2015.03.02 Game Developers Conference 2015

Hello everyone.
I'm T.T., a programmer at Access Games.


I went to the Game Developers Conference (GDC) again this year to do some more studying!


GDC was held at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, just like last year, from March 2nd to 6th.
It began a little earlier than last year.


You might not need this, but just in case, here's a brief overview of GDC...


The Game Developers Conference (GDC) is the world's largest and longest-running professionals-only game industry event.
The GDC attracts over 24,000 attendees, and is the primary forum where programmers, artists, producers, game designers, audio professionals, business decision-makers and others involved in the development of interactive games gather to exchange ideas and shape the future of the industry.



Additionally, our director SWERY was slated to give a talk this year, so all of us employees were really excited!


Hopefully this report will be able to transmit some of our passion to you as well!



We started our preparations as usual, taking notes from those that had gone before us.

Deciding which sessions we'll attend is serious business at our company.

First, we do an employee-wide vote of which sessions we think are the most important, then decide which ones we'll attend.
Just because one person wants to attend a certain session, it doesn't mean they'll necessarily get to go.

After that, we prepared our materials.

Clothing, cameras, laptops, portable device chargers, bluetooth keyboards...
We prepared just enough to make ourselves wonder if we had prepared TOO much.

We also took along video cameras this time.

It's prohibited to record any kind of session at GDC.

If you try to, scary guys will come over to you and shout "No! No! No!"
But the rules were different for our own director's session! And we managed to record it all.

We also brought along our own slippers, which really helped.
It's tiring to have to wear shoes the entire time during that long flight, so being able to wear slippers helped us relax.
Also, here's some travel trivia for you: American hotels don't have slippers in them!

So we were even able to use our slippers there.

Yes, the saying is "When in Rome, do as Romans do," but since we were only there for such a short time, we tried to make the right preparations so that we could still feel like "ourselves."

OK! Enough about slippers! Time to talk about GDC!

Making a toast before we set off!



The Event Hall


San Francisco was really hot at this time of year, nothing like how freezing cold it was in Japan.
In the afternoon, it was around 20 degrees Celsius, and sometimes we could even walk around just in T-shirts.

There was hardly any humidity, so it felt pretty cool sometimes, similar to how Autumn feels in Japan.

As we neared the Moscone Center, we started to see more and more people.

Most of them had GDC passes, and they all looked really excited.


We took this picture in front of the North Hall, where registration was happening.

They was an ATARI exhibit going on in the basement.

Everything down there was REALLY old!

The EXPO was happening in the South Hall on the other side, along with the larger sessions.It was always filled with people talking, so it seemed to be the busiest area.

The West Hall was a bit far away from this area, and housed most of the other sessions. Over half of all the sessions were held there, and I ended up spending an entire day inside it.



Access Games attended the Main Conference sessions again this year.

(The various sessions that happen during the last three days.)


Programmers and visual artists came with us this time, so we mainly attended those kinds of sessions.



The sessions we decided to attend ended up covering a lot of ground.


Last year, there were talks on new technology that was applicable to modern consoles, but this year, there were a lot of talks given on adding new things to that technology, making things more efficient, and speeding up production.


What really stood out to me was how most sessions didn't just focus on consoles.

The PC is the cutting-edge as far as technology is concerned. For business?

Perhaps it's the smartphone.

And now, VR technology is finally catching up to what people have been dreaming of.


Different manufacturers announced new VR hardware, so that was perhaps the most exciting aspect of the event. (I hardly got to sample any of it, though...)


Since Access Games is going to be developing a lot of console titles in the future, we mainly attended sessions that focused on different methods to raise effiency and how to utilize new technology for consoles.

The technology they used to create the big crowds in Assassin's Creed...

An animation pipeline from Just Cause 3

Far Cry 4's animal animation blending

Realtime scripting in Frostbite


●Visual Art
There were a lot of visual artists who gave talks this time around, including talks about ark work processes, the technical side of art, and other special live events.

Despite the different approaches, everyone seemed to be extremely passionate about their work, which made it much more enjoyable for the audience.
Feng Zhu, a very famous concept artist, also gave a talk, and people were super excited about that.


Here are the sessions we attended:


・How to approach artwork and the production process
・How to utilize new technology
・Live paintings and demonstrations by artists


Here are some more details on each session:


How to approach artwork and the production process
This session began with talking about how to approach the flow of art and concepts during production.

They showed us art work from their production and talked about how they personally approached art production.

They even went into detail about what sort of policies they used, making it a very good session for artists, so we really enjoyed it.


How to utilize new technology
This session wasn't just for artists, but had a lot of programmer knowledge in it as well, so there were a lot of technical terms used.

While giving the talk, they also took advice from programmers.

But it was a talk meant for artists, so there were a lot of images and illustrations on the slides, which made things easier to understand.


Live paintings and demonstrations by artists
In a rarity for GDC, we saw an artist actually draw on screen as they gave the talk.

We were also able to watch modeling happen in real time as he answered questions.
It seems like freelancers especially gravitate toward this kind of talk.


Creating games with animation technology

How should first-person motions work?

A live event presented by a concept artist

How to approach visual production in VR games

●SWERY's session

We'll just reveal a little bit about this session for now...

SWERY appears!

A diagram of D4's sensory replication. It's really easy to understand if you look at this.

Personally, I thought this session really stood out from the others, and I enjoyed it a lot!
I knew what he was going to talk about beforehand, but I still enjoyed listening to it.

Later on, we'll reveal all the details, so look forward to it!


■Game Developers Choice Awards & Independent Games Festival

The Choice Awards opening movie was really cool!

Once it began, people got really pumped up!


The Choice Awards happened at 6 PM on the third day of GDC (our first day)!
People kept pouring into the West Hall, which made it hard for us to group together.


The Independent Games Festival happened first, which resulted in the hall booming with applause.
The passion and cheers for the nominations alone were spectacular!


A Lifetime Achievement Award was awarded to Hironobu Sakaguchi.
Mega64's parody video, which featured Mr. Sakaguchi, had people rolling with laughter!
Even though we couldn't understand all the English, we still got the jist of it.


And the title of Game of the Year went to Shadow of Mordor!


There were a variety of awards, and we saw both mobile and indie games being nominated. Most of the applause was for the indie games, though.

We could really feel the spirit of the indie creators, and how these 'juniors' were overcoming their 'seniors.'


Although it didn't get Game of the Year, Monument Valley won three awards, so we downloaded it immediately afterwards.

After experiencing the unique atmosphere and gameplay, it became clear why it won so many awards. You should all download it too!



■Other Notes


After walking around the EXPO for a bit, we could see how much it was dominated by VR booths.

There were a lot of demonstration booths for VR and VR devices where we could actually experience the VR technology.


There were also demonstrations on how to use certain tools and software for game production, so we could really see how much game production is evolving, and it seems like even more advanced technology will be needed in the future.


OptiTrack put on a motion capture demonstration, while Omni put on a VR and FPS device demonstration, and SUBSTANCE put on a demonstration for real time texture materials. Some of the demonstrations had been present last year, but this was my first time at GDC, so it all felt very new and fresh to me.


Real time motion capture

An attempt at a new type of FPS with VR and a gun accessory

Handheld VR experiences

Technology that can adjust models, textures, and materials in real time

■In Conclusion

Well, what did you think of the report?

Most of the sessions focused around the PS4 and Xbox One, and it seemed that people were really working hard to actualize richer designs with better effiency.

It really interested me to see how many sessions there were about PC games.

The PC game market is very large, easy to develop for, and can serve as a base for multi-platform games. It really felt like the game market is shifting from multiple angles.


It was also great to see so many VR displays.

It's like the future we've always dreamed of is just around the corner.

I've been to several game-related events before, but I really felt like the scope and intensity of GDC would help me grow.

There's a lot I still have yet to understand, but it definitely made me hungry to learn more.


We need to do our best to make sure we don't get left behind... and to make sure we keep moving forward.

I hope we can improve our own technology and deliver even better games to everyone.


That concludes our report for GDC 2015!

■Expansion Pack

On the fourth day, we went to do some sightseeing and headed up to the Fisherman's Wharf on the north side of San Francisco's Waterfront.
After rattling on the MUNI for a bit...

The MUNI, a streetcar that runs in San Francisco

You can really enjoy the scenery when riding this!

These cars are turned around manually using a rotating base.

This is a famous section of the city that appears in a lot of American TV shows, and we were also able to see Alcatraz from a distance.

We saw a lot of other sightseers, and the seagulls were everywhere.

From the moment we stepped off the streetcar, we could smell the scent of the ocean, and the closer we got, the deeper it struck us in our stomachs. It smelled really good.

We also saw some people who were happily dancing to the music played by street musicians.

The trademark of the Fisherman's Wharf, a tiller and dungeness crab

There were a lot of seagulls who seemed to be used to humans.

Is that... the famous Alcatraz prison? (Gulp)

This guy was dancing to some fun music.


There was an old arcade deep inside the Fisherman's Wharf filled with a lot of game cabinets that we rarely see in Japan, such as machines that warp pennies into different shapes, and hammer-and-bell games.

Since we had came all this way, we decided to sample some fruits of the sea for lunch.


Stella Artois! So refreshing!

Raw oysters! You can eat these in Japan too!


After getting off the streetcar, we saw a seafood restaurant on the left called Fisherman's Grotto.
First we drank a little beer, then ate some fresh raw oysters.

We squeezed lemons on them, then wove in a bit of salt and slipped them into our mouths. They tasted delicious.

For the main dishes, we ordered shrimp, steak, and fried oysters, all of which came in American-size portions!
In the Fisherman's Wharf, it seemed like they put a lot more care into their cuisine than the food we ate in downtown San Francisco, even as far as the saltiness was concerned, since usually we Japanese are very sensitive to food that's particularly salty.


After lunch, we walked around the Fisherman's Wharf and got to see seals sunbathing on the deck. The light was behind them, but a bunch of seals still smushed themselves together there.
There were a lot of souvenir shops too, where we found taffy, a common candy in San Francisco. There was even a bucket that contained 100 (!!) different flavors.


We saw chocolate, marshmallows, gummies, and other candy all lined up in flashy packages -- just how we expected the USA would be! The shops were filled with sweet scents.

Then, after enjoying a little more of the sea breeze, we put the Fisherman's Wharf behind us.

Looks like the expansion part of our report was a little longer than usual this year! I hope this helps to show you just how fun taking a business trip overseas can be!