How NVIDIA Helped Develop the DX12 ‘Gears of War 4’

by Oleg Kuznetsov

Have code will travel. I recently returned from Vancouver, Canada, home of The Coalition, makers of Gears of War 4, one of the most important DirectX 12 titles released so far.

My mission: Helping The Coalition carry on their incredible track record of producing visually stunning titles.

As an NVIDIA developer technology engineer, I provide ground support to complement NVIDIA’s investment in tools, technology and engineering for developers. I’m part of a small army of about 300 graphics and physics engineers who create and deploy cutting-edge gaming technologies.

We work with game developers to enhance their games. So closely, in fact, that we sometimes move in so we can work face-to-face with the developer’s coders.

We train them on the intricacies of adding graphics to new APIs, such as DirectX 12 and Vulkan. We help them integrate GameWorks and VRWorks technologies. We find and fix bugs and optimize game performance for the unique attributes of our graphics architecture. This gets games to market faster and more smoothly — and makes them better upon arrival.

My duties have taken me from my home in Moscow to Kiev, Ukraine, for weeks on end so gamers can fight mutants in S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Shadows of Chernobyl. I made a return trip there for Metro 2033 — more mutants. And, most recently, I was stationed in one of Canada’s rainiest cities so you can save your friends from the monsters that populate Gears of War 4.

Helping Crank Out Gears of War

We’re typically not onsite for the entire development cycle of a game, just a few weeks or months at a time. We show up with a list of things we want to do, and we work hard to bang them out. In by nine, out by midnight are not unusual hours on these trips.

I spent nearly five weeks onsite at The Coalition. This trip was a bit of a reunion, as I also worked on Gears of War: Ultimate Edition not long ago.

With that kind of time and a shared sense of purpose, you naturally have a chance to build relationships. Someone suggested we go bowling, but I vetoed that when I learned that bowling is Canada is different. They have only 5 pins and a much smaller ball. They take their bowling seriously in Canada. Sensing I would be at a distinct disadvantage, I opted for billiards that night. I still lost.

Being onsite helps us to tackle issues quickly. At The Coalition, I helped the developers better understand the intricacies of coding graphics for the new DirectX 12 API. We tweaked the game’s CPU PhysX to better recognize weather patterns that pop up and affect gameplay.

Together, we identified inefficient code paths in the game and recoded it or removed it altogether. We eliminated unneeded mathematical queries. And we put in “cull and clears” where needed.

That’s all just nerd-speak for making Gears of War 4 run better on all GPUs, and best on NVIDIA GPUs. It’s expensive and hard work, but that reflects NVIDIA’s commitment to gaming.

As a gamer myself, I want more immersive and vibrant gaming experiences. I’m proud to help NVIDIA push the pace of innovation in graphics technologies, and I think that benefits the industry, developers and, most importantly, gamers.


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  • Tom Gjonaj

    But there is one big component of DX12 you forgot to have ready at launch for this title. MULTI GPU SUPPORT. I will never again go sli. Almost every new title has no sli or explicit multi GPU support. Nvidia and devs need to get their act together. I don’t want multi GPU support weeks or months after a launch; by then I’ll be finished with this game anyways.

  • rock1m1

    Multi GPU is a niche market and consumes a lot of resources. Don’t expect this situation to improve anytime soon.

  • Mitch

    At least it runs swimmingly well with just one GPU at this time.

  • Mitch

    Good job! Now go help the Forza guys out, please.

  • k1nggg

    Can you send someone to fix Mafia 3?

  • 4Head

    They can’t the devs don’t know what the word “optimization” means. They only know the word “parity”.

  • Nekrim

    I think they will need to send a whole team for that one xD

  • Oleg Kuznetsov

    Multi-GPU support is on the way along with other awesome features. Stay tuned.

  • Wookie Groomer

    MUST have Multi GPU support for PC gamers… how PC games in 2016 are launching without it is mind boggling.

  • Wookie Groomer

    I hate people that give excuses for the failings of others.

  • Tom Gjonaj

    Awesome, I want to play so bad but I’m waiting for this first so I can enjoy smooth 4K at ultra. Is there an ETA?

  • jonathan

    What a terrible advertisement with no real information in the deceptive form of an substantive “article.”

  • Prime P

    Yeah I have 2 980s and SLI support seems to be less and less… I think I’m done with SLI gaming after this.

  • JoNaXKaY

    So gpu physx is dead it seems… what an underrated technology. This is what happens when the features are not open source, i mean not open for amd
    Is there a way to offload more and more effects on a dedicated physx card? Cuz sli is dying so fast, that i think it will be better to use a second card to optimize and off load other stuff… idk

  • 14M4N0NYM0U5

    That’s a smart move.. that’s how I viewed SLI since the very beginning. SLI is great, WHEN IT WORKS. The problem is that 9 out of 10 times SLI is not implemented. Do yourself a favor, save money, or get the best single GPU out there and enjoy the games today.

  • Kay Wrobel

    I second your notion. I would like to see more collaboration between nVidia and AMD to run tasks on alternate GPUs (independent of GPU architecture), especially in an age of powerful and affordable GPUs so abound. That said, the existing nVidia customer base may also have an interest in some hardware-accelerated PhysX to make use of their existing investment. I for one run a 970 and a 750 Ti and would love to see those effects mentioned in this article to not be run on CPU if a second GPU is present.

  • Steve Drake

    I have just bought a new PC with GTX1080, my old rig has GTX970 SLI setup . I am thinking of pairing the GTX970 with the GTX1080 but I hear that this combo does not play well with DX12 .

  • Steve Drake

    Is it ? upgrade your rig and keep the old GPU?? I can see more people do this.

  • Dtuned

    How these people can release titles without multi-gpu support at the same time as flaunting 4k is beyond me.