GDC + VRDC 2019 Session Scheduler

View, browse and sort the ever-growing list of sessions by pass type, track, and format. With this Session Scheduler, you can build your schedule in advance and access it during the show via export or with the GDC Mobile App, once live. Sessions do fill up so please arrive early to sessions that you would like to attend. Adding a session to your schedule does not guarantee you a seat.

The Design of 'Subnautica'

Charlie Cleveland (Game Director, Unknown Worlds)

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

Topic: Design

Format: Session

Tutorials: N/A

Vault Recording: Video

Audience Level: All

This talk will cover the design of 'Subnautica' and how it created feelings of exploration, discovery and the unknown. Starting with creating and adhering to specific design pillars and capturing emotion in the initial prototypes and the prototyping process, then through studies of game features big and small, including the hows and whys of its crafting system, embracing player phobias, mysterious tooltips and adding structure to a sandbox through radio signals. Also covered are examples of story beats that didn't overly direct or guide the player and how it's possible to reframe problems when development is stuck.


Design tools and inspiration for finding your game's "heart". Examples of overcoming one's initial ideas or preconceptions, showing how to take ideas from the whole team and your community. A case study showing how focusing on your game's core can help it reach its potential.

Intended Audience

Game designers, team leads and anyone that's directing design or development of a game. Knowledge of general game development and Steam Early Access is assumed.