Please Note: The XDS 2015 Advance Program is subject to change. Final detailed schedule (including lunch and networking breaks), will be announced closer to the event date. The final schedule will also be available via the XDS Mobile App. To view all speakers, please click here!

Advance Program

Executive Panel on External Development
Peter Moore (Electronic Arts), Barry Dorf (DeNA) & Dave McCarthy (XBOX Operations): Executive Panel on External Development

Executives representing a cross-section of the industry will address areas such as the continued importance of external development as games get larger and more complex, opportunities for advancement, trends/predictions, and opportunities to push the needle. The audience will have the opportunity to pose questions.

Metrics that Matter Part 2: Honing a Scalable and Distributed Workforce
Dilber Mann (RELIC Entertainment): Metrics that Matter Part 2: Honing a Scalable and Distributed Workforce

Organizations are making the transition to the distributed workforce structure, an ongoing decade trend which has helped to achieve high quality, scalability, and cost efficiencies for those that have successfully made the transition. Are you outsourcing with a vendor that practices a distributed workforce structure or a developer in transition to distributing their content creation within their organization? This topic outlines the complexities of managing a distributed workforce across different locations with varying levels of development, where cost of living and cultural differences make this structure a challenge for many organizations, but also create benefits for those that succeed.  Continuing last year’s XDS series on Metrics that Matter, while discussing distributed trends primarily in Asia, we will also outline the ground breaking methods used to tackle the challenges associated with a distributed organization and how to manage risk with a distributed team through KPI Analysis.

More Goals than the World Cup: Overlapping Constituencies & What an OS Manager Needs to Keep Everyone Happy
Philip Dennison (WB Games): More Goals than the World Cup: Overlapping Constituencies & What an OS Manager Needs to Keep Everyone Happy

This talk focuses primarily on the spiderweb diagram of goals piece by piece to help prioritize goal and plan for a successful outsourcing engagement. Takeaways include determining what your studio wants out of outsourcing, establish consensus with all dev stakeholders, and promotes sharing as much as you can with your vendors so they know how to best serve you.

Integrated Development at Scale: Unannounced Gears of War title
Colin Penty & Coby Chan (The Coalition Studio): Integrated Development at Scale: Unannounced Gears of War title

This talk focuses primarily on the spiderweb diagram of goals piece by piece to help prioritize goal and plan for a successful outsourcing engagement. Takeaways include determining what your studio wants out of outsourcing, establish consensus with all dev stakeholders, and promotes sharing as much as you can with your vendors so they know how to best serve you.

More Red, Please: Life as a Western Art Director in China
Scott Russell (Electronic Arts): More Red, Please: Life as a Western Art Director in China

The unique intricacies of a Western Art Director working in Asia. This session will look at Scott’s career at EA and the evolution of the type of work he has seen developed externally since 2002. He will offer his perspective on how Chinese culture and the present day education system influences Chinese artists, and will also share insights from his day to day interactions with respect to differences between East and West studio culture.

External Development 101 for Mobile Development
Mohammad Agha (Magmic) & Tanya Emmert (Popcap): OS 101 for Mobile Development

Mo and Tanya will rely on their many years of experience to address the fundamentals of external development for small mobile studios. This session will address why as a small studio would chose to outsource, how to convince developers they want to outsource, how to find and select vendors in the market, due diligence practices, contract terms, project scheduling, gathering source materials, locking art direction, and performing reviews.

Happy Client, Happy Players: UX/UI External Development Done Right
James Chaytor (Sprung Studios): Happy Client, Happy Players: UX/UI External Development Done Right

User Experience/User Interface design can make or break a game. As games have evolved, and users want quick access, convenience and little upfront commitment before being able to enjoy and feel rewarded by the experience. Despite how important we all understand UX/UI Design to be, Development teams can struggle to find the right individuals who have the right combination of UX Expertise and UI Artistry. This session will look at ways in which UX/UI external development can be integrated into your process, how it fits within the production pipeline, and how an outsource partner can push the game and the team to get the best results possible. The Audience will have a key understanding of the best ways to integrate a UX/UI outsource partner into their internal process.

The World’s Best Outsourcing Test, Results Guaranteed
Robert Clarke & Josh Orellana (2K): The World’s Best Outsourcing Test, Results Guaranteed

The title says it all! This session will offer 2K’s perspective on how a well planned and conducted test can be a learning tool and the process of conducting a test will set you up for production. Topics will include what you need before you begin, defining the assets for testing, conducting the test, special asset type considerations, and why all of the above is so important. This session will set you up for success in choosing your vendor and moving forward.

Dragon Age: Inquisition and the Challenge of External Art Development
David Lam (Bioware): Dragon Age: Inquisition and the Challenge of External Art Development

David will discuss the problems faced on past projects and how Dragon Age addressed them. How relationships with external partners developed through production and why we chose the partnerships we did. David will address project wide goals and those specific to his role as External Art Director.

UFC: Animation External Development
Jeremy Mathiesen & Seigo Tanaka (Electronic Arts): UFC: Animation External Development

Members of EA’s UFC animation team will provide an introduction to UFC titles, discuss how the internal team operates, review their history with external development, and give an in-depth look into the workflows and pipelines for both gameplay and presentation assets. With respect to external development, the team will reveal the documentation process, demonstrate video reference, discuss the importance of visiting external partners, review and feedback process, and metrics on much of the game was developed externally.

The Evolution of an External Development Relationship
Fred Stockton (Liquid Development) & Adrien Cho (343 Industries): The Evolution of an External Development Relationship

This presentation will examine the evolution of the relationship between a game studio and an external development partner. It will focus on how the relationship can grow into an ever more efficient, effective and valuable place for both firms. The prime theme for the presentation will be to discuss the importance of creating a symbiotic relationship that ensures that the resources contributed by a studio and the resources contributed by an external development partner produce results that are greater than the simple combination of those resources (1+1>2). In other words, the service provided by the external development partner should add greater value to their studio partner than the measurement of the amount of labor hours or dollars saved by the studio. The external development partner, through a strong and healthy working relationship with its studio partner, should add value to that partner that exceeds the capacities and/or capabilities of the studio. The relationship should produce effective, efficient and synergistic results. The relationship should make it easier for the studio to produce its game at the highest level.

How to Write Good Feedback to Your Outsourcing Partners
David Clément & Quentin Cucuel (Ubisoft): How to Write Good Feedback to Your Outsourcing Partners

Are you sending out work to an outsource vendor? Frustrated with the quality of their work? Perhaps it’s your feedback that’s the problem! This session will present Ubisoft’s best practices for providing feedback and addresses communication techniques to ease communication with external partners, make fewer revisions, save costs, and get more done. You will come away knowing how to have EVERY point in your feedback followed as intended. how to train your art team to think the way you think, how to build relationships with your vendors, how to set them up to succeed on future projects, and have them feel that it is worth their while to reserve resources for you, because you’re so easy to work with.

In Defence of the Middleman
Peter Fabiano & Mikhail Ignatov (Capcom): In Defence of the Middleman

Global R&D serves a dual function at Capcom. First, we are a in-house outsourcing consultancy for all of the development teams, assisting in vetting and selecting external partners from all disciplines, building and maintaining relationships, setting up contracts, etc. In other words, a biz-dev function. Second, we continue on as development progresses as the point of contact between the internal and external teams to ensure clear communication throughout the course of the project. This second, production-centered, function exposes us to workflows, pipelines, and technical/artistic expectations from a variety of games, which in turn informs our approach in the biz-dev role. Although some schools of thought advocate a direct line of communication between internal and external development teams, this presentation offers our own approach. We will focus on the advantages of the intermediary in external development, the process of building the team, and the lessons learned from being in this position, which we hope will be applicable to those attending this session.

Panel: Cracking the Code on Software Engineering External Development

Panel: Cracking the Code on Software Engineering External Development

This panel will address the state of software engineering external development today. Topics will include the current state of maturity, major hurdles need to be overcome, availability of experienced external partners in the market, and what is required to bring software engineering external development to the next level!

Audio Outsourcing: Making it Easy for Developers to Enhance Their Games with the Kind of Quality Content That Today’s Players Seek
Adam Levenson (Somatone Interactive) & Shyang Kong (Skybox Labs): Audio Outsourcing: Making it Easy for Developers to Enhance Their Games with the Kind of Quality Content That Today’s Players Seek 

Standing out in today’s overcrowded marketplace is a must for mobile game developers, and audio plays a greater role in the player’s gameplay experience than many may realize. In fact, an insightful, yet-to-be-released new study commissioned by Somatone from leading researcher NPD Group finds that sound matters to mobile players much more than even industry insiders may realize! With this in mind, it’s of key importance for developers to derive the greatest benefits and value from every dollar spent on a game’s sound, particularly when differentiation is so critical. The presenters will share inside tips on how developers can derive the greatest benefits and value from their outsourced content providers through forward-thinking and streamlined practices that begin at the outset of the business relationship and continue throughout the production pipeline. They will review best industry practices that help make the relationship between developers and outsourced content providers as seamless, satisfying and positive as possible, ultimately leading to outstanding outcomes.

Special Events

Glass Egg Bar - presented by Glass Egg Digital Media

For the third year in a row, enjoy beverages at the Glass Egg bar, located in The Hub. Make sure you check it out, and say hello for a complimentary drink.

Welcome Reception - presented by Liquid Development

Join us for canapés, beverages, music and networking at the official kick-off for XDS 2015, presented by Liquid Development for the third year in a row.

Industry Pub Crawl - presented by Volta and MexicoIT

It’s back and everyone is welcome! Volta and MexicoIT join forces to bring attendees together once again for the event you don’t want to miss out on! The pub crawl will take us through local studios and end with networking, drinks and more music at a the final stop. 

Wrap Party - presented by Unity

Top off another successful XDS with complimentary beverages, and closing remarks presented by Unity. You don’t want to miss this!