There were several big engine announcements. Unity unveiled Unity 5 which features real-time GI using Enlighten, full deferred shading, 64-bit editor, SpeedTree, physically-based built-in shader and a frame debugger among other features. PBS is great, but there are no area light sources. However, real-time GI helps a lot to that effect. Unity 4.6 will also have a new GUI system, but I avoid the topic because of an NDA.
Epic launched much anticipated Unreal Engine 4 and surprised everyone by making the source code available on GitHub for developers. The licence cost is very indie-friendly at $20/mo, 5 % of sales excluding consoles. Monthly subscription (EaaS) seems to be the new trend among engines, Unity has had an option for it for a while and Crytek also announced EaaS model for CRYENGINE at GDC. I’ll definitely try all the new engines in the near future and maybe write up blog posts about them.
I attended several game/engine rendering talks and PBS using Schlick Fresnel, GGX and Cook-Torrance seems to be pretty standard stuff nowadays. Khronos announced OpenGL ES 3.1 which finally features compute shaders. I’m currently evaluating which algorithm I’ll use for my engine’s lighting and Forward+ is a strong candidate so CS support in ES 3.1 would make it more feasible.
Overall, this year’s GDC was great and I met many cool people and got a lot of takeaways from the sessions that I’ll start applying into my engine when the jet lag wears off.