Intel Laptop Gaming TDK at GDC

This morning kicked off the first “official” GDC sessions, and I was there bright and early at 9:00 AM with Sateesh and Rajshree from Intel for the session going over the Intel Laptop and Mobility TDK.

First, Rajshree talked about the challenges and needs of gamers using laptops – how to know when your battery is going to run out, when your wireless signal strength drops, etc. And more importantly, what you can to to improve the game by eeking out a little more battery life, smoothing the transitions, etc. She shared a lot of research they’ve done on just how much of a difference various measures can make – slowing down the CPU, lowering the “eye candy” levels, capping the framerate, etc. In every case, it was clear that there are steps a game could take to be better behaved on a laptop system.

Then Sateesh went over the Intel Laptop Gaming TDK – Technology Development Kit. Basically, this is a set of freeware (but not open source) libraries that you as a game developer can use to make your game more aware of being on a laptop or other mobile platform, and implement changes to make the game experience better. It sounds complicated, but it’s actually a pretty straightforward bit of code you can include so your game can know things like “Am I on a laptop?”, “how much battery is left?”, “is the wireless signal strength changing?”, etc. What you do with that information is up to you, but the tools are avaialble now to make your game work well on mobile systems. Go get it and start playing around with it.

I also got a video interview with Rajshree and Sateesh after the session is over, which I’ll be editing up and posting soon, probably after I get home from GDC. HD video, I’m learning, is just as simple to capture and edit as regular SD DV, but it takes a LOT longer to encode, and I’m still playing with different sizes and settings to find the sweet spot between quality and file size. So keep an eye out for that.

Am I just sounding like an Intel shill for saying nice things about the Laptop Gaming TDK? I hope I don’t come across like that. Yes, Intel sent me to GDC, but I wasn’t given any specific instruction on what sessions or people to cover. I decide which sessions to go to based on how interesting I think they are, and how interesting I think they’d be to the people who read this blog, and the developer community at ISN. The Laptop Gaming TDK is a really cool tool that’s available, and I think the need for it is going to become more and more apparent as more people start using laptops as their primary systems. I know that a laptop has been my primary computer for quite a while (at least theΒ  years I’ve worked at Intel), and I’d love to have games with features built in like the ones that the Laptop Gaming TDK makes possible. So, if that makes me sound like a shill, then sue me. πŸ˜‰


GDC Catchup

I’ve got a ton of blogging to do to catch up – today was the first “full” day of GDC, day 3, and this where the sessions started in earnest, and the crowds got really, really heavy. Right now, I’m sitting in the corner of the third floor of Moscone West, tethered to one of the only power outlets to charge up my MacBook Pro, and debating what I should do next. Go to the Game Developer Awards? Go shoot some video on the expo floor (which I haven’t seen yet)? Stay put or go back to my hotel and try to catch up on blogging? Decisions, decisions, πŸ™‚

Make sure you’re subscribed to my linkblog, because while I’m behind on blogging, I’ve been keeping up pretty well with getting photos posted to Flickr, and sending quick updates via Twitter, both of which are injected into my linkblog. I went to some really great sessions today, from some pretty big names in the gaming world, and I got to meet some Intel folks in person that I hadn’t met yet (Hi Jen and Robyn! πŸ™‚ ) So there’s lots of good stuff to come, sooner or later. πŸ˜‰


GDC Report: Threading for Performance tutorial

Yesterday, day 2 of GDC, I sat in on the day long “Threading for Performance” tutorial put on by Paul Lindberg and Brad Werth of Intel.

They went over the details needed of taking a completely “serialized” application, where everything has to wait for the thing before it to complete before it can happen, and move by steps to a threaded, parallel, multicore-ready application. There were a couple dozen quad core “Core 2 Extreme” lab systems around the room, but the place was packed all day, so no one really got to have a system to themselves.


The labs used the “Destroy the Castle” demo from last year’s GDC, which is supposed to be available for download on the Intel Software Network site, but I couldn’t find it after a cursory browse, and it wasn’t showing up in the search (oops!). We need to fix that, to make the download more accessible and easy to find, because from the feeling in the room, lots of the developers there are going to want to get their hands on it, and look at how it went from about 40 frames per second to almost 300 frames per second by optimizing the app for multicore systems.

I’ll try to track down a link to the demo files and the tutorial materials, and get it placed somewhere more prominent. If you go looking for it, and can’t find it, let me know (also, if you DO find it, please tell me, so I can at least post a link).


Posted a few more GDC photos

I’ve added a few more photos from GDC to my GDC 2007 photoset on Flickr, including this panorama shot that I just took in the Intel-sponsored “Threading for Game Performance” tutorial session. The place is packed! πŸ™‚


Game Blogs that are covering GDC

There’s so much going on here at GDC that there’s no way one person can take it all in, let alone cover and report on it all. But there are dedicated bloggers and journalists that are doing a great job of tracking what’s going on here:

  • Gamasutra – Gamasutra is kind of the “official” coverage of GDC, featured on the official GDC web page. They’ve got a ton of stuff up already, and I expect a lot more as things kick in to top gear tomorrow.
  • Joystiq and Kotaku, the venerable game blogs from Weblogs Inc. and Gawker, respectively, each have GDC categories, and are delivering the scoop in their own unique style.

And of course, stay tuned to this blog, and to the Intel Softare Network blog for more GDC updates from me. πŸ™‚


GDC Day Two Morning Report

Day Two of GDC has begun. The first two days are mostly all day tutorial workshops, etc. The expo floor, keynotes, and detailed sessions begin tomorrow. I’m sitting in the Intel-sponsored “Multithread your Game” tutorial session right now. The place is packed – they had to set up chairs in the back and along the sides of the room to accommodate everyone. Brad Werth and Paul Lindberg are running the tutorial, going over some slides on why it’s important to thread your game for multicore processors, the challenges that you’ll run into, what works, what doesn’t, etc. Later on in the tutorial, they’ll be doing some hands-on demos, letting people take a sample game (“Destroy the Castle”) and optimize it for multicore systems. There’s about one computer for every 3 or 4 people in the room to play with the demo code.

The mantra so far: “Threading is hard.”

Had breakfast with a couple of interesting guys. Jonathan is here from the defense industry in England. He’s interested in advances in graphics realism and physics for use in simulations he does for troop training. And David is a university professor from Ontario who teaches computer graphics. He said he came to GDC because it’s more fun than the academic conferences. πŸ™‚

I’ve been shooting some b-roll video of the conference in general, and I’m ready to start “cornering” people, and getting some video interviews. I’m focusing on looking for good stories – stories of how software has made a difference in your life or your work. Software that you couldn’t live without, or couldn’t do your job without. Because everyone loves a good story. πŸ™‚

Stay tuned for more live GDC goodness! πŸ™‚


The Photos from GDC 07 Begin

GDC Press/Exhibitor Badge, originally uploaded by Josh Bancroft.

I’ve uploaded the 23 or so photos I took this afternoon as I was wandering around downtown San Francisco and GDC at Moscone Center West. This photoset on Flickr is where I’ll be uploading more photos in the days to come, so check it out. Or, you could subscribe to my photo feed or my linkblog (which has my photos injected into it) to get them all automatically.

I’ve also subscribed to the feed for the Flickr tag “gdc”, which I expect most people will use when posting photos of the conference. Check it out if you want a sample of what photos people are sharing.

This photo is of my badge, which I spent about an hour and a few trips between the press room on the third floor and the registration desk in the lobby getting updated to add “Press” credentials. Since my previous badge was intended for Intel people manning the booth on the expo floor, and didn’t provide access to anything other than the expo floor (which doesn’t even open until Wednesday), and since I’m not even on booth duty, I decided I needed more access. Thanks to the nice folks in the press room who happily made me a Press Pass once I produced a business card, and showed them my last post on the ISN blog, which talks about what I’m going to be doing here. πŸ™‚

I’m messing around with encoding HD video on my Mac Book Pro (which still sounds like a small airplane), and it takes a LOOONG time, even with a Core 2 Duo 2.33 GHz processor. So I don’t expect I’ll be processing and posting much video until I get home. Unless I set it up to go overnight. Hmm. There’s a solution – video processing and white noise machine (the stuck fan) all in one! πŸ™‚

There’s an all day tutorial on multithreading your games, presented by Paul Lindberg of Intel, tomorrow, and that’s likely where I’ll be spending most of the day. But I’ll be out and around looking at other stuff, too, so say hi if you see me. I’m the guy in bright orange shoes – very easy to spot. πŸ™‚


On my way to GDC

On my way to GDC, originally uploaded by Josh Bancroft.

I’m at PDX airport, gate E1, waiting for my flight to San Francisco. I’m going to be at the Game Developers Conference at the Moscone Center all week, covering it for Intel Software Network. I’ll be blogging, shooting photos, recording audio interviews, and shooting HD video with my cool new Canon camcorder. So, if you know of something cool that I shouldn’t miss, let me know. And if you’re going to be at GDC and want to say Hi, you know how to reach me. πŸ™‚

– Taken at 8:28 AM on March 05, 2007 – cameraphone upload by ShoZu


I’m on the cover of the Wall Street Journal (Weekend Section)

Wow, all this press coverage might make my ego grow to intolerable proportions. First, the cover of the Oregonian, and now, the Wall Street Journal. πŸ˜‰

There’s a story called “The Minutes of Our Lives“, about the liveblogging phenomenon. I was interviewed several times by the reporter, Jennifer Saranow, about how I liveblogged Gabriel’s birth back in August. The story isn’t just about me, but it’s still cool to be able to say “I’m in the Wall Street Journal”.

Here are some relevant quotes:

When Josh Bancroft, a 30-year-old Intel engineer from Portland, Ore., told his wife, Rachel, he wanted to live-blog the birth of their second child last August, she was reluctant at first. Once he explained that he would be updating readers with text during slow moments — and that he wouldn’t be bringing a camera and laptop — she relented. His posts include: “At the hospital now….We’re doing a scheduled C-section. It’s kind of weird, knowing ahead of time what’s going to happen when,” and a little later, “It’s a boy!” and then, “We couldn’t be happier.”

Mr. Bancroft says he had at least 4,000 readers that day — about double the usual on his tech-heavy blog — but the posts weren’t completely well received. One of the 10 comments on the day of the event, from a regular reader he only knows by screen name, IntelWife, said, “It is something you should share with your wife, not all of us.” Still, Mr. Bancroft (whose job partly entails promoting new technologies) says the live updates were the best way to record the day. “You are capturing a different set of feelings and memories than if you waited until you got home and tried to recall the situation,” he says.

Go read the whole article – it’s pretty interesting. It talks about Twitter, which anyone who has used it probably recognizes as the next “thing” in liveblogging. I’m on Twitter, if you want to add me, and keep up with “what I’m doing”.

If I keep getting all this publicity, I’m going to have to hire an agent or something. πŸ˜‰ This isn’t even the first time I’ve been in the WSJ – I was also part of an article about corporate use of wikis, talking about Intelpedia, Intel’s internal wiki that I created.

Thanks for including me in the article, Jennifer! It was fun! πŸ™‚


New Toy! Canon XH A1 HDV Camcorder

Controls Closeup, originally uploaded by Josh Bancroft.

This is the camera I’m going to be taking with me next week to the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco. I’ll be shooting video and blogging for Intel Software Network – basically, looking for anything that’s cool or interesting.

It shoots in High Definition, 1080i at 60 frames per second (1920×1080 pixels), in the HDV standard (records on to standard MiniDV tapes). It’s tons of bells and whistles, some that I may never use, and it’s got lots of audio inputs, too (one 1/8″ mic input, two XLR mic inputs, plus a great built in stereo mic). It can also record in regular Standard Definition (SD) for things that don’t need to be in HD.

It has more hardware buttons than most of my other gadgets, and I have to admit that even I feel a little unsure whether I’ll be able to take advantage of the features, but I’m going to dive in and do my best. We’ll see how it comes out! πŸ™‚ There are a bunch more photos of it in all it’s buttony-gadgety glory in this set on Flickr.

The resulting video will be posted on Intel Software Network, and the intrepid guessers among you might infer that there will be more video-type content coming there…

If you’re going to be at GDC (or even if you’re not), and know of something that I should cover, let me know! My email is on my blog, along with my cell phone number (though email is probably a better bet – it comes straight to my phone).

Or, if you’re going to be there, and just want to meet up and say Hi (or if you know where the good parties and geek meetups are going to be! πŸ˜‰ ), I’d love to hear from you.

I’ve been a gamer since I was 4 years old, so to say I’m excited to go to GDC would be a bit of an understatement. πŸ™‚ Shigeru Miyamoto is giving the keynote, and there’s going to be lots of cool demo stuff from Intel and others. I can’t wait!