At GDC today, a number of VR and AR developers gathered in a casual forum moderated by Chris Pruett, who does developer relations for Oculus VR. What followed was an interesting jam session as creative minds shared their ideas, triumphs, and frustrations with virtual platforms. Pruett stated at the beginning that he was not there as a representative of Oculus, and in fact he was not the original planned leader of the session.
Tools for digital hair, water, light shafts, and shadows
Most of us think of Nvidia as a hardware company. Video cards, tablets, and now a game console. But they've been doing a lot on the software side, working directly with developers in a program called GameWorks. This is a set of graphical tools that a developer can select from like a buffet, to fill in gaps in the game-creation process, or to accelerate it. Today, Ubisoft Kiev, the guys who worked on the PC ports of Far Cry 4 and Assassin's Creed Unity, gave some real-world examples of different GameWorks elements that they used to improve their visuals. Also along for the ride was free-to-play online shooter Warthunder, who makes liberal use of some interesting water effects.
I just walked out of Valve’s SteamVR demo and can say that it is the best VR experience I’ve ever had. And this is coming from a guy who has tried nearly all of the VR headsets out there, including Oculus VR’s newest Crescent Bay prototype. This is the closest thing to a modern-day holodeck we have at the moment.
The lead designer on some games you might have heard of, like Wolfenstein 3D and Doom, has been away from the forefront of first-person shooters for a few years, but he has not been idle. Aside from building rockets that fly into space, John Carmack also been dabbling in virtual reality. In August 2013, he became Chief Technology Officer of Oculus VR, founded by fellow techno-wunderkind Palmer Luckey. Perhaps sensing a kindred spirit, Carmack tackled the technical underpinnings of the company's purely mobile plans, specifically the Samsung Gear VR headset, which uses the company's mobile phones to act as the brains and display of the device. Today, in front of a packed house of hundreds of developers and journalists, Carmack gave a talk on how that process had worked, and what he expects of the platform in the future. There were no revelations about the Oculus Rift, but a lot of the work that he's putting into Gear VR can spill over into that.
It was speculated that Nvidia might announce a new Titan graphics card during GDC, and that's what the company did—in a somewhat dramatic fashion. It happened at the tail end of an Unreal Engine panel. As Epic founder Tim Sweeny wrapped up his discussion on the state of Unreal, Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang surprised attendees by emerging on stage to unveil the company's Titan X.
It's taken a lot longer than anticipated, but official Steam Machines are scheduled to release in November of this year, Valve announced at this year's Game Developers Conference (GDC). That means you can expect plenty of Steam Machine announcements, some of which have already started rolling in. One in particular is Maingear's Drift, an ultra-compact Steam Machine and gaming PC that you can pre-order today and have in your hands next month.
Once the Game Developers Conference (GDC) comes to an end, attention will turn to PAX East, which takes place in Boston from March 6–8. That means even more product announcements, though some companies are too excited to wait. One of them is MSI, which is bringing an "arsenal of new gaming products" to PAX East, including its Z97A Gaming 6 motherboard and a pair of all-in-one PCs.
Bringing medical-grade technology to the consumer space
One of the running themes at the 2015 Game Developer Conference (GDC) is virtual reality, a space that's attracting an increasing number of players as the technology inches closer to becoming mainstream. One company to keep an eye on is MindMaze, makers of a prototype "neuro-goggle" headset that combines a potpourri of technologies, including augmented reality, virtual reality, motion capture, and even neurosensing.
What it feels like to be Sandra Bullock in Gravity
If you've seen the movie Gravity, you may have found yourself wishing that you, too, could have a chance to explore a space station, if for nothing else than simply the view from so far up above. Or the thought of doing so might now make you soil your underpants after watching the flick. Not to worry because Opaque Multimedia's Earthlight demo lets you virtually explore the International Space Station through an Oculus Rift headset with motion-tracking technology from Microsoft's second-generation Kinect.
For the past three weeks, Nvidia has been teasing a new gaming product that it would unveil at GDC. Now, while the company’s new Shield Gaming console is an intriguing device, we were also interested in something else the company talked about. Along with the new console, Nvidia also officially revealed its plans for its Grid subscription-based streaming service.