What Is GDC and What to Expect at the Game Developers Conference 2015

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What Is GDC and What to Expect at the Game Developers Conference 2015

If you've come across the term "GDC" in the news but have no idea what it means, we've got you covered. The Game Developers Conference (GDC) is the largest yearly assembly of video game developers the world over.

The conference is meant for learning and sharing of game development knowledge among game makers. It's a little different from E3 - the Electronic Entertainment Expo, which takes place around June each year - that is more of a consumer showcase for publishers to show off their upcoming games. GDC on the other hand is more for industry insiders.That's been steadily changing over the years though, and while GDC is still predominantly a trade event, there have been more than a few consumer-related announcements made there.

Some of these include the very first public reveal of the original Xbox in 2000, and Sony's debut of its Project Morpheus virtual reality headset last year.The conference started in 1988 and it is one of the best places for developers to learn and network. Tutorials, lectures, and round table discussions take place around game design and development technology. GDC also hosts the Game Developer's Choice Awards, where developers are honoured by their peers.

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Since 2005, GDC also features an interesting session called the Developer's Rant panel, where prominent game developers speak on industry-related subjects that they are passionate about, talking about things that are wrong with the industry and how they can change them.

Aside from the main GDC in the US, there are a couple of spin-off events as well, with GDC Europe, and GDC China being the two largest. India was to have its own GDC event but that did not work out, though Nasscom also holds an annual Game Developers Conference here.

This year promises to be a bumper year in terms of announcements. The usual suspects - Microsoft, Sony, Nvidia, and Valve - all seem to have a slew of reveals that should make this year's GDC the most consumer friendly ever. Here are our picks:

SteamVR, revamped Steam Machines, and new Steam Controller
For a company that's had a busy few months adding all sorts of tweaks to the world's biggest PC game digital distribution service, Steam, Valve has teased the unveiling of its plans for Virtual Reality. Dubbed SteamVR, there's little to go by at this point of time barring the name.It is also rumoured that Valve will be showing off a successor to its game engine called Source Engine 2.

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Along with this, the company plans to show off its own line of PCs known as Steam Machines, and a reworked controller, both in an attempt to make the living room more PC gaming friendly than it is at the moment. Coupled with its already existing Big Picture Mode, a retooled interface for Steam that makes living room PC gaming a breeze, it will be interesting to see how the Seattle-based company innovates on the hardware side of things.

Nvidia's announcement that is "5 years in the making"
Earlier this month, graphics card giant Nvidia sent out invites to the press titled "Made to Game" to announce something at GDC that's been in the works for half a decade. Every possible rumour points to the Santa Clara company entering the Virtual Reality space. We can't rule out the possibility of an entirely new graphics card architecture or a new device in its Shield lineup of tablets.

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Perhaps an implementation of its Tegra X1 SoC for gaming devices? There are more questions than answers at this stage but its press conference on March 3 should answer them all.

Microsoft's many moves
Aside from pushing out Xbox One updates month on month, Microsoft has some grand plans at GDC 2015. According to the official Xbox website there will be panels for DirectX 12, new services for Xbox Live, development of Xbox Live for Windows 10, and distribution of games across the board for Windows and Xbox Marketplaces.

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This should hopefully make up for the lacklustre Windows 10 gaming features announced last month.That's just what we already know about, but coupled with the inordinate amount of booth space obtained by the company this year, we believe there could be more afoot.

Sony's four hour long event
Yes, you read right, Sony will have a four-hour-long event. It will revolve around its Project Morpheus virtual reality headset for the PlayStation 4 wherein attendees will get to try out the system and get an update on the company's plans for virtual reality and gaming. Sony has made it abundantly clear in the past that Project Morpheus will be released only when its done it will be interesting to see how far along it has come since its debut last year, which seems like a lifetime ago.

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All the rest
There are plenty of other discussions and panels taking place this year that promise to be highly interesting as well. Oculus, the company that started the modern journey to virtual reality will be there, and its CTO John Carmack (whom you may recognise as the lead programmer of id Games, from Wolfenstein 3D to Rage) will be discussing the dawn of mobile VR.This is an area where Oculus has worked with Samsung to create the Samsung Gear VR. There is also some speculation that Oculus will be releasing its headset, the Rift, to consumers in 2015, and that there could be some announcement to this effect at GDC.

Apart from these announcements that will directly affect consumers, there are going to be quite a few talks and sessions that sound fascinating for gamers. Blizzard's developers will be on hand to talk about the design of Diablo III, and there is one panel from Telltale Games' Graham Annable that sounds fascinating, as the cartoonist and animator will talk about what game companies can learn from animation films.

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Since we are in the middle of a shift in console hardware, it will also be interesting to hear what Bioware's developers have to say on the topic of moving player data across platforms and generations.Aside from Valve, Epic is also expected to showcase how its game engine has developed - many believe we'll get a fresh look at Unreal Engine 4. These are of course, middleware - that is to say, software tools used to make a game - and not the actual games.

You probably won't see too many announcements of games themselves at GDC - that's still something which typically happens at E3 instead. But if you're a gamer then it's clear that there are some big announcements coming our way next week.Which announcements are you looking forward to the most? Tell us via the comments.

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Rishi Alwani Rishi writes about video games and tech. Legend has it he bleeds pixels. More
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