What did our dev team think of GDC 2019?
This year's Game Developers Conference saw several high-profile announcements, not the least of which was Google's Stadia game streaming service and Oculus’ unveil of the new Rift S. Following on from these we spoke to some of the team to find out what the stand out stories were for them this year…
"There were two key announcements for me in terms of VR at GDC this year. Oculus announcement of the Oculus Rift S is a good indication of where they are heading with their VR hardware, the higher resolution screen, the same controllers as Quest, no external cameras (full inside-out room scale tracking) and it’s completely back catalogue compatible. Importantly, it demonstrates their focus on adoption over technology - they’d rather have lots of people in affordable good VR, rather than a small number of people in expensive stunning VR. So keeping the hardware cost down is vital. This is great news from a dev point of view – lots of people using VR allows companies to make money, grow and build the industry. Oculus gets this.
Secondly the announcement of Beat Saber for Oculus Quest is significantly bigger news than it first appears. Beat Saber is a phenomenal VR title; an easily accessible game that anyone can play, with huge immersion, great agency and it’s fantastic for short, quick sessions. All this makes it perfectly suited to the Quest. The ability to pick up a Quest, stick it on and be inside a game of Beat Saber within a few seconds is going to be fantastic. To me, this feels like the equivalent of the Nintendo Gameboy having Tetris at launch - it’s that important."
- Patrick O’Luanaigh, CEO
"Google’s Stadia was the worst kept secret in gaming. Everyone knew it was coming, but I was still amazed by what they showed off. The ease by which games could be put down and continued on a different platform while offering the same experience looks to be a real game changer for the industry. Hopefully the latency and bandwidth issues that have been rumoured don’t cause too much of an issue with the user experience. Either way, Stadia could completely revolutionise the way in which we think about gaming and developing games going forwards. I think it’s the first major piece of disruptive technology we’ve seen in the games industry in years."
- Glenn Brace, Art Director
"We’re looking forward to experimenting with the new Unreal engine features that were announced during the State of Unreal keynote. For example, we saw how the Chaos physics system will enable more realistic destruction and cinematic effects and can imagine this really enhancing the spectacle and immersion of our high-end VR experiences.
Google’s Stadia is another big step on the road to accessible, high-quality cloud gaming. We’re enthusiastic about a future where this kind of tech can be leveraged to provide light, comfortable, untethered VR for mass adoption."
- Grant Bolton, Technical Director
"We won a Viveport Developer Award for Shooty Fruity Arcade at GDC, which is absolutely great! I’m really happy to see games that have been made for Location-Based VR seeing recognition in the wider industry. LBVR is certainly an interesting market for us to be in, it can often be a person’s introductory experience to VR as a technology and - as the saying goes - first impressions matter. For Shooty Fruity Arcade to be recognised as an outstanding potential first impression to VR is a real privilege for us as developers.
Further technological advances such as HTC’s gloveless finger tracking is going to really help push VR to be seen as more than just a gaming platform. That being said, the additional fidelity that finger tracking offers will be really interesting for game use also. Imagine being able to realistically interpret player movement to allow them to complete a puzzle! That’d be truly innovative for the medium."
- Steve Watt, Creative Director
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