April 4, 2019

GDC 2019: Conference Recap

Version Control

Perforce had a booth at the GDC 2019 (Game Developers Conference) in San Francisco the week of March 18. For Perforce, this is a really important event. Helix Core is the industry standard version control system (VCS) for game development. And we also brought experts in our Agile planning tool, Hansoft. It’s become quite popular with producers in the game industry.

Many of our customers attend GDC every year. And some of our biggest customers are exhibitors there, too. With the industry growing so strongly, there are many new developers. That makes GDC incredibly fun. The energy is high, and innovation is all around. People play games in almost every booth, and the tech demos are spectacular, especially for AR/VR.

My First View of the Conference Hall

When I entered the Moscone Center at the start of the show, I went down the escalator to the South Exhibit Hall. The first booth I saw was Epic, which dominated the center of the hall.  I was mesmerized by their giant screens. Just to the left was Unity. They also had a massive booth, and at 10 a.m., there was already a line of people waiting for shirts and demos!

I wasn’t sure exactly where we were located. Our booth was modest by comparison to Epic, Unity, Amazon, and Microsoft — who are our customers and partners. Combined, their exhibits consumed about half of the South Hall exhibit floor!

Then, right in front of me, I saw the cute Perforce bees on the floor, creating an unmistakable bread crumb trail to our booth. The bees drew people to the booth. They are instantly recognizable to those “in the know,” and they’re intriguing to people who wanted find out why there were bees on the floor.

Meanwhile, at Our Booth…

It’s a lot of hard work staffing a booth, being on your feet for 8 or 9 hours. But the time went by quickly at GDC. Most of the time, we were incredibly busy, with five different conversations going on at once.

We had engineers in attendance all three days, which was fantastic, because so many hands-on users came by — designers, developers, and administrators. We talked about a bit of everything, including:

  • “How do I do this?”
  • Suggestions for enhancements
  • Discussions about configurations
  • The cloud
  • Best practices
  • Product roadmaps

There were also many students in attendance. Several schools with Game Development or Design programs had booths, including Ringling College of Art and Design and Carnegie Mellon University. We had wonderful interactions with some very smart future professional game developers and artists, and we gave students free licenses for Helix Core and Hansoft.

Speaking of free, numerous small studios came by and took advantage of our Indie Studio Pack. This gives Indie studios free licenses for Helix Core and Hansoft.

Connecting With Our Partners

It was fun being close to our partners Amazon (Lumberyard), Microsoft, Unity, and Unreal (Epic). I made time to visit their booths, spent quality time talking to their technical people, and looked at their highlights. 

Amazon, Unity, and Unreal all have great integrations with Helix Core built-in. That makes it easier for collaborators to work together on projects. They can take advantage of Helix Core to manage non-code assets without leaving their familiar interface.

For coders who use Windows, the combination of any one of these game engines and coding in C#, C, or C++, is made easier with our Perforce Visual Studio Plugin (P4VS), which is popular with game developers.

The Unreal Training Session

One of the highlights for me was attending an Unreal training session led by Epic’s Tom Shannon at the Four Seasons hotel. They had a ballroom full of laptops setup. In only an hour, Tom showed the students how to install the Perforce server and Helix Visual Client (P4V), and load Unreal projects onto the Helix Core server.

Next, everyone learned how to connect using the integration in Unreal Studio and collaborate using a central server he had running at the front of the room. My colleagues and I were standing by to jump in and help, but all the students succeeded on their own!

This was a great example of what we heard from so many of our users over the week at the event. Perforce gets out of the way — letting artists, designers, and coders focus on creativity to achieve optimal productivity.

We are so grateful to be part of this community. I was very surprised by how many customers, who work on amazing groundbreaking games at large and small studios, came by and said things like, “I’ve been a Perforce user for 8 years, and I want to thank you for making it possible for us to build our game.”

I can’t wait for next year!

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