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GDC Spotlight Interviews: NVIDIA, Intel, and Khronos



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!




Connecting the Global Game Development Community