The Making of GDC: Planning GDC 2019 (and beyond!)

[In this opening blog, Game Developers Conference GDC GM Katie Stern discusses what’s been going on since GDC ended in March, and sets the stage for a series of blogs going behind the scenes on how we put the event together.]

It always surprises me how fast time passes. Annual events come and go so quickly. Wasn’t GDC just last month?? As it turns out, GDC 2019 is only about 6 and a half months away. Seriously! 6 months!! There is so much to do! We have to line up speakers, confirm exhibitors, select Conference Associates, make audio-visual orders, design signage and so much more. In fact, with so much to do, we thought it appropriate to add a blog to our plate about what the GDC team does behind the scenes to produce GDC.

The greater team working on GDC encompasses about 40 full or part-time people. They do everything from crafting content, to marketing, to event operations, and this blog is intended to give you insight into what they do, long before GDC happens. So, how long does it take to plan GDC, and when does planning start?

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Come to XRDC for a postmortem look at the making of Beat Saber!

Want to get a behind-the-scenes look at the design and development of Beat Games’ Beat Saber? Then you’ll want to be at XRDC in San Francisco this October, because studio cofounder Jaroslav Beck will be there serving up fresh insights into the development of this remarkably popular VR rhythm game!

His XRDC Games & Entertainment track talk, “The Story of Beat Saber“, aims to give you details about the team’s vision and mindset for the project, which skills and resources were needed to build Beat Saber effectively, and best practices for working on a VR game with a team based in different locations.

Created by a team of three devs working remotely, Beat Saber’s success story proves you don’t need outside investment, a huge budget, or even a large team to develop a great VR game. Don’t miss your chance to find out how they pulled it off!

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XRDC speaker Q&A: IBM’s Reena Ganga on using AR to analyze data

At XRDC this year, IBM AR designers Reena Ganga and Jenna Goldberg will be presenting a talk on the company’s work in data visualization in augmented reality. As many companies seek to parse the reams and reams of data and metrics they’re relying on to improve their processes on a daily basis, Ganga and Goldberg will be showing off how they can use new visualization methods to help interpret and make use of that data.

To learn more about the work of data visualization in augmented reality, we’re talking with Ganga today about her perspective on this growing new field. Read on a new look at looking at data!

Attend XRDC 2018 to learn about immersive games & entertainment, brand experiences, and innovative use cases across industries.

Tell us about yourself and your work in VR/AR/MR. 

I’m a User Experience Designer at IBM where we are creating an augmented reality app for data visualization called Immersive Insights. Our product targets data analysts who have traditionally had to sift through mountains of data using 2D spreadsheets — a tedious and time-consuming  task. Through our 3D data visualization tool, we’re providing them with a more efficient and  delightful process for discovering patterns and relationships.

Our work in AR has evolved since the start of the project. We originally began designing for a head-mounted display because we wanted to give the user a hands free experience, but the technology hadn’t matured enough so we switched to designing an iOS app using ARKit. We’ve  faced lots of challenges translating 3D experiences via a 2D screen, although for me, that’s part of the attraction to AR. I enjoy the challenge of working in a new frontier where we are forced to be creative, fail a lot, and really understand our users in order to come up with the design patterns that make sense for this emerging technology. I come from a journalism background, having spent a decade in the television and travel industries, and I feel that this unconventional  background leads me to take unconventional approaches to design challenges, which is ideal for this field.

Without spoiling it too much, tell us what you’ll be talking about at XRDC.    

My colleague, Jenna Goldberg, and I will be discussing the use of AR for enterprise software and talking about one of our early success stories — how Immersive Insights helped a baseball analyst visualize player data and sign a multi-million dollar player contract as a result of findings  generated in a matter of hours.

We’ll also discuss the critical role designers play in making important decisions that build the foundation for this new technology. We’ve faced lots of design challenges along the way (and  keep coming up with more!). Some of the hurdles included creating non-intrusive, yet intuitive navigation that allowed for context-sensitive actions. There’s also been a lot of trial and error in getting gestures and interactions to feel natural and instinctive. Our users also expect to be able  to manipulate their visualizations in a very precise way, so we’ve had to consider how to give  them those complex capabilities while still keeping the overall experience clean and simple.

What excites you most about AR/VR/MR?    

Most of us spend the vast majority of our day engrossed in technology, which generally means we have our nose buried in a screen and are blind to the world around us. AR has the ability to bridge the digital and physical worlds, allowing us to benefit from technology while still engaging with our surroundings.

It also has the potential to enhance so many of our daily interactions. Think about the challenge of mentally translating something from the 2D world to the 3D world, e.g. putting together flat-packed furniture based on paper instructions, navigating with a 2D map while driving, or troubleshooting a malfunctioning office printer based on a web-based manual — it’s an aggravating experience prone to error. AR can superimpose digital information onto a physical  object and allow us to interact with that information in a more intuitive way, helping us take action faster and with fewer mistakes.

Who would you like to meet at XRDC?    

I’m looking forward to meeting other augmented reality designers who are also trying to solve these kinds of UX challenges. There’s still a lot of work to do in terms of figuring out what the interaction paradigms should be and I’m excited to hear what ideas others in this field have been exploring.

What advancements in data visualization have you already seen while working in AR?     

Data analytics is exploding because the amount of data available to organizations has grown exponentially in recent years. That volume is only going to increase as the Internet of Things gives us the ability to collect and analyze information from billions of humans and machines. But when there’s so much “noise,” the insights can lay buried and undiscovered. That’s where data visualization comes in and there’s a tremendous opportunity to generate value.

Traditionally, it has been engineers and scientists who engaged with data, but now, employers are expecting more of their non-technical workers to understand and interact with it. That’s why it’s important that we create products like Immersive Insights — by bringing data to life with AR and enhancing it with cognitive technologies that let you navigate your visualization using voice  commands, we’re able to make data more intuitive and accessible than ever before.

XRDC is happening October 29th and 30th in San Francisco at the Westin St. Francis Hotel. Now that registration is open, you’ll want to look over XRDC passes and prices and register early to get the best deal!

For more information about XRDC, which is produced by organizers of the Game Developers Conference, check out the official XRDC website. You can also subscribe to regular XRDC updates via emailTwitter and Facebook.

Gamasutra, XRDC, and GDC are sibling organizations under parent UBM Americas

Learn to design AR experiences for unpredictable spaces at XRDC

Organizers of XRDC, the premier AR/VR/MR innovation event, are happy to announce that Google will be presenting a talk at the October conference that will give you an inside track on designing augmented reality experiences that fit perfectly with the ever-changing hustle and bustle of our daily lives.

The XRDC Innovation track talk, titled “Designing for Unpredictable Experience Sizes in AR“, will be presented by Google user experience designer Alesha Unpingco and promises to equip you with design techniques you can use when creating augmented reality content that reacts and adapts to different environment sizes.

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XRDC Speaker Q&A: Noah Falstein explores the world of FDA-approved games

As a game developer, Noah Falstein has charted a career that's moved from the classic age of LucasArts game design, to Google's virtual reality projects, to a new field of FDA-approved games meant to be used in the field of medicine. 

At XRDC 2018 this year, Falstein will return to the stage as part of a panel and a talk on the possibilities of VR, AR, and MR for the healthcare industry. If you're curious about how a game designer is approaching the world of medical design, we've reached out to Falstein for a quick Q&A that you can now read below! 

Attend XRDC 2018 to learn about immersive games & entertainment, brand experiences, and innovative use cases across industries.

Tell us about yourself and your work in VR/AR/MR.
I'm working primarily in the overlap of games and health these days, with many clients in the field, including Akili Interactive, Mindmaze, Applied VR, and StoryUp.  Some of those are in XR, some still considering it – medical applications are a hot area for VR in particular as VR has been shown to have strong physical and neurological effects that can be used for treating pain, overcoming phobias and depression, and training caregivers.

Without spoiling it too much, tell us what you’ll be talking about at XRDC.
I'm giving a talk that gives an overview of games/medicine/XR breakthroughs and talks about why and why not VR may be appropriate.  I'm also heading up a panel of experts in the field to give a case-study overview of some of the more interesting work being done in the field.  I'm particularly excited about the range of the panel – treating pain, training caregivers, elevating mood through VR and neurofeedback, researching the neurological impact of VR on learning.

What excites you most about AR/VR/MR?
The more we learn how XR systems interact with the brain, the more we can help health treatments improve AND figure out how to make more effective XR systems, entertainment, and games.

Who would you like to meet at XRDC?
I'm open without preconception, I've found it's a great conference for finding people from very different and sometimes unexpected facets of XR. 

What are some of the current possibilities in the space of games for medicine that you think developers should know about?  
Several companies have received FDA clearance for VR device treatments, and soon there may even be clearance to use games on the same level as pharmaceuticals, which would open up some very exciting new health, business, and creative vistas!

XRDC is happening October 29th and 30th in San Francisco at the Westin St. Francis Hotel. Now that registration is open, you’ll want to look over XRDC passes and prices and register early to get the best deal!

For more information about XRDC, which is produced by organizers of the Game Developers Conference, check out the official XRDC website. You can also subscribe to regular XRDC updates via emailTwitter and Facebook.

At XRDC, see how Unity bridges the gap between AR design & engineering

As XRDC draws closer, we’re excited today to announce another cuting-edge talk for this premier AR/VR/MR innovation event that promises key insights into how teams can better bride the gap between designing augmented reality experiences and engineering them.

Titled “Reasoning APIs: How to Translate AR Between Engineering and Design“, this XRDC Innovation track talk will see Unity perceptual engineer Andrew Maneri revealing how the company has been researching a solution they call “reasoning APIs”. These “reasoning APIs” are a new AR technique: equal parts coding, puzzle solving, and adventure-game-style ingredient substitution.

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Speaker Q&A: Iman Mostafavi breaks down the process of cross-platform mobile AR development on Zombie Gunship Revenant AR

As mobile-driven AR & VR development has continued, the mobile augmented reality market has only grown stronger and stronger, with Apple and Google both releasing SDKs to help AR developers reach the millions of users on their platforms.

If you’re a developer hoping to launch your AR experience on Google Play or the App Store, you should know that 8th Wall staff product manager Iman Mostafavi will be taking time at XRDC 2018 to share lessons from the cross-platform development of Zombie Gunship Revenant AR.

For more on what Mostafavi plans to speak about, we reached out to him for a quick chat about the past, present and future of mobile AR development, which you can now read below.

Attend XRDC 2018 to learn about immersive games & entertainment, brand experiences, and innovative use cases across industries.

Tell us about yourself and your work in VR/AR/MR.

My name is Iman Mostafavi and I’m currently the Staff Product Manager at 8th Wall, Inc., a company currently focused on bringing augmented reality everywhere through their cross-platform 6 degree-of-freedom tracking technology. Prior to joining 8th Wall, I co-founded Limbic Software, Inc., creators of one of the most downloaded augmented reality apps to date, Zombie Gunship Revenant AR.

Without spoiling it too much, tell us what you’ll be talking about at XRDC.

My talk will be a case study of how Limbic tackled the problem of slow user adoption on Android with the release of Zombie Gunship Revenant AR on Google Play by using 8th Wall XR to significantly increase the number of Android devices compatible with their game.

What excites you most about AR/VR/MR?

I’m most excited about the broad applicability of augmented reality and how it is going to enhance our lives.

Who would you like to meet at XRDC?

I’d love to meet other developers, especially those creating AR apps.

What demand do you think mobile AR developers should be working to solve right now?

I think mobile AR developers need to help make AR as accessible as possible. The average consumer still doesn’t really understand what AR means, so it is our responsibility as AR pioneers to make sure any experiences we create are great introductions.

In addition to making AR accessible from a user experience perspective, we also need to make sure any experiences that are created can be deployed to as many devices as possible as we are still in the early stages of AR’s evolution and market penetration.

XRDC is happening October 29th and 30th in San Francisco at the Westin St. Francis Hotel. Now that registration is open, you’ll want to look over XRDC passes and prices and register early to get the best deal!

For more information about XRDC, which is produced by organizers of the Game Developers Conference, check out the official XRDC website. You can also subscribe to regular XRDC updates via emailTwitter and Facebook.

Attend XRDC to see how Sir David Attenborough was recreated in VR

There’s some remarkable stuff being done in the realm of virtual reality experience development today, including a special project featuring Sir David Attenborough called Hold the World that’s the subject of a very exciting XRDC talk.

Hold the World features an interactive one-on-one audience with David Attenborough at the Natural History Museum in London, and if you come to XRDC in San Francisco this October you can get a behind-the-scenes look at how it was made.

As part of XRDC’s Games & Entertainment track of talks, Dream Reality Interactive art head Laura Dodds will be presenting “Lighting a Legend: Art Pipelines in ‘Hold The World‘ with Sir David Attenborough“, a talk which walks you through how the team combined technologies like world-class volumetric capture of Attenborough from Microsoft, photogrammetry environments from Alter Equals, and highly detailed scanned objects from The Natural History Museum and The Mill.

There will be key learnings for any developer from any discipline in terms of what look out for and what to avoid on a project such as this. Also, for those interested in more detail there will be concrete tips and tricks that can be put into practice when working with volumetric video capture, photogrammetry and scanned objects.

XRDC is happening October 29th and 30th in San Francisco at the Westin St. Francis Hotel. Now that registration is open, you’ll want to look over XRDC passes and prices and register early to get the best deal!

For more information about XRDC, which is produced by organizers of the Game Developers Conference, check out the official XRDC website. You can also subscribe to regular XRDC updates via emailTwitter and Facebook.

IGF 2019 opens call for judges!

Interested in potentially serving as a judge for the 2019 Independent Games Festival Awards? Now’s your chance!

For this year’s Independent Games Festival, organizers would like to extend the same invitation as we did last year, and open a call for new judges via this application form. We’re always looking for new video game-specific developers, journalists and academics to make up our judging body for the competition, and this form is your way of expressing your interest.

If you are involved in the games industry in any capacity and are not submitting a game to this year’s festival, feel free to express your interest in becoming a judge by filling out this form. This year we’re also asking for interest in Jury participation. Jury members are a small, select group of industry experts who make honorable mention, finalist and winner selections.

We will be accepting applications through September 6. Please note that we can’t guarantee all applications will be accepted — if you’ve been selected, you’ll receive an email from us when our judging process begins.

If you were a judge for the 2018 IGF awards and rated at least 1 game, you will be automatically invited and do not need to complete this form! If any information has changed you can update it by logging into your account and updating there.

Now that submissions are officially open for IGF 2019, you can refer to our official rules for the IGF Competition in much greater detail.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to drop us an email at chairperson (at) igf.com. Hope you’re all having a great year, and we’re all looking forward to seeing what you’re all preparing for this year’s Festival!

Reminder: Thursday is your last day to submit Main Conference talks for GDC 2019!

The Game Developers Conference is returning to the Moscone Center in San Francisco next March, and organizers want to make sure you know that the call for submissions to present lectures, panels and roundtables closes this Thursday, August 16th at 11:59 PM PT!

This will be the 33rd edition of GDC, the world’s largest and longest-running event for game developers, and organizers are keen to feature cutting-edge insights from experts across the game industry.

It’s shaping up to be a standout conference, so if you have an idea for a talk you think should be a part of GDC 2019, make sure to submit it today!

Of course, this is the initial call for submissions, which encompasses everything intended for the Main Conference Tracks on Wednesday-Friday, as well as day-long tutorials taking place Monday and Tuesday at GDC 2019.

Those interested in submitting for any of the GDC Summits (all of which take place on the Monday & Tuesday of the event) or Friday’s Game Career Seminar should know that the call for submissions will open later this year!

The GDC Advisory Board is currently seeking submissions from game developers with expertise in any of the following tracks: Advocacy; Audio; Business & Marketing; Design; Production & Team Management; Programming and Visual Arts.

Those interested should first review the submission guidelines and track topics prior to submitting. They should also know that the submission process is divided into a three-phase system:

  • Phase I – open call for submissions and initial advisory board review
  • Phase II – submission declines or conditional Phase 2 acceptances sent, pending the submission of additional requested materials for advisory board review
  • Phase III – review of Phase 2 resubmissions and final acceptances and declines sent

The GDC Advisory Board will review and determine submissions based on the criteria of concept, depth, organization, credentials and takeaway. GDC organizers aim to achieve diversity of voice, experience and perspective! When considering who would be best to speak on behalf of your company or department, it is strongly encouraged to take this goal into consideration.

For more details on the submission process or GDC 2019 in general visit the show’s official website, or subscribe to regular updates via Facebook, Twitter, or RSS.