My first time attending the Game Developers’ Conference in San Francisco, and I had such a blast! Here are some of the highlights of my experience :D
Going around GDC alone instead of with friends. No, I’m not antisocial – it’s just that it’s so much easier to talk to people and go for whatever talks/demos/parties I want without having to worry about pangseh-ing (sort of means abandon in Singlish) my friends. Met so many awesome devs there from all my random chats! Definitely gonna do this for all the conferences I go to in future :D
Flying back to Pittsburgh on Friday morning and missing the last day of GDC because of cheaper plane tickets ): I thought I wouldn’t miss much since the last day ends early, but oh mannnn. I underestimated how much I would enjoy GDC! So many booths I wanted to visit, demos I wanted to try, people I wanted to meet, parties I wanted to attend. *sigh*
Favorite VR game:
Now this is a really difficult choice, because there were so many good game demos there. I think I’m going with a tie between Ninja Trainer on the HTC Vive (basically Fruit Ninja in VR!), and EVE: Gunjack, which I tried on the Samsung Gear VR. Other VR games worth mentioning are The Climb on the Oculus CV1, and Headmaster on PSVR. I’ll probably be discussing why I enjoyed those games so much in my GDC report, and might post an excerpt on my game design blog.
Least favorite VR game:
I feel really really bad saying this, because the dev was super nice and gave me a private demo, but… Pollen was the only game which made me feel quite sim sick. The foreboding music was freaking the heck out of me too, even though the dev said it’s not a scary game and there are no jump scares (I’m terrified of horror stuff, plus it was late at night D:). That said, this is actually a pretty good game – it’s really well designed, has tons of interactable in-game objects (almost everything you see can be interacted with!), an intriguing story with interesting puzzles, and many hours of gameplay. I know this kinda defeats the purpose of the game, but I probably would have enjoyed this a lot more had I played it on a PC without sound lol.
Most interesting VR experience:
OptiTrack’s basketball demo, in which you pass a real basketball to a real person while wearing an Oculus Rift (DK2). Both the ball and the other player are tracked and mapped to a ball and avatar in VR. Their tracking is incredibly accurate, and I found it fascinating how I was able to handle the ball without any issues even though I could not see my hands. It felt so natural to catch/dribble/pass to the avatar of the other person in VR (this has nothing to do with my basketball experience). The power of proprioception!
OptiTrack’s basketball demo
Another interesting VR demo by NEXPERIENCE, in which the pod you sit in simulates the motion you see in VR.
Least interesting VR experience:
NONE! VR is a very interesting medium :P
Definitely the Oculus party! Good food, great company, awesome demos, AND A T-SHIRT WHICH I CAN ACTUALLY FIT INTO. And unlike a lot of the other parties, the music at this one was not overly loud, so I could actually talk instead of shout. It was also the least crowded party I attended, which probably had something to do with it being invite only. I really liked how they did the demos for EVE: Valkyrie too – you got a ticket (at least I think most people did) upon entry, and they would call your group up when it was time so you didn’t have to queue up for it. Too bad it ended quite early – we got kicked out at around 9:30pm ):
A super yummy chocolate tart at the Oculus party!
Least favorite party:
The Blizzard university relations mixer, which is technically not a party but I need to mention because it was a terrible use of my precious GDC time. The Blizzard talk at ETC was a lot more useful. During the overly long panel discussion at the mixer, most of the questions asked had answers which you can easily Google. Do your research if you’re really interested in joining a company man! And what’s up with asking people to arrive at 12pm for an event which lasts till 5pm, without providing proper food, or at least informing us that lunch is not provided?
Going to the Playphone party and meeting some of my NUS Computing juniors there, which was totally unexpected! Apparently they’re currently working at Playphone, and when I asked if they were going in for the party they were like “we’re the bouncers here *sad face*” LOL 😂😂😂
Least funny moment:
When some idiot spilled beer all over my bag and coat at a party, and DIDN’T EVEN HAVE THE DECENCY TO APOLOGIZE. How do such inconsiderate people exist?! Totally pissed me off man.
Most impactful talk:
Harassment in Social VR Spaces. How bad can this be? Extremely. This is something I never thought of, and I was quite horrified by the video they showed us of the social experiment they did on an unsuspecting woman. Definitely something which we devs MUST consider when building social VR experiences.
Least impactful talk:
Probably the Lightning Talks by Google. Most of the talks felt more like publicity/marketing for their products, and 5 minutes is really too short a time period. But I’m still a Google fan hahahaha :P
Technically not part of GDC, but still part of my trip to SF. Met up with 2 of my NUS Computing friends for dinner at this Thai restaurant called Koh Samui & The Monkey. The food was really delicious and legitly Thai! I wish Pittsburgh has more good Asian food heh. Great ambiance there as well, and I had an awesome time catching up with my friends (:
Not sure if this is even considered a meal, but definitely the candy and chips at the Blizzard mixer. Felt so unhealthy after that but I was starving ughhh.
My GDC pass.
And finally! Special thanks to Leo and housemates for letting me stay at their place for the week (you guys are awesome!), and Kevin for inviting me to the Oculus party and introducing me to other VR devs 😤 Can’t wait for next year’s GDC!