‘Tales from the GDC Vault’ presents talks on the Dreamcast, PlayStation 2 from 1999

PH.jpgContinuing his Tales from the GDC Vault series, GDC historian Jason Scott has digitized and uploaded three free, notable videos from the 1999 Game Developers Conference, all of which are available online for the first time.

Two of these classic GDC videos touch on the dawning of an older generation of video game consoles, with keynotes from Sega of America’s Bernie Stolar on Sega’s Dreamcast and Sony Computer Entertainment of America’s Phil Harrison on the upcoming PlayStation 2. The third video brings Nvidia’s Mark Kilgard, lecturing in-depth on stencil buffering techniques for creating reflections and shadows.

These videos join a handful of other GDC Vault lectures from 1999. Join us now as we look back at these presentations from another classic Game Developers Conference:

– First up, president and chief operating officer of Sega of America Bernie Stolar highlights the technology of the Dreamcast in his console keynote. Sega’s home console became the first and only to use GD-ROM technology, opting out of DVD integration due to high costs. The system boasted the portable, playable Visual Memory Unit that allowed developers to expand their game experience and allowed players to swap saves and other user-generated content.

In his keynote, Stolar predicted the limitless possibilities of an online environment that could extend the shelf life of games with downloadable add-ons (realized more fully a console generation later). [GDC Vault free video]

– In another console keynote that year, Phil Harrison offers a sneak peek of the technology behind what becomes the PlayStation 2 (introduced more formally at his GDC 2000 keynote). Harrison demos several renders on what he claimed was the world’s first “true” 128-bit CPU, dubbed the Emotion Engine. He discussed various specs and tool architecture that would allow the console to generate content in real-time.

In his speech, Harrison dreamed of the market growing to allow a superset of entertainment, including music and movies. And seemingly trumping Sega’s announcement, Harrison shared that Sony’s next console would support DVD media. [GDC Vault free video]

– Finally, in a detailed technical talk that was cutting edge at that time, Mark Kilgard of Nvidia discusses algorithms and techniques for creating reflections and shadows using stencil buffers. He describes how stenciling can be used in-game for “a whole host of effects” to finely update pixels and generate real-time, dynamic shadows in games.

Kilgard shares that stenciling can also be used to clip arbitrary viewing regions in order to create transparent and reflective surfaces. [GDC Vault free video]

These free videos join a host of other paid and free lectures available on GDC Vault, which is undertaking a major effort to digitize its back catalog of material for modern audiences for free. Paid subscriptions to thousands of newer GDC lectures are also available, and interested parties can apply for the individual subscription Beta via a GDC Vault inquiry form.

Group subscriptions are also available: game-related schools and development studios who sign up for GDC Vault Studio Subscriptions can receive access for their entire office or company. More information on this option is available via an online demonstration, and interested parties can >send an email to Gillian Crowley. In addition, current subscribers with access issues can contact GDC Vault admins.

Be sure to keep an eye on GDC Vault for more free content in the weeks ahead, as GDC organizers will also archive videos, audio, and slides from upcoming 2012 events like GDC Europe, GDC Online, and GDC China. To stay abreast of all the latest updates to GDC Vault, be sure to check out the news feed on the official GDC website, or subscribe to updates via Twitter, Facebook, or RSS.