The 2008 Game Developer’s Conference was at the Moscone Center for the second year in a row, drawing record crowds in excess of 18,000 people. This year was packed, especially on day one, but was laid out in a fashion that all the bugs from last year were ironed out. For instance, the exhibit floor in 2007 was split, but this year everyone was in the same room downstairs in the North Hall, making it easy to get around the exhibits—and there was plenty to see. Eye candy abounds at the GDC and there is never a shortage of dazzling visual imagery to wrap your brain around.
Of course, games are only 50-percent visual (although you’d never guess by the paucity of audio exhibitors at this show) and there were some interesting aural exhibits around the floor as well.
Audiokinetic showed its upcoming Wwise 2008.2 release, which features a motion-creation tool that allows the game production team to adjust such properties as volume, pitch or LPF to fine tune the motion effect. Any motion generated using Wwise Motion can be automatically created and customized for all platforms, including Windows, PlayStation3, Xbox360 and Wii.
Other middleware companies were also on hand with the folks from FMod, bringing a new version from down-under. The latest upgrade, V. 4.12, brings a lot of great new features to the table, including an interactive music engine, the ability to change the output driver at runtime and PlayStation3 support for DTS output, oscillators and spectrum analysis.
CRI Middleware showed off a new employee, industry vet Thomas Miley, who started at SEGA of America where he built the audio engine that was included in more than 90 percent of the games for the SEGA Dreamcast console in both North America and Europe. Thomas was giving demos of CRI Audio’s software synthesizer that supports multiple platforms. It enables the exact same sound to be reproduced on all next-gen platforms and allows in excess of 100 sounds (voices) to be played back simultaneously on the PS3.
Educators on the visual arts side of things were abundant but the Conservatory of Recording Arts was the only school dealing exclusively with all things audio. Instructors were on hand giving group and one-on-one lessons in Wwise. The Conservatory is developing the first manufacturer certification for Audiokinetic’s pipeline solution.
THX showed off its slick-looking, phase-correct desktop 2.1 speaker system and Neural-THX surround technology that enables game developers to encode 5.1 content and then decode the original 5.1 mix through a Neural-THX Surround–enabled playback device.
Content providers Killer Tracks and Megatrax were showing off vast collections of music that would seem to cater to any style, tempo or mood a game might call for. Both their Websites offer an easy-to-use browse and audition format allowing you to check out their extensive catalogs.
Annosoft showed an impressive lip-sync tool that came in text-based, textless or real-time versions. It worked uncannily in a number of languages. It promises easy integration into any C++ application and gives the production team the ability to tune their application at any time for recognition speed, recognition accuracy and application footprint.
Of course, nightlife is part of any conference or convention and GDC was no different. The GANG awards took place on Thursday, February 21, while Tommy Tallarico’s Video Games Live played to a sold-out crowd on Friday night at the Nob Hill Masonic Center. The Mix crew attended the Associated Production Music’s Dinner at Annabelle’s on 4th Street between Market and Mission. A large group of game composers, developers and press enjoyed the company of friends and Bob Rice’s hospitality.