After battling through both Comdex and CES (Consumer Electronics Show), I can honestly say that the Game Developers Conference is a cakewalk in comparison. Comdex and CES are huge in terms of exhibitors, attendees, and keynote speakers. The sheer number of people exhibiting and attending these shows makes moving around difficult. Have you ever waited over an hour in a taxi line
? Try getting one at LVCC (Las Vegas Convention Center) after 7PM.
GDC is still small enough to be held in the San Jose Convention Center, and that made the trip easier for us since we're located in the Bay Area (although we still had to deal with that nasty 880 bottleneck between Montague and the 101). Finding parking was also fairly painless. There were plenty of "Lot Full" signs, but we were able to find parking just a couple blocks away from the Convention Center.
All the good stuff
While Comdex and CES may have far more exhibitors, the vast majority of them wouldn't interest our readers (unless you're into endless rows of power supplies and other OEM goods). Like its name suggests, GDC is a conference for game developers. We liked the fact that the conference is still relatively small compared to other trade shows. Foot traffic is low enough that exhibitors such as S3/Diamond are able to offer free snacks and refreshments at their booths.
The GDC is great because it gathers together all the companies that matter to us, the PC hardware developers. This year, all the 3D companies were present displaying their wares, and offering workshops on how to take advantage of various new hardware features. We managed to schedule meetings with virtually every 3D graphics manufacturer. In the span of two days, we had meetings with ATI, Matrox, NVIDIA, S3/Diamond, and 3dfx.
Of course, everyone knows that Microsoft stole the show with its X-Box announcement. Bob and Sam put up an article about Gates' speech and the X-Box on Sunday. On Friday we met with ATI, Matrox, Creative Labs, and 3dfx.
ATI briefed us on its new Charisma Engine and Pixel Tapestry Architecture, and, as a surprise, they demonstrated working RAGE 6 silicon. The meeting with Matrox was pleasant as always (I don't think we've ever met a Matrox person that wasn't nice), but our discussion is under NDA. We'll cover ATI's new technology in this GDC update.