It's been in the pipeline for a while now and in the back of our minds for even longer, but today is the day where everything flips upside down... From now on, every online masterclass or interview (RSS) we organize during the weekends will be completely free to attend live! Read the rest of this page to find out what you'll be doing on Sundays henceforth.
AiGameDev.com is proud to be a small company, and that gives us a certain flexibility to try out new ideas and stay ahead of trends. When we launched our PREMIUM membership in Autumn 2008, there really wasn't much along those lines in the games industry at all. Since then, the site has grown from strength to strength, and we're only a few live classes away from our 100th! In fact last weekend was our record attendance of 122 people too...
We decided there was no better time to freshen up our approach and open up the live events to anyone who wants to attend. If you're feeling grateful, then you should thank our sponsors for making this possible: Spir.Ops, PathEngine, Havok and EKI One.
How Can I Participate?
Whether you're a PLUS subscriber or PREMIUM member now, or you're planning to become one in the future, you just got a free upgrade!
- INSIDER — Free Forever
You can now attend live masterclasses and interviews (RSS) online during the weekends. Most often, these take place on Sundays in the afternoon or evening, depending on your timezone, or usually at 20:00 UTC to be precise. If you're online, while the session is underway, then you'll be able to join at no cost!
» As an INSIDER, you also get access to regular in-depth articles and videos not available on the blog.
- PLUS — 5€ per Month
If you're a PLUS subscriber, you also get replay access until exactly 7 days after the online class took place. This is an un-edited replay that you can launch at any time, and pause if necessary. This takes place in the same online meeting room service than the live sessions...
» PLUS subscribers also receive an additional best-of interview recording per month, as well as a rotating feature monthly.
- PREMIUM — ~15€ per Month*
Finally, if you're a PREMIUM member, you get the full recording of the class as well as replay access and the opportunity to attend live. The recording is edited and assembled from a higher quality local recording, which you can play back at any time as well as pause, rewind, and scrub through.
» PREMIUM membership includes full access to the site's library as well, including all past masterclasses and interviews.
*: Note that the PREMIUM membership is billed quarterly at $75 for three months, but every year you get two bonus months free, so it works out at less than 15€ per month.
What Do I Need To Do?
Here's how you get free access to the live classes:
Sign-up to the site by creating a new INSIDER account, which costs nothing and will take you less than a minute.
Click on the link to the class that you'd like to attend, and go to the full description of that event.
From the class detail page, you'll see the exact time for the event in your local time, as well as a countdown.
By scrolling down the page, you can set email and Twitter reminders at regular intervals before the event.
Then, to view the replay of that live class:
Visit the page for the online class that took place within the past week, which you can find from the events section.
Scroll down a bit past the icon and find the box with the bold label "Replay". On that line you'll find the secure link to start the replay.
The interviews and masterclasses are always scheduled in a very incremental fashion, sometimes whole months ahead and at times from one week to another. Right now, there's one interview lined up, and a few others confirmed but still to be scheduled.
An interview with Dave O'Connor from Panther Games (scheduled March 27th), who has been the AI Programmer on the COMMAND OPS series, including the latest BATTLES FROM THE BULDGE. It's a realistic wargame which our resident experts think has one of the most advanced strategic AI ever created.
Procedural Music Generation
A masterclass with Steve Engels from the University of Toronto (scheduled April 3rd), who has been working on music generation based on statistical models. You'll find out what it takes to make this work in practice so it sounds good. Will this open the door to procedural scores in games?
This interview with Joel McGinnis, Senior Programmer at CCP Games (to be scheduled), will dig into the AI that powers EVE ONLINE's PvE sections. How is AI handled on a large scale within a single-shard MMO like this? Find out how this is achieved in Python in this in-depth interview.
Another interview with Antti Mannisto, AI Programmer at Remedy Games (to be scheduled) looks at the design and implementation of their NPC behaviors. ALAN WAKE stimulates an incredible tension during combat scenes, rarely achieved by other games, using a combination of elements that are tied together perfectly with the AI.
Frequently Asked QuestionsQ: What's in it for current PLUS subscribers or PREMIUM members?
A: Everyone got an upgrade. The instant replay of live classes or interviews were previously not possible or available, and now they are you have access to them for a whole week until the high-quality edited recording is uploaded.Q: Couldn't the sessions become a bit over-crowded?
A: A few months ago we switched to a more reliable online meeting provider, and we're also upgrading our package. Although network glitches of course can happen, there should be no general performance problems. We'll also moderate the classes a little more, and filter the questions if there are too many. In short, if there are more people it shouldn't cause any problems...
Generally speaking, we've found that larger groups make for better classer or interviews. There's always someone with a clever insight, a good question, some extra knowledge, or a link to a relevant resource. It's something we'd like to encourage more!Q: Would I still be able to attend live if I'm a PLUS subscriber or PREMIUM member?
A: Of course! You got an upgrade to your current package, since you get access to the full replay shortly after the live session ends. There are no downsides to this. :-)Q: Isn't that going to affect your income? I don't want to see the site disappear!
A: Thanks for your concern! We wouldn't do this if there was any chance it would affect us negatively, but if you're worried then you can help us by spreading the word. Retweet our announcements on Twitter, "Like" the descriptions that are posted on Facebook, StumbleUpon the site or email your friends to let them know.Q: What's the catch? It seems too good to be true.
A: There's no catch really. You get access to our classes as long as you're around to attend live...
Of course, we hope that some of you will upgrade to PLUS be able to watch the replays, or go PREMIUM to access the past library of recordings. And we believe the live classes will tempt you to attend our very own Paris Game/AI Conference too!
Sign-in to the site, go and visit the page for this weekend's interview about COMMAND OPS. Go and follow @AiGameDev on Twitter for notifications, or jump over to our Facebook page and hit the "Like" button. Then don't forget to subscribe to the Events RSS Feed.
See you this Sunday — and the one after that!