Motion Media’s Top 8 GDC Picks

Motion Media attended the GDC 2015 last week. We went, we saw, we conquered. Now we are catching up on our sleep. Check out our top 8 picks for the most exciting attractions featured at the convention hall. Additionally, at the end of this article, enjoy a photo of the author rendered as an action figure with boils covering her chin (kindly distributed by the folks at 3D + Me HALO Guardians).


1)Oculus Rift


Who wouldn’t choose the Oculus booth for their top GDC pick? Oculus is simply the coolest kid on the playground. We aren’t trying to start an uprising here. Like the other plebeians of the GDC, we waited in line to try the Oculus demo for about two hours. Our joints were aching and we skipped lunch, but we waited until we were called upon.

Here’s what GDC participants discovered: Oculus Rift is great, but it isn’t perfect.

You can no longer see individual pixels with this prototype, but it is blurry super up close. While the Oculus Rift headphones are slightly clunky, they greatly enhance the experience. Your run-of-the-mill expensive headphones don’t come close to the Oculus Rift headphones. These are heavy duty. Also, tracking has improved and the device is lighter, over all… but still, as we said, a bit clunky.

The experience of trying the Oculus Rift demo was worth the two-hour wait. It was an incredible experience, and one which now informs our concept of the future. But now we’d like to see innovative applications beyond game development. Click here for detailed summaries of individual Oculus Rift demo scenarios.


2)Vive VR


We didn’t try Valve’s Vive VR prototype at the GDC, but we heard it is a strong competitor to the Oculus Rift. Vive is also due out by the end of the year.

With some research, here’s what we learned. While the Vive device itself is light, the attached cords are heavy and a burden to the neck. The controllers are touchpads. Vive’s visual experience may be a bit sharper than that of Oculus. The practical space for using the machine is longer that than of the Oculus Rift (roughly the size of two yoga mats vs Oculus’ 2”by 2” square space).

The main source of excitement that slightly exceeds the Oculus frenzy is derived from the gaming concepts. To read a full summary of Vive’s gaming demos, click here.

Rachel Weber, writer for Games Industry, made the following comment about Vive’s VR, “People left GDC in one of two states, either raving about Valve’s Vive virtual reality demonstration or raving that they weren’t able to get in to see Valve’s Vive virtual reality demonstration.” GDC attendees seemed to find more potential in Valve’s VR games than they did with Oculus, however beautiful.


3)Quixel’s MEGASCANS


This year Quixel made an amazing development with MEGASCANS and debuted this development in time for GDC 2015. Smart move from some smart dudes!

In anticipation of the GDC, Quixel published a MEGASCANS jungle demo, to view it, click here. The demo provides a substantial look into the quality of their soon to be released MEGASCANS material library. MEGASCANS is a semi-procedural texture generation tool. The tool includes a range of inbuilt materials that have been physically scanned. The MEGASCANS development “finally brings full real-world surface scans to the art community”.


4)Marmoset Viewer advancements


Marmoset announced its Marmoset Viewer (an exporter for its real-time render toolkit) at GDC 2015 as well. The viewer incorporates trendy rendering with PBR. Read about the theory of PBR in this article featured on Marmoset’s blog.

FYI, the cool thing about Marmoset’s exported model is the model’s preview is close to the way the asset looks in-game. As such, users will be able to author presentations to display their content.


5)Marmalade’s Chromecast Extenstion


Marmalade demoed its Chromecast Extension at the GDC.

Marmalade also had giant, handled bouncy balls at their  booth for the IRL gamer – but probably more specifically to use as metaphorical marketing collateral.


6)Allegorithmic’s Substance Painter


Allegorithmic released updates to their Substance Painter tool just in time for the GDC. Check out the developments of the Allegorithmic Substance Painter! You can engage the demo of the substance painter here.


7)Unreal Engine – Now Free!


If you love something, set it free! Am I right? Just before the GDC, Unreal announced that its Unreal Engine 4 is now available to everyone and their mother FOR FREE, and all future updates will be free as well!

Unreal made the following statement about this provocative move, “The state of Unreal is strong, and we’ve realized that as we take away barriers, more people are able to fulfill their creative visions and shape the future of the medium we love. That’s why we’re taking away the last barrier to entry, and going free.”


8)3D + Me


We greatly enjoyed the 3D + Me booth. At this booth, an attendant scanned the craniums of attendees as they stuck a facial expression for 45 seconds. Minutes later, a machine rendered an action figure featuring their face and chosen facial expression.

We at Motion Media broke the mold, however, by sticking out our tongue during the 45 second scanning procedure. The scan produced interesting results. Our action figure wound up with a misshapen chin covered in boils.

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