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New Game Conference 2011

Last week I was fortunate enough to be able to go to the New Game Conference in San Francisco despite being extremely busy at work and simply put, it was awesome. As expected there were a lot of web developers, but there were more console / pc game developers than I had anticipated. I have to give a huge thanks to +Seth Ladd and +Darius Kazemi for putting together such an amazing event and to all the presenters, there really wasn’t a single talk I didn’t get something out of. If you’re looking for slides, code and talk specific write ups check out ConfSwag. While the range of talks was pretty diverse, there were a few similar threads,

  • We all love Web Audio API, but it still needs a bit of work and it definitely needs support in all browsers
  • Developers still want to make games in Java and C++, then cross compile to HTML/JS (e.g PlayN, Mandreel).
  • Beware of the Garbage Collector, it can cause a number of performance issues
  • WebGL and modern browsers can provide PS2 quality games, but the web as a game platform might not be ready for prime time.

On the last point, it was mentioned more than once that even though it might not be ready, it’s evolving so fast they we should continue to push the platform and be developing those games now. Richard Hilleman’s keynote touched on this, saying there needs to be that killer game, similar to what Halo was for the Xbox.

Chrome seemed to be the best target for that killer game which a rich set of developer tools, features and an install base is over 200 million. However, it was either Paul Bakaus or Grant Skinner who reminded everyone that even though a users browser can support features like WebGL, doesn’t mean their machine can. I ran into this very issue when I attempted to show a coworker some of the demos from the conference only to receive and error telling me their graphics card was unable to play it. This may seem a little ridiculous, we have to remember that unlike the console market, we have no idea what device our users are trying to play our games on. A running joke was that for all we know they’re playing their games on a refrigerator.

Overall the quality of the sessions were very high and I hope at some point videos will be released. There were a few talks that really stood out though and tomorrow I’ll be writing about my top five and some of the general amazing things shown. It may be because of the intimacy of the conference (around 200-250 people), but I enjoyed it as much as GDC, if not more.

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