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Previewing GDC 2009: Inside The Programming Track

[In the fourth of a series picking out the most notable Game Developers Conference 2009 lectures, presented by sister site Gamasutra, they examine the Programming Track, with newly added talks from the Killzone 2, Halo Wars, and Uncharted 2: Among Thieves creators.]
Game Developers Conference 2009 (organized by Think Services) is set to take place in San Francisco's Moscone Center from March 23 to 27, 2009.
With nearly 280 sessions now confirmed for GDC 2009, we'll be taking a track by track look at the conference's line-up over the next few weeks.
Fourth on the list is GDC's Programming Track, which will focus on the "ever increasing challenge to produce games that capture the attention of the public and the media," as well as the opportunities presented by "mature consoles, new handhelds, a highly competitive sales environment, and increased demand for very high production values in games."
Notable highlights thus far announced for this track are as follows:

- In "The Rendering Technology of Killzone 2," Guerrilla's senior graphics programmer Michal Valient will present an overview of the rendering techniques used in the highly anticipated PS3-exclusive shooter. In addition to looking at lighting and shadowing techniques, Valient will discuss the "different optimization possibilities the Playstation 3 offers."
- Ensemble Studios's Colt McAnlis will present "Halo Wars: The Terrain of Next-Gen," a technical session on how the studio took advantage of the Xbox 360's hardware for the forthcoming RTS title by "moving from a standard height-field terrain, to a full vector field terrain and increasing vertex density by 8x over previous titles."
- Jason Gregory, generalist programmer at Naughty Dog, will provide an informative lecture on "State-Based Scripting in in Uncharted: Drake's Fortune and Uncharted 2: Among Thieves", giving attendees an in-depth tour of the studio's "highly flexible, object-oriented, finite state machine based scripting environment," while preparing programmers to implement a similar system.
- Titled "Insomniac Games' Secrets of Console and Playstation 3 Programming," this full-day tutorial will have the Insomniac Engine Programming Team dispensing "a day's worth of technical presentations, each offering an individual perspective on the methods, tricks, and optimization strategies involved with programming the Playstation 3 console."
- Rockstar's lead graphics programmer Wolfgang Engel will cover the advantages and disadvantages of different render design patterns and introduce "The Light Pre-Pass Renderer - Renderer Design for Multiple Lights," new renderer design pattern more material variety, less memory bandwidth usage, easy MSAA implementations on all platforms, and other improvements over other patterns.
- In "Zen of Multicore Rendering," Halo Team Microsoft's principal engine programmer Corrine Yu plans to expose the audience to "novel technology and pragmatic engine designs that exploits parallelism to implement features previously not possible in single core fixed rendering pipeline hardware."
- Epic Games' senior programmer Niklas Smedberg and engine programmer Daniel Wright will share their studios "gore and blood rendering techniques" and their "approaches used to aggressively optimize Screen Space Ambient Occlusion, which is necessary for console hardware" in this informative discussion on "Rendering Techniques in Gears of War 2".
- Providing an in-depth look at the technology behind the studio's 3D fighting game, Midway's graphics programming lead Jonathan Greenberg will present "Hitting 60Hz with the Unreal Engine: Inside the Tech of Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe" and describe a "series of optimizations and guidelines that describe how one could create a 60 Hz game inside Unreal Engine 3.
- BioWare's John Watson will provide a visual model of the complexities of large scale software development to demonstrate how changing factors impact software development in "Massive Software Complexity", a useful poster session targeting "technical staff who are motivated to decrease development time and increase correctness."
- Pulling examples from Star Ocean 4's development, Tri-Ace CEO and CTO Yoshiharu Gotanda will share how attendees can integrate a flexible shader management system and physically-based camera simulation during post-processing. He'll offer practical examples, implementation details, and the challenges his team faced in his session titled "Star Ocean 4: Flexible Shader Management and Post-Processing".
The full Programming Track line-up to date includes many more notable lectures and roundtables, including discussions on artificial intelligence, tool development, creating truly destructible worlds, and more.


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