Epic Games Demos Digital Human and Offers SDK, Grants

At the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, Epic Games demonstrated “Troll,” featuring digital humans built with Unreal Engine by studios Goodbye Kansas, Deep Forest Films, and 3Lateral. The scenes created in “Troll” use high-level real-time lighting and animation effects. Epic also announced it is providing its Epic Online Services software development kit (SDK), originally built for “Fortnite,” to game developers for free. Additionally, the company announced $100 million in grants to anyone working to “enhance 3D graphics and inspire creativity.” Continue reading Epic Games Demos Digital Human and Offers SDK, Grants

Google Hopes its Stadia Will Become the Netflix of Gaming

At this week’s Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, Google introduced Stadia, a service that streams video games from the cloud to smartphones, tablets or computers with a Chrome browser or a TV using a Chromecast Ultra device. Google chief executive Sundar Pichai said people watching a video game on YouTube could simply click to join it. The company did not state whether the service would be compatible with Apple devices. The service is slated to launch later in 2019. Gaming, dominated by consoles, brings in $130+ billion yearly. Continue reading Google Hopes its Stadia Will Become the Netflix of Gaming

Amazon’s Gaming Clout Grows in Era of Multiplayer Games

Amazon is evolving into an indispensable player in the games industry, with AWS providing a cloud-based digital infrastructure for live streaming. Last year, Epic Games went “all in” for AWS, allowing its massively popular game “Fortnite” to achieve global scale. Amazon Game Tech, the company’s services collection that helps game studios get on their feet, has been a mainstay for companies like Square Enix and Zynga. Amazon also owns the game platform Twitch and has developed its own game engine, Lumberyard. Continue reading Amazon’s Gaming Clout Grows in Era of Multiplayer Games

Microsoft SDK to Bring Xbox Live to iOS and Android Games

Microsoft plans to debut a cross-platform mobile software development kit (SDK) that would allow game developers to bring Xbox Live features to iOS and Android games. With new Xbox Live functionality, developers would be able to pick and choose among features including GamerScore, achievements, hero stats, friend lists, cubs and “even some family settings,” all of which will be activated with a single Microsoft Account sign-in. Microsoft gaming cloud chief Kareem Choudhry described Xbox Live as “the heart of our gaming community.” Continue reading Microsoft SDK to Bring Xbox Live to iOS and Android Games

Magic Leap Ships AR Headsets to Developers With Constraints

Under mysterious circumstances, some Magic Leap augmented reality headsets have started showing up at software developers’ offices. The headset itself is even more mysterious, in that access to it requires a commitment from the user that they keep it in a locked safe. Apparently, the Florida-based startup is worried about the balance of testing the product while losing control of it out in the wild. Magic Leap, which has raised more than $2.3 billion, has promised to deliver more sets to more developers later this year.

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Access Android Games Immediately With Google Play Instant

The age of instant gratification just got even more addictive thanks to Google’s new Google Play Instant, which comprises Android apps and games that do not need to be installed before people can try them out. The tech giant announced the upgrade at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. Available games include Supercell’s “Clash Royale,” Zynga’s “Words with Friends 2,” King’s “Bubble Witch 3 Saga” and Hothead’s “Mighty Battles.” These and more are already available on over 1 billion Android devices.

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Game Developers Conference: What’s Next in VR Storytelling

VR leaders gathered for day two of the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco last week. Many of the talks addressed techniques for dealing with a medium in which you present a story and a world to the ‘visitor,’ but you have limited control over how the visitor experiences it. The “Job Simulator” team created microstories bounded by story pinchpoints within a macrostory. The HBO “Westworld” VR and Baobab Studios teams rewarded visitors for taking actions that advance the story, but embedded triggers that advance the story when the visitor misses the cues. The “Trials on Tatooine” team learned that understanding and accommodating visitors with varying physical abilities can not only improve user experience design, but inform story development. Continue reading Game Developers Conference: What’s Next in VR Storytelling

Epic Games Demos Real-Time Effects for New Branded Short

In “The Human Race,” a short produced by visual effects house The Mill for Chevrolet, the automaker’s new 2017 Camaro ZL races a futuristic Chevy concept car, one driven by a racecar driver and the other by artificial intelligence. This short premiered at the Game Developers Conference to showcase how the car was created via real-time rendering, with the help of the Unreal game engine. Unreal maker Epic Games CTO Kim Libreri demonstrated how aspects of the movie could be changed in real-time, while it was playing. Continue reading Epic Games Demos Real-Time Effects for New Branded Short

HTC Viveport VR Service Now Open to Developers, Publishers

HTC opened its Viveport VR subscription service to developers, to allow them to register games and VR experiences in advance of the service’s launch, expected in the next few weeks. Since the service was first announced at CES 2017, HTC has accumulated a list of more than 14,000 consumers who wish to be notified of the launch. HTC has not announced final pricing for the service but it reportedly will be similar to fees charged by Netflix and Spotify. The monthly fee will offer a limited number of games and experiences. Continue reading HTC Viveport VR Service Now Open to Developers, Publishers

GDC 2016 Tops Attendance Record, Celebrates Past & Future

The 30th edition of the Game Developers Conference (GDC) set a record for event attendance, with more than 27,000 game industry professionals at last week’s conference in San Francisco’s Moscone Center. One of the major draws this year was the debut of the Virtual Reality Developers Conference (VRDC), an event dedicated to the creation of new video games, entertainment and technology around virtual and augmented reality (AR), which was held alongside GDC 2016. VRDC brought greater focus to the nascent field of virtual reality development. Continue reading GDC 2016 Tops Attendance Record, Celebrates Past & Future

GDC 2016: Sony PlayStation VR to Launch in October for $399

At the Game Developers Conference, Sony announced that its anticipated PlayStation VR headset would cost $399 when it is released in October (a $499 launch bundle will be available for preorder beginning Tuesday). The headset connects with Sony’s PlayStation 4 console and features a 5.7-inch screen and multiple sensors that enable 360-degree head tracking. Sony hopes its PlayStation VR — which Tom’s Guide awarded Best of Show — will help bring virtual reality to the mainstream. While competitors such as Oculus Rift and HTC Vive will be available sooner, they require powerful PCs to run their software. Continue reading GDC 2016: Sony PlayStation VR to Launch in October for $399

GDC 2016: Oculus Plans to Debut 30 Games with Rift Headset

At GDC 2016 this week, Oculus demonstrated its retail headset with 41 games, 30 of which will launch with the Rift. The headset already has a pre-order list backed up to July, four months past its initial March 28 release. Over four generations, Rift has improved, says one journalist, although the “screen door effect” still exists in games that are heavy in fine details such as “Project CARS” and less so in games with fewer details and more abstraction. The Rift’s head tracking and overall latency was also deemed “spot on.” Continue reading GDC 2016: Oculus Plans to Debut 30 Games with Rift Headset

GDC 2016: Creating Virtual Worlds for Companies and Brands

Tony Christopher, president and CEO of Landmark Entertainment Group, is currently developing a Virtual Worlds Fair. The project started with a discussion with Steven Spielberg 20 years ago, and is currently moving forward with funding from Chinese backers. The fair will feature four key areas: Dataland, an entertainment and education VR experience for children; Intencity, for branded VR experiences; Passportal, to virtually experience the wonders of different countries; and the Tower of Humanity, to celebrate the planet through virtual experiences. Continue reading GDC 2016: Creating Virtual Worlds for Companies and Brands

GDC 2016: Reporters Face Unique Challenges Covering eSports

During the “Storytellers of eSports” panel at this week’s Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, creative execs and journalists for Twitch, Yahoo Sports, Team Liquid and 1UP Studios discussed how they cover eSports, and how their approaches differ from coverage of traditional sports. The challenge for writers is to bring life to a sport in which the players barely move, but their hand and body twitches translate into incredible feats within the game. The stories are more about eSports personalities, and less about the actual gameplay, than traditional sports. Continue reading GDC 2016: Reporters Face Unique Challenges Covering eSports

GDC 2016: Your Brain on VR, The Psychology of Doing VR Right

Cognitive scientist, programmer, game developer, and senior technical designer for Riot Games and Radial Games Dr. Kimberly Voll took a packed house at the Game Developers Conference into the brain on VR, hailing the tremendous opportunities and flashing potential hazards this new medium presents. As someone who “engineers awesome experiences through understanding humans better, frequently in VR,” Voll’s latest project is “Fantastic Contraption,” a VR update to the popular 2008 building game, that will be shipping with the HTC Vive in April. Continue reading GDC 2016: Your Brain on VR, The Psychology of Doing VR Right

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