Microsoft/Xbox at GDC (March 2016)

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In March the yearly Game Developers Conference will come around again in San Francisco, the event attracts over 26,000 attendees where professionals of all job descriptions come and attend or present over 400 lectures, panels, tutorials and round-table discussions on a variety of game development topics (more here).

I want to take a look here at some of the sessions Microsoft and Xbox will be participating in or running themselves, in previous years Gears of War 2 was announced back at GDC 2008 and last year Phil Spencer announced their partnership with Motiga on Gigantic, it is not a big show for new game announcements and the like but it is an event that could have some interesting news for gamers at home about various things on the horizon.

This event is not to be confused with the Media Event for Xbox and Windows 10 on February 25th which is a completely different type of event (previews for press to play their Spring 2016 line-up)

Here are the most notable talks I found:

  • Speaker:  Max McMullen (Microsoft)
  • Format: Sponsored Session
  • Track: Programming
“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.”

  • Speaker:  Team Xbox (Microsoft)
  • Format: Sponsored Session
  • Track: Programming
“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.”
  • Speaker:  Windows Universal Store (Microsoft)
  • Format: Sponsored Session
  • Track: Business, Marketing & Management
“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.”
  • Speaker:  Chuck Walbourn (Microsoft)
  • Format: Sponsored Session
  • Track: Programming
“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.”
  • Speaker:  Brian Tyler (Microsoft)
  • Format: Sponsored Session
  • Track: Production
“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.”
  • Speaker:  Chris Charla (Microsoft)
  • Format: Sponsored Session
  • Track: Business, Marketing & Management
“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 focus on a Universal Windows Platform/Store is very interesting, we are obviously extremely close to it being a reality and it seems Microsoft are going to try very hard to show their plans and get people on-board. With Killer Instinct Season 3 releasing in March and the game being cross-play and cross-buy between Xbox One and Windows 10 it will be good to use that to show how it works and can suit many games. Fable Legends and Gigantic also due this year are doing a similar thing too.
The “Team Xbox” talk is probably the one interesting one for me “The Future of Xbox Game Development for Windows”, I guess that one will probably be led by Microsoft executives (like Phil Spencer?) and could have a similar theme to last years with more to show about how they are going about doing it themselves with their own games.
It’s difficult to predict exactly the sort of content that will be discussed and shown but it’s not impossible the Xbox team will have something new to show (either in features or games) that help tie into the talks they are doing.
Here are all the other panels which have Microsoft employees participating in which range from title specifics to more general game development group panels with other industry members (click on the headers for more information on each):
  • Speakers:  Adam Gubman (Independent), Scott Selfon (Microsoft), Damian Kastbauer (PopCap Games)
  • Format: Tutorials & Bootcamps
  • Track: Audio
  • Speakers:  Steve Rabin (Digipen Institute of Technology), Rez Graham(Independent), John Abercrombie (Epic), Alex Champandard(AiGameDev.com), Tobias Karlsson (Microsoft), Troy Humphreys (Turtle Rock Studios)
  • Format: Session
  • Track: AI Summit
  • Speaker:  Michelle Dauphiny Becker (Microsoft)
  • Track: Advocacy
  • Speakers:  Paul Lipson (Microsoft Studios), Robert Ridihalgh (Microsoft Studios)
  • Format: Session
  • Track: Audio, Design
  • Speaker:  Tobias Karlsson (Microsoft)
  • Format: Session
  • Track: AI Summit
  • Speaker:  Chase Thompson (Microsoft (343 Industries)
  • Format: Session
  • Track: Audio
  • Speakers:  Steve Rabin (Digipen Institute of Technology), Rez Graham(Independent), Daniel Brewer (Digital Extremes), Brian Schwab (Magic Leap), Alex Champandard (AiGameDev.com), Tobias Karlsson (Microsoft)
  • Format: Session
  • Track: AI Summit
  • Speakers:  Linda Carlson (Trion Worlds), Tony Jones (Daybreak Games), Donna Prior (Microsoft (JeffreyM Consulting)), Eric Cleaver (Trion Worlds), Richard Weil (Metaverse Mod Squad)
  • Format: Session
  • Track: Community Management Summit
  • Speakers:  Scott Selfon (Microsoft), Damian Kastbauer (PopCap Games)
  • Format: Tutorials & Bootcamps
  • Track: Audio