GDC- Delivering Content

posted in: FileCatalyst | 0

At its heart, GDC is a technology show. Yes, gaming is the main focus, but that focus is not on the consumer end like an E3 or a PAX. Looking around, you’ll see exhibitors displaying technologies that help game developers with the creation and delivery of their virtual experiences.

Last year’s GDC seemed to center on the delivery of “social networks”. This whole trend answers the question on how to keep the player plugged into their game community when they are not actually playing the game. Delivery mechanisms for these social networks included the web, the PC as well as the iPhone. This year, the message seemed to be about content delivery….from a couple different angles.

Content delivery, for a gamer, can come from multiple sources. It can come from the traditional “brick and mortar” stores like EB Games or GameStop or can come from services like Steam or Impulse. One of the big stories from GDC this year was yet another content delivery method called OnLive. OnLive is a game delivery service which seeks to bring “cloud computing” to the end user which would virtually eliminate the need to gamers to ask the age old question, “does my machine meet the specs to play this game”. Interesting idea and, if it takes off, it can really change the way in which games are delivered to gamers. Scratch that…it would be a complete paradigm shift of game delivery.

Another twist in content delivery…and I may be stretching this a bit…was the proliferation of tools for independent developers. We saw quite a few game engines as well as server technologies that help empower the one man teams to deliver their content to gamers. One of the favorites of the show would have to be the Unity Engine. This is a complete gaming solution that has the extremely low price point $199 for the Indie license. Very affordable for someone who just wants to build a game. I had a chance to play with it on the show floor and it was very easy to use. Most of it is just “drag and drop”, but it does have Javascript and C# components that help with the development of game behavior and states. It imports various 3D modeling formats like Maya, 3D Studio Max, and my personal favorite…Blender. It’s a great platform to develop games on…and a bonus, it can publish on the Web, iPhone and the Wii. You can’t beat that 😉

One last thing…the iPhone, as a platform for gaming seems to be getting HUGE traction within the industry. I was fortunate to attend a session by Gordon Walton, who currently works at Bioware, which was about the top 10 things to look for in a game designer. In what was really an offhand comment, he said something to the current trend for other gaming platforms like the iPhone.

Now, for your entertainment…Big Buck Bunny, which was created totally in Blender and just blows my mind away:

Big Buck Bunny from Blender Foundation on Vimeo.