Mozilla at Game Developer Conference 2012 (GDC)

Last week was GDC, one of the largest game-related events in the world! We made sure a handful of game-heads from Mozilla were in attendance to take everything in and represent game development with JavaScript and HTML5. This post is a round-up of the week from a personal perspective, much like the recent post about the Mozilla HTML5 games work week.

GDC pass

This year Mozilla had a whole bunch of people in attendance; from technical evangelists, to platform developers, to the Gladius team, to business development. None of us were speaking this time around but we felt it important to have a wide-ranging presence at the event.

So why should we bother with GDC? Well the simple answer is that it’s a massively important event in the game development industry and it would be naive to ignore it. We were there to get as much useful information out of the event as possible, and to talk to as many people as we could about game development with Web technologies.

But you had no speaking slots or a booth. Don’t you care? Yes, we care a lot about JavaScript and HTML5 games. Unfortunately, by the time we had the games work week it was way too late to to organise speaking slots and a booth presence. Regardless, it was more important just to be there and available to the attendees than to have an official, rushed presence.

Needless to say, GDC was an absolutely amazing week which resulted in great conversation and plenty of avenues for Mozilla to explore in the near future. From a personal perspective, it was my first time there so I’m still a little overwhelmed by the whole thing. You definitely need to go next year if you’re into game development and can make it to San Francisco, it’s the place to be.

The rest of this post highlights some of the key goings-on from the week of GDC. I hope you find it useful.

W3C Games Community Group meeting

Just before I landed in San Francisco there was a meeting of the W3C Games Community Group. The purpose of this group is to “improve the quality of open web standards that game developers rely on to create games.” The group meets up often to discuss related issues and get a feel for progress over the previous months.

Moscone Center

Although I couldn’t make it, we had some Mozilla presence in the form of the Gladius team. The W3C Games Community Group usually post a round-up of each meeting on their website so definitely check it out to find out more about what happened. Even better, make sure you get involved in the next meeting so you can have your say!

I did manage to meet up with some of the attendees later in the evening and it was encouraging to see Google and Mozilla employees working and hanging out with the community, making the Web a better place for games.

HTML5 game development tutorial day

The first full day of GDC saw the HTML5 game development tutorial room. This was a room jam-packed with HTML5-related announcements, tips and tricks for making games. It was amazing to see the room full to the brim!

GDC HTML5 room

I had to skip half the day unfortunately but what I saw was good. It would be great though to see a Mozilla point of view if this tutorial day happens again next year, and perhaps a little less time selling one particular browser (Firefox, Chrome, IE, or otherwise) and more time spent showing how we’re working together to help game development on the Web.

Expo and GDC Play

Aside from the sessions, there was the main expo and also GDC Play. Both of these were great opportunities to play with the latest game development technologies and chat with the people deeply involved within the industry.

GDC expo floor

One highlight of GDC Play was getting a hands-on demo from the Brass Monkey guys. They’re working on a nifty control system for games that allows you to control a game in the browser with your phone. Definitely check it out, they also have a HTML5 SDK.

Walking round the expo is a great experience because you get to see and talk to some of the biggest names in games, like Microsoft and Sony. It was also good to check out the Google booth and chat to the developer relations team there. It looks like they and Mozilla have things in common that we should start working together.

There was actually very little to do with HTML5 game development at the expo, which isn’t entirely surprisingly. The closest thing to it was presence from related companies like GitHub, Joyent, and others.

Meetings and serendipity

One of the greatest things about GDC was getting to meet all sorts of amazing people while out there. Sometimes deliberately, and others completely randomly.

I had good fun meeting up and chatting with various people last week. Some of my highlights include:

  • Chatting with Mark from FTW about player identity
  • Having an informal chat with the Google team about how we can work together
  • Meeting Iain Lobb and other Flash developers to talk about how they view JavaScript and how we can work together
  • Catching up with the Massively Fun guys and stealing a wicked t-shirt from them (above)
  • Chatting to various people about the Mozilla Marketplace and B2G and how they and the related APIs could work for games
  • Other more exciting stuff that we can’t talk about just yet

Wishes for GDC 2013

I’m looking forward to next year’s GDC but I’d like to see a few things change:

  • A HTML5 game session with Mozilla and other browser vendors presenting together to give a consistent and fair view of browser support
  • Better presence from Mozilla in the sessions and tutorials to inject some openness into proceedings
  • Less sessions focussing on HTML5 as a new tech and more about how it can be used within existing situations
  • More collaborative sessions with developers from HTML5, Flash and other technologies sharing experiences and not bashing each other

About Robin Hawkes

Robin thrives on solving problems through code. He's a Digital Tinkerer, Head of Developer Relations at Pusher, former Evangelist at Mozilla, book author, and a Brit.

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