Exciting innovations and opportunities enthralled more than 25,000 attendees at the world's largest professional game industry event, the 2018 Game Developers Conference (GDC), March 19-23 in San Francisco’s Moscone Center. On the show floor, in technical sessions, and at the Intel University Games Expo, developers showcased unprecedented immersion and physical realism for adrenaline-pumping game play.
Announcements and public disclosures set the tone, including new Intel® software development tool features, partner collaborations and key sponsorships:
- Intel® Graphics Performance Analyzers (Intel® GPA) 2018 R1 released March 15. It gives game devs better tools to hit aggressive performance targets on Intel® architecture. Booth demos and technical sessions proved the point (more on that, below).
- Wargaming and Intel® Software experts collaborated on the new World of Tanks Update 1.0 to offer a redefined experience for deeper immersion on Intel® Core™ processors, including new, graphically-improved maps, sound 2.0 and improved voice-over, larger terrain, better realism and improved overall player experiences. Wargaming will offer discounted PC packages with Intel Core processors, motherboard bundles, and more.
- Intel is a lead co-sponsor, with Microsoft, of Unity Technology’s Universal GameDev Challenge, celebrating the creativity of PC game developers who build with the Unity real-time development platform. The winner will be granted an unparalleled mentorship opportunity, a $250,000 cash prize, and a Universal consulting contract.
- At a launch event sponsored by Intel, market leaders announced The International Future Computing Association (TIFCA), merging of the Open Gaming Alliance and the Immersive Technology Alliance. Intel VP & General Manager of Virtual and Augmented Reality, Frank Soqui, spoke on what future computing can deliver to content creators and their customers.
See for yourself...
Intel set up a spectacular booth in the main exhibit hall to share our stories, show off the latest technologies, and connect with the game dev community. Testing houses, publishers and resellers joined with us to help game developers Get Ready, Get Noticed, and Get Big. In addition, more than a dozen exhibit demos engaged visitors with amazing experiences:
- The award-winning, multiplayer, virtual reality (VR) game Sprint Vector from Survios had showgoers sprinting through obstacle courses at breakneck speeds. Optimized for Enthusiast 8th Gen Intel® Core™ i7 processors, the game’s enhanced CPU-intensive features and physics heightened players’ immersion into the game.
- Archiact previewed Evasion, which immersed visitors in an intense sci-fi shooter that will raise the bar for environmental destruction and explosive real-time effects in VR. Taking full advantage of the Intel Core i7 processor, Evasion’s stunning cinematic visuals and genre-defining gameplay deliver on the promise of free movement that VR gamers want.
- Total War: WARHAMMER II—The Laboratory introduced attendees to a custom battle playground with 16 different sliders to tinker and play, pushing battles to new and ridiculous levels of mayhem. Designed in collaboration with Intel, the free downloadable content (DLC) pushes the Enthusiast 8th Gen Intel Core i7 Desktop processor to the limit.
- World of Tanks is a popular, team-based massively multiplayer online action game dedicated to mid-20th century armored warfare. Update 1.0 features a new graphics engine and a new soundtrack for deeper immersion and realistic ambience. Players at our booth experienced boosted visual fidelity on up to 30 maps, recreated from the ground up in stunning high-definition (HD) on an Enthusiast 8th Gen Intel Core i7 desktop processor.
- Exhibit attendees playing Conqueror’s Blade experienced medieval warfare across ancient Eastern and Western civilizations, with accurately recreated weapons and fighting styles of legendary armies. The demo showcased Intel® Advanced Vector Extensions (Intel® AVX) and scalable visual effects and performance with more processor cores.
- Game devs saw some of the new usages they can expect from the Unity C# Job System which makes it easy to write safe, parallelized code to leverage previously idle cores. Now game devs can maximize whichever platform the game is running on, all the way up to an Intel® Core™ i9 processor with 18 cores.
- Optimizing Unreal Engine* 4.19 games can put the CPU to work, overcoming GPU limits to make games more efficient, dynamic playgrounds, thanks to improvements to the threading and particle systems in Unreal’s source code. Game devs experienced the better visual effects using CPU particles rather than relying only on the GPU, and they saw how it scales with additional Intel® processor cores.
- Robert Space Industries (RSI) experts used a “demo bake-off” with the upcoming MMO Star Citizen to show how utilizing new technologies can improve the gaming and game dev experiences by taking advantage of Intel® Optane™ memory. The comparison demonstrated smoother gaming, faster load times, enhanced textures, and higher content resolution using this exciting new technology.
- The MixCast demo showed how this content creation platform simplifies the development of mixed reality while scaling with more Intel® CPU cores. MixCast creates mixed reality video via CPU video encode, allowing scaling to high-end Intel Core i9 processors, solving the ‘multiple PCs’ issue—one i9 system can do the work of multiple PCs for live, high quality green-screen mixed reality.
- Gamers, content creators and fans of virtual and mixed reality saw how WARHAMMER: Vermintide 2 takes advantage of the 8th Gen Intel Core processor with Radeon™ RX Vega M Graphics, which expands Intel’s portfolio for small form factors like 2 in 1s, thin and light notebooks, and mini PCs. WARHAMMER: Vermintide 2 was released in March and sold over 500,000 copies in under a week.
- Epic joined with Intel to show off the results game devs can expect from the new 18.1 release of the Intel GPA toolkit. The Fortnite demo explained the tools and how to use them in real-life situations. Together, Intel and Epic boosted playability and visual quality to a stunning degree. Hotspot mode enabled the team to drill down into key hardware bottlenecks, allowing for more focus on highly expensive events and operations.
- The Space Pirate Trainer game developers and Intel software experts achieved 60 FPS with the hit VR game by using in the 18.1 release of the Intel GPA software toolkit. This demo showed how to profile and optimize WinMR* titles to leverage a wider target audience through high-quality mainstream VR. The toolkit’s new features and improved user-interface (UI) made a seemingly impossible task possible.
Speaking of game development...
An impressive array of Intel and partner speakers shared valuable knowledge with game developers attending the Technical Sessions. The line-up included:
Accelerate Game Development and Enhance Game Experiences with Intel® Optane™ Technology: Intel’s Alejandro Hoyos, and Robert Space Industries’ Sean Tracy teamed up to demonstrate how using Intel® Optane™ Technology helps to improve game development, and deliver amazing game experiences.
World of Tanks: Enrich Gaming Experiences with Multicore Optimized Physics and Graphics: World of Tanks is one of the biggest multiplayer PC games with more than 150 million users. Intel’s Philipp Gerasimov and Aleksei Fedorov and Wargaming.net’s Bronislav Sviglo discussed techniques used to optimize and enhance the game using Intel® Threading Building Blocks software.
Forts and Fights from Fun-Size to Full-Size: Scaling Fortnite* and Unreal Tournament* with Unreal Engine*: At this session, game devs learned about reliable workflows to triage suboptimal performance, using tools from Intel. Epic’s Peter Knepley and Bob Tellez, and Intel’s Jeff Rous demonstrated techniques used in Fortnite* and Unreal Tournament* keep an Unreal Engine* 4 project running efficiently.
Maximize Your Audience: Get Space Pirate Trainer to Perform on Integrated Graphics from Intel: Optimizing games for Unity* or Microsoft Windows* mixed-reality applications with Intel® graphics can help you reach a wider audience, and I-Illusions’ Dirk Van Welden and Intel’s Cristiano Ferreira showed how to do just that.
A Guide to Masked Software Occlusion Culling (MOC): Game devs who attended this session came away understanding the basics of the masked occlusion culling algorithm and how to integrate it into an existing game engine. Intel’s Leigh Davies and Avalanche Studios’ Marcus Svensson focused on the design considerations for content to work well with the algorithm.
The Blade for All Conquerors: Make the Most of Intel® Core™ Processors for the Best Gaming Experience: This team built a multicore, scalable game engine for Conqueror's Blade, giving it stunning performance and appearance. Booming Games’ Nan Mi and Lei Su, and Intel’s Sheng Guo explored with game devs techniques to apply to their game engines and practices to maximize the gaming experience on different levels of processors.
Maximize the Unity* C# Job System on All Hardware: Intel’s Cristiano Ferreira and Unity’s Mike Geig showed how the free resources available in the Unity C# Job System can make your game stand out from the crowd. They explored how to use this powerful new Unity* feature to dynamically scale scripts based on end-user hardware capability.
Maximize Your Audience: Get Space Pirate Trainer to Perform on Integrated Graphics from Intel: I-Illusions’ Dirk Van Weldon joined with Intel’s Seth Schneider and Cristiano Ferreira to demonstrate how they got Space Pirate Trainer to run at 60 frames per second (FPS) on Intel® Integrated Graphics hardware.
Optimize Total War*: WARHAMMER II: Processor optimization, multithreading and engine design can dramatically improve rendering and overall game performance. Creative Assembly’s Tamas Rabel shared insights into the pitfalls and common mistakes encountered during the development of Total War: WARHAMMER II, as well as an overview of the technology used to create it.
Ready for prime time...
The Intel University Games Showcase (IUGS) was presented for the fifth time at GDC this year. Twelve universities received invitations to participate directly in the Showcase, which awards Intel hardware grants for winners in three game design categories.
New this year was the Intel University Games Expo. Additional universities were invited to demonstrate their games for four hours before the Showcase started. Intel judges intended add a thirteenth team to the Showcase competition from the games presented by Expo participants. In the end, the competition was so good that two additional universities, BYU and the University of Texas/Austin, were added to the Showcase that evening. In all, 24 universities participated in the Showcase and Expo.
While the Expo was occurring, speakers from Intel, the International Game Developers Association (IGDA), University of Wisconsin/Stout, and the Immersive Technology Alliance (now part of TIFCA), gave presentations about software tools, career opportunities, game history, immersive computing.
Students and professors were excited to participate. Seth Holladay, a faculty member at BYU’s Center for Animation told us, “We really appreciate not only your great hardware but also this opportunity that you provide for our students. It's a big deal for the students making these games and helps show our universities the value and impact of what we are doing with games. We like the challenge; it pushes us further.” Cami Smith, an Industry Relations professional at the Academy of Interactive Entertainment added, “Thank you for this opportunity. The students are on fire to be part of this.”
Intel gave away $40,000 in hardware prizes in three categories: Best Gameplay, Best Visual Quality, and Innovation. In addition, Unity awarded one-year Unity Pro licenses to the 1st place winners, and SideFX awarded one-year Houdini Indie licenses to all prize winners. …And the winners were:
- 1st Place: Drexel University—“Fling to the Finish” is a wacky cooperative platformer where you’re tethered to your best friend, worst enemy, or awkward acquaintance. Get up close and personal with your partner as you share a controller operating two halves of an energetic duo connected by an elastic band. Teams will have to stay in constant communication to stand a chance of getting through crazy, unpredictable obstacle courses.
- 2nd Place: University of Central Florida/FIEA—“Hollowed” tells the story of a woman who will do anything to bring her perished loved one back to the world of the living. Control Halia and her spirit Oco simultaneously on a single controller in this side-scrolling puzzle platformer.
- 3rd Place: The Guildhall at SMU—“Up In the Air” is zany, open-world game about a balloon dog exploring a demented theme park populated by crazy children. Players must use a variety of power ups, from water balloons to inflating helium, to fend off the kids and collect carnival tickets. Players can burn down the attractions, knock over a castle, trap children in cardboard jails, master hopscotch, become radioactive, turn off the sun, or get popped by a cactus. If they are particularly unlucky, they can even find the notorious child Chunkles and fall victim to his gaping maw.
Best Visual Quality
- 1st Place: University of Central Florida/FIEA—“Hollowed” (described above)
- 2nd Place: University of Wisconsin/Stout—“Sun of the Children” is a 2.5D character-driven, side-scroller inspired by mythology, culture and nature. The game combines real-time storytelling and gameplay without the use of cut scenes, verbal or textual narration. Sun of the Children unfolds across three acts, the first of which requires the player to unite the land-bound Stardust Boy and water-bound Grasshair Girl by growing trees and moving platforms. As the characters move closer together, the world becomes increasingly vibrant with color.
- 3rd Place: Drexel University—“Fling to the Finish” (described above)
- UC Santa Cruz—“CtrlShift” is a two player asymmetrical local co-op, where communication is key. Sneak, hack, escape! You can't do this alone! As hacker and spy, the two players try to save mankind by hacking mainframes and liberating the hive mind controlled people that are made to guard the sentient AI. The UCSC team combined the classic stealth game with the hacker genre in this 80’s vision of the future dystopian scenario. CtrlShift combines room-scale VR with a 2D hacker interface, utilizing the PC. This means two very different views of the environment, so keep each other up to speed!
How does your game perform?
Even if you were unable to join us for GDC-2018, you can still take advantage of the new performance analysis and optimization capabilities we demonstrated with our partners. A great way to start: see how your game performs with a free download of the latest release of Intel GPA.