The Power of Play – April 26th, 2017

One Day. One Industry. Infinite Fun.
The Power of Play Countdown Begins!

 

Join VMC at THE game industry event in the Seattle area on April 26th! Hear from Bungie, Blizzard, Xbox and more! As a sponsor of this fabulous event, we are providing a discount link for 30% off so you can join us: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/power-of-play-2017-registration-29453983658?discount=ARFGames

From the biggest companies like Xbox, Bungie, Blizzard, and Oculus to the best of the indies like Ark Survival, Oxenfree, and Darkest Dungeon, all will be at Power of Play do some sharing, learning and celebrating.

On Wednesday at the Meydenbauer Center in Bellevue you’ll hear top industry speakers, mingle at the award reception, and see the newest indie and VR games around.

For more information go to: www.powerofplay.us. For more information on VMC or to set up a meeting with us, please email info@vmc.com.

At Power of Play You’ll:

* Learn from some of the biggest names in the business like Xbox, Blizzard, Wizards of the Coast, Oculus just to name a few.

* Hear VR experts discuss the near-term state of the market. What will be the single most under-tapped utility in VR? What is being done to address this? Where has VR delivered above or below expectations?

* Watch the top eight finalists present in front of our industry judges as they compete for the Seattle Indie Game Competition crown and $2,500!

The Power of Play – April 26th, 2017

Recap of 17th Annual Women in Gaming Luncheon at GDC

women in gaming - GDC

VMC had the pleasure of attending the 17th Annual Women in Gaming luncheon held during GDC 2017. Sponsored by Team Xbox, the theme for the event was “Be You.”  Emceed by Erin “Aureylian” Wayne (Lead Community Manager at Twitch, single mom, and gamer,) attendees enjoyed a range of engaging tech leaders sharing their career experiences in our industry:

  • Mariebeth Aquino, Founder at 360opportunity
  • Dr. Kelli Dunlap, Psychologist & Game Designer
  • Maureen Fan, CEO & Co-Founder of Baobab Studios
  • Elizabeth Maler, CEO of Accidental Queens
  • Jenny Xu, MIT Student, owner of JCSoft Inc

The crowd response revealed how many of the stories were very relatable to the attendees, including tales of imposter syndrome, sexist culture, and feeling outnumbered or out of place. Amid all of the nods and claps, it was encouraging that these stories were being told at a Women in Gaming event – and the 17th annual occurrence. It was great to see Jenny Xu giving a shout out to Kate Edwards, Executive Director of the IGDA, for encouraging her in game design. It’s inspiring to see innovative leaders supporting other leaders.

What’s interesting about hearing such stories is that the data clearly underscores the value of women in senior management roles in the tech industry. In a study by Dezsö and Ross of 1,500 U.S. firms in the S&P, female representation in top management improved financial performance for organizations where innovation is a key piece of the business strategy. Gallup has found that companies with more diverse teams (including more women) have a 22% lower turnover rate. Moreover, organizations with more inclusive cultures also have an easier time with recruiting.

At VMC, this data hits close to home. In July 2016, we welcomed Juliana Su as VMC President. Ms. Su has a proven record of leadership and innovation with companies in the connected and digital space, including 13 years as COO and Global Vice President at Openet. This expertise made her the clear choice for leading our strategic expansion into IoT, streaming media, and other new areas.

It was a pleasure to see these successful women urging attendees to be themselves and be authentic. That’s not always easy in our industry, but it’s an essential aspect of how people can add value to the projects they work on.  Oscar Wilde said, “Be yourself, everyone else is taken.” That still rings true in the game industry, because true diversity happens when everyone brings their true self to their work.

Recap of 17th Annual Women in Gaming Luncheon at GDC

Women in Gaming: An Evening of Insights at Team Xbox

Women in Gaming at Xbox

Last night VMC attended the Women in Gaming dinner, hosted by Team Xbox. It was a fantastic event and featured four Microsoft speakers on a variety of gaming topics, starting with Microsoft’s Gaming for Everyone initiative (known as G4E) and ending with a great talk on Cloud Gaming.

We were pleasantly surprised to see a gaming area where you could demo HoloLens, which was fun to watch people experience for the first time, and included an inspiring talk about HoloLens by Jasmine Lawrence of Team Xbox. Aubrey Norris also gave an engaging talk about her work running PR for the Minecraft team – a dream job – after growing up in an impoverished coal mining town in Pennsylvania. She may be thousands of miles away from that town now, but the irony that coal is one of the key resources in Minecraft wasn’t lost on anyone!

The evening ended with Anandhi Bumstead, one of the engineers who helped build Azure, discussing the work that’s being done to create a gaming platform for the cloud. Microsoft is clearly working on some really great technology, and we’re excited to see these gaming initiatives and technologies grow. Thank you team Xbox for the invite!

Women in Gaming: An Evening of Insights at Team Xbox

The Year of IoT: Key Takeaways and Trends from CES 2017

Innovation was on full display at CES, the world’s largest consumer tech show, in both the products and the presentations. Elgato had one of our favorite set-ups; it’s hard to resist their products when they’re displayed on hovering pods across the booth.

best-booth-display

It’s clear that there’s an increasing arms race to capture the mind and pocket share of the connected consumer. While the competition is heated, there is a lack of standardization as companies jockey to get market share for their respective platforms.

Here are a few key takeaways from 2017:

Amazon Dominated the Show

Amazon was everywhere. Alexa and its voice computing technology is heavily integrated into products from refrigerators (LG) to cars (BMW). From cloud computing to smart apparel, there were few categories where Amazon wasn’t represented.

IoT Connected Everything

Robots, cars, wearables—IoT connects them, just not to each other. We are still seeing this space as disjointed, with many different products that are connected but not in a holistic way. Also, how much value can one get from items that are connected to the internet as their only distinguishing factor (smart socks, smart underwear, smart hairbrush)? However, 2017 appears to be the year of the IoT.

Autonomous Car

Although NVIDIA is best known for video games, it’s gaining a reputation in the smart car/AI space. NVIDIA has forged numerous strategic partnerships with Audi, Tesla, BMW, Honda and Volkswagen to provide AI hardware, including showing off a Lincoln MKZ luxury sedan as a self-driving test vehicle at CES. NVIDIA continues to be one to watch in the autonomous/smart car space.

future-car

Predictions for 2017

 

The Cloud

Cloud Computing continues to grow. With a 25% increase YOY for the last four quarters, we see no reason why the trend will change. As a result, big data, BI and machine learning will continue to grow. AWS and Azure, its major competitor, are on target to generate over $12 billion each in 2017. A favorite quote from a post during the show was from Julie White, VP for Azure and security marketing who said the “Belief that one cloud vendor can meet all needs is simply out of touch with reality and smacks of vendor hubris”.

ArtificiaI Intelligence

With robots all over the show floor, AI had a huge presence at the show. There were robot nannies and un-manned aerial systems serving a variety of verticals. We see AI as a growing segment for 2017.

Augmented / Virtual reality

vr-mgm-lionAR/VR was a huge presence at CES once again. With so much hype over the last few years, everyone is still waiting for the killer AR/VR app. We predict that AR/VR will struggle to gain traction in 2017.

We had a great time at CES 2017, and we’re looking forward to watching today’s innovations become tomorrow’s top products. We’re also excited that VMC will continue supporting our partners to make these great products even better.

The Year of IoT: Key Takeaways and Trends from CES 2017

Adapting a QA Lab for Virtual Reality

 

VR is changing the QA process with its unique requirements. We asked David Kilgour (Global Platforms Test Manager) to tell us some of the factors VMC took into account when expanding its VR test facility.

One of the keys to testing virtual reality is the need to pay close attention to the physical environment the tester blocks out when they wear a headset. While the QA goals are the same – get the highest-quality product to market as quickly as possible – there are several key differences between VR testing and traditional console, PC and mobile based QA. Some are obvious, others are subtle, but they were all important considerations as we expanded our VR test environment.

Space

While traditional QA can be squeezed into nearly any available space, VR testing needs a lot of room. Testers will be moving around with no sense of the physical space around them. What might be simple for a regular tester to notice, a VR tester may not. This extends beyond the configuration of the furniture and into more daily tasks: if IT is working on an issue for the adjacent tester, the extra people and items are easy for traditional testers to notice but become a hazard for VR testers who, even if they know the extra items are there, may lose track of those items when they’re deep in testing.

Sunlight

I’m not saying that all VR testers are vampires – but imagine for a moment they are. In a more traditional environment, window blinds and lighting would be adjusted throughout the day so that testers have sufficient light (artificial and natural) without direct sunlight on their monitors. VR testers can be immersed in their testing environment for hours without any sense of changes to their real environment, so they could remove their headset to face harsh, direct sunlight. Both the reorientation to the real world and sudden bright light can be very unpleasant, so we’ve planned our space to minimize this experience.

Motion sickness

VR motion sickness is a real thing, and because some people experience it more than others, screening testers is important. It doesn’t matter how effective the tester may be, if they get sick after wearing the headset for 30 seconds (our record is three seconds) then they’re not suitable for VR. Even for those who are suitable, most people get a little motion sick after testing for eight hours, so we provide ginger-based items (ginger candy, ginger ale, ginger tea, etc.) because it helps combat VR-induced motion sickness. Testers can also take breaks as they feel they need instead of being tied to a set break pattern, with some testers taking a few minutes every hour while others preferring an extended break after multiple hours of testing.

Documentation (Test Plans, Walkthroughs, Text Files, etc.)

VR testers are immersed within their environment, so any documentation is difficult to reference within the game, especially a complex and time-critical walkthrough document. Steps are easily missed if a test plan has very specific and cumbersome testing path, and scrolling text is difficult to check against a text file. The easiest way to adjust for many of these issues is having someone available for the tester to talk to. It could be as simple as having a second tester read the test plan as the VR tester moves through the virtual word, and having the VR tester read aloud the text they see and having a second tester check it against the text file.

Genre

With traditional QA, the genre of a title is less of a priority than a tester’s experience on a particular console, but in the VR environment, genre needs to be considered when selecting the right team. Consider the scariest horror movie you’ve seen – now turn that into a video game and place yourself in the middle of it with your VR headset. Before we assign a test team, we speak with each tester individually and give them an overview of the game. If the genre isn’t suitable, we find testers who are more interested in that title.

Potential downside

With every new technology, there is always a downside. We joke that with VR, it is difficult to tell the difference between a tester who is concentrating on one particular aspect and one who has simply fallen asleep.

We Grow as VR Grows

VMC’s VR testing facility is very different from the area we started with a year ago, and as VR technology evolves and player expectations change with it, we’ll continue to make improvements to both our VR testing methods and our space.

Adapting a QA Lab for Virtual Reality

VR is a reality at VMC


VR has arrived. Amy Nanto (Sr Manager, Business Development, Games) highlights a few things to think about when creating your immersive experience.

In the 90’s, the companies creating virtual reality content had lofty sci-fi aspirations but were limited by technology. We now live in the futuristic world where you can strap on a VR headset and immerse yourself in a truly convincing environment. The creative goal for VR focuses on exceptional experiences – whether it’s games, entertainment, sports, or journalism – but there are some important considerations to ensure the user experience is safe, believable, and truly immersive.

Platforms

People say content is king, but the platform also rules. Content creators need to consider how their experiences will work on the growing number of VR platforms, headsets, and peripherals vying to establish themselves in the VR landscape. A new era of VR has begun, and with the continued introduction of new headsets and software, VR devs need to ensure their content works smoothly on the latest SDKs.

Standards

Even the most talented games professionals can face development challenges getting their VR content to comply with all standards and industry best practices for safety and comfort. Some of these challenges include minimal experience performing thorough QA tests on VR experiences, limited access to hardware for QA and development, and insufficient information on best practices for start-to-finish VR development.

Quality Assurance

Proper testing of your content is absolutely crucial. Testing VR content presents unique challenges when compared to traditional content because the user is completely immersed within the VR world. Low latency, high frame rate, high resolution, directional audio, and good calibration are essential to creating a plausible reality, and a lapse in any factor can take the player out of that virtual world. Knowing how to QA immersive VR environments is vital to ensuring optimal player experience.

Experience

After working closely with various VR teams for almost a year before VR devices became commercially available, VMC has developed an in-depth understanding of VR platforms on mobile and PC. Our test capabilities include functionality, usability, compatibility, and end-to-end localization on both VR content and hardware in our dedicated VR testing lab.

Make Something Awesome

Whether you’re creating VR for mobile, PC, console, or Cardboard, now is an exciting time to be a pioneer in VR. Go make something awesome!

VR is a reality at VMC

VMC’s Montreal Expansion Makes It The Largest Outsourcing Studio in Quebec

VMC, the industry leader in comprehensive global production support solutions for the video game, consumer electronic and media, and entertainment industries, is expanding its Montreal offices to become the largest outsourcing studio in Quebec. This expansion reflects the continued growth of VMC’s services in QA, localization, software development, and customer care across all platforms.

From indie games to AAA titles, VMC’s industry-leading inventory of tablets, smartphones, VR headsets, wearables, consoles, and PC configurations allows for the assessment of any compatibility scenario in real time. Apps and games are tested on a wide range of networks and devices, and the 50% increase in facility size enables VMC to accommodate up to 800 seats for ramp-ups and large projects.

This is VMC’s second Montreal expansion in three years, with floor space now totaling 33,000 square feet. For more than 15 years, VMC has provided comprehensive translation, audio, localization, testing, and support services to game developers in the international market, with locations in Redmond, Washington; Las Cruces, New Mexico; San Antonio, Texas; Costa Rica; and Slough, England.

“Whatever our clients can dream up, we’re ready to handle,” says Doug Dorweiler, Vice President of VMC. “VMC continues to grow, and this latest expansion reinforces our ability to adapt and scale to developers’ changing needs throughout the lifecycle of their game.”

About VMC

VMC Consulting, Inc. offers fully integrated quality assurance, localization, software engineering, and customer support services that ensure that every customer, anywhere in the world, enjoys the same positive experience with your product. VMC specializes in media and entertainment, and consumer electronics. Our core client base includes leading companies in the video games, connected home and devices, sports, broadcast, music, education and digital consumer industries. We have a simple approach to our business: focus on what we do best, and do it better than any of our competitors. VMC’s clients rely on us to get better products to market faster, and to deliver exceptional support for every stage of the product lifecycle. Our scalable, strategic outsourcing services are customized to align with how your business operates. VMC enhances and improves your operational agility, efficiency, and productivity, while you concentrate on your core business.

VMC Consulting, Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Volt Information Sciences, Inc.

VMC’s Montreal Expansion Makes It The Largest Outsourcing Studio in Quebec