The world’s largest game developer conference is officially over, and what a week it was! From perceptual computing to game engines to HTML5, there was a lot going on. Let’s take a look at some of the Intel®-related highlights from this busy week in San Francisco.
Intel Perceptual Computing Developer Day
image courtesy Flickr user bob_duffy
Held on March 25, the Intel Perceptual Computing Developer Day gave developers the chance to work with the Perceptual Computing SDK and the Creative Gesture Camera. Robert Butterworth from Slant Six Games, Seth Gibson, Annie Harper, and Chris Rojas from Intel Perceptual Computing led the discussion on how humans and computing interaction is evolving beyond the traditional input controls – as well as how developers can take advantage of these new advances:
“As everyday human computer interaction begins to evolve beyond mouse and keyboard, we should be thinking about how we can leverage these ideas in games as well. The Perceptual SDK enables developers to begin these explorations by providing an easy-to-use toolkit for enabling Natural User Interface based interaction in their games, that integrates into the engines and frameworks they're already using. In this full day session, we will demonstrate using the Perceptual Computing SDK with some of these frameworks including Unity and OGRE. Attendees will also be given a Creative Gesture Camera to continue building and experimenting on their own.” – GDC Conferences and Tutorials
The workshop offered developers the chance to work with several different kinds of Ultrabooks™, each with a touchscreen and convertible functionality, along with the newly launched Perceptual Computing SDK, which is now available for commercial use:
“The Asus TaiChi 21, Dell XPS 13, and Lenovo Yoga 13 were all present in vast numbers. Each includes a touchscreen and convertible functionality to change from a laptop to a tablet…..allowed a room full of developers to start working with Intel’s Perceptual Computing SDK which last week dropped its beta tag and is now officially launched. The SDK provides close-range hand and finger tracking, speech recognition, face analysis, and augmented reality functions to help developers get started on next-gen apps for Windows 8 and Ultrabooks. The SDK supports 2nd- (Sandy Bridge), 3rd- (Ivy Bridge), and 4th- (upcoming Haswell) generation processors from Intel.” – “Intel Arrives at GDC 2013 with an Army of Ultrabooks and Hardware for Developers”, UltrabookNews.com
Intel Perceptual Computing Challenge
The Intel® Perceptual Computing Challenge is an ongoing contest meant to encourage fantastically innovative apps that take advantage of everything that perceptual computing has to offer. Using the Perceptual Computing SDK and the Creative* Interactive Gesture Camera Kit, developers are able to show off their ideas, spark future imagination, and maybe even take a few prizes home from the $1 million dollars’ worth of cash and promotions offered.
The contest is in two distinct parts: Phase 1 with a total of USD $185K in cash prizes (closed on February 20, 2013), and Phase 2, following in March 2013 with more than USD $800k in prizes. Developers built many fantastic entries for Phase 1 of the Intel Perceptual Computing Challenge, and were competing for a Grand Prize of USD $20k each. One thousand participants from eleven different countries participated in this Challenge, with over one hundred prototypes submitted for judging. Four distinct categories were up for app submission: Productivity, Perceptual Gaming, Creative User Interface, and Multimodal. Over one hundred prototypes were received for judging within these four categories, and the Grand Prize winners – announced at this year’s GDC - can be viewed at the Intel Perceptual Computing Showcase, along with many other participants in this challenge. For more information about Phase 2 of this contest, visit the Intel Perceptual Computing Challenge contest page and sign up to be alerted when the next challenge begins.
Ultimate Coder Challenge: Going Perceptual
The Ultimate Coder Challenge: Going Perceptual is an ongoing contest in which seven developers – watched closely by four leading industry judges - compete for seven weeks to create apps that utilize the latest Ultrabook convertible hardware along with the Intel Perceptual Computing SDK and camera to build the Ultimate app prototype. These coders were highly visible at GDC, both in the Intel booth and giving presentations on Perceptual Computing at the GDC Theater:
- Eskil Steenberg/Quel Solaar/”Interfaces that Run on Every Device”: “In this presentation I will discuss the challenges and opportunities when developing a cross platform UI framework. How do you create a unified interface that looks good and works well on any screen size, resolution and input device? Expect loads of demos.”
- Brass Monkey/Infrared5/”How New Technologies Will Reinvent the Consumer Gaming Experience”: “Brass Monkey’s CEO Chris Allen will delve into the relationship between games and technology. Through a brief exploration of history in games he will attempt to answer the following questions: How does innovation in technology influences game design? What are the underlying aspects of technology that fundamentally change how people play? He will then talk about his team's use of the Intel's Perceptual computing SDK in conjunction with Brass Monkey to create Kiwi Catapult Revenge. This game features head tracking, gaze tracking and more using the Intel Perceptual Computing Camera and associated APIs.”
- SimianSquared/Giuseppe Landolina/”Retrospective”: “A look at our projects with a focus on what we can impart to other developers as a small team taking on big projects. We will incorporate Perceptual Computing and effective UX design topics with relation to Intel.”
- Code-Monkeys/Chris Skaggs/”Stargate Gunship: Look Ma! No Hands!”:” I’d be talking about a blend of the Perceptual Computing camera (opportunity) and effective UX using those new tools.”
- Lee Bamber: “Developing With Intel”: “A case study on how Intel helped TGC improve their products and technologies over the years. Quite fast paced with videos and live demos, rather than lots of text and presentation slides. 20 Minute Show features Multi-core Box2D, Ultrabook Sensors and the current Perceptual Computing prototype showing how the Gesture Camera can turn you into 3D blob and track you.”
- Sixense “Going Perceptual with Portal 2 in Motion”: “Sixense Studios integration of the ultimate depth camera expands on their dedication of cross platform development and 6 Degrees of Freedom input devices.”
New Developer Tools from Intel
courtesy Flickr user bob_duffy
A wide range of new tools for developers were unveiled at GDC, including two new DirectX extensions, new work with open source video transcribing program HandBrake, a new version of the Perceptual Computing SDK, and two new contests: Intel Level Up (specifically for game developers) and Phase 2 of the Intel Perceptual Computing Challenge.
Two new extensions, name PixelSync and Instant Access, give game developers greater power and flexibility when working with complicated rendering and graphics processes, along with access to the fourth generation core code-named Haswell’s inner workings. Creative Assembly has been working with Intel on PixelSync and integrated it in their upcoming game, Total War: Rome II:
“We’ve shifted our focus toward ensuring that the game looks great whether you’re running it on a slim and sexy Ultrabook or a monster desktop,” says Mike Simpson, creative director at Creative Assembly. “The new rendering extensions [Intel] provides have been an enormous help in making that dream a reality.”
The second extension, Instant Access, allows the CPU or GPU to write and read directly to and from system memory, which enables the GPU to act more like a separate video card. You can find more information about both of these extensions at the Intel Developer Zone: Visual Computing Source.
Intel also announced they are working with open source video transcribing program HandBrake in order to make hardware work more optimally with Haswell. Handbrake team member Tim Walker says that using Quick Sync Video technology, which debuted with the third-generation Core family, has yielded initial results that “show promise in terms of performance and significantly reduced CPU usage during the decode/encode process, especially for mobile and low-power CPU parts.”
HTML5 Development Environment
Intel’s support for HTML5 was also a strong presence at GDC, especially in regards to the new HTML5 Development Environment. This is a cloud-based, cross-platform HTML5 application development interface that makes it as easy as possible to build an app and get it out quickly to a wide variety of software platforms. It’s easy to use, free to get started, and everything is based right within the Web browser. Developers can create their apps, test functions, and debug their projects easily, putting apps through their virtual paces in the XDK which mimics real world functionality from within the Web browser.
The XDK makes testing HTML5 apps as easy as possible. Various form factors - phones, tablets, laptops, etc. – can be framed around an app to simulate how it would function on a variety of devices. In addition to tablet, phone, and PC emulations, there is also a full screen simulation of different Ultrabook device displays within the XDK. This is an incredibly useful way to test specific Ultrabook features in order to make sure that they are at maximum usability for consumers. The XDK for Ultrabook apps enables testing for mouse, keyboard, and touch-enabled input, which takes the guesswork out of developing for touch-based Ultrabook devices.
More information about the HTML5 XDK and porter can be found at the HTML5 Developer Zone.
Intel Cloud Services
A new cloud services platform was debuted at GDC13, with a session led by Intel Cloud Services Platform General Manager Peter Biddle and Intel Cloud Services Senior Software Architect Vadim Gore:
“This session will focus on architecting, deploying successful mobile games with cloud services and walk attendees through a high level overview of the Intel Cloud Services Platform, a collection of essential, identity-based services accessible via REST APIs that help developers build sophisticated backend functionalities, add new features and build true inter-operability inside your games using just a few lines of code.”
You can learn more about all that Intel has to offer in the way of cloud services at the Intel Developer Zone/Cloud Services Platform.
Havok and Project Anarchy
Havok, an Intel subsidiary and suite of software development tools used by game and digital animation creators to build realistic video games for all types of hardware and digitally animated movies, announced their new free cross-platform engine and toolkit for mobile game developers. This gives developers the ability to develop and release titles on iOS and Android, gives extendible C++ plugin-based architecture, and includes Havok’s Vision Engine, along with community support. You can sign up to learn more about this exciting development at Project Anarchy.
Exciting times for developers!
The Game Developers Conference is an amazing event where game programmers, producers, game designers, executives, and many more all gather to talk about games and the future of the gaming industry. This year’s event was amazing, and next year’s gathering promises to be even more so. Thanks for coming to GDC, and mark your calendars for next year!