GDC is really the day before the real conference... right now there are only 3 or 4 thousand attendees, and tomorrow the number will be closer to 20,000. The first two days are summits and tutorials, with "summits" being mini-conferences on such topics as AI, Education, Social & Online, Smartphone, Independent Games, Serious Games and Localization. It's kind of odd that the fastest growing market segments (smartphone and social games) are relegated to a smaller footprint, but I guess it would just be overwhelming to include those specific topics in the myriad other tracks competing for attention during the next three days.
I attended an interesting session on emerging technologies today, which was discussing the ways being created to bring higher-powered gaming to browsers. Adobe's Molehill project will give developers access to the GPU for accelerating 3D performance with a browser... speeding up things by an order of magnitude or two (check out the videos on that link). Facebook has been working on seeing just how fast they can get Facebook games to perform, with some impressive results. And Mozilla has been working on a version of OpenGL called WebGL, hoping they can provide a universal solution to fast browser performance for games.
I'm not sure what technology will wint out here, but it's clear that browser game performance on desktops, tablets, and smartphones is going to take a big leap forward in the next year. Which is good news for game developers looking to bring some more graphic buzz to their games that can work on a very wide array of devices.
Most of the day, though, was spent renewing old contacts and having new discussions. Lunch with Warren Spector was fun, as was chatting with Eric Goldberg about old times in the game business. There will be a lot fo things to follow up on after the show...as is usually the case.
One thing I have learned, though, is to make sure next year to be there for Google's first seminars... attendees were given laptops running ChromeOS, Motorola Xoom tablets or Nexus S smartphones... wow. Nothing like encouraging developers to attend your seminars!