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Ex-NVIDIA Driver Developer on Why Every Triple-A Game Ships Broken & Multi-GPUs

We’ve all known that most triple-A games release broken on the PC, however it’s good witnessing a former NVIDIA dev publicly acknowledging this while at the same time revealing some new ‘inside’ information about what’s happening with those ‘Game-Ready’ drivers we’ve been getting when really big games come out.

GameDev’s forum member ‘Promit‘ (who was an ex-NVIDIA driver developer) claimed that nearly every triple-A game ships broken (or at least shipped broken when he was working for the green team):

“Nearly every game ships broken. We’re talking major AAA titles from vendors who are everyday names in the industry. In some cases, we’re talking about blatant violations of API rules – one D3D9 game never even called BeginFrame/EndFrame. Some are mistakes or oversights – one shipped bad shaders that heavily impacted performance on NV drivers. These things were day to day occurrences that went into a bug tracker. Then somebody would go in, find out what the game screwed up, and patch the driver to deal with it. There are lots of optional patches already in the driver that are simply toggled on or off as per-game settings, and then hacks that are more specific to games – up to and including total replacement of the shipping shaders with custom versions by the driver team. Ever wondered why nearly every major game release is accompanied by a matching driver release from AMD and/or NVIDIA? There you go.”

Promit shared his opinion about a lot of topics, and talked a bit about multi-GPUs. As NVIDIA’s former developer said, multi-GPUs are f’ing complicated.

“You cannot begin to conceive of the number of failure cases that are involved until you see them in person. I suspect that more than half of the total software effort within the IHVs is dedicated strictly to making multi-GPU setups work with existing games. (And I don’t even know what the hardware side looks like.) If you’ve ever tried to independently build an app that uses multi GPU – especially if, god help you, you tried to do it in OpenGL – you may have discovered this insane rabbit hole. There is ONE fast path, and it’s the narrowest path of all.”

Promit concluded that these issues will be mostly addressed by the new APIs. The new APIs, Promit said, are the right step, and they’re retroactively useful to old hardware.

It remains to be seen whether developers will be able to code properly for these new APIs!