GDC 2015, Vulkan etc.

Game Developers Conference was held on March 2-6 at San Francisco.

Unity 5 was finally released. I have used it since beta 1 and I'm happy about the licensing change that allows all engine features to be used on the personal edition. Epic also dropped the subscription fee for Unreal Engine lowering the entry barrier for casual developers, as those who are serious have already subscribed. With the Valve announcement of Source 2 being free there's now good competition on indie-friendly engines.

John Carmack talked about mobile VR, noting that it has potential to reach far more customers than desktop VR. I have always liked Carmack's talks, he just sits there without any materials and talks as long as allowed.

Khronos revealed Vulkan, the successor to OpenGL and OpenGL ES. It's evolved from Mantle and the abstractions are similar to D3D12, making the driver more simple. It also allows more control than OpenGL in that you have to allocate memory yourself, avoid hazards and handle threading. More control means more potential for performance but also more responsibility. There will, however, be an optional debug layer that should help the developer to find problems. Shaders will finally be supported in an IR, making them load faster and, more importantly, alleviating compatibility problems caused by subtle differences in parsers ie. different drivers accepting broken syntax or not accepting correct syntax.

All these new APIs (Metal, Mantle, D3D12, Vulkan) provide abstractions that are different from earlier APIs. Personally, for me that means that when I begin writing my new engine's renderer, I'll follow those abstractions. I cannot use D3D12 or Vulkan today and probably will begin writing a new renderer before they are out (I'll be starting my new engine development next week), but I will try to design the renderer to allow for the sane usage of those new APIs when they are released and will be implementing D3D12 and Vulkan renderers as soon as they are released.

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