Speaker Q&A: Astroneer dev Veronica Peshterianu explains how to succeed on a team without production

Veronica Peshterianu is a producer at Astroneer dev System Era Softworks and will be at GDC 2018 to present the talk “Hello, I’m Your Producer: Strategies for Succeeding On a Team without Production.”

Her Production & Team Management Track talk will discuss strategies that can be used by new producers stepping into the role for the first time, as well as introducing production methodologies for building a foundation of trust with a development team. Here, Peshterianu gives us information about herself and what she does.

Don’t miss out! The Game Developers Conference in San Francisco next March is going to be full of interesting and informative sessions like Veronica’s. For more visit the show’s official website.

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Speaker Q&A: Ubisoft’s Damien Kieken and Roman Campos discuss the development of For Honor

Damien Kieken and Roman Campos are game director and creative director at Ubisoft and will be at GDC 2018 to present the talk ‘For Honor’: From a Great Launch to a Challenging Live Period, which will discuss the story of their game as it travels from its betas, through its launch, to its first post-launch year.

Here, Kieken and Campos give us information about themselves and what they do.

Don’t miss out! The Game Developers Conference in San Francisco next March is going to be full of interesting and informative sessions like Damien and Roman’s. For more visit the show’s official website.

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Speaker Q&A: Art Director at ustwo games David Fernandez Huerta discusses the vision of Monument Valley 2

David Fernandez Huerta is the art director at ustwo games and will be at GDC 2018 to present the talk The Art of Monument Valley 2, which will discuss the ways in which the Monument Valley team solidified a vision for the game and all the challenges that came with making that vision a reality. Here, Fernandez Huerta gives us information about himself and what he does.

His Visual Arts and Design talk will discuss the ways in which the Monument Valley team solidified a vision for the game and all the challenges that came with making that vision a reality.

Don’t miss out! The Game Developers Conference in San Francisco next March is going to be full of interesting and informative sessions like David’s. For more visit the show’s official website.

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Speaker Q&A: Skydance Interactive’s Laralyn McWilliams talks reclaiming creativity in the face of hardship

Laralyn McWilliams is Chief Creative Officer at Skydance Interactive and will be at GDC 2018 to present the talk You’re Not Broken: Finding Your Creative Way Through Difficult Times.

Her Vision Track talk will discuss ways to recognize when your creativity is affected by stress, loss or other derailing emotions; methods for connection and communication with other creatives; emotional and practical tools to begin to reclaim your creativity. Here, McWilliams gives us information about herself and what she does.

Don’t miss out! The Game Developers Conference in San Francisco next March is going to be full of interesting and informative sessions like Laralyn’s. For more visit the show’s official website.

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Speaker Q&A: Ubisoft’s Remi Quenin discusses the data pipeline of FarCry 5

Remi Quenin is a game engine architect at Ubisoft Montreal and will be at GDC 2018 to present The Asset Build System of FarCry 5.

His Programming Track talk will discuss the architecture of Ubisoft Montreal’s data pipeline, from edition to optimized runtime asset, with a main focus on the part performing the transformation: the asset build system. Here, Quenin gives us information about himself and what he does.

Don’t miss out! The Game Developers Conference in San Francisco next March is going to be full of interesting and informative sessions like Remi’s. For more visit the show’s official website.

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GDC Spotlight Interviews: Google, Oculus and Facebook

| FEBRUARY 2017

In This Issue:

  • Oculus – In this interview, Oculus’ Steve Arnold updates GDC attendees on what’s next for the VR company, and what we can expect out of virtual reality development in 2017.
  • Google Play – In this interview, Google Play’s Jamil Moledina talks about his current strategy for games: how developers can make their games successful on Android and get the most out of VR/AR and other emerging technologies.
  • Facebook – In this interview, Facebook’s Leo Olebe gets GDC attendees caught up on what’s next for Facebook’s VR business and its burgeoning Instant Games.

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GDC Spotlight Interviews: Unity and Amazon Lumberyard

| JANUARY 2017

 

In This Issue:

  • Unity – In this interview, Unity’s Clive Downie catches us up on what’s new for the engine-maker in 2017, and what’s next in VR development at GDC 2017.
  • Amazon Lumberyard – In this interview, Amazon’s Hao Chen lends some insight on what to expect from Lumberyard in 2017 and lessons learned from 2016.
  • Amazon Lumberyard – In this interview, Amazon catches us up on almost a year of developers working with Lumberyard, and shares tips on integrating Twitch broadcasting and functionality in their games.

Clive Downie
Clive Downie
Chief Marketing Officer

In this interview, Unity’s Clive Downie catches us up on what’s new for the engine-maker in 2017, and what’s next in VR development at GDC 2017.

Q: Can you introduce yourself and your role and Unity?

My name is Clive Downie, I’m currently Chief Marketing Officer at Unity. Every day I’m listening to the community and working with teams from across the company to make sure we align and deliver towards the community’s needs through our products, services, and events. I also spend a lot of time meeting, connecting, and collaborating with Unity creators and partners, learning about the newest titles, their experiences and brainstorming how we can continue to make Unity the best possible platform for game and VR/AR development.

Q: What do you see as Unity’s next steps for defining itself as a go-to engine for game developers? Last year, we saw multiple engines get into the “Free engine” game, and I’m curious to how Unity sees itself continuing to differentiate itself down the line.

Simply, we won’t stop working. Graphics and stability continue to be a core area of focus, as you saw at Unite in November. Native support for Vulkan, Metal and DirectX is integral to maintaining the best tools for our mobile developers. Partnerships with companies like Otoy to accelerate the improvement of cinematics, is again, critical. But graphics are only one part of what it takes to make a successful game. We think Unity’s great advantage is, and will continue to be, the ecosystem. Unity’s highly extensible, and we provide the means to optimize revenue through ads, understand your players and better optimize design through analytics, and paths for global distribution. The size of our user base cannot be understated, another key benefit to users and the industry at large. The vibrant community provides support through forums, collaborates on docs, training tutorials — there’s no shortage of answers and inspiration. And there’s much more to our services, from Unity Connect to Unity Certification. Bottom line, only Unity supports creators at every point in the development lifecycle.

Q: Have you begun any research at all into tools that allow Unity to work well for developers without strong programming skills? (I’ve been intrigued by some tool offerings from other developers)

Absolutely. A 2017 priority is ongoing research and work to make the engine and pipeline more friendly to artists and audiences beyond programmers. Programming skills should not be a barrier to creation. And while we’re not there yet, we’re taking steps. For example Timeline is a track-based sequencing tool that applies a “drag and drop” approach to choreograph animations, sounds, events, videos, and more, for creation of beautiful cut-scenes, procedural content, and in-game scripted moments. Unity’s also seen more adoption with filmmakers, and new tools, like the native 360 video support makes it easy to capture, import and render 360 video. Expect to see more from us here for in the months and years ahead.

Q: What impact do you feel Unity’s new kind of “job board” (where devs can post that they’re looking for devs with specific skillsets) will have on the overall game development industry?

You’re referring to Unity Connect, the first-of-its kind talent marketplace dedicated to Unity creators, game developers, and VR/AR developers. On Unity Connect, users can post and seek jobs, but they can also host a portfolio and increase discovery of their work, whether it be a game or object found on the Asset Store. Unity Connect sprang from natural behavior we saw in the forums and at events, and it’s clear there was a need, and in fact since beta opened in November we’ve seen thousands of developers and creators get involved. We think Unity Connect can serve as the linchpin between a booming industry and talented individuals. The recent inclusion of social validation through credit helps not only validate one’s’ skillset but fosters natural connections that could be the first step toward matching with the perfect project. We’re already hearing about early successes, like students who leveragedclass projects to secure freelancing gigs and earn extra income while in school. This kind of democratizing of development and discovery has huge implications on the long term success of the industry, not only for today’s creators but for up and comers, the future of our industry.



Hao Chen
Technical Director

In this interview, Amazon’s Hao Chen lends some insight on what to expect from Lumberyard in 2017 and lessons learned from 2016.

Q: Can you introduce yourself and your role at Amazon?

I am a technical director on Amazon Lumberyard, leading our graphics and VR technologies. I also drive research and development of disruptive ideas that combine world-class engine technology with the vast on-demand power of the AWS Cloud. I’m passionate about helping game developers create experiences of higher fidelity and scale than they could achieve today.

Q: It’s been almost a year since Amazon Lumberyard’s announcement—how’s that year gone for you all, and what have you learned from working with developers?

It was a great year, and we’ve come a long way since we launched in February 2016. We’ve been able to onboard and support lots of new developers, and I’ve really enjoyed hearing about the incredibly ambitious projects they are building with Lumberyard. We’ve been relentlessly improving the engine, especially in key areas around performance, modularity, and its ability to quickly create world-class content. It’s rewarding to work closely with our customers and making meaningful differences to their games. At the same time, we are just getting started, and we have much still to do. We constantly hear that game developers can’t succeed by making fun, beautiful games alone — they also need to reach new fans and connect them together. We constantly hear developers’ aspirations for greater scale, higher fidelity, and more connected multiplayer experiences. We love engaging with the community to ask how we can help, whether it’s building a new forward-looking feature, improving workflows, or helping them use AWS to scale their game across the globe.

Q: What are some of the major changes to Lumberyard we can expect at 2017?

Our team has grown a lot over the last year, and we continue to grow.  In 2017, you’ll see a steady stream of new features and refinements, including a new component entity system so you can build complex gameplay faster than ever, a new asset pipeline that lets you import and do live updates of game assets across target platforms in seconds, a new multi-threaded rendering architecture that takes full advantage of the latest technologies, an improved editor UX, new cloud integrations to help you dynamically change game data on the fly to better engage your players, and, of course, new integrations with Twitch to help you reach and engage that audience of 100+ million hardcore gamers.

Q: If devs want to swing by the Lumberyard booth on the show floor, what can they expect to find, and what kind of questions do you think they should ask?

We’d love developers to come by and ask how Lumberyard can help them bring their most ambitious creative projects to life. We’ve worked hard to deliver a highly-performant, AAA engine that delivers incredible visual fidelity, and pushes the envelope in client and cloud technology, while focusing intensely on developers’ needs. And we’re just getting started. We’re proud of our new demos, classroom sessions, and workstations set up for people to learn about Lumberyard, AWS, and Twitch, and can’t wait to share them with show attendees.


Jason Bay
Jason Bay
Technical Manager

In this interview, Amazon catches us up on almost a year of developers working with Lumberyard, and shares tips on integrating Twitch broadcasting and functionality in their games.

Q: Could you please introduce yourself, your role at Amazon, and what developers can expect from Amazon’s dev day?

As a technical manager for Amazon Lumberyard, my most important job is to guide our overall product vision that puts the needs of the game developers first, regardless of whether they are a AAA developer with years of experience, or a small indie about to launch their first Kickstarter. Dev Day is an exciting event for us, because it’s an opportunity to reach new developers who may be curious about Lumberyard, AWS, or Twitch, and also help existing customers become experts and discover new techniques for building high-quality games using the vast storage and compute of the cloud. We look to learn just as much from the community at Dev Day as they learn from us.

Q: Since Lumberyard was announced right before last year’s GDC, how can developers who are new to the engine expect to learn from developers already on it?

When you first pick up a new engine, your initial learning is all about the mechanical details – the interface, tool set, and so on. But once you master the basics, the real power for new and experienced developers alike is in understanding the higher-level aspirations that drive Lumberyard: How can I connect my fans with the cloud without hiring a big backend team? How can I build a great multiplayer experience that can scale to virtually any number of players? How can I design my game to be as fun to watch and stream as it is to play? How can I use the latest graphics features to create real-time visuals that approach the quality of modern cinema? Those are some of the questions we’ll answer in the talks. Our goal is to build technology that helps you create experiences that would otherwise be impossible, or very difficult, for you to build today.

Q: Will developers be able to gain any advanced knowledge on integrating Twitch broadcasting into their games?

Absolutely. There are 1.7 million streamers on Twitch, and these fans are incredibly influential on the success of modern games. Streamers are megaphones that can reach tens of thousands of new players. One of our Dev Day talks will teach developers how to use Lumberyard’s new Metastream feature to empower streamers to deeply customize their broadcasts, with options like building graphical overlays that can react in real-time to game events. We’ll show you a case study of how our Breakaway game team leveraged Metastream when they launched last year. Lumberyard is deeply integrated with Twitch, and there are several additional integrations that developers can use to create innovative moments that engage fans. While we think our integrations are already powerful and flexible enough for developers to invent audience-building features that we haven’t even imagined yet, we’re just getting started — so bring some new ideas for us to brainstorm together.

Q: What advice would you give to developers to help prepare themselves for Amazon’s dev day at GDC?

Our Dev Day presenters are industry veterans with years of secrets to share, so we think our talks will be compelling even if you haven’t tried Lumberyard yet. But to get the most out of the sessions, I’d recommend downloading Lumberyard and spending some time exploring the editor and tools, maybe going through a few of our new tutorials. Other than that, bring an open-minded sense of curiosity and exploration. We hope some of what you’ll learn will challenge you to think bigger about the future of game development. We’re excited to find ways we can help you achieve some of those big ideas.

GDC Spotlight Interviews: Unreal, Autodesk and Unity

| JANUARY 2017

In This Issue:

  • Unreal – In this interview, Unreal’s Tim Sweeney talks about the future of using virtual reality to make games, and what the company’s big plans are for GDC 2017.
  • Autodesk – In this interview, Autodesk’s Wesley Adams gets GDC attendees ready for Autodesk’s first developer day to help them get ready to build great experiences for VR.
  • Unity – In this interview, Unity’s JC Cimetiere explains what developers can expect from Unity’s developer day, and offers tips on networking and engine-hunting for the aspiring indie dev.

Clive Downie
Tim Sweeney
CEO

In this interview, Unreal’s Tim Sweeney talks about the future of using virtual reality to make games, and what the company’s big plans are for GDC 2017.

Q: What we can expect from Epic at GDC 2017?

At GDC 2017 we’ll show folks even more ways to use Unreal Engine technology. The most newsworthy hour will be our “State of Unreal: Epic Games Opening Session” happening on Wednesday, March 1, at 9:30am PT in Moscone West 3001 and livestreamed to Twitch.tv/UnrealEngine.

Last year, developers learned how to build their VR projects in VR using Unreal, and we released the VR Editor at GDC. We also introduced real-time cinematography through a collaboration with Ninja Theory, in which a human-driven performance based on their game Hellblade was captured live in real time and cut into a movie using Sequencer, the engine’s built-in cinematic and storytelling tool.

Plenty of Unreal Engine games across PC, console, mobile and VR were playable at the show, and a number of folks outside of games, such as NASA, Nickelodeon, Disney and McLaren, discussed how they’re using the engine for training, animated entertainment, live attractions and visualization. At this year’s GDC, you’ll be able to see how this has laid groundwork that is changing how people experience learning and entertainment.

Following our opening presentation, we will host sessions in Moscone West 3001 throughout the day on March 1 to go deeper on the latest advancements.

Our booth will be located once again in Moscone South 1024 where you’ll find lots of learning content and demos of great new projects for PC, console, VR and mobile.

Q: One of my favorite tools I’ve seen Unreal put out in the last year has been the VR Editor from early 2016 – what do you feel the future of tools like this is in the industry, and can they open doors for designers without traditional programming backgrounds?

Artists and designers with no programming knowledge can be productive with the VR Editor. Our designers on Robo Recall have been using it in production, and over the past year we’ve been bringing more functionality of the Unreal Editor into VR mode.

For example, the VR Editor now ships with mesh and foliage painting, a handy transform gizmo, and a number pad. You can also build content in VR and go straight to playing your game in VR without removing the headset, which speeds up iteration time. It’s a workflow that feels natural.

Q: While Unreal Engine has been a big part of Epic’s 2016, can you talk about what’s next for the company from a game development perspective, and what we can expect from games like Paragon, etc?

Paragon launched in Early Access at GDC 2017. Players in the community have given us lots of feedback which has helped us evolve the game, and it is now in Open Beta for PS4 and PC. As with all of our internal projects, we continue to bring features we’re building for Paragon to the UE4 development community.

Q: What do you think developers should keep in mind if they wind up engine-shopping at this year’s GDC?

Anyone can get started with Unreal Engine for free by downloading it at unrealengine.com. Our developers will be on the GDC floor at our booth, South 1024, to chat with folks who want to see tools and demos. We’ll be there talk through questions and listen to feedback. We’re here to help. See you in San Francisco!



Wesley Adams
Marketing Support Representative

In this interview, Autodesk’s Wesley Adams gets GDC attendees ready for Autodesk’s first developer day to help them get ready to build great experiences for VR.

Q: Can you introduce yourself, as well as what developers can expect from Autodesk during the 2017 GDC Dev Day?

I’m Wesley Adams, and I’m on the Games Team at Autodesk.
GDC 2017 will mark Autodesk’s very first Developer Day and we’re excited to share our vision and strategy in games and in VR. Dev Day will give developers and artists alike the opportunity to learn from our internal research team as well as some of our most forward-thinking customers who will dive into their experiences developing for VR, discussing everything from motion controls to storytelling to non-games VR projects.

Q: A lot of attendees are beginning to express an interest in VR development, what should they do to gear themselves up for learning about Autodesk’s VR support at GDC?

The Autodesk Developer Day is entirely focused on VR, and also a great opportunity to talk with the Autodesk games team on-site. We’re going to be sharing a lot of our advanced research projects in VR as well as have some of the most forward-thinking developers share what they’ve learned in VR. People can also come prepared with questions about how to build better production pipelines, and specific questions about some of our tools, like 3ds Max and Maya, since our team will be available to chat.

Q: What kind of talk subjects should attendees interested in Autodesk’s offerings at GDC be pursuing? Any specific track or roundtable they should be looking for?

Autodesk is all about designing tools and service that allow developers to build great games and VR experiences. Many game developers are thinking about VR as their next target platform, so they should look for any session covering real-world VR development experiences, like the Dev Day sessions we’ll be offering. The other interesting trend right now is learning to use games knowledge of tools and techniques in non-games industries, which are really starting to embrace the world building, story-telling, and realism that games have come to represent.

Q: What advice would you have on developers looking to share knowledge, or gain knowledge from their fellow Autodesk users during your dev day?

Be ready to mingle and bring questions for our team! The Autodesk team will be around all day to answer your questions and we want to hear about your experience working with our tools. VR is new territory for everyone – big tech companies included – and our team is available to share what we’ve learned in VR, games, film and design.


Jason Bay
JC Cimetiere
Sr. Director of Product Marketing

In this interview, Unity’s JC Cimetiere explains what developers can expect from Unity’s developer day, and offers tips on networking and engine-hunting for the aspiring indie dev.

Q: Can you introduce yourself, your position, and what attendees can expect from Unity’s dev day at GDC?

My name is JC Cimetiere, I’m the Sr. Director of Product Marketing at Unity Technologies. Unity’s dev day have always been about helping creators bring their visions to life. Unity’s product development teams provide deep insights on the latest features and discuss our roadmap. This year we’ll be discussing the evolution of Unity’s rendering pipeline, storytelling toolset, VR improvements and monetization. We also see it as a valuable time for artists, creators, and game developers to network and learn from each other.

Q: If developers are attending GDC to shop around for a new engine for their game, what questions should they be asking if they swing through Unity’s Dev Day?

What can Unity do for me? I think that’s a great place to start, because in reality, Unity is much much more than a game engine. You can see Unity as a platform that lets teams manage the lifecycle of their creations, enabling collaboration, helping to understand user behavior and optimize monetization. Yes, of course we’re still focused on offering an amazing engine, with a robust development environment supercharged with the Asset Store where you’ll find tons of models, plugins etc, to help jumpstart your game. And, our newest Connect service is not only a place for you to market your skills, but also match — and be matched — with projects in need of Unity skills. Unity isn’t just a game engine, it’s an ecosystem to empower your success.

Q: As game development expands, and the accessibility of development tools reaches beyond programmers, what can attendees who don’t fall into that programming category expect from Unity in terms of making the engine accessible for their work?

There are a host of creators from graphic designers to filmmakers that use Unity and many would not fall into the traditional developer camp. We’re doing quite a bit to service those audiences because they are an integral part of the creation process. The technical depth of our sessions during the dev day will vary but we will be covering tools and features beyond programmer. Stay tuned for the detailed agenda.

Q: Unity’s made an effort this year to link developers together on its own forums—what kind of advice for networking would you have during Unity’s GDC dev day?

While at the dev day, I always say take copious notes, capture slides/screen to help remind you of what you saw. And come see us at the booth to continue the conversation. Before you arrive, you should make sure and create your Unity Connect account. It’s a great way to get you name out there and network before, during, and after the event. It’s also a place you can send people to learn about you and what your interests and talents are. Last, talk to people: you never know who you’re going to meet, what they might teach you, or whether you’ve found the perfect partner to start your next game with. Have fun!

GDC Spotlight Interviews: NVIDIA, Intel, and Khronos

| DECEMBER 2016

 

In This Issue:

  • NVIDIA – In this interview, NVIDIA talks about the future of development with the Nintendo Switch and explains major changes in the video card marketplace that could affect developers’ work.
  • Intel – In this interview, as Intel gears up for GDC, we spoke with Randi Rost, Director of the Achievement Unlocked Intel Game Developer Program, about RealSense, graphics optimization, and what the company has in store for game developers in 2016.
  • Khronos – In this interview, Khronos’ Neil Trevett explains the benefit of industry standards for VR and offers developers advice on how Khronos can promote their game at GDC.

John SpitzerJohn Spitzer
VP Content and Tech for NVIDIA GeForce
Rev LebaredianRev Lebaredian
VP Content and Technology

NVIDIA talks about the future of development with the Nintendo Switch and explains major changes in the video card marketplace that could affect developers’ work.

Q: Can you introduce yourselves and your role and NVIDIA?

Hi, I’m John Spitzer and I’ve been working at NVIDIA for what seems like forever, it’s only been 17 years. During that time, I founded the NVIDIA office in Moscow which currently has over 150 employees. While in Moscow, I kick-started a project which eventually became GeForce Experience and invented most of the algorithms behind our “Optimal Playable Settings”. So if you’re unhappy with how we tune game settings for your PC, now you know who to blame! After growing the user base to 25 million, I handed off GFE development to our software team and turned my focus back to my original love — real-time 3D rendering. I lead a worldwide team of scary-smart graphics engineers who help game developers make the most of our GeForce GPUs, whether that means integrating the coolest visual effects or optimizing performance for silky smooth stutter-free gaming.

Hi, I’m Rev Lebaredian, Vice President of GameWorks and Lightspeed studios at NVIDIA. In my role, I am responsible for developing and productizing NVIDIA’s GameWorks technologies, as well as developing first party games. GameWorks includes various real-time visual effects modules tailored for video games; NVIDIA Destruction, NVIDIA Clothing, HairWorks, WaveWorks, etc…, as well as the most popular real-time physics middleware for video games, PhysX.

Q: I recently saw in the news that NVIDIA is returning to the console market in partnership with Nintendo–can you tell us about NVIDIA’s partnership with the Nintendo Switch, and why they think developers should consider the platform

Working with Nintendo on the Switch has been nothing short of amazing. They have such a unique perspective on gaming and we can’t wait to see what developers will do with the world’s most capable mobile gaming system. We’re certain it will absolutely delight gamers whether they’re “on the go” or kicking back on the couch.

Q: I was updating my own NVIDIA drivers the other day and found the NVIDIA experience platform installed on my computer – Can you explain why NVIDIA’s entering the platform business, and why developers might want to consider making sure their games can be supported on this platform?

Though you may have just become familiar with GeForce Experience, it celebrated its 4th birthday recently. At its debut, it only supported driver install and game setting optimizations. Since that time, we have constantly strived to add new and exciting features, such as Shadowplay, GameStream, and soon — Ansel. Most of these features require no action from the game developer, and the ones that do (eg Ansel) offer significant value for the effort needed to integrate them.

Q: Switching back to the general video card market, I’ve noticed that the pricing for video cards has dropped slightly with specialty high-end cards dropping into what would normally have been mid-tier video cards. What forces do you think have driven this drop, and can developers expect a larger audience of players with high-end PCs in the future?

Our recently introduced Pascal generation of GPUs brings nearly a 50% perf increase from our previous Maxwell generation. As PC gamers around the world buy Pascal-based graphics cards and systems, developers can expect a significantly larger number of PC gamers to be playing on systems that would have been considered high-end a couple of years ago. It’s also notable that we completely revamped our product lineup “top to bottom” since announcing GeForce GTX 1080 in May, a feat which had never been accomplished in such a short time.


Frank Soqui
Frank Soqui
GM, Virtual Reality and
Gaming Group

Intel explains how its RealSense technology can help VR developers, how intel technology is help shaping the economics of the VR market, and how they’ll be supporting students at GDC 2017.

Q: Can you introduce yourselves to our readers, and explain what we can expect from Intel at GDC this year?

I’m Frank Soqui, GM of Intel’s Virtual Reality and Gaming Group. 2017 is going to be an amazing year for VR because there will be so many new opportunities for developers as “mainstream VR” starts to take off and premium VR gets even more compelling. At GDC we’ll be showing off the tools, Intel technologies, and developer programs you’ll need to be successful.

Q: Let’s start off with VR—now that the VR market has launched, what do you feel developers need to consider when starting development on games in 2017?

2016 saw VR really start to blossom with premium solutions like HTC Vive and Oculus Rift needing fast Intel Core i7 based PCs to really shine. Popular and visually stunning titles like Raw Data and Arizona Sunshine really showed off what a premium VR solution could do. According to Superdata, a research firm, nearly 800,000 HTC Vives and Oculus Rifts sold in 2016. 2017 will bring even more compelling premium content but also add “mainstream VR” to the mix. As we announced at Microsoft’s WinHEC event in November, Microsoft will offer versions of their Windows Holographic product that will support a much wider range of PC SKUs, including 7th gen Intel Core PC SKUs with minspec Intel HD graphics at Holiday ’17. Microsoft expects new mainstream HMDs at the $299 pricepoint to pair with this expanded range of mainstream PCs for sale on shelf at Holiday ’17. In addition to enabling a mainstream VR experience (travel apps, social, mainstream gaming) these products will also be more plug-and-play friendly with easier setups which is great news for developers. Add in emerging all-in-one solutions like Intel’s Project Alloy and there will be a lot for developers to tackle in 2017.

Q: Will Intel RealSense technology be making a return from last year, and if so, what should developers consider when thinking about adopting it?

Intel is excited about what RealSense can add to the VR experience. With its depth sensing and socialized cameras, RealSense can enable uses such as hand tracking, 3D scanning, and multi-user interaction. Intel engineers continue to work with the developer community on bringing great experiences with RealSense.

Q: Intel’s also done a great work showcasing student games at its booth on the show floor in years past. What general advice would you have for students thinking about entering the games industry?

Today’s game development students will be the pillars of the gaming industry in just a few short years. Supporting students and university game development programs is one of the ways that we strive to support the gaming industry as a whole. From diversity scholarships, to school grants, to our own Level Up developer contest we want nothing more than to see the next generation of game developers meet their full unbridled potential. Our Intel University Games Showcase at GDC has become the premier event in the games industry for allowing top university programs to showcase their best projects and students. Perhaps the most important thing that we do for students is to work with industry partners like IGDA and AIAS to provide mentors and networking opportunities to help open doors for them as they break into the industry. For students thinking about entering the games industry, have a look at the top university game developer programs — they do an amazing job of teaching students ALL of the skills needed to succeed in the game industry. And then take advantage of ALL opportunities to meet and build relationships with people that are already succeeding in the industry. And most of all, pursue your passion!


Frank Soqui
Neil Trevett
VP Developer Ecosystem and Khronos President

Khronos’ Neil Trevett explains the benefit of industry standards for VR and offers developers advice on how Khronos can promote their game at GDC.

Q: Can you introduce yourself, your position, and what attendees can expect out of Khronos’ dev day?

I am Neil Trevett, Vice President of Developer Ecosystem at NVIDIA and President of the Khronos Group. Khronos’ Developer Day at GDC will focus on highlighting the very latest updates and techniques surrounding the cross-platform API ecosystem from the Khronos Group. We will particularly focus on bringing together insights from real-world developers on their first 12 months of Vulkan experience – following the API’s launch at GDC last year. Khronos will also be using GDC to update developers on Vulkan’s roadmap and listening carefully to the community’s input and feedback.

Q: How will Khronos’ recently announced VR standards affect what it has to offer developers at this year’s show?

We believe the recently announced Khronos’ VR Initiative will be a cornerstone in enabling cross-platform portable VR Content. Although still in early phases of development, Khronos will be able to share the initiative’s direction and gather feedback from the Virtual Reality community to ensure this standard genuinely meets the needs of the VR industry.

Q: How do you feel developers can best prepare themselves for improving their games’ performance and optimization at this year’s GDC?

GDC is a unique opportunity to gain insights on the latest development tools, optimization recommendations from GPU vendors and experience from leading developers. Khronos Dev Day will be a unique forum at GDC that brings together key hardware, tools and developers from diverse corners of the industry to generate actionable insights.

Q: When it comes to showcasing their own work, what do you feel can developers do at GDC to help show off their skills to the industry and potential recruiters?

Khronos is promoting innovative work around its APIs, including Vulkan and WebGL, on the Web and at GDC. Developers with demos, apps, engines or tutorials are encouraged to reach out to [email protected] to help Khronos promote their work!

GDC Spotlight Interviews: Amazon Appstore, Amazon Lumberyard, and Intel

|May 2016

In This Issue:

  • Amazon – As Amazon continues its efforts to provide a fully vertically integrated game development solution, we spoke to Nate Wiger, Head of Gaming Solutions Specialists at Amazon, to find out what’s new with Amazon Web Services, just in time for their developer day at GDC.
  • Amazon’s Lumberyard – Now that Amazon’s Lumberyard engine has been revealed to the public, we decided to dig a little deeper into the integration of Amazon’s other products, like AWS and Twitch, ahead of the company’s developer day.
  • ELEX – ELEX is one of the newest exhibitors at GDC, but has been around in China for 8 years now, as one of the largest social game network operators in the country. We spoke with ELEX title Clash of Kings’ game producer Peng Yue about ELEX, and its plants for the future.

Unity Technologies
Nate Winger
Nate Wiger
Head of Gaming Solutions Specialists

As Amazon continues its efforts to provide a fully vertically integrated game development solution, we spoke to Nate Wiger, Head of Gaming Solutions Specialists at Amazon, to find out what’s new with Amazon Web Services, just in time for their developer day at GDC.

Give us a top-line overview of AWS products and services used by most game developers?

Nate Wiger, Head of Gaming Solutions Specialists: AWS offers a comprehensive suite of services used by game studios both large and small, including mobile companies such as Supercell and Glu Mobile, to console companies such as Naughty Dog and Nintendo.

Game developers are using EC2 to host low-latency, multiplayer game servers from dev/test up through production. For game assets, the combination of S3 plus our CloudFront CDN is hugely popular for distributing game downloads and patches, and S3 integrates with Amazon Glacier for long-term game archival storage. For asynchronous or turn-based games, Amazon Lambda lets you run code in the cloud without provisioning or managing servers. You pay only for the compute time you consume at millisecond resolution.

From a database perspective, we offer Relational Database Services such as MySQL and SQL Server, but increasingly game companies are selecting DynamoDB, our managed NoSQL database, due to its scalability and flexibility. For mobile games, Amazon Cognito makes it easy to save mobile user data, such as app preferences or game state, in the AWS Cloud without writing any backend code. Finally, we just released the Amazon Lumberyard game engine, and the AWS game server scaling service, GameLift, aimed specifically at the games industry. We go into deeper architectural descriptions of all our products and services and how they work together in our Developer Day sessions and at our booth on the expo hall floor at GDC.

Say I’m a smaller developer looking to integrate server tech into my first eSports title. How easy is it for me to get up and running quickly?

Wiger: Getting started with AWS is pretty easy. New AWS accounts receive 12 months of AWS Free Tier access. The AWS Free Tier is designed to enable you to get hands-on experience with AWS at no charge, and covers most all of the services we just mentioned. Launching a game backend is as easy as choosing an EC2 instance and then uploading your code, or, using Amazon Lambda to run serverless code snippets for you. With eSports, you can upload video replays to S3, index them in DynamoDB, and then distribute them to your audience worldwide using CloudFront.

AWS highlights its analytics software – how can developers start with Analytics and AWS?

Wiger: When it comes to game analytics, we offer Kinesis, which is a managed real-time streaming service that game companies are using to collect metrics from their games. Once analytics data is in Kinesis, it can be routed to Amazon Redshift, our fully-managed data warehouse, which makes it simple and cost-effective to run deep analysis on your players. We recently released Amazon QuickSight, a cloud-powered business intelligence service, which integrates with Redshift to enable you to build quick visualizations and graphs of your data. For mobile games, Amazon Mobile Analytics is a free service which can measure app usage and revenue, and can export this data into Redshift as well.

How can AWS help studios with game monetization?

Wiger: There are a variety of offerings we’re covering in our Developer Day sessions. Attendees will be hearing about Amazon Underground from the Appstore, where you can monetize 100% of your player base. Appstore also offers Amazon Coins for in-app purchases, that reward your game power users, and Amazon Merch, where you can set-up online retail for fan t-shirts with no up-front costs. Amazon handles making the product and fulfillment of the order. So fans go online, get their shirts, and the studio just collects the money and never deals with inventory and such. As mentioned, AWS offers a full suite of analytics services that enable you to gather real-time analytics from your game. You can then use these analytics to power data-driven game design, that allows you to tune your game and make the most of in-app purchases.

What do you want attendees to take away from your Developer Day at GDC?

Wiger: Amazon Game Studios, Lumberyard, Amazon Appstore and AWS all continue to innovate and deliver products and services meant to empower game developers. We are passionate about game developers and dedicated to enabling you to be successful. My hope is that when you come to our sessions and booth, you can see the ecosystem we’ve put together, and you’ll leave with some new ideas of how to leverage these services in your game. We’re a customer obsessed company, and hopefully you’ll see how embedded gaming is at Amazon.


Imagination Technologies

J.C. Conners
Nick Whiting
Technical Director

Now that Amazon’s Lumberyard engine has been revealed to the public, we decided to dig a little deeper into the integration of Amazon’s other products, like AWS and Twitch, ahead of the company’s developer day.

 

First, tell us why developers should shift their projects over to Lumberyard (or begin new ones there)? What makes it different?

J.C. Connors – Head of Product, Amazon Lumberyard: Choosing game technology is one of the most important choices a developer makes. Lumberyard is for developer customers who want to create games that inspire and engage with large communities of fans.

When we’ve talked to game developers over the years, they’ve consistently asked for tools that not only help them create amazing games, but also help their games connect players and fans. The Lumberyard team aspires to help game developers create the highest quality games, engage massive communities of fans, and connect their games to the vast compute and storage of the cloud.

Lumberyard has all of the components developers expect from a AAA game engine, such as a full-featured editor, native code performance, and stunning visuals. It also provides native integration to the AWS Cloud to make it easier to create live and multiplayer games, and native integration of Twitch features that can help developers connect their games to the world’s leading social video platform and community for gamers.

Tell us about your business model, and how it differs from the rest.

Conners: Lumberyard is free, including full source code. There are no seat fees, subscription fees, or requirements to share revenue when developers use Lumberyard to build their games. We make money when developers use AWS services, and many of today’s game developers are already using AWS to host games or features that rely on the vast compute and storage of the cloud. Using AWS is not required, so if a developer wants to build a free-standing single-player game, they could use Lumberyard entirely free.

Big question – how does Lumberyard integrate with Twitch and Amazon Web Services?

Conners: Lumberyard provides three integrations into AWS. The first is integration with Amazon GameLift, so developers can easily deploy and operate session-based multiplayer games (e.g. FPS deathmatches, MOBAs, racing games, etc.) and scale server infrastructure based on player demand. Amazon GameLift dramatically reduces the time required to build a multiplayer backend from thousands of hours to just minutes by eliminating the need to write server backend infrastructure and client side code to coordinate with a game backend. All this comes out of the box with Lumberyard.

The second integration with AWS is Cloud Canvas, which enables engineers and technical designers with little to no backend experience to build live online game features, such as community news feeds, score sharing, and server-side combat resolution. With Cloud Canvas’ visual scripting interface, a game team can build connected game features that access AWS services, such as DynamoDB, Lambda, S3, Cognito, SNS, and SQS. In minutes, game designers can create features such as granting a daily gift or sending in-game notifications without having to write a single line of code.

Finally, Lumberyard is integrated with the AWS SDK for C++, so engineers can take advantage of the AWS Cloud, both to connect large communities of fans in online multiplayer experiences, as well as to go beyond a single device’s capabilities to create new game experiences. The AWS SDK for C++ helps reduce the complexity of backend coding by providing C++ APIs for dozens of AWS services.

Lumberyard also provides two Twitch integrations. Twitch ChatPlay helps developers build gameplay that interacts in real-time with Twitch viewers. For example, a developer could build a game where spectators can vote on game outcomes, gift power-ups to their favorite players, or change the level based on the number of viewers watching the broadcaster. Using Lumberyard’s Flow Graph visual scripting tool, non-technical game designers can easily create chat channel commands for their game. This means developers could build a multiplayer shooter where viewers can vote to destroy pieces of the arena by typing #earthquake in the Twitch chat channel, or build an entire game that is played by a live community, similar to the games seen on Twitch Plays. Additionally, the Twitch JoinIn feature within Lumberyard lets developers build multiplayer games that allow Twitch broadcasters to instantly invite fans to join them side-by-side in the game. Once invited, a fan can jump into the broadcaster’s game with a single click in the Twitch chat channel.

We’re just getting started with Lumberyard, and we’re working with our customers to continue to add new AWS, Twitch, and engine features.

What delivery platforms can Lumberyard currently push to, and what’s in the works?

Conners: Lumberyard already supports PC and console games. We have mobile support for iOS and Android devices coming soon, along with VR support for both the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.

For those who want to learn more about Lumberyard under the hood, what can we expect from your developer day?

Conners: Our GDC developer day on March 15 is going to dive into the Lumberyard technology in a number of areas. We will be providing a mix of practical deep dives into the tech, and a preview into our longer-term thinking. For those who want to learn more about our cloud connected features we are going to go into detail on both Cloud Canvas and Amazon GameLift. Our Cloud Canvas talk will provide an overview of Cloud Canvas visual scripting, and discuss in depth how to set up a game team to more easily build cloud-connected features with Cloud Canvas. In our Amazon GameLift talk, we will walk through the complete process of deploying a game into service, and demonstrate rapid scaling to meet demand. On the Twitch side, we are going to dive into building games for Twitch, covering what ChatPlay and JoinIn offers today, and where we think it could go in the future.

We are also going to show some of the other advances we are making in Lumberyard. We will be unveiling new graphics features that we are pretty excited about. You’ll have to wait to get the details on that. We’re also going to discuss the architectural direction we are taking the core of the Lumberyard engine runtime and how we are think about workflows with the new component entity system. We will also talk about improvements we are working toward.


ELEX

ELEX is one of the newest exhibitors at GDC, but has been around in China for 8 years now, as one of the largest social game network operators in the country. We spoke with ELEX title Clash of Kings’ game producer Peng Yue about ELEX, and its plants for the future.

 

Give us a quick overview of ELEX for attendees who may not be familiar.

Peng Yue, game producer of Clash of Kings: Beijing ELEX Technology Co., Ltd. was founded in 2008 and is headquartered in Beijing, with branch offices, R&D, and customer service centers in St.Paul, Nanjing, and Hefei. ELEX is an influential game provider in the non-English speaking game and software markets of the world, having established a strategic partnership with leading internet companies such as Tencent. ELEX’s business covers more than 30 countries in Asia-Pacific, Europe and Latin-America.

ELEX’s gaming business covers the field of social games, browser games and wireless games, primarily. As a leader in the Chinese gaming industry, ELEX not only focuses on providing high-quality services, but also commits itself to the continued development of gaming industry. In 2010, ELEX cooperated with Tencent and Innovation Works, and established a cloud computing research platform for games, called “Xing Cloud.”

To develop the highest quality products, provide the most localized service, and the world’s top games and internet content for players all over the world is the dream of ELEX. Everyone in ELEX upholds our “simple, practical, and efficient” vision to fight for this dream!

If developers are interested in distributing their games in China, what advice would you have for them?

Yue: You should cooperate with experienced large local publishers. Chinese players conume a lot of game content, so you really need to pay close attention to what they’re doing.

Browser games are slowing in popularity in the US – how are they doing in China?

Yue: The fever of browser-based games in China is reducing as well.

Is there a future for Social Network Gaming? How do you see it?

Yue: Social still has a great future, which we feel has vast undeveloped potential. As the NO.1 social game developer in Asia, ELEX holds nearly 20 million users. The social games of ELEX such as “Happy Harvest,” “Happy Harvest 3,” and “City Life” not only have excellent performance on global platforms such as Facebook and Google, but also cover over 20 leading localized platforms in Latin America, Europe, and  theAsian Pacific market.

What’s the next big market after China? Where are you going next?

Yue: ELEX would like to be bigger louder, and more active in the American market. The American market is our next focus.