PR headsDisruptive Innovation – 2:15 (GDC summary)
Chris Morris (Editor, VentureBeat)

My Summary:
Some dudes from wildly different companies fail to have anything in common, and mostly just promote themselves.

* Keith Lee (CEO & Co-founder, Booyah) – realworld social gaming crossover.

* Jules Urbach (CEO, Otoy) – shows off downloading game while running it. mentions super (gpu leveraging) video compression and streaming.

* David Helgason (CEO, Unity Technologies) – another engine for everyone. mobile to rich 3d. claims everyone is using it. huh.

* Jeff Bellinghausen (CTO, Sixense) – makes a 6DOF input device. Magnetic. Check out their awesome “product : Specification” page! (empty).
He shows a demo similar to old optitrack’s old “OptiBurst” 3d modeling input. (check with Dan Mapes and Alex at Motion4u about whether they’re aware of it). “All these demos will be shown in intel lounge.”

Raw Notes:
.moderator: suggests they all want to simplify things…
they all give vastly different answers because they have little in common.

.mod: how deal with competition?
each seems to be saying “Here’s why we’re smart and awesome. what competition?”

Jeff rambles about 6dof. they don’t use intertial motion sensing. He is acting as if motion control is new. (Tell Jim about this guy. watch him get upset).

David is clearly the coolest dude here. Ask NaturalPoint guys if they’ve made contact with Unity engine for support. (later i find out that Unity dudes have made their own homebrew “surface” table with a web cam. Apparently they spoke to NaturalPoint and were excited to learn about their lowcost optical motion trackers).

Final Thoughts:

… no longer sure what i hoped to get out of this session. Maybe I hoped they’d actually be honest and discuss where things are heading. Didn’t realize they’d all clutch and end up just describing their current products. Probably a good sign that these talks should be a bit more focused and competitive. Big waste of time.

Someone should’ve asked:
1. Otoy – where do you see net neutrality going? Thoughts on comcast’s monopoly? Google’s efforts to get into broadband delivery?
2. Unity – What will you do to secure a more mainstream game? People seem to have gone after idTech and Unreal engine’s based on AAA hit titles, so don’t you need a killer app? (did any one go after Crytek?)
3. Booyah – How will you deal with the glut of social games exploding? What share is enough to keep you afloat?
4. Sixense – Magnetic tracking has been around for decads. NaturalPoint sold 6DOF gaming control for PC in 2003, and built up over 100 supported titles – yet no one has heard of them. People only care about Nintendo Wii, PlayStation Move, and Xbox Natal. What do you make of the big three console house’s stranglehold on peripherals? What will be your device’s killer app? (Novint promoted Left4Dead support as well. No one cared. soooo. What efforts are you taking to avoid the same mistakes other peripheral makers have made?)

I was mostly enraged by the Sixense douche bag, who seemed to be saying – with a straight face- that his company just invented a new form of motion tracking. I saw magnetic tracking years ago, and was told it was a joke because if anything interferred it was impossible to find out what was causing the problem. optical might have problems with lighting contiditions – but is also the easiest to trouble shoot, and thus still the best in my opinion. Not that he even mentioned how his gizmo worked. I hate that sleazy peripheral makers these days just try to hide their cheap tech and pretend it’s magic.

And to act like the their cutting edge? really? I mean, lesse : “Philco Corporation constructed the first actual fabricated head-mounted display in 1961, with Headsight -which had a single CRT element attached to the helmet and a magnetic tracking system to determine the direction of the head. (more)”
rage. Reality is that all this shit was thought up years ago, and then patented, and the trick nowadays is to bring the price down and not get sued. Anyone who implies they’ve come up with the term “6DOF” needs to be punched in the mouth.

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One thought on “GDC Report (wednes)Day two: Part 4- Disruptive Like Back Patting

  1. Hi Warren,

    My google-tracker just caught this, and since this is the closest thing to a life blog of the panel, I figured I would chime in (or maybe because you called me a “cool dude”, who’s to tell).

    I agree that it was a panel that had didn’t stick well together. I think the best moderators that I’ve been moderated by did one thing in common, namely to tease out disagreement. A second best is to have people tell stories that are new or surprising, while everything else quickly sees the audience finally catch up on their email and tweeting… I’m afraid this was one of these.

    As for the unasked question to me, it’s already happening but not the way you might expect. We haven’t (until Unity 3.0 hits this summer) attempted to compete with the 2-3 mainstream AAA engines for huge projects, but instead offered a superb solution for everything else: iPhone, web, Nintendo Wii, small or medium teams, non-game, products that target the huge audiences that own slow and/or crappy devices like old laptops or new netbooks.

    That didn’t stop ambitious web based projects like Tiger Woods Online and Cartoon Network’s FusionFall from being developed on Unity (and several other awesome projects that have not or barely been announced), with stellar production values and teams of up to 50 people… it’s just not been our focus, and not necessary for us to be very successful either.

    Anyway, I’ll see you at the next conference… or when I pass Oregon, whichever happens first :)

    PS. I have a very high opinion of the other panelists all of whom I know as brilliant technology and business people. And having recently watched a lot of input devices attempt to enter the market, I actually think that, based on technology and partnership approach, Sixense has better odds than most. But it’s a tough space littered with failures, I grant you that :)

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