Archive for August, 2008

NVISION: Day Three

Posted in Life in General, Video Game Development with tags on August 28, 2008 by Dan Amerson

NVISION is over, and it’s been a pretty good ride as far as I can tell. I am sitting in my room drinking some wine and relaxing. (Unfortunately, the wine isn’t something I can expense to my company. It’s a luxury. However, I’m willing to debate if management wants to do so. 🙂 You know … in my imagination.) Regardless, I had a good time today.

I kicked the day off with Corinne Yu’s presentation for integrating physics into Brothers in Arms: Hell’s Highway. Corinne is opinionated and outspoken, but she’s got some good ideas on what types of physics matter for games. Basically, her argument is that physicis don’t matter if they have a non-deterministic effect on gameplay. I don’t agree with her 100% since I think that “fluff” physics which only add effects and which are rendering-only or client-side physics do matter. They are viscercal, and visceral physics matter from the standpoint of sheer user experience. However, I agree that they don’t impact the core gameplay and game experience.

That concept rolled into our panel on physics in games. We had a great discussion about the nature of physics for games. I drew three main conclusions from the panel.

  • Physics must serve game design,
  • AI, Animation, and Physics must share data.
  • Synchronizing physics from server to client is still not solved.

Those are some big issues, and I think we can continue to discuss them in the future. Independent of us or with us.

Bart Muzzin of Firaxis Games proceeded to talk about how he integrated physics into Civilizations Revolutions. Bart’s talk was great because it was very grounded. He didn’t talk about what he might do. He talked about what he did in a shipping title. It takes a lot of courage to talk about the compromises of a shipping title because they are never as impressive as the promises of technology that doesn’t exist but might be in a future title. Bart’s talk focused on the pipeline of Civ for consoles and some very real issues. I give him my full respect and endorsement for doing a talk about issues that are solved. I look forward to talking with him more in the future. I look forward to how his knowledge can make games and Gamebryo better.. His talk was free of speculation, and it was all about reality. Awesome!

I wrapped the day headed over to NVIDIA’s headquarters to share my thoughts on CUDA. Again, that’s some confidential stuff that I can’t blog about, but I’m excited about what it means for CUDA, the industry, and my colleagues. Things are looking good because it means we’ll be able to leverage CUDA for more exciting computation and more exciting games.

I should drink less wine. It’s Benton-Lane, btw. dba.


Posted in Life in General, Video Game Development with tags , on August 27, 2008 by Dan Amerson

The second day of NVISION was a pretty good one although my actual attendance at the conference was pretty brief. I had a top secret meeting in the morning before my talk. I can’t talk about that… blah … blah… have to kill you… blah … blah. In the afternoon, I popped up the highway to visit a potential customer and sell some software or, as I like to call it, keep getting paychecks. That was a pretty good meeting overall, but it did involve a minor bit of scrambling since I didn’t realize I was supposed to demo from my laptop. I spent the first thirty minutes of the meeting rebuilding the tools that they wanted to see while answering questions about the product. I’m a multitasker.

On to the show…

I gave my talk on integrating stream processing via Floodgate with CUDA at 11AM. I think it was pretty well received. Since it was early in the show, the room wasn’t divided like it will be today. Even though I was scheduled in Almaden Room 1, I had access to both sides and double the capacity. Seated capacity was around 90, and I think I filled 50 of those. Not bad considering 50 would have maxed out the half of the room I was scheduled in. I got some good questions afterwards from attendees. One, from Sebastien at NVIDIA, is definitely worth a follow-up here. Is CUDA a good way to get introduced to the concepts in compute shaders for D3D11? I gave a qualified yes, but I think it begs some more research. After my talk, I sat through Tim Sweeney’s talk on Unreal’s tool chain. There wasn’t much changed since I saw it at Gamefest a few years back, but there were some cool new features. SSAO. Soft bodies.

There was one minor wrinkle to my talk. While setting up my demos, I ran into a issue that wouldn’t let me run the demo on a computer that didn’t have Gamebryo installed. The irony of the situation is that someone told me about the issue last week, and I said it was no big deal. You live, you learn. Luckily, I solved it by copying a few data files around and adding a bit of batch file magic. %~d0 can be your friend. I’ll give bonus points to any colleague at Emergent that’s reading this and can guess what was happening based on my spartan description above.

Today should be more informative. I’ll be spending all day in the Game Developer track. One of our licensees is talking about physics integration, and I’m on a panel talking about physics. I have to go prep for that now. The day ends with a chat over at NVIDIA about CUDA. I’ve got some feedback for them from my work, and I’m really excited to have a chance to share with them and make CUDA better for everyone. Having done so much middleware, I know how crucial customer input can be. I’m excited to return the favor.

How about beer rather than bonus points to the first who guesses the bug? dba.


Posted in Life in General, Video Game Development with tags on August 25, 2008 by Dan Amerson

NVISION kicked off today. It was a pretty boring day for me since I needed to run through my presentation several times. I spent a large portion of my day here in the hotel talking to myself and researching various bits of my talk that didn’t feel right.

I did get out to hear a talk in the professional track from the CEO of mental images about the future of rendering. He presented an interesting take on the various dimensions within which you can optimize rendering. Speed, Content Cost, Fidelity, etc. In the end though, it felt like a very canned sales pitch for their upcoming Reality Server product which just happens to optimize in the one dimension that nothing else has, multiple simultaneous users.

I spent some time wandering around the exhibit hall. It’s fairly sparsely populated compared to GDC, but it’s probably a little more packed than AGDC. Even so, many of the exhibitors are targetting the PC consumer market. It’s not hugely interesting from my perspective since I’m looking for technologies that could be integrated into Gamebryo.

I wrapped the day testing out my demos on the machine that will be hooked up during my presentation tomorrow which was a good thing. It didn’t run. I’ve got a bit of debugging to do right now.

Tomorrow should be more interesting. dba

Headed to NVISION

Posted in Video Game Development with tags on August 24, 2008 by Dan Amerson

NVIDIA is having a conference next for all things visual computing. It’s call NVISION. There’s a lot of cool things going on including what may be the world’s biggest LAN party ever, technical tracks, keynotes from celebrities, etc.

I’ll be headed out there to give a talk and participate on a panel. If you’re at the show, you should stop by for my talk about using CUDA with Emergent’s Floodgate technology. I’ll also be participating on a panel to discuss physics for modern and future games. It’s looking to be an exciting week. I’ll try to type up some comments each evening, but no promises.

I’ve already got some partying planned. 🙂 dba