• NVIDIA: The Way It’s Meant to be Played – PAX East 2014

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    Friday evening, NVIDIA’s Tom Peterson hosted a presentation in the Main Theater. Before Tom began talking about NVIDIA products and services, he gave a great overview of how massive the gaming industry has become. Not only did the gaming industry have higher gross revenue than cinema and music sales industries, it also had higher CAGR (compound annual growth rate). In summation, the gaming industry has already surpassed other entertainment mediums, and is growing at a faster rate. Tom mentioned that while most people enjoy multiple types of gaming (board games, console games, hand held games, etc), most people enjoy PC gaming because of the following:


    • Innovative business models, such as subscription services, free to play games, and commerce (micro-transaction markets and digital distribution services).
    • Scalability and ease of upgrades (as well as graphical performance)
    • The growth in popularity of ESports (as well game streaming through services such as TWITCH)


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    Tom went on to talk about NVIDIA GameWorks, which was announced at Montreal 2013 and officially released to developers at Game Developers Conference 2014. Below is a brief discription explaining NVIDIA GameWorks quoted directly from NVIDIA's blog.

    “NVIDIA GameWorks is a collection of technologies and tools that include visual and physical simulation software, development kits, debuggers, algorithms, engines, and libraries that can already be found in some of the industry’s top selling games.”
    NVIDIA GameWorks 2014 Unleashed at Game Developers Conference

    There were a couple of examples of GameWorks in action, including a fire demo highlighting the ability of GameWorks to provide realistic lighting, shading and animation of fire in a 3D environment, as well as Sony Online Entertainment’s David Georgeson providing a demonstration of EverQuest Next Landmark , which takes advantage of GPU PhysX.

    The NVIDIA Game Platform, which is often referred to as the “NVIDIA ecosystem”, was also a big highlight of Tom’s presentation. It all starts with the GeForce Experience, which ensures drivers are up to date and optimizes games, but this is just a start. ShadowPlay is allows you to capture and stream video of your games without any impact to GPU frame rate performance. ShadowPlay is integrated with TWITCH to allow for a simplified experience when streaming games.

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    A couple other products that Tom covered were the newly announced GTX Titan Z, which is the most powerful graphics card available from NVIDIA, as well as the GTX 750ti, which priced at $150 only consumes 75w of power, yet has two times the graphical performance of the GTX 550ti at half the power and equal performance to the GTX 480 at more than 3 times the power.

    NVIDIA has continued to market the Shield hand held device, which is has also benefited from the GeForce Experience. GameStream allows you to stream PC games to the NVIDIA Shield both over your WiFi network and as of April 7, 2014, remoteley over the internet (they recommend a 5mbps upload and download connection speed for optimal performance). NVIDIA GRID is another service being offered (currently in beta) for Shield users that allows them to stream games through directly from cloud servers that handle the GPU processing for the games being displayed on the Shield. Lastly, the NVIDIA Shield can also be used in “Console Mode” where it can receive a stream from another device and simultaneously display on alternate display (monitor or television), while connected to Bluetooth input devices or a wired XBOX 360 controller.

    The Shield team along with Jared Gerritzen from Zombie Studios provided a demo of the game Daylight being played from the Shield device via GameStream, but the demonstration got even better. Not only is NVIDIA trying to further enhance GameStream for playing PC games across the Shield, but they are also pushing for further advancement of Android OS based games that can use the full power of the Shield’s NVIDIA Tegra 4 processor. The Shield team officially announced that Portal by Valve Software is coming to the Shield and they provided a live demonstration, and it looked very impressive. There are many more full PC and console titles in the works for Android, and there are currently more than 300 "Shield ready" Android titles available to consumers.

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    Actual picture taken of Portal running on an NVIDIA Shield and streaming to a secondary display.

    Lastly, Tom was joined by Randy Pitchford, president of Gearbox software, to speak about some of the projects being worked on by Gearbox, such as the full re-mastering of the Homeworld franchise. Though he did not respond to my questions about re-mastering Aliens Colonial Marines, he seemed enthusiastic about the projects currently under development at Gearbox. Tom and Randy closed out the event by handing out a lot of computer hardware, shirts, tablets, and some shield devices.

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    While the majority of the presentation was nothing new and things we have all probably seen or heard before, the announcement about Portal being released to the Shield was fairly exciting. The Shield is a device with a lot of potential and has really struggled to find its purpose as a mobile gaming device, and this release is exactly what is needed to take the Shield to the next level.