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Salvadoran indie developer goes to GDC: Wrap Up

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This is my wrap-up post about attending the Game Developers Conference last week (March 14-18) in San Francisco. It took me a few days to finish it, but not without good reasons...


For this final day, I was already tired. I had a couple of talks I wanted to attend, including the Autodesk Memento product launch, but I opted to roam around the expo floor and GDC play instead.

Substance

I visited the Allegorithmic booth (they just released Substance Painter 2), and I went back to the Noiton booth (Perception Neuron), because I wanted to take a look at the Project Alice demo. The Project Alice is basically a VR demo that combines the Oculus Rift and the Perception Neuron. It's made in Unity, and the host would take you through different scenes where you could experience different interactive VR environments. Since he was wearing a mocap suit, you could see a virtual avatar of him, and other objects also had mocap markers so you could see virtual representations of those objects. For example, they gave you a Wii controller, and in one scene it could be used as a flashlight.

Project Alice was a cool demo, but I have to be honest and say I am not completely sold on VR yet. For example, I don't know if the Oculus units they were using were retail ones, or devkits, but the overall image quality was blurry and had this old TV scanline look to it. Besides, since the screen was so close to my eyes (they are basically glasses, after all), when I finally took it off, it took a little while for my eyes to readjust, because they were "locked" at that specific focus distance.

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I would have loved to try other VR headsets, but most of the lines were always very long, and I was not excited enough for VR to spend so much time in one of those. This means that, sadly, I don't have a way to compare the Oculus to other headsets.

(Now if any of the manufacturers gave me one of their headsets for a review, it would be nice).

While at the expo floor I ran into Dominik Tarolli, from ESRI (previously Procedural, makers of City Engine). We talked a little about the present and future of CityEngine, and how it's being used now for city planning and other things. Unfortunately, I didn't get the chance to visit their booth (expo closes at 3:00 the last day).

I also visited one of the many international booths. I noticed different countries, like Chile, Italy, and Korea, had a booth at GDC. I think it's interesting what those countries are doing, since they seem to understand that, if they want to support their industries, it takes more than letting some random guy (like me) visit GDC; they have to show others what the entire country is doing (from education, to development, to business). I plan to share that information with the government people from my country, so they keep that in mind if they want to add GDC to their "tradeshows to visit" list.

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And now the amazing part of the day. I happened to visit the "Intel Experience Zone" and someone showed me this laptop that has Tobii eye-tracking technology, and showed me how it works using The Division (from Ubisoft). TBH, I was not really excited about The Division, but I found the technology interesting. At that moment, a lady there told me that I should go to the Tobii booth at the expo, because they were giving away free eye tracking devkits to developers who were working on a game that they found interesting.

So I went...

And when I asked about that, they told me they had ran out of devkits...
However, I stayed there a little bit, as they introduced an indie developer (Broken Window Studios), who was showing off how their game Reflections is using the Tobii eye tracker. Then he introduced me to another guy, who then introduced me to yet another guy who was the VP software partnership for the Americas. We began to talk about the game we're working on, and when I told him it was a horror game that combines 3d platformer and stories from H. P. Lovecraft, he was very surprised and rushed to the back of the booth. They still had one (already opened) devkit, and he said that I could have it if I wanted it (of course I said "YES!").

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Tobii has this interesting booth program, where they can choose games that are using their technology and give them a kiosk in their booth. That's an amazing opportunity for any developer, so if you think a game you're working on may be able to use eye tracking technology, go for it (personally, I already told the team we will send them a demo later).

Later, I also spent some time talking to one of the developers at GDC Play, so I could understand the benefits from that program in the words of a fellow developer, and he was telling me how that part of the show is helpful to get contacts, get in touch with possible publishers or partners, and he said they even met a company that manufactures "special editions" of games. I'm thinking it would be a good idea to present a game at GDC Play next year, just for that.

And that was my last day. As I said, it was more about walking around, visiting booths and talking to people. Luckily, the ones I was most interested in were the ones I attended, so there weren't really many talks I wanted to see this last day (maybe just a couple).

And they lost my other bag, the one I had in cargo...But today they delivered it to my home (with a ruined zipper... great...)

But despite this little problem, GDC was very cool, and I hope I can go back next year.

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Note: You can review presentations and video from the Game Developers Conference at their main website: http://www.gdconf.com/


Sergio Aris Rosa [nemirc], is Sr. Staff Writer for the Renderosity Front Page News. Sergio discusses on computer graphics software, animation techniques, and technology. He also hosts interviews with professionals in the animation and cinematography fields. You can follow him on Twitter, and if you want to see what he's up to you can visit his blog.

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