March 8, 2018

Epic Games goes big at GDC 2018

By Daniel Kayser

Epic Games will be at GDC 2018 to support the explosive growth of the Unreal Engine community with more content and learning material than ever before. Along with a booth at #423 South, Epic Games will be taking over the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater on Wednesday, March 21st for the annual “State of Unreal” opening session and a full day of programming offering a deep dive into the latest Unreal Engine developments. Visit for an overview of where we’ll be at GDC.
State of Unreal — Our annual opening session will be open to the media and all GDC attendees with an Expo Pass Plus or higher. While we can’t reveal details quite yet, there will be many surprises along with presentations from Epic Games Founder and CEO Tim Sweeney and CTO Kim Libreri, Unreal Engine licensees, partners, and special guests. Please note our new location for the GDC 2018 presentation, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater, 700 Howard Street in San Francisco (adjacent to Moscone Center) on Wednesday, March 21st from 9:30-10:30AM. The presentation will be streamed online via the Unreal Engine YouTube, Facebook and Twitch channels. 
Unreal Engine Sponsored Sessions — Join us for a full day of programming with sessions running from 11AM through to 6PM PST at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater. These sessions will cover topics ranging from cinematic lighting in Unreal Engine, and creating believable characters in UE4, to optimizing Fortnite: Battle Royale, photoreal virtual humans in UE4 and programmable VFX with UE4’s Niagara. More information about these sessions, which will be streamed online, is available below. 
Unreal on the Expo Floor — Stay tuned for more details on this year’s dedicated space on the GDC expo floor for showcasing dozens of the most exciting new titles developed in UE4. Visit for opportunities to play the latest and most anticipated new UE games, and to connect with recruiters looking to hire Unreal Engine talent!
Unreal Engine Partner Sessions — From a look at the making of ILMxLAB’s location-based VR experiences including the Oscar-winning “Carne y Arena” and “Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire” to a breakdown of how Ninja Theory’s small team of 20 delivered AAA quality with “Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice", GDC full-pass holders will have access to an incredible range of educational programming from some of the top creators across games, AR/VR and VFX. A complete list of GDC sessions is available online.
Unreal Engine Technical Sessions — GDC 2018 sessions offer an incredible range of UE4 educational opportunities from the latest techniques in photorealistic virtual humans, to bridging the gap between UX principles and game design to developing the art of Fortnite to real-time VFX, creating VFX in VR and much more!

Unreal Engine GDC Education Summit — A full day of programming will be offered on Tuesday, March 20 at the Four Seasons Hotel & Residences in San Francisco. This event is open to educators for free and will offer many new learning resources directly from the Unreal Engine education team covering topics including technical art, using Blueprints to teach programming, an introduction to Datasmith, rendering masterclasses, an introduction to the Niagara VFX system and more. Advance registration is required; space is limited.
For all the latest info, visit


Cinematic Lighting in Unreal Engine
March 21, 11:00am - 12:00pm PT
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater
Speakers: Epic Games: Marcus Wassmer - Lead Rendering Programmer, Jerome Platteaux - Art Director, Arne Schober - Senior Rendering Programmer
NVIDIA: Ignacio Llamas - Senior Manager of Real Time Rendering Software
Description: Get an in-depth view of next-gen experimental lighting and rendering techniques in Unreal Engine, developed in collaboration with NVIDIA and a ‘soon-to-be-announced’ secret partner.

Creating Believable Characters in Unreal Engine
March 21, 12:45 - 1:45pm PT
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater
Speakers: Andrew Harris - Studio CG Supervisor, Adam Skutt - Sr. Character Artist, Peter Sumanaseni - Sr. Technical Artist, Chris Evans - Lead Technical Animator, James Golding - Lead Programmer 
Description: Learn the processes and techniques used by the artists and engineers at Epic Games and its partners to create realistic and detailed digital characters running in real time in Unreal Engine.

Optimizing Fortnite: Battle Royale (Part 1) - Taking FNBR from 30fps to 60fps on Consoles
March 21, 2:00 - 3:00pm PT
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater
Speakers: Nick Penwarden - Director of Engine Development, Carlos Cuello - Lead Programmer, James Golding - Lead Programmer
Description: We discuss how we approached scalability and game thread optimization in FNBR to support both the 60fps console and mobile efforts. Then we talk about some of the rendering optimizations and tradeoffs necessary to run FNBR at 60fps on all consoles.

Optimizing Fortnite: Battle Royale (Part 2) - Shipping the same game on Mobile, PC, and Console
March 21, 3:30 - 4:30pm PT
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater
Speakers: Julie Truong - Game Engine Product Manager, Nick Penwarden - Director of Engine Development,, Ryan Brucks - Principal Technical Artist, Jordan Walker - Lead Artist
Description: Learn how the full Fortnite Battle Royale game was brought to mobile. First we discuss our approach to scaling the game down and the engine optimizations needed to make it happen. Then we will go over the tools and techniques the art team used to optimize the game's content for mobile devices.

Programmable VFX with Unreal Engine’s Niagara
March 21, 5:00 - 6:00pm PT
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater
Speaker: Wyeth Johnson, Lead Technical Artist
Description: Join us for a first look at Epic Games' new Unreal Engine VFX editor, Niagara. This new suite of tools is built from the ground up to provide unprecedented power to content creators looking for total control over particle simulation, rendering, and performance. We'll look at the foundational technology behind Niagara, discuss the paradigm shift in how we work and interact with VFX simulation, show a fully programmable pipeline from start to finish, and dissect some example effects that wouldn't have been possible without this completely new set of tools.


Fortnite’s Real-Time Lighting Techniques and Tools
Mar 21: 11:00am, 1:30pm, 4:00pm PT
Mar 22: 10:00am, 2:30pm, 5:00pm PT
Mar 23: 10:00am, 12:30pm PT
Moscone South | Booth 423
Speaker: Zak Parrish
Description: In this session, you will learn about some of the dynamic lighting features we use in Fortnite with Unreal Engine 4. We'll take a look at how you can set these up, optimize them, and get the most out of your dynamically lit worlds to achieve the highest fidelity and save some performance in the process.

Connecting Maya to Unreal with Live Link
Mar 21: 11:30am, 2:00pm, 4:30pm PT
Mar 22: 10:30am, 3:00pm, 5:30pm PT
Mar 23: 10:30am, 1:00pm PT
Moscone South | Booth 423
Speaker: Wes Bunn
Description: In this session, you will learn how to speed up your animation workflow and spend more time iterating with Unreal Engine 4's new Live Link feature. With Live Link, you can connect UE4 to Maya (or other DCC tools) enabling you to stream animation data in real-time from your external application onto a Skeletal Mesh inside UE4

Showcasing Unreal's New Material Layering System
Mar 21: 12:00pm, 2:30pm, 5:00pm PT
Mar 22: 1:00pm, 3:30pm PT 
Mar 23: 11:00am, 1:30pm PT
Moscone South | Booth 423
Speaker: Alan Willard
Description: This session will demonstrate UE4’s new experimental system for creating layered materials. This new approach to material construction offers extreme flexibility and future editiablity for in-game assets, especially for content that will require many variations, such as character skins.

Building High-End Gameplay Effects with Blueprint
Mar 21: 12:30pm, 3:00pm, 5:30pm PT
Mar 22: 1:30pm, 4:00pm PT
Mar 23: 11:30am, 2:00pm PT
Moscone South | Booth 423
Speaker: Chris Murphy
Description: Unreal Engine's Blueprint allows developers to create high-end effects that impact many areas of the game environment without necessarily requiring in-depth knowledge in each discipline. By leveraging Blueprint as a tool to connect particle systems, render targets and modify assets in the world, this session will allow you to develop a single high-end laser effect that carves through the landscape.

Volumetric Fog and Lighting in Unreal Engine 4
Mar 21: 1:00pm, 3:30pm PT
Mar 22: 2:00pm, 4:30pm PT
Mar 23: 12:00pm, 2:30pm PT
Moscone South | Booth 423
Speaker: Sjoerd De Jong
Description: This session will cover the latest improvements to Unreal Engine volumetric fog and lighting features. Within a beautiful nature scene you will learn how to set up these effects, and how you can achieve spectacular results by authoring volumetric fog through the material editor.

Additional Talks by Epic

Bridging the Gap Between UX Principles and Game Design
Jim Brown (Senior Designer, Epic Games)

Realistic Foliage Imposter and Forest Rendering in UE4
Ryan Brucks (Principal Technical Artist, Epic Games)

Developing the Art of 'Fortnite'
Peter Ellis (Art Director, Epic Games)

Animation Bootcamp: Animation Microtalks
Adriana Pucciano (Senior Animator, Rocksteady, Ltd.)
Lana Bachynski (Animator, Blizzard Entertainment)
Kristjan Zadziuk (Animation Director, Lucid Games, Ltd.)
David Gibson (Senior Animator, Blizzard Entertainment)
Jay Hosfelt (Lead Animator, Epic Games)
Gwen Frey (Animator, Studio Founder, The Molasses Flood)
Jake Clark (Animator, Designer, Concept Artist, Studio MDHR)
James Benson (Animator, Designer, Campo Santo)
Jason Shum (Senior Animator, Amazon Games Studio)
Katie Better (Senior Mocap Animator, Rockstar Games)

Forts and Fights from Fun-Size to Full-Size: Scaling Fortnite and Unreal Tournament with Unreal Engine (Presented by Intel Corporation)
Bob Tellez (Technical Lead , Epic Games)
Peter Knepley (Lead Engineer, Epic Games)
Jeff Rous (Senior Developer Relations Engineer, Intel)

To Err is to Play: Human Error and Game Design
Ben Lewis-Evans (User Experience Researcher, Epic Games)

Games User Research and Experience Roundtable (Presented by IGDA)
Ben Lewis-Evans (UX Lead, Chair, Epic Games, IGDA Games User Research SIG)

Standardizing All the Realities: A Look at OpenXR (Presented by Khronos Group)
Nick Whiting (Technical Director, Epic Games)

'Fortnite': An Unconventional Launch
Ed Zobrist (Head of Fortnite Publishing, Epic Games)

Visual Effects Bootcamp: Autonomy in Real-Time Effects: Artist Driven Tools and Techniques for Large Scale Production
Bill Kladis (Senior VFX Artist, Epic Games)

Visual Effects Bootcamp: Pathways to Real-Time Visual Effects
Fred Hooper (Lead Visual Effects Artist, NVIDIA)
Jamie DeRuyter (Faculty/ VFX Artist, Ringling College of Art and Design)
Ashley Pinnick (VR Technical Artist, Google)
Martin LaLand Romero (VFX Artist, ILMxLAB)
Bill Kladis (Senior VFX Artist, Epic Games)

Taking the Red Pill: Using Radeon GPU Profiler to Look inside Your Game (Presented by AMD)
Jason Stewart (SMTS Software Engineer, AMD)
Rolando Caloca O. (Senior Engine Programmer, Epic)