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GDC Europe Wraps Day 2 With Hulst, Hubertz, As Kapalka Helps Kick Off Day 3

As GDC Europe 2010 continues into its third and final day of learning, networking and inspirations, Gamasutra recaps highlights of our event coverage thus far.
The Game Developers Conference Europe 2010 has concluded a second successful day, and as the show continues into its third and final day of learning, networking and inspirations, Gamasutra recaps highlights of our event coverage thus far. Produced by UBM TechWeb Game Network, organizers of the leading Game Developers Conference series, GDC Europe is the largest professionals-only game event in Europe, and has increased in scope compared to its inaugural debut event in 2009, with record attendance ahead of this week's Gamescom consumer and trade event in the same location. Highlights of day two and three major talks at the show include: Day Two -In the day's first keynote, Heiko Hubertz, CEO and founder of Bigpoint, advised attendees that to conduct business in America as a European company, the time to do it is "right now." Throughout the talk, Hubertz elaborated on the differences between the U.S. and European markets and educated the audience about how to be successful in America as a European, based on Bigpoint's experience there. Hubert advised "There are only two existing markets in America, the console market and the Facebook market." -In his keynote, Killzone developer Guerrilla Games' managing director Hermen Hulst discussed his studio's genesis, and its successes and failures in evolving into a Sony-owned AAA console powerhouse. Hulst began with the mantra: "to survive and to grow... you need to consistently improve yourself. He took attendees through examples of how Guerrilla's experiences have informed their history and the key decisions made from the time Sony signed the title that would become Killzone through to today. Plus, he revealed the studio is expanding to work on a "game with a scope and a level of ambition that once again makes us nervous" -- specifically a "brand new IP." -Eric Chahi, creator of Another World, spoke about his newest project: He's director of Ubisoft's wildly ambitious downloadable title tentatively titled Project Dust, which allows players to re-terraform the world around them, creating islands, rivers, and life using simple tools that interact with each other intelligently. Chahi's talk centered on the idea that a correct meeting of technology and game design can allow for the creation of something truly unique. To do that, Chahi said one must "keep only the essentials for the purposes of optimization, and to keep these things simple for the player." -Zenimax Online head Matt Firor talked about the complex definitional relationships between the 'casual' and 'hardcore' in games, showcasing how games like Zynga's FarmVille have "serious hardcore gaming characteristics." Going back to the beginnings of the industry, Firor pointed out that early, iconic titles like Donkey Kong or Super Mario Bros. weren't actually that casual -- they were, if anything, "fun but hard." These days, he says, "games aren't casual or hardcore... the gamers are." Day Three -Researcher and Malmoe University associate professor Mikael Jakobsson says achievements aren't extrinsic to games, and suggests the Xbox Live Achievement experience is akin to its own MMO. If you think about it as a metagame, then the achievements aren't outside the gaming experience, "they're just part of the other gaming experience," he suggests, discovering that console users who judgmental of PC gamers and "addicted" MMO players might be doing the same kinds of things. -Diverse engine makers, including Epic's Mark Rein, Terminal Reality's Joe Kreiner, Crytek's Carl Jones, StoneTrip's Philip Belhassen and Unity's David Helgason -- valiantly refereed by Google's Mark DeLoura -- traded jokes, caused chaos and squared off as they discussed new frontiers like the web and the 3DS, noting along the way that "we all seem to be converging into the same space." -PopCap CEO Jason Kapalka explained why Bejeweled Blitz on Facebook hasn't taken the same hit to its user numbers as many other games on the platform since Facebook changed some of its viral aspects -- and described in fascinating detail how the company built an early Facebook success in a time when "nobody actually liked Facebook games." Social games are just a little bit "evil", suggests Kapalka, highlighting how the team had to get over the "disturbing" sense that "a large part of the social game industry is about finding loopholes in the system." In addition to the conference content, GDC Europe provides several opportunities for creative exchange and business development, with venues including the GDC Europe Expo Floor, VIP Lounge, and the GDC Europe Business Lounge at gamescom, plus a host of industry parties. More than 40 exhibitors and sponsors from Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Russia, Sweden, the UK and the USA have registered for the exhibitor zone measuring 650 square meters. Exhibitors include Crytek, Bigpoint, Epic, Howest University, Imagination Studios and Intel. In addition, GDC Europe also has a business lounge at the accompanying games expo, gamescom, at which Autodesk, Crytek, Epic, Zotac, DigiProtect, Level 3 are confirmed to be exhibiting. For more information on the show, which is currently taking place and is part of the UBM TechWeb Game Network, as is this site, please consult the official GDC Europe website.

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