Sony and Microsoft will Talk PlayStation VR, PSN, DirectX 12, Windows, Xbox Live and More at GDC

Game Developers Conference in San Francisco is coming quickly, scheduled to start at the Moscone Center on MArch 14th, and as usual Sony and Microsoft will have a big presence, to illustrate their newest tech and share development tips and tricks with those who create games for their platforms.

Sony announced quite a few new sessions on top of those we heard about back in January, mostly focused on PlayStation VR:

PlayStation VR: Development and Innovations (presented by Sony)

Chris Norden | Senior Staff Developer Support Engineer, Sony Computer Entertainment America

Join us as we enter the world of PlayStation VR and explore various development concepts and design innovations. It will be an exciting journey that you surely won’t want to miss. We will be updating the online session description with more details to come.

Attendees will gain new insights and concepts into PlayStation VR development.

Audio for AAA Virtual Reality Experiences

Simon Gumbleton | Technical Sound Designer, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe

Virtual Reality is changing the way we think about game audio. It changes the way we listen to, design and deliver our audio vision. We now have a significant opportunity for audio to be at the forefront of the experience, driving emotion and increasing immersion.
This talk will focus on the challenges, lessons learned and some best practices when building audio for AAA Virtual Reality experiences. Using Sony Computer Entertainment London Studio’s PlayStation VR content as a framework, this lecture discusses our experiences with relation to the high level audio vision, content creation, technical implementation and mixing; equipping attendees with a deeper understanding of VR audio and effective tactics to maximise results, as well as arming them against some of the pitfalls we’ve uncovered along the way.

Attendees will take away an understanding and appreciation of the particular considerations required when creating audio for AAA Virtual Reality experiences. They will be inspired to embrace the opportunities of the new medium and will be better equipped to avoid some of the pitfalls discovered along the way.

Intended Audience
The primary audience will be audio professionals in the game industry, either currently working on VR projects or looking towards to a VR project in the near future. It should also be of interest to students and indies are looking to create immersive audio for a VR projects.

Fast and Flexible: Technical Art and Rendering For The Unknown

James Answer | Principal Technical Artist, Sony London Studio

Sony London Studio has recently developed a number of virtual reality experiences for Sony’s Morpheus, including “The Deep”, “VR Luge” and “The London Heist” that have been showcased at GDC, E3 and other events to great acclaim.
In this talk you’ll find out how London Studio has focused its rendering technology and tools to plan for the unknown, including a look at our flexible forward renderer and tooling.The technical and artistic challenges that were overcome in making great quality within the demands of VR and the optimization strategies employed will also be discussed.
The techniques that will be shared can help studios producing VR content improve the quality of their visuals, but many are also applicable to traditional games.

A look at how to build a pipeline for maximum flexibility, with fast iteration times and a flexible renderer. Ideas for optimization of art content and graphics for both VR and traditional games.

Maths to Mechanics: Using Mathematical logic to Implement Intuitive Gameplay

Virtual Reality games have, more than any other type of video game before, raised the bar on player immersion and sense of presence. At Sony’s London Studio we have been at the forefront of this with our Playstation VR demos such as The London Heist, The Deep, and VR Luge. Whereas traditional games often apply a significant amount of abstraction in implementing the gameplay mechanics, immersion in Virtual Reality is generally best served by making the player interactions as intuitive and natural as possible. In this presentation I will discuss the core underlying concepts of the acclaimed physical interaction mechanics of The London Heist as well as the mathematical principles used to implement them. Aimed at gameplay programmers and technical designers this presentation will show you how to implement intuitive and effective motion based gameplay mechanics for your games.

Attendees will leave with a detailed understanding of the inner workings of a proven approach to implement physical interactions in VR. They will be able to take the core concepts illustrated by the examples and apply them to the interactions that are specific to their own game.

How to Grow your Online Community on PS4 (presented by Sony)

Zev Solomon | Senior Engineer, Playform Services, Sony Computer Entertainment America
Jon Webb | Senior Manager, Product Strategy, Sony Computer Entertainment America

PlayStation®4 provides many features that developers can use to communicate and engage with players on the platform. In this talk, be taking a look at the key features including the new Events system and Official Verified Accounts that you can use to get the word out to players about what’s going on in your game.

Attendees will learn how to leverage several new system software features that allow for a greater degree of interaction and engagement with players on PS4.

Moving on to Microsoft, the house of Xbox and Windows also announced quite a few new sessions on top of those we learned about in January.

DirectX 12 Advancements (presented by Microsoft)

Max McMullen | Principal Development Lead, Microsoft

DirectX12 can unlock incredible performance in your games and help you build your content pipelines for the future of gaming (including 4K), which we will demonstrate using real-world examples. We will cover the key concepts to get your existing DirectX Game ported to DirectX 12 and looking great and up and running as quickly as possible.

Game Developer Success & Opportunities with gaming on Windows (presented by Microsoft)

Chris Charla | Director, Microsoft

Not only is Microsoft investing in making UWP the ultimate game development platform, there are already developers successfully making games built in the UWP environment today. Come learn how everything we discussed at GDC 2016 comes together to get you into the right program, with the right materials, to build your first UWP game for PC and console today!

The Future of Xbox Game Development for Windows (presented by Microsoft)

Team Xbox | Xbox Platform Team, Microsoft

Windows and Team Xbox talked at GDC in 2015 about how we were building the world’s most accessible and powerful game development platform that spans across consoles, PC, tablets, phones, and more. Come join us in 2016 to see how we are delivering on our vision & are empowering game developers to reach billions of customers around the world, connected through the power of Xbox Live and our Universal Store, plus a host of new platform innovations for games in every genre.

The Windows Universal Store (presented by Microsoft)

Windows Universal Store | Windows Platform Team, Microsoft

The Xbox and Windows Stores deliver huge opportunity and distribution potential for game and app developers. Come learn how we are taking everything we have learned from years of building a successful game marketplace and weaving that into a universal storefront that can deliver your games, to every Windows 10 device on the planet, plus lighting up innovative new business opportunities that benefit how you want to sell your games and how customers want to buy them.

Universal Windows Platform (UWP) Game Development (presented by Microsoft)

Chuck Walbourn | Software Design Engineer, Microsoft

The Universal Windows Platform (UWP) is at the core of our vision for the future of game development. UWP powers games & apps on our most innovative operating system yet: Windows 10. Windows 10 powers Xbox One consoles, PCs, tablets, Phones, and even our upcoming HoloLens device. Come learn from our experts how we’re pulling out all the stops, to make UWP the best choice for making games in the future; a great game developer experience with great performance and cross-platform capabilities.

Xbox Live for Windows (presented by Microsoft)

Brian Tyler | Engineering Manager, Microsoft

Xbox Live connects hundreds of millions of gamers around the world, as part of the largest social multiplayer network ever. With Windows 10, we have brought the magic of Xbox to break down the walls between consoles and PCs, expanding the ways that players can interact both in and outside of games. Whether you build for console, PCs, tablets, phones, or HoloLens devices, Xbox Live has features that can add fun and drive player engagement in your game.

Precognitive Interactive Music: Yes You Can!

Paul Lipson | Senior Audio Director, Microsoft Studios
Robert Ridihalgh | Senior Technical Audio Specialist, Microsoft Studios

Feature film, television, and linear visual media use music to create powerful emotions and narrative propulsion through the feeling of anticipation. Up until now, game music has been reactive after the fact to unpredictable player input. What if your game could use music to dynamically create that ramp of anticipation, whether your player is leaping from a collapsing building, speeding toward a finish line, or about to take down a boss? Paul Lipson and Robert Ridihalgh of Microsoft Studios discuss how audio pipelines can add foresight and precognition into dynamic runtime game experiences to unlock emotional power before events happen, to go beyond the expected.

Audience participants will come away with strategies and approaches that will reignite innovation within their interactive music pipelines. Attendees will learn about the importance of precognition for emotional impact in visual media, and how to overcome these challenges in games.

Intended Audience
This panel is intended for intermediate and advanced game audio professionals, audio directors, technical specialists, designers, and executive producers who want to solve one of the oldest challenges in games, and move their music systems to the next level.

If you’re interested in hearing more about DirectX 12, AMD will also host a related session:

Let your game shine – optimizing DirectX®12 and Vulkan performance with AMD CodeXL (presented by AMD)

Doron Ofek | Senior Manager, AMD

AMD CodeXL is a suite of tools for software developers that demand extreme performance from their software and hardware. The new CodeXL 2.0 release introduces tools for game developers who use Microsoft DirectX® 12 and Vulkan programming. This presentation will review these capabilities, including: capturing and visualizing the timeline of a frame, analyzing multi-threaded host and GPU interaction, pinpointing hotspot API calls, exposing inefficient GPU utilization and much more. In addition we’ll review how to develop and build Vulkan programs containing multiple shaders, and analyze the resource demands of their generated ISA on multiple target platforms without executing them.
The presentation will also review CodeXL CPU Profiling and Power Profiling capabilities.

Many think that Sony might finally announce the release date and price of PlayStation VR at GDC, and it wouldn’t be too surprising considering that the headset was announced there, and the number of dedicated talks.

On the other side of the trenches, we might finally hear more about what DirectX 12 will mean for Xbox One, and get to see more of its performance gains on Windows.

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Giuseppe Nelva

Hailing from sunny (not as much as people think) Italy and long standing gamer since the age of Mattel Intellivision and Sinclair ZX Spectrum. Definitely a multi-platform gamer, he still holds the old dear PC nearest to his heart, while not disregarding any console on the market. RPGs (of any nationality) and MMORPGs are his daily bread, but he enjoys almost every other genre, prominently racing simulators, action and sandbox games. He is also one of the few surviving fans of the flight simulator genre on Earth.

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