The annual Games Developer Conference (GDC) in San Francisco is a thriving hub for developers and others in the gaming industry to share knowledge, network and get hands-on with the latest development tools. Here are some announcements you might have missed.
It’s no surprise that virtual reality is the big star of show this year, with a number of hardware already available, and even more on the way. Unity’s latest update, Unity 5.6 will feature support for Google Daydream and Google Cardboard for Android and iOS starting March 31. AMD announced a partnership with Valve to support asynchronous reprojection—Valve’s own feature designed to improve the VR experience and eliminate judder.
LG has unveiled a prototype VR headset for Steam, becoming the second partner (after HTC) to develop for the platform. Although not many details were available to the public, the headset will be wired and runs on PC. LG has been using GDC to get feedback from developers as it continues the path toward a commercial product.
Microsoft was on-hand with a holographic VR headset that combines the mixed reality of HoloLens with the immersive worlds of VR. The internal prototype was available by invite only, and despite some initial concerns like a short chord and motion blur, the flip-up screen will definitely set this unit apart from its competitors.
Oculus announced several new games during the conference designed for Oculus Rift and Samsung Gear VR:
- Augmented Empire (Gear VR)
- Blade & Soul: Table Arena (Oculus Rift + Touch)
- Brass Tactics (Oculus Rift + Touch)
- From Other Suns (Oculus Rift + Touch)
- Mage’s Tale (Oculus Rift + Touch)
- Term1nal (Gear VR)
While special controllers tie into many of today’s VR headsets, Oculus VR vice president Jason Rubin doesn’t believe they will replace what people already use and enjoy.
“I believe that the magic of having your hands in VR is incredibly important for new users, and will be important forever,” Rubin told Gamasutra. “But there will be times, after VR matures, where people come home and go ‘I just came home from eight hours of work, and right now what I want to do is this [leans back in his chair and mimes holding a gamepad in his lap.]”
Epic announced that its VR shooter Robo Recall is now available for free on Oculus Touch, in addition to native mod editor for the game. Players can now add new maps, characters and weapons to create (and of course, stream) fully customizable experiences.
On stage, Epic presented a short film for Chevrolet called The Human Race. Filmed only with Mill Cyclops, a virtual production toolkit by post-production firm The Mill, vehicles and effects were rendered in real-time on stage, demonstrating the time-saving capabilities of being able to see CGI effects live on set or in post-production.
Gaming For The Viewers
Online streaming has become an integral part of video game success and enjoyment across the spectrum. It’s no surprise that Amazon expanded its GDC presence this year to include tutorials, demos and over 30 classes for its Lumberyard engine.
Twitch developers were also on-hand to answer questions, while Hi-Rez Studios demonstrated how it uses Twitch to engage its fans, while offering new experiences for viewers.
Twitch announced the ability to purchase games directly through a live stream on the site, beginning with partners Telltale and Ubisoft. Although a list of available games is not yet available, the streamer would receive a portion of the game sale when purchased through his/her page.
Making Ads Fun
Google is rolling out a series of tools to add playable ads for Android developers. This new feature would allow players to try a lightweight version of a game when it is advertised within a another title. The company is also expanding rewarded advertisement offerings to AdMob and auto-rotating ads between vertical and horizontal views for increased effectiveness.
Shiny New Tech
Nvidia finally unveiled its new graphics card, the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti, claiming an aggregate improvement of 35 percent over the GTX 1080. Facebook slashed prices for the Oculus Rift and Touch controllers to $500 and $100, respectively.
According to GDC’s annual “State of the Industry” survey, game developers are feeling optimistic about Nintendo’s upcoming Switch console, but are unsure about the prospects of mid-cycle console refreshes like the PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox’s Project Scorpio.