Guest Speakers

Guest Speaking Event

Talks will be held on Thursday, November 9th, in the Beacom Institute Lobby. Speaker presentations will begin at 3:00 pm. Speaking events are open to anyone interested in participating.

Speaking Schedule:
3:00 pm – Jacob Garbe (lead designer of Icebound)
4:00 pm – Isaac Karth (procedural generation guru)
5:30 pm – Denis Dyack (Keynote Speaker)
7:00-9:00 pm – Social (socialize and enjoy refreshments with the speakers)

All speakers will also be present in the following classes:
Game 111 8:00-9:15 am (if possible) BIT 135
Classical Myth and Media 11:00 am -12:15 pm BIT 135

All speakers will be present throughout the weekend at Nanocon.


Denis Dyack

Denis Dyack is the Chief Creative Officer at Quantum Entanglement Entertainment and the former president of Canada-based video game developer Silicon Knights, and is a video game designer, writer, director and producer. Dyack directed the production of Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain and Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem, and was inducted into the Canadian Gaming Hall of Fame by the Canadian Game Development Talent Awards in November 2011.

Worlds That Resonate

Traditional entertainment has a foundation in Aristotle’s Poetics. Most film and television creations use this framework as their basis for the production of narrative and worlds. This process and tradition have also carried over into video games where many of the same techniques for world construction are apparent throughout many video games.

Aristotelian structures, be damned; this talk will focus on the alternatives. In fact, the discussion will explore why Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain, Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem, and Too Human specifically avoided Aristotle’s framework for world building which ultimately propelled them to stand out in a crowded marketplace.

When world-building, the world should evoke images, memories, and emotions for the player that last years after they play. Building the world should not be confused with telling stories, which are sequences of events manifesting conflict within the world. If the world is appropriately constructed through a holistic or narrative design in which all elements resonate with each other and a greater theme, multiple stories can live within its framework.

This talk explores various processes to generate resonance in your world: classic mythologies, archetypes, visual language, audio and more. These techniques can extend to all methods of world-building, even procedurally generated ones.


Isaac Karth

Isaac Karth is a technical artist who is currently studying procedural generation in the Computational Media program at UC Santa Cruz. He holds a BFA in Digital Media from Kendall College of Art and Design, an MFA in Arts in Technology from the University of Texas at Dallas, and runs a blog about procedural generation at​

While the terrain generators in Minecraft and No Man’s Sky are often the first things that people ask me about, there are much deeper connections between procedural generation and world building. World building is about constructing a world out of ideas. Procedural generation lets us express ideas as systems, not just as individual facts. Therefore, generators tell stories about systems. Instead of writing a story about a single sultan, the roguelike Caves of Qud uses a sultan history generator that expresses what a sultan is like. Novelists, such as Calvino and Perec, have long used systems of constraints and symbols to structure their novels. Going in the other direction Dwarf Fortress inverts this and generalizes systems out of hand-written stories. By situating generative systems within a framework that gives it meaning, we can use procedural generation as a form of procedural rhetoric. This turns the code itself into a language for constructing new worlds. A prime example of this is the system interactive fiction author Emily Short used for her generated novel Annals of the Parrigues, which gives us a model for how to design procedural generation that has world building ideas in it.



Jacob Garbe

Jacob Garbe is a writer and new media artist working with procedural narrative and augmented reality. He is the co-designer and co-author of The Ice-bound Concordance, an award-winning dynamic narrative game that interfaces with a printed book through augmented reality. He holds an MFA in Digital Art and New Media from UCSC, and is currently pursuing his PhD at the Expressive Intelligence Studio.​


World-building is a critical part of the creative process in game development, especially games that rely heavily on narrative or lore. It can guide (and even re-shape) content creation because, unlike more traditional media, game dev world-building exists in dialogue with procedural systems. These systems can drive, and constrain, content creation. Furthermore, in transmedia and alternate reality games (ARGs), worldbuilding plays a key role in crafting convincing, dynamic stories, capable of surprising both dedicated players and even the developers themselves. In this talk I’ll dive into the world-building process for The Ice-Bound Concordance, a dynamic narrative game that operates with a printed book, and ARGs like XMPLAR, which combined a mobile app, digital art installations, and live performance into one framework.