Virtual reality was without a doubt this year’s hot topic at GDC 2015 in San Francisco, with talks presented by major hardware producers and indie game devs alike covering a wide array of VR-centric challenges and opportunities. Now GDC has published a number of these talks for free for eager VR devs that missed out on all the action.

The Dawn of Mobile VR by John Carmack of Oculus VR

If you’ve never seen a John Carmack talk, get ready for an informatively dense ‘state of the union’ address focused on mobile VR, or more specifically as it pertains to Oculus and Samsung’s Gear VR. In typical Carmackian style, the talk largely follows Carmack’s stream of thought rather than traditional Power Point slides or hard talking points. If at any time you get lost following one of the his more esoteric topics, the kind folks at GDC have also made sure to provide general topic labels to be found on the left-hand side of the screen. Carmack talks about techniques and strategies for maximizing the quality of VR games, applications, experiences, and how all of this will influence the future of mobile VR.

VR for Indies by E McNeill of Darknet, Max Geiger of CubeHeart Games, Ben Kane of Steel Crate Games, Holden Link of Turbo Button, and Vi Hart of EleVR

VR could be the next big platform for games. This talk will consists of a series of microtalks, during which each speaker shares their own unique perspective on the following topics: what makes VR so special, what the major risks, challenges, and opportunities are, and why VR is especially fertile ground for indies.

Advanced VR Rendering by Alex Vlachos of Valve

Vlachos’ talk is dense and quick. Thankfully they’ve also published the slides if you’re having trouble following along at his breakneck pace. Vlachos touches on some of the base requirements of VR rendering, but quickly moves into advanced rendering topics focusing on both performance and visual quality associated with new generation VR headsets. Other topics include: “efficient stereo rendering, reducing rendering latency, saturating the GPU despite synchronization points, reducing pixel cost for low-priority pixels, specular antialiasing, constrained anisotropic lighting, and other tips and tricks relating directly to VR rendering performance and quality.”

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VR Direct: How NVIDIA Technology Is Improving the VR Experience by Dean Beeler and Nathan Reed of NVIDIA

(free sign-up required)

Virtual reality is the next frontier of gaming, and NVIDIA is leading the way by introducing VR Direct, a set of hardware and software technologies designed to cut down graphics latency and accelerate stereo rendering performance. In this talk, we’ll show how developers can use NVIDIA GPUs and VR Direct to improve the gaming experience on the Oculus Rift and other VR headsets.

Designing for Mobile VR in Dead Secret by Chris Pruett of Robot Invader

Mobile VR is liberating (‘look Mom, no cables!’) and in other ways very limiting. Chris Pruett, a dev at Robot Invader, discusses some of the limiting factors that lead to the development, and overall improvement of game studio’s mobile VR title, Dead Secret.

This talk discusses the challenges and benefits of targeting mobile VR platforms, and discusses in detail how mobile developers can approach this new platform. This talk is focused on specific design considerations for mobile VR, the decisions we made in Dead Secret, tips and tricks we learned along the way, and how we might do it differently in the future.

Practical Virtual Reality for Disney Themeparks by Bei Yang of Walt Disney Imagineering

Thinking about creating your own VR experiences using the Oculus? Walt Disney Imagineering, being one of the original pioneers in VR in the late 1980s, has in truth never stopped playing with VR and using it. This lecture focuses on some of the basic learnings from the last 20 years, and how it applies to VR experience development today. The talk focuses on HMD and CAVE-based experiences, their design considerations, technical implementation details, and covers some real-world examples.

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