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From Game Jam to the Creation of 'Starlink: Battle for Atlas'


Matthew Rose (Producer, Ubisoft Toronto)

Location: Room 2010, West Hall

Date: Wednesday, March 21

Time: 9:30am - 10:30am

Pass Type: All Access, GDC Conference + Summits, GDC Conference - Get your pass now!

Topic: Production & Team Management, Design

Format: Session

Vault Recording: Video

Audience Level: All

This session will share how a small team approached a mandate to innovate by employing game jam techniques and rapid prototyping, building Ubisoft Toronto's first new IP, 'Starlink: Battle for Atlas'.

After completing work on 'Splinter Cell: Blacklist', Ubisoft formed a small team with a mandate to pitch a new IP based on the combination of a technological breakthrough and an innovative gameplay mechanic. This wide open mandate was incredibly liberating, but also terrifying, having so few constraints could easily result in scattered development.

This talk will include an overview of how the Ubisoft team successfully employed game jam techniques, democratized early development and used rapid prototyping to create dozens of pitches and prototypes. It will include never-before-seen footage from these early prototypes, as well as practical tools and techniques they used to define and maintain the core vision in 'Starlink', including a modular starship collectible, a fully simulated AI ecosystem and seamless circumnavigable planets.


Audiences will take away several techniques for generating breakthrough ideas across projects of any scale, but particularly when developing new IP, such as game jams, democratization of early development and rapid prototyping. They will also gain insight into how those techniques impacted the development of 'Starlink: Battle for Atlas'.

Intended Audience

This talk will be of interest to anyone involved in the conception phase of a project, particularly in the case of new IP, but also when attempting to add innovative new features. The techniques presented are likely most relevant to managers and designers.