My time at the Game Developer Conference (GDC) 2017 has come to an end, and I am already looking forward to next year. This was the first time that I had the opportunity of attending the GDC, which was held in San Francisco. To my surprise, it was all a little overwhelming! There were all the latest gaming tech-trends to learn about plus all the people to meet. As a big techie fan, I found the GDC to be a great opportunity.
This event is all about bringing together all the different areas of the industry and allowing developers to exchange ideas, innovation, technology with colleagues and nourish yourself with those experiences.
Here’s my review! I share my insights and a few of the things I got so much out of by attending the GDC:
1) UX Summit
For the first time ever, the GDC included a UX Summit. UX is something that, while in the software industry it has been around for years, in videogames it’s like the elephant in the room: there’s knowledge about persistent problems on the matter but they’re not always targeted and addressed. So this year was the first one to have a specific set of talks on UX. Not surprisingly, most of what you could have heard there could apply to your day-to-day ongoing app development.
Attendees of the summit learned:
- UX strategy
- UX design
- UX Research
- Best practices in how to remove unnecessary barriers to the enjoyment of their game
- How to increase a game’s overall quality
- How to increase the likelihood that a game will create and sustain engagement
In the end, it’s all about software, and this conference noted the importance of a good User Experience.
Augmented and Virtual Reality are common topics with game developers, and this was no less true at this event. Nevertheless, VR and AR have been around a while in this world, so they weren’t new explosive themes.
There are industries that are growing and the important thing is that VR and AR are not only limited to the gaming industry.
In the Healthcare industry, for instance, VR is used as a diagnostic device. Its applications range from robotic surgery to PTSD rehabilitation for veterans.
AR/VR is a growing market and technology, but you might already know this. But what you might not know is that we have both GDC and VRDC.
VRDC focuses only on VR and AR. There’s lot of knowledge and many professionals to talk with, which is something really important if you’re thinking about trying these new technologies by yourself. VR is already among us.
There were two things that really blew my mind regarding VR: First was Robo Recall on the new Oculus Consumer Edition. The quality of the experience is just fantastic! The way the technology has evolved in these past few years from the first DK1, well it’s just mind-blowing. The sharpness of the screens, the smoothness of the controllers, everything is really tightly tuned and ready to put out some unforgettable experiences.
Second, and really important: the new Google Daydream. It was my first time trying Google’s approach to VR headsets. If you’ve already tried them out, you might know that Daydream is not supposed to compete with Vive and Oculus, at least now for now. Their segment of the market is closer to Samsung’s Gear VR and let me tell you: it’s a really interesting bet from Google because the quality of their hardware is really impressive for the price.
I’m really excited about Daydream, since there are 5 million Gear VR headsets sold worldwide, making it the biggest VR platform user-wise. I’m also excited because of how affordable Daydream is. We can only hope to see similar numbers from their end.
But why hope? We should be developing the next great experience for these devices as we are reading this.
3) AI Summit
Great Artificial Intelligence is the foundation of most of videogames and, of course, it’s one of the hardest things to nail in the development process. Usually developers think AI is only related to videogames and scientific research but in reality that’s not how things are moving. And as we said before, video games tend to use really complex AI solutions to create vivid worlds and that’s something that other industries can learn from.
There was one talk in particular that I really liked, and not just because I love the game it covered. The talk was “Bringing Hell to Life: AI and Full Body Animation in ‘DOOM'”. What was really interesting in this talk was that the AI system underlyingly managed other systems in order to create a much more real experience. This is something we can and should apply in our day-to-day apps. AI can be really helpful when trying to improve the user’s day-to-day experience over time.
Yeah, this might be surprising to you (it shouldn’t), but diversity as a key factor is sometimes forgotten in the videogaming industry. As multidisciplinary and multicultural as videogame consumers are, the industry itself needs some improvement in this area (something that software industry people can relate to).
This year at GDC there were lots of talks about the matter and I think this is something we should keep focusing on in order to improve as an industry and more importantly as humans beings both for ourselves and our co-workers.
I left the event feeling refreshed, with a sneak peek of what the tech industry will bring during the upcoming months.I had a great time and for sure I will return next year.