XDS 2015 is now complete – this agenda is for viewing purposes only! To view all 2015 speakers, please click here!

Day 1 – Wed, Sept 9

08:00am-08:00pm | Registration & Attendee Info Desk | Main Foyer

Pick up your accreditation at the registration desk. Haven’t registered yet? You can purchase a pass to XDS onsite here too.

09:30am-10:30am | Fireside Chat: Insights from the Top Floor on External Development | Main Stage
Peter Moore (Electronic Arts), Barry Dorf (DeNA) & Dave McCarthy (Microsoft), Shanti Bergel (GREE): Fireside Chat: Insights from the Top Floor on External Development

After a quick XDS 2015 kick-off with Victor Lucas – executives representing a cross-section of the industry will provide insights on the state of External Development within their organizations. The panel 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.

10:30am-11:15am | 1+1> 2: The Evolution of External Development Relationships | Main Stage
Fred Stockton (Liquid Development) & Adrien Cho (343 Industries): 1+1> 2:  The Evolution of External Development Relationships 

The presentation will examine the evolution of the relationship between a game studio and an external development partner over a ten year period.  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).

Two underlying sub-themes will be woven into the presentation.  One will be to share how external development partner relationships have changed and matured over time (1990 to present).  A second sub-theme will be to layout how relationships between game studios and external development partners go through “relationship maturation states” as they build more trusting, sharing, highly integrated and strongly collaborative working relationships.  Combining the strengths and abilities of the two organizations to create a more capable and productive combined team.

11:15am-11:45am| Speaker Q&A | XDS Speaker's Corner

Interested in continuing the mainstage conversation offstage?  The Speaker Q&A is a scheduled time for speakers from previous sessions to answer questions and engage with their audience in the intimate and casual environment of our new XDS Speaker’s Corner space. Space is limited in this area, so don’t delay!

11:15am-11:45am | AM Break presented by Glass Egg | Glass Egg Central Bar

Scheduled time to enjoy a refreshment at the Central Bar in The Hub, brought to you by Glass Egg, one of our Presenting Sponsors.

11:30am-12:30pm | Networking Time | The Hub

Take care of business in The Hub. Network with colleagues and fellow attendees or schedule a pop-up high-top meeting at one of the cocktail tables throughout the space.  These scheduled meetings can be booked via XDS Connect (booking will open 3 weeks pre-event so stay tuned).  Be sure to visit the Glass Egg Central Bar at The Hub for happy hour refreshments!

12:30pm-02:00pm | Lunch Break

Scheduled time for attendees to get lunch. See the XDS Mobile App for nearby lunch locations. Please be back on time for the afternoon sessions!

02:00pm-02:45pm | Dragon Age Inquisition: Rising to the Challenge of External Development | Main Stage
David Lam (Bioware) & Olga Kotyukh (Sperasoft Studios): Dragon Age Inquisition: Rising to the Challenge of External Development

David and Olga provide an in-depth look into external art development for one of the biggest and most highly acclaimed titles of 2015, Dragon Age: Inquisition. Key topics include how their teams dealt with change and the pros and cons of a 3 year development cycle.  Additional areas include the clear definition of team roles, Frostbite integration for high-volume of content, standardized vocabulary for asset production, aligned documentation, backlog planning for uninterrupted production, maintaining a healthy and sustainable working relationship, and a litany of lessons learned along the way.

02:45pm-03:30pm | Integrated Outsource Development at Scale in Gears of War: Ultimate Edition | Main Stage
Colin Penty & Coby Chan (The Coalition Studio): Integrated Outsource Development at Scale in Gears of War: Ultimate Edition 

We will address The Coalition’s pipeline and process for an integrated outsource engagement at scale for Gears of War: Ultimate Edition.  An overview of our unique challenges and goals with the title will be given, framing the problem space. Beginning with our pipeline, we will be detailing our asset budgeting process and enforcement, physically based material pipeline and texture creation guidelines, asset management tools, asset pre-processing workflows, high quality normal map generation, performance considerations, and perforce integration best practices.  We will be explaining the “why” behind our decisions and how they impacted the outsource vendor, also learnings we had along the way.

In the second half we will address the process we employed to best facilitate a large outsourcing effort at scale.  Our workbook and style guide process will be detailed highlighting learnings along the way.  We will discuss how we tasked out and communicated with our internal artists vs external while managing multiple dev studios.  We will also cover our asset tier system and how it influenced our time budgets and creation techniques.

03:30pm-04:00pm | Speaker Q&A | XDS Speaker's Corner

Interested in continuing the mainstage conversation offstage?  The Speaker Q&A is a scheduled time for speakers from previous sessions to answer questions and engage with their audience in the intimate and casual environment of our new XDS Speaker’s Corner space. Space is limited in this area, so don’t delay!

03:30pm-04:00pm | PM Break presented by Glass Egg | Glass Egg Central Bar

Scheduled time to enjoy a refreshment at the Central Bar in The Hub, brought to you by Glass Egg, one of our Presenting Sponsors.

06:00pm-08:00pm | Welcome Reception presented by Liquid Development | Currents Restaurant

Our Presenting Sponsor, Liquid Development, brings you our coveted Welcome Reception for the 3rd year in a row! Have a drink and a canapé, enjoy the DJ, and indulge in networking and socializing. The Welcome Reception is definitely not to be missed!

Day 2 – Thurs, Sept 10

08:00am-06:00pm | Registration & Attendee Info Desk | Main Foyer

Pick up your accreditation at the registration desk. Haven’t registered yet? You can purchase a pass to XDS onsite here too.

09:00am-11:00am | Networking Time | The Hub

Take care of business in The Hub. Network with colleagues and fellow attendees or schedule a pop-up high-top meeting at one of the cocktail tables throughout the space.  These scheduled meetings can be booked via XDS Connect (booking will open 3 weeks pre-event so stay tuned).  

10:30am-11:00am | AM Break presented by Glass Egg | Glass Egg Central Bar

Scheduled time to enjoy a refreshment at the Central Bar in The Hub, brought to you by Glass Egg, one of our Presenting Sponsors.

11:00am-11:45am | Happy Client, Happy Players: UX/UI External Development Done Right | Breakout Room #1
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.

11:00am-11:45am | Why Sound Matters for Mobile and Getting What You Need from Your External Audio Partner | Breakout Room #2
Adam Levenson (Somatone Interactive) & Shyang Kong (Skybox Labs): Why Sound Matters for Mobile and Getting What You Need from Your External Audio Partner

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.

11:00am-12:30pm | Vendor-only Break-out Session: How to be a True Partner to your Clients | Main Stage

Vendor-only Break-out Session: How to be a True Partner to your Clients facilitated by Ashley Liu and Liza Wood

This innovative session provides an open forum for external partners (vendors) to discuss common challenges and best practices in an open environment that does not include those from the client side. External partners will gain insight into challenges that are common to their peers, and may leave with a host of best practices to allow for managing engagements more effectively. Attendees should include those who closely manage client accounts, and those who are directly involved in production. Space is limited, so attendance will be first come first serve!

12:30pm-02:00pm | Lunch Break

Scheduled time for attendees to get lunch. See the XDS Mobile App for nearby lunch locations. Please be back on time for the afternoon sessions!

02:00pm-02:45pm | More Red, Please: Life as a Western Art Director in China | Main Stage
Scott Russell (Electronic Arts): More Red, Please: Life as a Western Art Director in China

As a developer who traded in a life of clean air and the convenience and comforts of the West, for the bustling, crowded streets of a challenging, foreign land; I would like to share my perspective of how vast differences in culture and education makes the game development process in China a unique experience.  We all know how frustrating distributed development can be at times, especially when we fail to understand the culture of the people we are partnering with.  My aim is to shed a little bit of light on the cultural differences between the West and the dragon that is China, in an effort to humanize the talented, passionate and dedicated artists that are often underappreciated, underutilized, and misunderstood.  In order to compete with the rising costs of game development, we must understand and invest in our partners who reside in the East.

“China is a sleeping dragon, when she awakes, the world will shake.” – Napoleon Bonaparte

02:45pm-03:30pm | Metrics that Matter Part 2: Honing a Scalable and Distributed Workforce | Main Stage
Dilber Mann (Capcom): 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.

03:30pm-04:00pm | Speaker Q&A | XDS Speaker's Corner

Interested in continuing the mainstage conversation offstage?  The Speaker Q&A is a scheduled time for speakers from previous sessions to answer questions and engage with their audience in the intimate and casual environment of our new XDS Speaker’s Corner space. Space is limited in this area, so don’t delay!

03:30pm-04:00pm | PM Break presented by Glass Egg | Glass Egg Central Bar

Scheduled time to enjoy a refreshment at the Central Bar in The Hub, brought to you by Glass Egg, one of our Presenting Sponsors.

04:00pm-04:45pm | EA Sports UFC Ex-Dev Animation Presentation | Main Stage
Jeremy Mathiesen & Seigo Tanaka (Electronic Arts): UFC: Animation External Development

EA Sports UFC Ex-Dev Animation Presentation is a talk about our experiences working with our external development partners over the last three years. We will be breaking down our early challenges on UFC1, and exploring our later successes in our ongoing production. We will also be talking about our educational and inspiring journey to Technicolor’s home base, Bangalore India.

04:45pm-05:30pm | How to Write Good Feedback to Your Outsourcing Partners | Main Stage
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.

05:30pm-06:00pm | Speaker Q&A | XDS Speaker's Corner

Interested in continuing the mainstage conversation offstage?  The Speaker Q&A is a scheduled time for speakers from previous sessions to answer questions and engage with their audience in the intimate and casual environment of our new XDS Speaker’s Corner space. Space is limited in this area, so don’t delay!

06:00pm-09:00pm | Industry Pub Crawl presented by Volta and MexicoIT | The Hub

For the 2nd year in a row we invite all attendees to join us for the XDS Industry Pub Crawl presented by Volta and MexicoIT.  Visit creative studios around Vancouver to checkout their space and have a few drinks.  Meet at the MexicoIT booth at 6pm in The Hub and we’ll all take off from there.

09:00pm- Late.......| Industry Pub Crawl After Party presented by Volta and MexicoIT | Cantina Rooftop at Roadhouse Bar

Are you ready to keep the party going? After the Pub Crawl we will all congregate at the Cantina Rooftop at the Roadhouse Bar for a memorable night of drinks, music and socializing on the rooftop.

Day 3 – Fri, Sept 11

08:00am-06:00pm | Registration & Attendee Info Desk | Main Foyer

Pick up your accreditation at the registration desk. Haven’t registered yet? You can purchase a pass to XDS onsite here too.

09:00am-11:00am | Networking Time | The Hub

Take care of business in The Hub. Network with colleagues and fellow attendees or schedule a pop-up high-top meeting at one of the cocktail tables throughout the space.  These scheduled meetings can be booked via XDS Connect (booking will open 3 weeks pre-event so stay tuned). 

10:30am-11:00am | AM Break presented by Glass Egg | Glass Egg Central Bar

Scheduled time to enjoy a refreshment at the Central Bar in The Hub, brought to you by Glass Egg, one of our Presenting Sponsors.

11:00am-11:45am | Trial by Fire 101 - Starting to Outsource for Mobile | Breakout Room #1
Mohammad Agha (Magmic): Trial by Fire 101 – Starting to Outsource for Mobile

The mobile game industry has grown significantly in the last few years, and has changed the way we work on games.  Traditional game development ended when you released your game.  In Mobile, especially with the dominant Freemium business model, the release of your game is only the beginning.  Revenue generating titles are seeing ongoing development effort years after release, thus creating the dilemma of continuously expanding your team to make new games while also supporting those that are live.  This is can be costly to do in such a competitive industry, not to mention time consuming.  There’s another option available: outsourcing.

Many great developers and artists have taken the plunge to open their own small service studios to fund their own creations, creating a host of new companies that are eager for work.

This presentation goes over my experience creating an external mobile development pipeline to help our small company be able to support our existing games while also creating new games.

11:00am-11:45am | In Defence of the Middleman | Breakout Room #2
Peter Fabiano & Mikhail Ignatov (Capcom): In Defence of the Middleman

Although some schools of thought advocate a direct line of communication between internal and external development teams, this presentation offers our own approach. At Capcom’s Global R&D, we serve a dual function; firstly a business-development role as an in-house outsourcing consultancy, secondly a production role as the point of contact between the internal and external teams to ensure clear communication throughout the course of the project. These two functions are distinct, but complementary, each informing the other, but often they tend to be delegated to different people. Moreover, the second role is often left directly to the artists “on the ground,” perhaps with the assumption that an unfiltered line of communication between internal and external teams increases efficiency.

We will discuss the advantages of the intermediary in external development, the process of building a team that can fulfill both roles, and the lessons learned from being in this position.

12:30pm-02:00pm | Lunch Break

Scheduled time for attendees to get lunch. See the XDS Mobile App for nearby lunch locations. Please be back on time for the afternoon sessions!

02:00pm-02:45pm | The Client with 4 Heads: Overlapping Constituencies in Game Outsourcing | Breakout Room #1
Philip Dennison (WB Games): The Client with 4 Heads: Overlapping Constituencies in Game Outsourcing

Outsourcing in Game Development typically has multiple, overlapping constituencies in the development organization. The customers have diverse motives, all completely rational, but sometimes inconsistent. Often one constituency doesn’t have much interest in others’ priorities. An outsourcing manager ought to keep all of them in mind and strive to meet as many needs as he can to keep the system efficient, profitable and ethical. An outsourcing vendor may also benefit from considering this network of needs because it is in the vendor’s interest to satisfy all the customers collected in a single client.

02:00pm-02:45pm | The World’s Best Outsourcing Test, Results Guaranteed | Breakout Room #2
Robert Clarke (2K): The World’s Best Outsourcing Test, Results Guaranteed

Too often we think of Outsourcing as a means to an end and nothing more. Need more assets but not enough internal team? Hire a vendor – they’ll do it for you! While that is true, the results may not meet expectations. And whose fault would that be? The vendor for not “hitting the bar?” With the very best of intentions, we see teams dive into the Outsourcing pool when they should be wading in, acclimating to the waters.

A successfully administered art test does far more than identify potential partners; it reveals the hidden holes in production plans, from how much work it is to prepare asset packets, to how many hours of review and feedback time are needed  to whether or not you have the right staff in place to handle the influx of assets.

This presentation will outline a surefire test process that will not only help development teams find the perfect partner, but also ensure that both parties are setup for great success. Guaranteed!

02:45pm-03:30pm | Panel: Cracking the Code on Software Engineering External Development | Breakout Room #1

Su-Cheng Wu (Sony), Stephanie Marchand (Behaviour Interactive), Andres Angelani (Globant) & Rick Smith (Sperasoft), Harold Chaput (Bioware)  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! The audience will receive insights that will change perceptions of software engineering external development.

03:30pm-04:00pm | PM Break presented by Glass Egg | Glass Egg Central Bar

Scheduled time to enjoy a refreshment at the Central Bar in The Hub, brought to you by Glass Egg, one of our Presenting Sponsors.

04:00pm-06:00pm |Wrap Party & Awards presented by Unity | The Hub

Unity brings us the XDS Wrap Party where you are invited to have a drink and reminisce on the past 3 days at XDS. We will present the XDS 2015 Wrap Video, as well as give out awards to the top contributors. Don’t miss it!