Highlights from GDC 2018


As another year passes, the streets of San Francisco become a little less busy and the steady stream of game developers and industry folk from across the world begin to make their decent home.

This is of course because GDC (Game Developer’s Conference) has come to another close after breaking all previous attendance records.

2018 saw over 28,000 industry professionals at San Francisco’s Moscone Convention Center from March 19-23. GDC and its expected this number will increase yet again when GDC returns to the Moscone Center on Monday, March 18 to Friday, March 22, 2019.

Our highlights from 2018

Unreal Engine goes real-time crazy

Amongst the busyness of GDC, Unreal Engine went crazy with real-time graphics galore. From Digital Humans to Ray Tracing, it got everybody talking.

Digital Humans

Partnering with 3Lateral, Cubic Motion, Tencent and Vicon – Unreal Engine created Siren, a “high-fidelity, real-time digital character based on the likeness of Chinese actress Bingjie Jiang.” with actress Alexa Lee plays the character.

The reason this has got so many people talking, of course, is up until recently it has been extremely difficult to display such graphics without the need to pre-render.

Adding an additional flare to the announcement, the live performance was coupled with the use of Apples AR kit on the iPad to allow the real-time rendered character to be displayed from any angle and any position.


Nvidia’s Real-Time Ray Tracing

Along with digital Humans, Unreal Engine has also been working with Nvidia to work on real-time ray tracing.

Definition of Ray Tracing: In computer graphics, ray tracing is a rendering technique for generating an image by tracing the path of light as pixels in an image plane and simulating the effects of its encounters with virtual objects.


It’s long been a goal of the entertainment industry to reach a stage where all lights in cutscenes, gameplay (and even movies) are rendered without having to even wait a second. You can view Unreal Engines demo below to see just how impressive this is.

Although very impressive, this technology, in such a high fidelity still won’t be available to the masses just quite yet. To achieve these types of results we are looking at top of the line consumer graphics cards and of course, even the best consoles on the market won’t be receiving graphics like these for a while.

 alt.ctrl.GDC ups the madness with the most bizarre controllers known to man

As has become a tradition, expo-goers were treated to an eclectic mix of bizarre and interesting controllers powering some equally interesting games.

From air hockey using just your hands and no puck to free running with only your voice, there were plenty of things to try and get stuck in with.

Highlights from alt.ctrl.gdc included:

  • Puppet Pandemonium – A puppet show video game that uses the puppets as the controllers
  • Voiceball – like foosball but played with your voice.
  • Yo, Bartender! – puts you in the shoes of a modern-day bartender mixing cocktails in a bustling city
  • Scissors The That Than – a game played with huge scissors controller.
  • Lemonade – A two-player game where players control real water pipes which control  virtual on-screen water pipes

Unfortunately there were just too many games to include in this list, however, you can read more about all 20 games on the GDC website

Oculus shows off Oculus Go

If Facebook didn’t have a big enough presence at GDC alone, the Oculus Go was more than enough to get people talking (and playing).

Announced earlier in January, attendees and game devs finally had their chance to experience the headset in full throughout GDC.

As long as you are not expecting 4k graphics, with 100% accurate tracking, this headset should fare up quite well against the competition, especially at its $199 price tag with no need for a phone or PC.

The headset is yet to launch, however, so it will be very interesting to see the market’s reaction to Oculus’s solution to mobile VR.

Nintendo shows off indies

The Nintendo Switch feels as if its a staple of the gaming community now. It’s portable, easy to use, and just plain fun.

Therefore it makes sense that Nintendo has opened the floor to talented indie developers to make some irresistibly fun games.

Throughout GDC Nindento decided to show off a fantastic array of exciting Switch indies aptly named “Nindies showcase”. From nostalgic platformers to time sucking, role-playing games, there are a whole host of smaller-scale Switch releases that you should be keeping your eye on.

Here’s just a few to look out for:

  • The Messenger
  • The Banner Saga 3
  • Fantasy Strike
  • Lumines Remastered
  • Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes
  • Bad North
  • Pool Panic
  • Pode
  • Light Fall
  • West of Loathing

What to take away from GDC

GDC is a large and complex maze of booths, talks, people and freebies, meaning it can sometimes be easy to get lost amongst the excitement and games.

If you’re there to learn and meet people, the after parties and events outside of GDC are sometimes some of the very best places to be. This year Unity took this to a whole new level by not having a presence on the show floor at all and instead opting to host sessions within their newly renovated office a few blocks over.

There’s plenty to see and do at the show, however, and there is always an eclectic mix of world-renowned speakers about, sharing the wealth of knowledge and answering attendees questions.

What are your thoughts on GDC? Did you attend this year, or will you be attending next year? What would you like to see from next year?


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