Interview: AMD on Game Development and DX11

January 6, 2010 | 12:08

Tags: #11 #5850 #5870 #batman #console #consolification #cypress #developer #directx #dirt2 #dx #gpu #huddy #interview #manager #physics #relations #richard #saboteur

Companies: #amd #games

bit-tech: What's your next flagship game coming up?

RH: Aliens Versus Predator - the next Rebellion game. I believe that's scheduled for late February.

bit-tech: I thought it was Valentine’s Day, wasn't it?

RH: They did talk about Valentine’s Day recently and I think that's quite nice because there's a certain amount of romance to do with the Aliens and Predator getting together I suppose.

bit-tech: How much money and manpower does AMD put into its Developer Relations program?

RH: We won't detail the manpower as it's a significant competitive detail we really wouldn't want Nvidia to know. They claim particular numbers but I also know at least roughly where they do double counting of personnel. You know, you can have an engineer in the driver team, but he'll also be counted again when it comes to developer relations. That kind of stuff means that being in a direct conflict about who has the most becomes a contest of who is willing to double count the most often. It gets a bit silly.

The bottom line is we have enough; we don't let triple-A or double-A titles go through the net and in fact it's extremely rare for a Saboteur situation to come up. It's very rare for titles as a whole to go past us without seeing our QA and testing labs along the way. Our team is big enough and actually exceedingly good at some of the things they do. I believe it is smaller than the Nvidia team that's directly related to developer relations, but I have some of the best engineers in the world doing some really great stuff in terms of R&D with graphics optimisations: lighting and shadowing.

Interview: AMD on Game Development and DX11 AVP and STALKER
AMD loves the Alien and the Predator equally

bit-tech: Is this year’s STALKER better than last year's? We originally gave Clear Sky a 3/10 because it was so buggy, but eventually after four patches it was fixed-

RH: Well, it was an Nvidia 'The Way It's Meant To Be Played' title and when it came over to our program, everything went good.

(Ed: Clear Sky launched as part of the Nvidia 'The Way It's Meant To Be Played' program but then moved to AMD to include DirectX 10.1 from the 1.5.06 patch.)

These types of high profile titles should just work because they are games we care about and it's our responsibility to help the game developer not hinder them. We added DirectX 10.1 via a patch and improved their 10.0 code path with MSAA support as it's a deferred rendering game, which is more difficult to do. Deferred Rendering is a style of creating the content inside the game - games are either forward rendering or deferred rendering and it's very hard to get multisample anti-aliasing into a game that uses deferred rendering as the two fight each other. Well, we not only helped them do that for DirectX 10.1, because 10.1 adds the ability to do it specifically, but we also included the ability to do it on the DirectX 10 code path too. On our hardware, and on Nvidia's hardware. [AMD] believes in enabling.

bit-tech: If people don't know, then as noble as your efforts are they go unregistered and people end up making their own assumptions about what others might think is happening instead.

RH: The reason I don't shout about it more is because I'm engaged in working with the games developers and I'm busy in trying to make their job easier and get them more results, rather than being out here and doing this kind of interview - though I do really appreciate this chance to have a chat - although my priorities are to work with games developers. AMD is not a marketing company like Nvidia is.

We're proud of the way we worked with [GSC Game World] and they came back to us in March and started talking about DirectX 11 stuff, saying "we think we can do [DirectX 11] for about August this year", and they were pretty close with that which was very impressive because back then they hadn't even released the 10.1 patch. Late August they had it running and September we showed it before it was released in the Eastern Block in October.

(Ed: It was launched in the CIS on October 2nd in Russian language and in German language in Germany, Austria and Switzerland on November 5th)

Interview: AMD on Game Development and DX11 AVP and STALKER
STALKER developer GSC Gameworld has been keen to use the latest versions of DirectX

RH: I remember sending an email to my engineer who had supported them saying "Great job on getting the first DirectX 11 title out there", and then John - the guy who supported BattleForge - came back to me at pointed out that actually, it wasn't the first DirectX 11 title!

bit-tech: At least you got two out there-

RH: -two out there, within a month of the DirectX 11 launch! Give me a single time when a new DirectX has launched and that's happened? That's easy - it's never happened before. It's typically two to three months before the first title arrives and the situation we have now where DirectX 11 shipped with Windows 7 and Vista Service Pack 2 it's unheard of to see these titles launch so close to, let alone before a DirectX version was released.

I can remember talking about DirectX 9 at the time with Chas Boyd, lead architect for Microsoft, and saying, "I think we might be able to get Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness in time for Christmas," which was four months after DX9's release, and he replied "that will be a major achievement." Well [AMD] has three titles out there already you can buy including a couple of free benchmarks - not from AMD, we're not benchmarking our own hardware - and we have a list of about 20 titles that cover the next nine months.
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