The platforms of web design which are code-free are becoming a popular tool for website designers. Companies using these tools are promising a design experience which does not need any skills about coding or the need to hire a third-party developer which is usually expensive.

The huge names of the DIY web industry like Squarespace and Wix are promising an almost effortless ability and hassle-free site to design within minutes. This move is different from the two giants like Webflow and Webydo that are targeting professional web designers and those who have no patience or interest for coding. With Webydo, it is difficult for anyone who does not have a background for design or not working with software like Adobe Photoshop to design websites from scratch while it is a different story with the users of Wix. The users can create a website by just modifying a template which already exists and can be used by everyone who does not have a background about web design.

Webydo is based in Tel Aviv and it was found to help and empower web designers and ultimately diminish the developer’s role in the process of design. Shmulik Grizim, the co-founder and CEO of Webydo said that they feel the need to create this since the industry is enslaved by the old process that fully depends on developers in terms of converting graphic designs into handwritten codes. He further said that this professional process has not changed much which started in the 90’s; it was expensive, cumbersome and slow. This is the reason Webydo hired a group of engineers, developers and mathematicians to develop a revolutionary code generator. It is a norm in the industry that needs a large amount of money for web development, after a designer submits his design, then, he can start working. Often, this process is time-consuming and obviously the budget will have a bloating effect.

website designers

Image (c) anoy.net

Webflow, Adobe Muse and Webydo are providing a service which makes the redundancy of an outside developer. The distinct feature about companies like Webflow and Webydo boils down to the responsiveness as well as how the elements are related to each other. The product manager of Webydo, Nir Balev said that the main issue about this topic is responsive design and companies offering web templates which are code-free need to choose between adaptive or fluid approach.

Regardless of the minor but important differences about interfaces, Webflow and Webydo are trying their best to reverse the trend where the industry has been dominated by developers. These companies are gradually helping designers to build their own web design business and fully control their work. Eventually, these companies want to help designers create a vision that comes to life.

Computers need to be maintained regularly in order to function properly and prolong its lifespan. There are tricks as to how to prevent malfunctions before you start off with your spring cleaning.

Perform a disk check on your computer’s hard drive.

It is important to note that the data on your hard drives may become corrupt, thereby causing it to crash and become unstable. This corruption can actually happen over time with typical computer usage; however, it can also happen when you don’t shut down your computer properly. In Windows, Check Disk is used for scans that’ll try to repair any hard drive that is corrupted. It is recommended that you run the program every few months.

Saetechnologies

Clean your computer physically.

Actual dirt and dust aren’t good for computers or any technology. Over time, they have the potential to decrease the life of the computer, thereby causing heat issues and affect the components of the computer. How frequently should you clean your computer primarily depends on how fast it gets dirty.

Protect your computer from fluctuations in power.

Computers are actually highly sensitive to power fluctuations. Therefore, you need to be able to plug your computer to a modern surge protector. After several years, surge protectors may not be able to offer protection. Thus, for best protection, you should utilize uninterruptible power supply which offers battery backup should there be power interruptions.

Utilize a software cleaner program.

At least every few months, consider using a cleaner program that would erase temporary files and repair any errors. There are a lot of cleaner programs available in the market today, but you should not sell yourself short and avail for cheaper versions.

Make sure that you have a regular backup.

As usual, if you have files, photos and documents that you don’t want to lose, then you should ensure that they’re backed up in the event that you’ll experience a hard drive failure, viruses, or other disasters. To have a peace of mind, utilize a backup system that would back up separate local drives.

Use a Defrag program on your hard drive.

Note that the data found on your hard drives may become fragment which may slow down your computer. Windows has a Disk Defragmenter that is tasked to fix any fragmentation. In Windows Vista and other later versions of Windows, the program may run automatically; however, you may have to verify the task first. As soon as you have opened the program, it will provide you information on the last time you’ve used the program and the next scheduled defragmentation. If you are using the old Windows XP, the defrag program may not run automatically and should be manually run to defrag every few months.

It is important to remember that you should have an anti-virus program installed and consider extra adware programs, as well as malware protection. In addition, you should also consider seeking professional computer programmers help if you aren’t entirely sure about these maintenance tasks. To know more about this, visit Saetechnologies.com.

Microsoft toolkit is a combination of all activators. Auto KMS and EZ activator modules are built in to provide a perfect activation algorithm. Also toolkit support manually call activation system. What you have to do is click phone button and get the 12 digit code and call Microsoft through Skype. Then provide the code which is getting from the toolkit. As I mention above this tool is 2 in one software, yes you can activate up to 8.1 and up to MS office 2013. What you have to do is select first what activator do you need. That’s all. For the all activation information please see below description.

This is a set of tools and functions for managing licensing, deploying, and activating Microsoft Office and Windows. All output from these functions is displayed in the Information Console. All functions are run in the background and the GUI is disabled to prevent running multiple functions, as they could conflict or cause damage if run concurrently. The Microsoft Office Setup Customization Functions (Customize Setup Tab), AutoKMS Uninstaller (if AutoKMS is installed), AutoRearm Uninstaller (if AutoRearm is installed), Office Uninstaller and Product Key Checker work even if Microsoft Office or Windows is not installed/supported. For information about individual functions, see the program readme.

Compare with other activators toolkit beat all of them, because toolkit has special validation module validate your activation. Any other activators do not provide that. 2nd option is user selected. Before the activation process user must select an activation method. There are two activation method Auto KMS and EZ activator. If you are a windows lover you should know about KMS developers. They are number one server base activation provider in the world. EZ activator module developed by DAZ team. Same team developed windows loader. So now you can get an idea about how cool this application is.

The Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) supports three types of deployments: Zero Touch Installation (ZTI), Lite Touch Installation (LTI), and User Driven Installation (UDI). ZTI is a fully automated deployment scheme in which installation requires no user interaction whatsoever. UDI deployments require full manual intervention to respond to every installation prompt, such as machine name, password or language setting. ZTI and UDI deployments both require a Microsoft System Center infrastructure. ZTI deployments require a persistent network connection to the distribution point. LTI deployments require limited user interaction. An LTI deployment needs very little infrastructure, so it can be installed from a network share, or media using either a USB flash drive or an optical disc.

Office activation

When you run the Microsoft toolkit make sure you click the MS office logo. The other vice activation process will fail. In the next window click EZ activator. (My personal recommendation). Wait until complete the process. After confirmation message open MS office products.

Offline and online

The Microsoft toolkit 2.5.4 (latest version) doesn’t want to access internet to complete the activation. But 2.4 versions such as 2.4.1, 2.4.2 and 2.4.3 are not supporting the offline module system. Make sure download 2.5.1 or 2.5.2 version if you need offline activation.

Features of Microsoft toolkit

  • Two in one activation
  • Two in one is one tool do two work which is activate MS windows 8.1 and MS office.
  • Offline and Online activator modules.
  • Lifetime activation
  • 64-bit system support
  • Any windows and MS office version support
  • 100% clean and virus free
  • Auto KMS and EZ activator modules

By Rob Crossley

PlayStation Europe is offering one lucky winner a full month internship and get hands-on production experience at a game dev studio.

Fans of the new LittleBigPlanet Vita game – which was given a 9.2 score in CVG’s review – have one month to create their best minigame creations for the title.

The best submission, as voted by a PlayStation judging panel, will be rewarded with a month-long internship at Swedish studio Tarsier (creators of the handheld title).

Games will be judged on gameplay, originality, and commercial appeal, PlayStation said. The winner will eventually help work on official DLC for the game.

"Gaming is an exciting and fast-growing industry but it can be tricky to get your foot in the door," said the game’s product manager Elliott Linger.

"This internship offers a whole month’s experience at a great studio, all for creating an awesome minigame. We’re expecting hundreds of entries and can’t wait to see what players of LittleBigPlanet Vita come up with."

The GAA Games Development Conference, held on January 14th in Croke Park, saw almost 700 delegates from Ireland and overseas attend the most successful event to date. A range of national and international speakers presented on a series of topics related to the development of teenager players.

Speakers on the day included Jean Coté – internationally renowned sports scientist, legendary AFL Coach David Parkin, performance coach Caroline Currid, Waterford team doctor Dr Mark Rowe as well as practical coaching demonstrations provided by All-Ireland winning Ladies Football coach Eamonn Ryan (Cork) and former Dublin hurler Paudie O’Neill, both of whom are prominent Coach Education Tutors.

Due to the great interest generated in the Conference, video and audio recordings of the majority of the day’s presentations have been produced and will be made available on the GAA website.

By Robert Purchese

Nintendo has attributed the lack of "new key titles" for Wii to "preparation" efforts for Wii U.

Besides the upcoming Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, the only notable Nintendo-made Wii games of 2011 are Kirby’s Epic Yarn and Wii Play Motion.

"Strong momentum is very important for game platform businesses and a strong software line-up to vitalise a platform is necessary to maintain this momentum," Nintendo president Satoru Iwata wrote in a half-year financial briefing.

"In the first half of this year, however, we could not make the continuing sales of the first-party software released last year as we had planned, nor, in the course of preparation of the next platform, could we release new key titles for the existing platform in a timely fashion due to completion delays until the latter half of this year."

A number of questions surrounding Wii U remain, despite developers receiving updated Wii U dev kits this summer. Just how powerful is Wii U? And what can it do online?

We’ll find out next summer, apparently. "We would like to show the final format of the Wii U at the E3 show next year," Iwata announced.

He went on to offer update on a Wii U release date.

"We are also planning to launch the Wii U, which is the successor to the Wii, during the next fiscal year," he wrote.

Nintendo’s financial year runs from April 2012 to March 2013. But the absence of Christmas 2012 from his vocabulary suggests Nintendo may intend to use those final three months, January to March. The 3DS launched in Japan in February, and in the US and Europe in March – is Nintendo planning something similar for Wii U in 2013?

Perhaps – but Iwata is adamant that the Wii U arrival will not suffer the same setbacks as the 3DS did.

"As we learned a bitter lesson with the launch of the Nintendo 3DS, we are trying to take every possible measure so that the Wii U will have a successful launch," he pledged.

Nintendo yesterday revealed a big financial loss for the first six months of its financial year (April to September). This in turn led to the company predicting its first full-year loss in decades.

by Andrew Groen

Horror stories are constantly surfacing about the lengths game developers sometimes have to go in order to ship a game on time. The worst involve up to 85-hour work weeks—12 hours a day, seven days a week—which is more than double the century-old 40 hour per week standard. Extended periods of crunch can last up to a year, with sustained 60-hour weeks. This practice has earned a markedly less innocuous name than "crunch time." It’s called "the death march."

In some cases it’s nearly dehumanizing: the closure of All Points Bulletin developer Real Time Worlds in September of last year left more than 185 employees out of a job. They were welcomed to the end of a particularly long crunch period by pink slips rather than profit sharing and bonuses.

In an industry that is steadfastly focused on fun, it seems counter-intuitive that video gamers should be the ones who have to worry about the sagging quality of life of those who make the games. No kid should ever have to wonder if Santa Claus is cracking the whip too hard on his elves to make the Christmas Eve shipping deadline, but despite widespread outrage over revelations from ex-employees describing poor conditions, the status quo remains largely unchanged and unchallenged.

Bad Santa

On the surface it’s simple. Studios push their employees harder to finish projects faster. Less time spent on development means less time employing a full team of artists, programmers, designers, testers etc.

This is one of the principle factors perpetuating the use of crunch by management. The vast majority of employees working in the development of video games are salaried employees and do not receive overtime for additional hours spent at the office. A recent poll of over 350 industry professionals taken by developer-focused website Develop, showed that 98 percent of those polled received no compensation for their overtime work.

Crunch isn’t a tool used exclusively for cost saving measures. "When the team rallies behind the idea of an awesome new boss battle that wasn’t on the original schedule, and goes the extra mile to make it super rad, that’s not the same thing as forcing employees to stay all weekend," said Michael Wilford, CEO of Twisted Pixel games, the studio behind the Xbox Live Arcade titles ‘Splosion Man and Comic Jumper.

EA was one of the first companies to be put in the spotlight for quality of life concerns after the infamous EA_spouse essay gained widespread exposure in 2004. The letter alleged, among other things, that employees were being moved to another crunch just as the previous crunch was ending.

Over time it has become part of the corporate culture of making video games. "To me, sometimes it’s not even a deadline that propels someone to stay late or come in on the weekends," said Bruce Straley, lead designer on Uncharted 2. "Is it the company’s management, or is it the individual? How much is it a ‘cultural peer pressure’—the unspoken peer pressure that propels someone to stay longer just to hang out with their friends, or to avoid the feeling of guilt they place on themselves for leaving early?"

Straley was very clear that there are many reasons why a worker might stay after hours, but it was the "cultural peer pressure" comment that was echoed when we spoke with Dr. Shoshana Bennett, a psychologist who practices in the San Francisco Bay Area.

"I’ve heard from my clients that the competition for [game development] jobs is fierce," said Dr. Bennett. "My clients’ husbands and boyfriends feel totally replaceable, and therefore are worried that if they don’t perform, they’ll lose their jobs. There is definitely a culture of fear that’s cultivated in this industry."

This "culture of fear" isn’t something overt, but rather is a subversive, almost jock-like attitude found throughout the industry. It’s a sense that if you’re not working overtime, you’re not part of the team. In late 2008, Mike Capps, president of Epic Games (developers of Gears of War 3 and Bulletstorm) made controversial comments about crunch on an industry panel, going so far as to say that Epic wouldn’t hire prospective employees unless they were willing to work upwards of 60 hours per week.

Why should you care?

You work hard at your job, and you don’t always get to go home right when the clock strikes five, either. So why should you take time out of your day to sympathize with game developers? After all, they’re adults. If they don’t like their situation they can move on, right?

Well, the problem is that it’s just not a very effective way to manage a project, and often it’s the quality of the games that suffer. This is not a new revelation; as far back as 1909 studies have shown that the 40-hour work week actually provides more output over a long period of time than when employees work longer hours.

In an article published by the International Game Developers Association, 20 year development veteran Evan Robinson notes that studies show that regularly being awake for more than 21 hours impairs the mind as much as having a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08… that’s also the point where it becomes illegal to drive a car.

"It’s ironic," Robinson wrote. "Most software companies will fire an employee who routinely shows up drunk for work. But they don’t think twice about… people who are impaired to the point of legal drunkenness due to lack of sleep. In fact, they will demand that these people work to the point of legal impairment as a condition of continued employment."

Punch-drunk love

What is worrisome is that some companies are perpetuating debunked and old fashioned ideas about the relationship between hours at work and productive output. The only demonstrable effect of which might be a lowered quality of life for employees, and ultimately a shorter career for some of the greatest designers in the world.

Many crunch-apologists will point to the fact that game developers can more easily work overtime because of their passion for their work. This is true, but the effect is minimal.

"Although loving your job and being stimulated with a particularly creative one might make it possible to work a few hours more than someone who isn’t as enthusiastic," said Dr. Bennett "every person has his limit and will eventually burn out and lose effectiveness."

It’s also important to remember that not all employees in the game industry are working on projects they are passionate about. It’s pretty hard to imagine the entire staff behind the latest Dora the Explorer game being gung-ho about their work every day. Even those who are lucky enough to work on amazing AAA projects often aren’t creatively stimulated. If you’re the guy who makes different brick textures for the buildings in GTA4, or the guy who programs the way fire behaves when it spreads to different substances, that’s not the same as being a top-level designer.

"There are many potential physical and mental health risks from overwork and inadequate sleep in general," said Dr. Bennett. "Focus and concentration will suffer—ironically, making the employee less productive—[accompanied by] lower immune system functioning and depression. You can literally get sick from too much work."

The mental health risks span beyond that. Psychologist Dr. Giles Burch, who also lectures on Human Resources at the University of Auckland Business School, told us that overworking can lead to strain on a marriage, and spending fewer hours at home can cause children to lose attachment to their parents.

A cost too high

This isn’t an article meant to make readers recoil in horror at the realities of game development. If that were the case we’d have titled this, "The Gulags of Cyberia" and equated their struggle with mainland Chinese indentured sweatshop workers. But the simple fact is that game developers have to pay a heavy price to work in this business. Why should they?

There is great competition for jobs in game design these days, and many of the lucky few who snare jobs in the industry will be welcomed by unreasonable hours and forced to choose between work and relationships with family and friends.

"Extended crunch ages people in a way that they can’t see on the front end," said Dustin Clingman, the chairman of the IGDA Quality of Life branch. "It robs them of years of creative potential."

Heroes Lost

Clingman’s warning should be sobering even to those who are adamant that crunch is necessary to create great entertainment. In the past five years we’ve seen some of the industry’s great designers retire at young ages compared to other creators in the film industry. The industry is being molded to fit the needs and abilities of young, energetic people and is incompatible with the needs of older, more experienced designers.

This is an issue our own Ben Kuchera has thought about at length. "I’ve been told that people who write about the business all want to be developers and make games," he told me. "It couldn’t be any less true. We get to tour these studios and see how the people who make the games live. They seem to always be tired, the offices are dimly lit, and people are sleeping on cots." He points out that while many developers have benefits such as gyms and cafeterias onsite, that just drives home the idea that you’re never supposed to leave.

Will Wright, Roberta Williams, and Toru Iwatani all retired before the age of 55. This is in stark contrast to some of the legendary directors of film, like Akira Kurosawa who directed and wrote screenplays until he was 85 and an injury physically kept him away. Steven Spielberg (64), Martin Scorsese (67), Francis Ford Coppola (71), Ridley Scott (73) and Clint Eastwood (nearly 81) all continue to write and direct films today, and they show now signs of stopping. The film industry is much better for it.

The message is clear. Either we move game development toward something more sustainable or it will be the gamers who miss out on what could be the greatest works of luminary designers.

By Daniel Emery, BBC

The games industry say it has been "let down" by the government, following its decision not to award tax breaks.

The premise giving the sector 20% tax relief had been floated by the Labour government before the last election.

But the Culture Minister, Ed Vaizey, told delegates at the video game Develop conference in Brighton that the case "had not been made".

Dr Richard Wilson, chief executive officer of game trade association Tiga, told BBC News he was "disappointed".

"We had already made a very convincing case to the previous government and both the Conservative Party and Lib-Dems said that they supported tax relief during the last parliament.

"We clearly convinced them at one point. What’s essentially happened is the Conservative Party – and George Osborne in particular – reneged on that promise.

"It’s hard not to feel let down by them," he added.

The driving force behind the games industry’s push for tax relief, other than lowering its bottom line, is competing against the generous packages offered by other countries in their attempts to attract development studios.

Canada, in particular, is offering significant tax breaks – in some cases worth up to 40% – to encourage growth in the gaming sector.

Usurped

This has been a major factor in knocking the UK from 3rd to 5th place as the largest global developer of computer games.

But speaking to BBC News, Mr Vaizey said people need to avoid "the council of despair".

"Canada has its attractions, but this country has enormous attractions too.

"There is a huge range of talent in this country and that is still a massive pull to game developers."
Little Big Planet The award winning Little Big Planet was developed in a small office in Guildford.

This is the first time Mr Vaizey has spoken publicly on the subject and he acknowledged that – on this topic at least – he faced an audience mostly hostile to his point of view.

"I understood the video games industry’s disappointment in what happened," he said.

However, he did not rule out giving the games industry tax breaks in the future.

"There is still further opportunity and I welcome the decision to form a committee to review the tax situation," he said.

Not needed

But not everyone in the games industry thinks it needs tax relief.

Nicholas Lovell – a business analyst for the gaming sector – told BBC News that tax relief would stifle development and creativity.

"If Canada’s tax breaks are all about what they can afford, why would you end up in a battle with spending more with someone you know you can’t compete with.

"We shouldn’t be competing on their terms. Britain has a creative expertise, great universities and develop new business models.

"Tax breaks are easier for large established companies to exploit than for new firms to tap into, and as those smaller firms get bigger they end up building their business model round those tax breaks rather than exploring new opportunities," he added.

In an interview with BBC News at the E3 Expo in Los Angeles in June, Yves Guillemot, chief executive of Ubisoft, Europe’s largest video game publisher, said that incentives were needed for firms to "take risks".

"What was good in the last few months was that the pound went down, so the cost of creating games went down," said Mr Guillemot.

"But now the cost is getting too high."

The rising value of the pound – due, in part, to the fall of both the US dollar and the euro – was making Britain "more expensive" in terms of both staff and export costs.

"You would need to ask George Osborne on what he thinks the right value exchange rate for the pound should be," Mr Vaizey told BBC News.

"Currency an indication of how healthy your economy is, but I agree that there is a balance to be struck [between that and the cost of exporting goods]", he added.

Last month Nintendo company president Satoru Iwata told BBC News that the ongoing currency gyrations were having a significant effect on its profits.

"From that perspective, we cannot say our [global] economy as a whole has been stabilised and there is uncertainty on how to estimate our profits," he told BBC News.

Mr Iwata said that government needed to do more to bring ongoing currency fluctuations under control.

Game Developer Research, the analysis arm of leading video game industry publications Game Developer magazine and Gamasutra, has released the results of its ninth annual Game Developer Salary Survey, calculating an average American mainstream video game industry salary in 2009 of $75,573, a decline of more than 4% from 2008’s figure of $79,000.

The Game Developer Salary Survey is the only major publicly-released analysis of salaries in the worldwide video game industry, providing an exhaustive breakdown of salaries and benefits at major game studios by discipline, job function, experience level, region and gender.

After a record game industry average salary in 2008, this past year saw the first case on record of a significant average salary decrease, as consumer confidence suffered in the midst of a recession and employers looked to cut costs wherever possible. Despite that, this year did not dip below 2007’s figure, and 2009 still boasts the second-highest average salary ever.

With the changing face of the game development community, which includes a growing independent segment and a proliferation of new business models, for the first time, this year’s full Game Developer Research report includes new special sections dedicated to accurately portraying today’s game developers.

"The Indie Report" consists of average reported income and development specializations of those who develop games alone, work with small independent teams, or work as individual contractors. More information on this part of the report will be released in the near future. In addition, "Developer Histories and Outlooks" provides a snapshot of how game developers see their industry’s past, present, and future.

Highlights of specific findings per category for the survey, which are available in further detail in the newly published April 2010 issue of Game Developer magazine, are as follows:

  • Programming: Programmers are among the highest paid talent in the mainstream game industry, with an average annual salary of $80,320. Experience pays in this technical role, particularly when jobs are more rare–programmers with more than six years of experience earned an incredible 36% more than the average annual salary in 2009.
  • Art & Animation: Unlike those in most disciplines, artists saw a slight average salary increase this year to $71,071, up a modest 2% as more artists reported pay increases than those in any other creative field.
  • Game Design: Like artists, game designers saw a modest salary bump on average, up 3% to $69,266. The design discipline also includes writers, who make an average of $61,786, a figure right in line with the average design salary of $61,859, once design leads and creative directors are not taken into account.
  • Production: Of all the non-business game development disciplines, production – with a salary average overall of $75,082 – is the most welcoming to women, with 18% of the workforce made up of females, down slightly from last year but still nearly twice the industry average. Producers also tend to be the most experienced game developers, with 49% having accrued six or more years in the industry–higher than any other field.
  • Quality Assurance: By contrast, testers tend to have the fewest years of experience, with nearly half having been in the industry less than three years. They are also the lowest-paid professionals, averaging $37,905–although for QA employees who do stick around for more than six years, that average salary more than doubles.
  • Audio: Sound designers and composers, who earned an average of $82,085, are generally some of the most experienced professionals in the industry. But it seems audio may be opening up for new blood: this year, the number of audio developers with fewer than three years of experience rose to a high of 38%, and those with more than six years dropped significantly to 33%.
  • Business & Marketing: The business field as a whole remains the highest compensated group in game development with an average salary of $96,408, even after a nearly 6% decline, and businesspeople are the most likely to receive additional compensation. Still, there is great variance within the field: marketing and PR employees average $83,804, while executives average $129,167.

More information, including detailed graphs, additional data, and more analysis, is contained within the April 2010 issue of Game Developer magazine, recently sent to subscribers and also available for digital magazine purchase.

The comprehensive version of the “Game Developer Salary Survey” includes complete, detailed U.S. regional and growth data for year-over-year results from 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009, plus international information from Canada and Europe.

It will be of particular interest to business and HR professionals in the game industry, and is now available for purchase via the Game Developer Research division at a reduced price compared to previous years – more information is available at the official Game Developer Research website.

by Daniel Terdiman, CNET

For the first time, the leading game development conference will feature a summit devoted entirely to topics about iPhone games. But GDC is also changing in other important ways.

If you had any doubts that the iPhone must now be considered one of the world’s most important gaming platforms, this week’s Game Developers Conference in San Francisco will try to put them to rest once and for all.

For years, GDC, as it’s known, has hosted two days of "summits" early in the week, before the main keynote address and the bulk of the panels and sessions begin, including the longstanding GDC Mobile, which dealt with just about every issue a developer could want on mobile and handheld devices.

And this year is no exception. Starting Tuesday, the GDC Mobile/Handheld summit will begin, offering 18 discussions on things like "bootstrapping games on Android;" "Creating augmented reality experiences on Nintendo DSi;" "Social networks: The new marketplace for mobile games?" and more. There’s even one called "Get your iPhone game to 2,000 other devices."

But strikingly absent among those 18 panels are any that deal with game development specifically for the iPhone. And why? Because for the first time, the GDC advisory board decided that Apple’s smartphone is an important enough platform to warrant its own summit.

As a result, on Tuesday and Wednesday, hundreds–if not thousands–of people will shuffle into the 16 panels and discussions that make up the iPhone Games summit, sessions like "How to keep your game on top of the charts;" "Fastest path from concept to Top Paid;" "A big dash of success: how to capture the female iPhone gamer" and more.

There don’t appear to be any talks surrounding games and the iPad, but the release of Apple’s much-anticipated tablet on April 3 is certain to be yet another major step forward for iPhone OS as a game platform.

"Last year, we programmed iPhone content into GDC Mobile," said Meggan Scavio, the director of the Game Developers Conference. But now "there’s just so much content it really felt like it needed its own space. We filled [the] two days really quickly."

To those who work in the iPhone games space, there’s little question that the platform deserved a separate summit at GDC, which, with 17,000 attendees last year, was one of the biggest video game confabs in the United States, if not the world.

Already, Think Services, which puts on GDC, has had an iPhones-only summit at its GDC Online conference in Austin, Texas, last fall. But the San Francisco GDC is Think Service’s main event, and for Scavio and the rest of the advisory board to make the decision to spin off the variety of iPhone content into a discrete summit is a sign that the platform’s time as a major gaming player has definitely come.

"The iPhone is now recognized as a leading platform that’s independent from the mobile" market, said Simon Jeffrey, vice president of social applications for leading iPhone game developer Ngmoco, which makes popular titles like Rolando and Topple. "People are specifically naming the iPhone as a threat to their businesses. Nintendo said the iPhone is taking customers away from [its popular] DS handhelds."

Asked why he thought the iPhone has reached that point in people’s perceptions, Jeffrey said, "I think it’s probably the fact that it’s become such a ubiquitous device in the West so rapidly and has been adopted by an extremely wide demographic. [Yet it has] still retained its cool factor, despite numerous other handsets coming in and competing."

From a developer’s perspective, Jeffrey explained that Apple offers a much easier roadmap to designing games than some of its competitors, including a $99 software development kit and the fact that anyone who wants to design games for the device can do so. By comparison, Jeffrey said, Nintendo and Microsoft–for mobile devices running its Windows Mobile 7 operating system–require developers to be approved.

"It’s like a console unto itself, which I guess it is," said Greg Trefry, a co-founder of the independent game development studio, Gigantic Mechanic, of the iPhone. "It doesn’t surprise me because there’s so much hype and excitement around it."

Yet even though Trefry, one of the organizers of the interactive games festival, Come out and Play, and his partners are making iPhone games like the urban golf title, Gigaputt, he said there are reasons to be surprised that so many people have latched on to the platform as suitable for their development efforts.

In large part, that’s because there’s so many people building apps and games for the iPhone that are still trying to figure out how to make money with the platform, in part because the price points are low and in part because it’s so hard to get noticed amid tens of thousands of other games. "It’s a really tough market," Trefry said, "and became a tough market really quickly as it became a gold rush with everybody diving into it."

Indeed, it’s for just that purpose that GDC is devoting an entire summit to the platform: to help developers learn how to overcome those barriers and make money. But players definitely want games for the iPhone, and to Jeffrey, who is, admittedly, biased on the matter, there’s little doubt that the device’s fortunes as a gaming machine are only going to improve. "We think growth on a global basis [for iPhone games] will be explosive from this point on," said Jeffrey.

Still, he said he expects brisk competition from Google’s Android platform and Windows Mobile 7. "Android will emerge as a serious gaming platform, and Windows Mobile 7…has wind in its sails."

The rest of GDC

While clearly one of the biggest decisions affecting GDC 2010, elevating iPhone game development to summit level status wasn’t the conference advisory board’s only big move.

Scavio explained that the board also created a "monster" program by combining the Casual Games and the Worlds in Motion summits into a new two-day event, the Social and Online Games summit. "The line was really fuzzy between the two," said Scavio. "Both advisory boards were programming against each other. You don’t really hear the words ‘casual games’ anymore. It seems pass? to use that terminology…So we decided to just merge the two."

Disclaimer: I was on the Worlds in Motion advisory board in 2009.

The resulting program will feature 37 sessions along the lines of "From the book to the box: Bringing a retail franchise into the social gaming world," "Monetization and business models for social games," and "What virtual worlds can learn from social games."

Among other things, this new summit will help many developers learn how to find new opportunity in the exploding field of games built for social-networking platforms like Facebook. Over the last few years, start-ups like Zynga and Playfish have become huge successes with networks of games on Facebook and other platforms, and there’s no question many companies and developers want to learn from the examples set by those companies.

Another interesting move by Scavio and the GDC advisory board was adding GamesBeat, an event started last year by VentureBeat and helmed by leading games industry writer Dean Takahashi, to the roster of summits. In 2009, GamesBeat was held in San Francisco during GDC but was located in another part of town and presented a difficult choice for many GDC attendees.

"Dean [Takahashi] and I talked about it," Scavio said, "and it’s so completely complementary. It didn’t make sense for people to have to make that decision. It made more sense for attendees to stay in house and be able to go to anything at GamesBeat and GDC."

GamesBeat will feature 11 sessions, including a keynote by Steve Perlman, the co-founder of the much-heralded OnLive, a service that aims to stream many console games to users worldwide, regardless of the speed of their Internet connection.

No Nintendo keynote

As in recent years, the main part of GDC will kick in after the two days of summits. This year, in a small scheduling change, the conference will end on Saturday, rather than on Friday. But over the course of the three days of the main event, attendees will have their choice of hundreds of different kinds of sessions.

For most of the last few years, GDC has featured someone from Nintendo, Sony, or Microsoft as its main keynote speaker. Last year, Nintendo President Satoru Iwata gave GDC’s main talk and opened up about his company’s design philosophy. Many had been hoping for a major announcement, but Iwata is such a star in the industry that the room was packed with people who just wanted to hear anything he had to say.

This year, it will be famed game designer Sid Meier, the creator of, among other things, the Civilization franchise.

Scavio said that while the three main hardware companies always have speakers at GDC, there is never a guarantee that any of them will keynote. If what the companies have to say doesn’t fit as a keynote, she added, "then we’ll talk about how they can present it in another way."

But to Ngmoco’s Jeffrey, the game industry’s tide has unquestionably shifted in the last few years, and not in a way that favors the continued emphasis at events like GDC on large-scale development for console platforms like those created by Nintendo, Sony or Microsoft.

"Two years ago, the excitement was around $25 million games and mobile as an industry was on the way out," he said. "Two years on, we’ve seen a complete flip-flop. The sexy emergent part of gaming…is next-gen mobile, led by the iPhone. The focus is on $250,000 games [now], rather than $25 million."