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.