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Free-to-Play Summit: The F2P Designers Notebook

Kenny Dinkin  (Senior Creative Director & Head of Narrative Design and Story Development, King)

Toiya Kristen Finley  (Game & Narrative Designer, Schnoodle Media, LLC)

Christopher Foster  (Game Director, Hidden Door)

Michelle Woods  (Lead Game Designer, Haiku Games)

Location: Room 3016, West Hall

Date: Monday, March 21

Time: 5:30 pm - 6:30 pm

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

Topic: Free-to-Play

Format: Session

Viewing Experience: In-Person

Vault Recording: Video

Audience Level: Yes

There are many game design topics that don't require an hour to discuss, but can be useful, especially for experienced game designers, as quick deep dives or punchy bits of food for thought. The Game Designer’s Notebook asks seasoned game designers to open up a few pages from their notebook, and share insights and explorations into contemporary design issues in the F2P game design arena. Part microtalk, part design review, the GDN is the session at the GDC F2P Summit where game designers get to jump in, go deep and jump out. This year’s session will offer:

Toiya Kristen Finley - Schnoodle Media, LLC
A simple way to define narrative design is to say that it delivers story using any aspect of a game, from the worldbuilding and dialogue to the UI and camera angles. All members of a team can contribute to a game’s narrative design, including individuals who don’t consider themselves to be storytellers. Discussions on great narrative design tend to be limited to console and PC games, but mobile developers are using clever concepts to mature storytelling in this space. This micro talk explores various ways to implement narrative design into story-heavy and non-story-oriented mobile games, and how all members of the team can be encouraged to take ownership of their project’s narrative design.

Christopher Foster - Hidden Door
Advances in Machine learning have the potential to invent new kinds of games and experiences. One particularly exciting opportunity is in using natural language generative technology to enable a new type of narrative play: the co-creation of improvised stories. These opportunities require a shift in approach towards probabilistic design, where the potential for emergent delight comes with issues of editorial control and safety. These novel experiences also have the potential to enable new economic models for content. This microtalk presents early findings and helpful perspectives for exploring this gaming frontier.

Michelle Woods - Haiku Games
As game makers, we all strive to create moments of joy for our players, like rolling a Yahtzee, defeating a boss, or plunking a Tetris piece into place. It can be tricky to get these moments right. Simple design flaws can get in the way, deflating the moment, or missing it completely. It can be especially tricky in games that rely strictly on skill or brainpower rather than chance, as they’re more prone to causing frustration, making players feel stuck. This microtalk aims to identify a few key elements that amplify the joy, and common design pitfalls to avoid.


Attendees will walk away with three "quick hits" from three different perspectives, offering them a glimpse into the notebooks of three industry experts. They should leave armed with insights, better informed and inspired and curious to explore new avenues, try new things in new ways in free-to-play game design.

Intended Audience

General ... everyone who works in F2P and is interested in seeing these games raise their quality bar and push new boundaries.