This past Friday was a good example of the sort of day I enjoy most at NVIDIA — spending it both creating fun cool stuff with the latest hardware and more importantly getting a chance to talk to artists and programmers on lots of different cool projects, finding out what they’re doing, getting excited by their ideas, and hopefully playing a helpful role with ideas of my own. It’s one of those jobs where the most productive days are also the most exhilarating and thought provoking; Friday was just such a day.
It started in the morning as my Friday alarm clock reminded me of my to-do list for the week — with everything major completed and some extra besides. I’d had some simple ideas on Thursday night for Microsoft HLSL FX shaders, had roughed them out in a few minutes. On Friday morning I started thinking about applications for these ideas, and within a few minutes had started roughing-out some GeForce 6800 code prototypes in FX Composer. I had it well on the way to a fun demo by lunchtime.
At lunchtime, we had the privelege of meeting a suite of programmers and artists (and “the marketing guy,” no less important) for a Big Name game studio — they’d gone to the trouble to collect their best and brightest from Europe and locally for a visit to NVIDIA, looking for ways to enhance the look and play of their upcoming games. It’s always encouraging when studios do this — it’s easy for a studio or publisher to give-in to complacency and the lowest-common-denominator level (usually Playstation 2 graphics) on new games, especially sequels to already-succesful titles. These guys were working on new games and sequels games and had lots of ambitions for both.
So we talked a lot about rendering and tricks to get their art departments up to speed on the latest ideas; how to incorporate new tricks and features into their games without having to revamp old artwork or make major changes to their existing game engines; how to move processing to the GPU to leave the CPU with more time for physics and AI and audio; and best of all they told us about cool stuff they were doing, from audio and music to video and physics and on multiple games. Hearing how other groups hit the same problems, and how their ideas develop, always has great positive effects on my own thought process.
Once we’d seen them off it was back to my demo code, massage it a bit more into shape and then zoom off (or so I thought) for a late-afternoon graduation — Courtney’s brother Brendon was done with High School, last of the siblings. I was already in a great mood and even the two-hour Hwy 880/680 crawl to Walnut Creek didn’t damp me down. When I arrived the day was sparkling, warm but with a cooling breeze and a great time was had by all. Even made some pictures. Then home again (the traffic thankfully lightened) and another stop at the office to touch-up some ideas and tests and then home. An hour or two later & I was done — Kids asleep, Court having a grand time with her brother and family, and I faded out reading a book and woozily dreaming about anti-aliased highlights.