The GDC of 2014 came and went with something of a miniature Big Bang for game developers. Whether it was new updates to game engines, or new VR peripherals announced, this GDC had plenty of sparks and I am truly excited for the future of game development.
In this blog I’m going to cover the main announcements that took my attention and why I’m excited for them.
The clash of the Titans
Without a shadow of a doubt, out of the main announcements that came out of GDC 14 that was the most appealing to me was the announcement of the updates to the three main game engines, Unity, Unreal, and CryEngine all within a short timeframe. All introduced unique price models that will be covered in a separate blog post, but it was like having a second Christmas, particularly for me, who has a strong interest in this area, both from a hobbyist perspective and in my current role concerning game development books.
All three offered a long list of changes and massive updates to various parts of their engine and at some point in the future, I hope to dabble in all three and provide insight on which I preferred and why.
The advancement of the hobbyist developer
Not to be outdone by the big three, smaller tools announced various new features including Gamemaker, who announced a partnership to develop on the Playstation 4, and Construct 2 announced a similar deal with Wii U (admittedly before GDC). These are hugely significant for me. Support for the new consoles with tools that are primarily aimed at the hobbyist in us all opens up a massive market for potential indie developers and those just trying game development for fun, with the added benefit of the console ecosystem! It means my dream of the game studio I created with Game Dev Tycoon can finally come true.
Would you like a side of immersion with your games?
I might as well be honest here. VR and I don’t get along. Not in the sense that we broke up after a long relationship and are no longer speaking, I mean more the sense that I just don’t get it. It probably also has something to do with my motion sickness, but that’s less fun. No, in all seriousness, I have no doubt that VR will revolutionize gaming in a big way. From what we’ve seen with certain games such as EVE: Valkyrie, VR has a unique opportunity to take gaming beyond just the screen and for the masses of people out there that love video games, this can only be a positive thing. With Sony announcing Project Morpheus, Oculus Rift releasing a new headset, and Microsoft expressing a strong interest in developing a headset in this area, the area will only continue to expand and competition is not a bad thing. The one question I have is whether it can go from the current gimmicky idea with the large, bulky headset, and become a tour de force in the gaming community.
Consoles reaching out to indie developers
GDC has always been focussed on indie games and development in the past and this year was no exception. But it wasn’t from the traditional PC love for indie games. Consoles are beginning to cotton on that indie games are much loved and indeed highly played, and as a result, 2014 was the year where the main consoles announced efforts to release more indie games onto their platforms, while trying to drive more indie developers to their respective consoles. Sony, for example, introduced PhyreEngine in GDC 2013, but plans to extend further support through the partnerships of, as mentioned earlier in this article, GameMaker: Studio and MonoGame. Through these tools and their promotion, Sony hopes to improve relations with indie developers and encourage them to use the Sony ecosystem. A similar announcement was made by Nintendo, by introducing the Nintendo Web Framework. They also promoted the fact that Nintendo would be willing to get it promoted and marketed properly. These announcements are both significant and positive for the future of game development, as, from my view, indie games are only going to increase in popularity and to have the ecosystems available for these people to develop on the popular consoles can only be a good thing, and will allow those that are not on an expensive budget or working for an AAA studio to create games and reach a wider audience. That’s the ambition of Sony and Nintendo, I believe.
So there you have it; the big announcements that grabbed my attention at GDC. Whilst I could have mentioned Amazon Fire TV and further announcements by Valve, or gone into depth with specific peripherals, I felt an overview of what was announced at GDC was better; the analysis of these announcements can be covered more in depth at a later stage. However what is evident from this blog and what came out of GDC 2014 in general is that game development is an extremely healthy area and is continuously being pushed to the limits and constantly innovated. As an avid fan of games and a mere newbie at game development this excites me and keeps me interested.
How was GDC 2014 for you? Any issues that you thought I should have included? Let me know!