Post Games Developer’s Conference talk, London Knowledge Lab

I went along to the London Knowledge Lab to hear some personal stories and experiences of last month’s Games Developers Conference in San Francisco.

Rudolf Kremers and Alex talked about taking their game Dyson (named after theoretical physicist, Freeman Dyson) which is an ambient real-time strategy game with abstract visuals. They entered it into the Independent Games Festival as they thought it would be good to get a free pass, they might get a shot at winning and also it would be fun – they were overwhelmed that they were nominated as finalists for the best game award and also featured in Edge as internet game of the month. Things then went a bit nuts for the Dyson chaps & in one month had 60,000 downloads, loads of interviews, loads of congratulations and loads of beer!

Their lesssons learned for GDC:

* It’s cheap to enter $95
* It really focuses your efforts
* A nomination is as good as an award in terms of exposure and benefits
* Meet great people and make super contacts
* Indies are friends, not competitors
* You learn loads from people who have/haven’t played your game before
* Prospect of independent deals – had people from Nintendo Microsoft and Sony come and talk to them at the conference.

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In the interval, Steve Goodwin told us that the UK Unix group is calling for people to speak about computer games from a tech angle at their event on August on 7/8/9!

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Introduction to CUDA and GPU computing – Simon Green of NVIDIA

Simon works in the developer technology groups helping developers make the maximum use of graphics ie optimising their code and influencing hardware to develop new effects and technologies to improve visuals in games.

He talked about directX at GDC. Graphics for games are starting to mature ie games look realistic, but there’s still some work to do on characters. DirectX enables new graphical effects such as volumetric particle effect – which creates very fluid effects for water, blood, etc, and also creates different shading effects for fluids like oil, metal and more.

He also talked about volumetric shadowing – which is interesting because the shadowing gives the effect of light being absorbed into textures, for example in smoke, as well as giving shadows on the ground. It can do a real 3D fluid simulation – takes about ½ million particles and then moves them through a velocity field around the moving turbulent air around it.

So, to sum up Simon’s GDC impressions:

• Expensive conference for a lot of people to attend: $2000 dollars for a full pass
• Attendance was down due to economic reasons so that was a sad aspect
• There were lots of job seekers
• A lot of buzz was generated, in areas such as:
• A lot of stereo stuff in Hollywood at the moment, so there’s some gaming interest in this too, but you need a special monitor & 3d glasses to use it
OnLive gaming in the cloud? It’s streaming video and you move a joystick that goes back to the servers to control how you use it – ultimately you don’t have to have lots of hardware – but will be interesting to see how they get on – the latency seems okay
Intel’s Larrabee was on show – it’s their first graphics product

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A great time was had by all and thanks to Dave Green for organising, the Value Snacks and vino destructo. I enjoyed the performance of ‘Dave & the Ocarina of Wine’.

The conversation moved on to The Perserverance pub, where more lively discussion carried on into the night!

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