GDC 2023: What to Expect and Where to Find Us!

industry Feb 20, 2023
GDC 2023: What to Expect and Where to Find Us! - Featured


The Game Developers Conference returns to San Francisco, and VFX Apprentice will be there to present and hangout. 


The best conference for game developers is upon us! As we anxiously await this years GDC, we thought we should let everyone in our community know what to expect, and where to find us at the conference.

This year, GDC 2023 takes place from March 20 through March 24, 2023 and will be held at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. There’s still time to register if you haven’t already so get on it!
Register Here

But first, let’s go over what exactly GDC is and who could benefit from attending. 


What is GDC?




GDC (Game Developers Conference) is a leading event for game industry professionals to exchange ideas and learn about the latest advancements in game development. It is an annual conference held in San Francisco, California and includes lectures, tutorials, and roundtable discussions led by industry experts, as well as networking opportunities and an exhibit hall showcasing the latest technology and tools. GDC is a platform for game developers to share their experiences, exchange knowledge, and advance their careers. We at VFX Apprentice can’t stress enough how informative and beneficial events like this are for the industry. 

One of the perks included with attending the conference include one-on-one meetings with other industry leading professionals. Attendees can request meetings with any fellow attendees through the GDC event mobile app. Just be sure to search other attendees by job title, professional interest, and other filters, then send them a meeting request with a proposed date, time, and location. This is an amazing way to build your network and make beneficial connections down the road. There will also be speed networking, happy hours, and an awards reception. 

So what will we be up to at the conference? Let's discuss! 


Meet the Team at VFX Apprentice!


VFX Apprentice’s very own founder Jason Keyser will be hosting days 1 and 2 of the Visual Effects Roundtable. The VFX Apprentice team will be doing a 1-hour talk at the Visual Effects Summit, featuring our lead technical artist Sandra Femenía, 2D FX instructor and mentor Sonia Firsova, and founder Jason Keyser.

One of our instructors and mentors, Kees Klop, will be giving a co-talk on the VFX of TemTem. Our internet-famous community manager Benedikt Ferlings will also be at the show! We'll be attending the visual effects community mixer, and any other party we can get into! Be sure to stop on by and say hello! We will be available for meetups and chats. Don't be shy!

If you want, contact [email protected] to make plans/schedules for breakfast, coffee, lunch, dinner, or salsa dancing if you plan on going to the conference!

Also, we will have lots of free VFXA mascot stickers! Who doesn’t love stickers!


Here’s all the info on the events with the VFXA Team: 




Speakers: Jason Keyser  (VFX Apprentice), Keith Guerrette  (Beyond-FX, Inc &

Pass Type: All Access Pass, Core Pass

Topic: Visual Arts

Format: Roundtable

The tools and techniques of Real Time VFX have changed dramatically over the past few years. There are now extraordinarily powerful desktop GPUs, rapidly advancing mobile GPUs, compute shaders, complex particle sims, mesh-based effect techniques, and advanced post processing and compositing tools. The new consoles have matured and are showing what they're capable of, and VR/AR/XR continues to impact the industry. It's an incredible time in Real Time VFX.



Speaker: Jason Keyser  (VFX Apprentice)

Pass Type: All Access Pass, Core Pass

Topic: Visual Arts

Format: Roundtable

The roundtable on Day 2 will focus on VFX through an ARTISTIC LENS. Jason will focus the discussion on your questions concerning the artistic aspects of VFX. This may include art education (as students or veterans), art direction, or whatever else comes up! See you there!



Speakers: Jason Keyser (VFX Apprentice), Sandra Femenía (VFX Apprentice), Sonia Firsova (Lead 2D VFX Artist & Animator, Mentor, Eleventh Hour Games, VFX Apprentice)

Pass Type: All Access Pass, Summits Pass

Topic: Visual Arts

Format: Lecture

If you have a fascination with VFX, this talk is gonna be a delightful experience. Come and see a collection of effects pulled from the vast library of content VFX Apprentice has put together over the years. Learn the key ingredients used to make fluorescent fire, brilliant blasts, slippery slime, and a whole lot more. Each effect covered will showcase a powerful technique you can use right away.

We will also explore the composition principles used in the creation of the effects and how you can incorporate some art tricks into your workflow!

Or if you're not a VFX artist yourself, you'll come to understand many mysteries of Visual FX, and how to work with them more effectively on your team. From concept to completion, we'll cover it all in an hour. So buckle in, because it'll be a fantastic ride!


GDC After Hours VFX Mixer | Wednesday March 22nd



Alongside the GDC convention, VFX Apprentice is proud to join with Undertone FX, FXville, Beyond-FX, and Tuatara to co-sponsor an after hours mixer at GDC just for the VFX community.

VFX Mixer

St Regis Lobby Bar
125 3rd St
San Francisco, CA 94105

7 pm - 10 pm. All VFX artists welcome.



VFX Apprentice Spring Sale

During GDC, new members of VFX-A All Access can get 10% off annual and monthly subscriptions. 

Discount Code: SPRINGVFX

Offer expires 3/31/2023. Valid only for new first-time members. 



The Most Exciting Events and Sessions at the Conference


Image via Epic Games.


Epic Games’ annual State of Unreal Engine presentation will take place on March 22nd! Apparently we’ll be getting details about Unreal Engine 5.2 based on the fact that there are later sessions titled “Unreal Engine 5.2 Feature Showcase”. Epic Games has stated “Get a glimpse at what’s in store for the future of game development as the Epic Games team takes the stage with our talented partners,” - sounds big, and we can’t wait. 

In addition to their presentation, Epic Games is also hosting sessions, specifically two enticing sessions called “Creating Your First Game in Fortnite” and “Making Games in Fortnite” which makes us think these might be about Epic’s forever-in-development Unreal Editor for Fortnite, which is supposed to offer creators a much more robust set of tools than what’s currently available in the already powerful Creative mode. “The State of Unreal 2023” keynote kicks off at 12:30PM ET to 1:30PM ET on March 22nd! 

If you can’t make it in person this year, the great news is that you can tune into the livestream on YouTube or Twitch! Be sure to tune in below: 



Epic Games has also teased some major new Fortnite news, so be ready for that!


Image via GDC.


There’s also the GDC Main Stage Presentation featuring ‘The Future of Play’ is a multi-part presentation about how the game industry is expanding; opening up to new perspectives, opportunities, and challenges. It’s about looking forward to the ideas and ideals gaining ground in the industry, and how to make them work for you.

Topics include: designing games about experiences unique to marginalized cultures, building a healthy studio culture with a remote workforce, and building a successful user-generated content (UGC) platform that benefits both players and developers.


GDC Main Stage: The Future of Play

Chandana Ekanayake (Co-Founder & Creative Director, Outerloop Games)

Jen Oneal (Game Industry Executive, Independent)

Robert Anderberg (CEO & Co-Founder, ControlZee)

Pass Type: All Access Pass, Core Pass, Summits Pass, Expo Pass, Audio Pass, Independent Games Summit Pass


Notable Sessions Worth Checking Out

Sessions occur throughout the event. Here's an example from last year's GDC. You can expect to find these informative, engaging lectures and discussions all week long!






Speakers: Euna Park  (That's No Moon), Juno Suever  (Naughty Dog)

Pass Type: All Access Pass, Core Pass

Topic: Visual Arts

Format: Roundtable

The Animation Roundtable brings all disciplines together under a common cause: How to best implement and improve the field of animation in game development.



Speakers: Shinya Kumazaki  (HAL Laboratory, Inc.), Tatsuya Kamiyama  (HAL Laboratory, Inc.)

Pass Type: All Access Pass, Core Pass

Topic: Design

Format: Lecture

One year after the launch of Kirby and the Forgotten Land, developers Shinya Kumazaki and Tatsuya Kamiyama discuss how they brought traditional Kirby gameplay into a 3D world, as well as examine some of the new features in the game, including the fan-favorite Mouthful Mode. Additionally, the developers will talk about the recently launched Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe for Nintendo Switch and how they reimagined the 2D gameplay and the world of the multiplayer Wii classic. Close out the 30th anniversary of Kirby with this session celebrating Kirby’s multi-dimensional milestone year. Pink attire not required!



Speaker: Guillaume Goudreault  (Electronic Art)

Pass Type: All Access Pass, Core Pass

This talk will take a deep dive into the lighting art direction of the Dead Space Remake. Join Guillaume Goudreault, a lead on Motive's lighting team, on the development journey from how the initial ideation was carried out to honor the original Dead Space, to the production challenges with the new lighting features of the game.

Here's another incredible keynote from last years conference. No matter your skill or expertise, there's something for every aspiring FX artist. 




Speaker: Patrik Rosander  (Remedy Entertainment)

Pass Type: All Access Pass, Core Pass

Topic: Visual Arts

Format: Lecture

Remedy Entertainment Senior Concept Artist Patrik Rosander helps make matte painting for games accessible and broadened. It is a simple and powerful technique that is underutilized in game development, mainly because it is inaccessible.Attendees will take away a thorough understanding of the possibilities afforded through the use of matte painting. The use cases presented cover a variety of scenarios and provide enough information to start using matte paintings in ongoing or future projects to achieve a greater visual fidelity and impact.



Speaker: Jakub Stokalski  (11 Bit Studios)

Pass Type: All Access Pass, Core Pass

Topic: Design

Format: Lecture

Stories in games are often delivered alongside gameplay, not through it—yet in the player's mind, there is only one "story": the experience of playing the game as a whole. To make our games say things we want, we often lean on linear media storytelling toolbox, and it works. But all games (intently or not) also speak through player actions and the content they operate on, framed by the designers' intent. It's only fitting we develop our design toolset to power this language.



Speaker: Zach Bohn  (Santa Monica Studio)

Pass Type: All Access Pass, Core Pass

Topic: Design, Visual Arts

In this session, Zach Bohn, Sr. Staff Technical Designer at Santa Monica Studio, will discuss the development of God of War Ragnarök's User Interface (UI) and, more broadly, the role of a UI team/individual on a project.



Speaker: Adonis Stevenson  (Criterion Games, EA)

Pass Type: All Access Pass, Core Pass

Topic: Design, Visual Arts

Format: Lecture

In this talk, Adonis Stevenson, VFX Director at Criterion Games, EA, will talk about why Need For Speed Unbound chose to blend a realistic world with it's stylized Driving Effects, the artistic journey taken to get to the end result, and the technical approach used to achieve it.



Speaker: Phillip Ring  (Electronic Arts)

Pass Type: All Access Pass, Core Pass

Topic: Design

Phillip Ring, Executive Producer on The Sims 4 at Maxis, Electronic Arts, shares insights and lessons from working on The Sims team and how they have been engaging with Diversity, Equity & Inclusivity (DEI) in their games.

Classic Game Postmortem: 'Tamagotchi': The Original Virtual Pet

Speakers: Nobuhiko Momoi (Director, CTO (Chief Tamagotchi Officer), BANDAI Co., Ltd.)

Pass Type: All Access Pass, Core Pass

Topic: Design

Format: Lecture

Take a walk through history and learn about what was at the core of the original virtual pet’s success, what Bandai has changed about Tamagotchi to keep it fresh and relevant, and what has been kept the same to maintain brand awareness.



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