Moments of Inertia by Rachel Crawford

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Steam Dev Days 2016

The second ever Steam Dev Days was held in October and, by all accounts, was a pretty rad event. Fortunately for us shmucks who didn’t go Valve have kindly put recordings of all the talks and panels on YouTube. The full playlist is here, but I’ve watched most of all of them and can guide you towards what I think are the best ones.

Each heading should be a link to its corresponding YouTube video. Please let me know if I missed one or messed one up!

Welcome

This is basically just a mission statement for what Steam Dev Days is aiming to be: not an expo, more of a conference, but more intimate than Game Developers Conference.

Steam Business Update

It’s really cool to look back and reflect on how Steam has evolved over the years. I’ve been there for almost all of that time, installing it because of Dark Messiah of Might and Magic (the best game ever) in 2006 and gradually becoming more of a regular user until The Orange Box exploded my brain with SHEER GAMING VALUE FOR MONEY and transformed me into a lifelong Valve fan and enormous1 Steam library-haver. I can remember Steam’s first crappy iteration and all the ways it’s changed on the path to becoming the terrifying juggernaut it is today. It’s interesting to get the perspective of someone at Valve on that history, and learn about where they think they’re taking the platform next.

Steam Controller

Input programming is usually pretty horrible, for all the reasons Lars Doucet (developer on Defenders Quest) talks about. His enthusiasm for the Steam Controller and its API is infectious – I wasn’t interested in owning one before this talk, but now I want to get one just so that I can play with it as a programmer.

Sound Advice from Successful Developers

Does what it says on the tin, unless you interpreted “sound” as “audio”. Businessy, in the good way.

UGC and Workshop in ARK: Survival Evolved

I haven’t played ARK. I don’t think I ever will - it’s not really my thing - but I find it fascinating to watch its history unfold. I remember being quite excited to watch DayZ develop from a shonky, obscure ArmA II mod to PC gaming household name. Of the many games following in its footsteps, ARK definitely seems to be taking the most confident strides, overtaking its inspiration in almost every way.

Early Access

Worthy discussion of the pros and cons of Early Access from developers working on the frontline. Each panellist has a different perspective and approach, but no one positions themselves as the developer who got it ‘right’. Having said that, there’s a bit of ego-grooming, but it’s not bad.

Anti-Cheat for Multiplayer Games

I don’t cheat in games. Consequently, I know nothing about how cheating is done, and therefore less than nothing about how to prevent it. I like the presenter’s examples of simple game design changes that can discourage cheating. It’s also useful to have an overview of Steam’s anti-cheat and game moderation features.

Healthy Publisher Relationships

Put together, these panellists probably have enough industry experience to make me look like a newborn. They have a lot of really well-articulated advice to share on when and when not to get a publisher, and how to do it properly.

Vulkan Graphics

A panel of graphics programmers talk about Vulkan, the new open-source low-level graphics API on the block. They seem pretty pleased and I’m now even more eager to learn it.

VR Developer Panel

I don’t have one of these newfangled ‘VRs’, but even my neo-skeptic mind can tell there’s a lot of interesting stuff to talk about with regards to making VR games. In this panel the developers of Fantastic Contraption, Hover Junkers, Space Pirate Trainer and Audioshield share the insights they’ve gained from working on the frontline. The YouTube video’s thumbnail image is rather good, too.

That’s all of them, assuming I haven’t missed one somewhere. Even if you only watch a couple of them, I think you’ll have an edifying old time.

Is there one you think I missed? Or one talk in particular that really grabbed your attention? Let me know what you think!

  1. I’m too ashamed to count how many unplayed games there are in it, my friends. Too ashamed. 

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