ECGC 2016 Bets on VR, Storytelling, Indies and Unreal

By Dana Cowley

Now entering its eighth year, the East Coast Game Conference is expanding its offerings for the annual show in downtown Raleigh. 

A new VR Village and VR track in conjunction with a dense roster of narrative heavyweights, focused talks for independent developers (not to mention the popular Indie Alley returning to the expo), and the strongest Unreal track we’ve ever offered is teeing this up to be the most valuable ECGC to date.

In the VR Village, we’ll cheer on people as they go hands-on with Bullet Train, Epic’s VR demo that turns you into an invincible assassin of bots and mech bosses thanks to Oculus Touch motion controls. Our neighbors in the VR Village include Horizon Productions, IGDA NC Triangle, NextGen Interactions, RTP-VR, and numerous other organizations, start-ups and educational institutions. 

Just steps away, in the main drag across from Child’s Play, we’ll have the Unreal Editor demo station set up where you can meet members of Epic’s team. It will be a great opportunity to explore the latest engine features and chat with us in person.

Below are the ECGC sessions led by our folks. But don’t stop there! Be sure to check out the full schedule to get a better sense of everything you stand to gain from ECGC 2016 (cough, Warren Spector is keynoting). 

Tuesday, April 19

Quality Assurance: Best Practices

Chelsea Curran Adams | 3:15-4:15

Special Opening Session - ECGC 2016 Community Day

Wednesday, April 20

Intro to Unreal

Andy Hess | 9:00-10:00am

Epic Games Evangelist Andy Hess will start the day by going over basics of Unreal Engine including UI, terminology, conventions, content management and learning resources. Additional topics will include an introduction to materials and lighting, Blueprints and game framework. 

Working With C++ in UE4

Lauren Ridge | 10:15-11:15am

Lauren Ridge will create custom gameplay behavior using C++ code, and then show how to expose this code to the Blueprint visual scripting system to add visual effects. Lauren will also explain how the "assisted C++" in Unreal Engine enables you to directly write gameplay behavior without having to work on lower level details like garbage collection. This talk is geared towards those who have worked with C++ or other programming languages before, but may be new to Unreal Engine's framework and custom markup.

Paragon’s Rendering Technology

Zak Parrish | 11:30am-12:30pm

Paragon, Epic Games' new MOBA for PlayStation 4 and PC, showcases the most realistic human characters ever seen in a game from Epic. In this session, Zak Parrish will show off the new cutting-edge rendering features that give Paragon's Heroes believable hair, skin, eyes and cloth. 

Making VR Games and Experiences in UE4

Luis Cataldi | 3:15-6:15pm

Learn the key topics that those new to Unreal Engine and building VR content need to understand for creating well-performing games and experiences. From harnessing the power of the Unreal Engine framework to exploring effective locomotion mechanics for VR, this workshop will help to identify and overcome many of the key “gotchas” in VR development. 

Thursday, April 21

VR Content: Make It Like It’s 1999

Sam Deiter | 9:00-10:00am

Learn how to get the best performance when building VR content with Unreal Engine 4. It's essential to ensure that your VR project runs as fast as possible to give users the best experience possible. In this talk, Epic Games Senior Technical Writer Sam Deiter will go over some of the ways you can build and optimize your content for optimal visuals, performance and enjoyment.

This Is Going to Be Epic! Small Steps That Make a Big Difference in Your Career

Emily Gabrian | 10:15-11:15am

Whether you're going from student to professional, transitioning careers, or proving yourself within your current job, there are simple (and some not-so-simple) steps you can take that will  move you forward. In the first half of this presentation Emily Gabrian will discuss getting from point A to point B in your career in games. Stick around for the second half to discover specifically what it means to work at Epic Games and why our people are so passionate about the company. Emily will share behind-the-scenes information about applications and interviews, and answer questions about internships, senior level positions and what to do with this new-found insight.
Bringing Quality to Your Team

Chelsea Curran Adams | 2:00-3:00pm

As the industry reaches the point where projects are being developed by indie and AAA companies with an expectation of higher quality, larger worlds, and sequels across the board, teams need to iterate rapidly and efficiently to provide the best estimation of scope, completion and quality. This talk is geared towards those wanting to understand how quality can be attained in projects using techniques from backlogs and user stories to training and tools.

Cinematics with Sequencer

Wes Bunn | 3:15-4:15pm

In this session Wes Bunn will demonstrate Unreal Engine's new Sequencer tool and create a cinematic sequence from scratch. Take a closer look at the Sequencer editor, the different types of tracks that are available now, and how the tool  differs from Matinee. Learn how to collaborate on the same scene with others on your team, as well as other innovative features that will help get you on your way to creating incredible cinematic sequences of your own. By the end, you'll see the sample scene end result and be able to participate in the Q&A session.

Unreal Match 3 - A Mobile Sample Game

Lauren Ridge | 4:30-5:30pm

Unreal Match 3 is Epic Games' free, newly released app and learning resource for Android and iOS game development. Unreal Match 3 makes great use of Paper2D, the Unreal Motion Graphics UI editor, and a ton of mobile functionality such as leaderboards and in-app purchases. Learn about how the project was designed, from its C++ beginnings to the visual pass and evolution of UI. This talk is geared toward anyone who wants to learn more about Unreal Engine's mobile capabilities and how Blueprints and C++ can work together to empower both programmers and designers. 


We look forward to seeing everyone soon! If you have an ECGC pass be sure to swing by the Lincoln Theater in downtown Raleigh on Wednesday night for the ECGC Unreal Engine Opening Night Party featuring performances by Devious, Gifted 6, Ronin, Eight Bit Disaster and our headliner, Styles & Complete.

Can’t make it this year? Look out for the #ECGC16 hashtag, follow @ecgconf and stay tuned for 2017 dates.

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