased.
Art Direction Bootcamp: Cinematic Environment Production for ‘Uncharted 4’
Date & Time: Monday, 2/27 at 4:00pm | Location: Room 130, North Hall | ND Speaker(s): Erick Pangilinan, Art Director and Christian Nakata, Lead Environment Artist | Schedule Link
‘Uncharted 4’, Naughty Dog’s latest title, took you on an unparalleled globe-trotting adventure. However, the team at Naughty Dog wanted to complement their larger than life destinations and set pieces with quieter, more intimate moments of exploration and character building. They accomplish that by presenting more down to earth moments in the life of their heroes and allowing the player to soak in the richly detailed environment spaces that tell a lot of the story. In this talk, they wanted to use some of their more narrative-driven spaces to walk the audience through their entire production pipeline, from concept to polish. Naughty Dog hopes you enjoy!
Animation Bootcamp: Tricks of the Trade
Date & Time: Monday, 2/27 at 5:30pm | Location: Room 132, North Hall | ND Speaker(s): Almudena Soria, Lead Animator | Scheudle Link
Summary: Join Almudena Soria and other talented developers from Ubisoft, Sparkypants, Lab Zero Games, Vicarious Visions, and Boss Key Productions as they share bite-sized tips for animation.
Interactive Cinematic Sequences in Uncharted 4
Date & Time: Tuesday, 2/28 | Location: Twitch | ND Speaker(s): Jonathan Cooper, Animator | Schedule Link
Summary: From initial idea to final polish, animation and design at Naughty Dog work in lockstep to pre-vis, prototype then assemble memorable and cinematic story sequences with the aim to keep the action as “on-the-stick” interactive and exciting as possible.
Multiplayer Roundtable Day 1: Synchronizing Game State
Date & Time: Wednesday, 3/1 at 11:00am | Location: Room 123, North Hall | ND Speaker(s): Edward Pereira, Programmer and Drew Thaler, Programmer | Schedule Link
Summary: One of the first tasks for any multiplayer game is connecting players together and getting them to agree on game state. The way this is handled can be impacted by all sorts of things: the game’s genre, the target audience, and the expected variety of internet connections involved. Using the group’s interests as a guide, this roundtable will explore different methods to keep the state consistent and talk about solutions to problems that arise when dealing with the vast and complicated internet. Topics can include but are not limited to peer-to-peer networking, latency reduction, and bandwidth management.
The Future of Art Production in Games
Date & Time: Wednesday, 3/1 at 12:00pm | Location: Room 130, North Hall | ND Speaker(s): Andrew Maximov, Lead Artist | Schedule Link
Summary: With the abundance of emerging technologies like photoscanning, procedurally generated content, neural networks, VR, AR one can find of himself understandably confused and lost in regards to the future of production as the industry knows it today. Join this talk and get together to discuss what a video game production will most likely look like 10 years from now and most importantly, how it will affect YOU as a creator.
The Future of Real-Time Lighting: Panel Discussion
Date & Time: Wednesday, 3/1 at 2:00pm | Location: West Hall 3022 | ND Speaker(s): Andrew Maximov, Lead Technical Artist | Schedule Link
Summary: Real-time lighting is a relatively young field within games. It is also one of the most important. As cinematographers have long known, it can make or break the final image, set the mood or enhance the story. But creating real-time lighting in games comes with a unique set of creative and technological challenges. This panel of industry experts will explore current issues in real-time lighting and discuss what the future holds in terms of opportunities and challenges. They will conduct the session in a town-hall style with a moderator and the opportunity for attendees to ask questions to the panel.
Creating Compelling Characters: Insights from a Panel of Character Concept Artists
Date & Time: Wednesday 3/1 at 5:00pm | Location: Room 2020, West Hall | ND Speaker(s): Richard Lyons, Concept Artist | Schedule Link
Summary: Creating compelling, memorable characters can be a critical step in the game development process. There are many approaches towards creating characters that resonate with players and audiences and no one technique can always get the job done. In this panel, four characters designers and concept artists from diverse development backgrounds will share some of their philosophies and ideas on how to create compelling characters from four very different perspectives. Their artistic approaches, design philosophies, practical tips, and general wisdom will be explored to help the audience think about character design in a different light.
Realistic Performances in Games
Date & Time: Wednesday, 3/1 at 5:00pm | Location: Room 132, North Hall | ND Speaker(s): Ryan James, Lead Editor | Schedule Link
Summary: There’s a perceived stigma about the narrative experience in the video games industry: that the average game has (at best) a thin story with cardboard cutout characters. But many companies have worked tirelessly to write relatable characters, capture them though subtle performances with their actors, and translate them into their games. At Naughty Dog, the praise and awards they’ve received are due to not only the methods they have for writing and recording those performances, but also the ways they seamlessly implement them, and later reconform them as the game evolves. Each developer has their own way of doing this, and in this session, Naughty Dog’s lead editor will share some of the methods that they employ.
Physics Animation in ‘Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End’
Date & Time: Thursday, 3/2 at 10:00am | Location: Room 130, North Hall | ND Speaker(s): Michal Mach, Technical Animator | Schedule Link
Summary: For ‘Uncharted 4′, Naughty Dog, Inc. chose to take a risky step and experiment with adding a layer of physics simulation on top of their gameplay animation for added fluidity and momentum, with hopes that they could also save some production time by creating less assets and letting the physics do the awesome. Initial results were pretty terrible because of the physics’ tricky nature and physically absolutely unrealistic gameplay animation. Players tend to prefer responsiveness over reality, after all. But one day, their physics programmer found a way to drive the physics objects with animation more predictably, with minimal distortions and almost absolute artistic control.
Multiplayer Roundtable Day 2: Server Architecture
Date & Time: Thursday, 3/2 at 10:00am | Location: Room 123, North Hall | ND Speaker(s): Edward Pereira, Programmer and Drew Thaler, Programmer | Schedule Link
Summary: More and more multiplayer games these days have become full-fledged services that players invest their time and money in. As such, programmers need to build the back-end systems that manage all of this data, foster social connections, and even track financial transactions. In this roundtable, attendees will talk about server technologies to fill these requirements like matchmaking, friends lists, player profile storage, virtual currency, cloud computing, and any other topics the group is interested in.
The Science of Off-Roading: ‘Uncharted 4’s’ 4×4
Date & Time: Thursday, 3/2 at 2:00pm | Location: Room 130, North Hall | ND Speaker(s): Edward Pereira, Programmer | Schedule Link
Summary: Creating a vehicle for a AAA adventure title like ‘Uncharted’ requires an enormous amount of iteration on several aspects of the vehicle in order to make it fun and easy to use for as wide an audience as possible. This session will break down individual physical elements of Uncharted 4’s 4×4, such as tire collision response and the motor simulation, and explain how Naughty Dog’s team tuned it to handle the rugged terrain of Madagascar. Furthermore, the talk will explain how they added an AI element to the 4×4 in order to allow designers to direct the vehicle around the same spaces the player can drive around.
Authored vs. Systemic: Finding a Balance for Combat AI in ‘Uncharted 4’
Date & Time: Thursday, 3/2 at 4:00pm | Location: Room 3001, West Hall | ND Speaker(s): Matthew Gallant, Game Designer | Schedule Link
Summary: While combat in the ‘Uncharted’ series has historically been tightly authored by the design team, Naughty Dog knew early in development that ‘Uncharted 4’ was going to be different. The open-ended gameplay and large complex environments led them to explore a more systems-driven approach to artificial intelligence. After over-steering in that direction, they ultimately found a balance between authored content and systemic behaviors. This talk explores the development process of ‘Uncharted 4’, and the lessons they learned about partitioning control of the AI between design and engineering.
Multiplayer Roundtable Day 3: The Ecosystem
Date & Time: Friday, 3/3 at 10:00am | Location: Room 122, North Hall | ND Speaker(s): Edward Pereira, Programmer and Drew Thaler, Programmer | Schedule Link
Summary: Beyond the gritty details of synchronization and servers, there’s a lot more to multiplayer games. Tournaments, streaming, community building and management, promotions, telemetry, and a host of other topics. This session will be a higher level discussion about all these things and your dreams for the future of multiplayer technology.
Technical Art Techniques of Naughty Dog: Vertex Shaders and Beyond
Date & Time: Friday, 3/3 at 3:00pm | Location: Room 2002, West Hall | ND Speaker(s): Andrew Maximov, Lead Technical Artist | Schedule Link
Summary: In this talk, Andrew Maximov is going to do a deep dive into vertex shader pipelines and process using features implemented at Naughty Dog for ‘Uncharted 4’, as an example. From wind systems to interactivity, to ambient animations, to optimizations, there is a lot of use you can get out of vertex shaders. He’s going to cover theory, practice, roadmaps for advancing this technology, and will offer the audience both interesting solutions and interesting problems to solve. There is a lot of unrealized potential for creative solutions in vertex shaders and his hope with this talk is to inform you about another powerful tool in your technical quiver as well as inspire you to do some tinkering of your own. Come by, it’s going to be fun!