Ex-NVIDIA Driver Developer – “Nearly Every Game Ships Broken”

It seems it's becoming a trend for games to release broken lately, especially those big AAA games from huge publishers. With more and more titles being delayed over and over, both developers and publishers try to meet a specific date, or two or three, resulting in rushed unfinished games at the time of release. Some are fixed to some extend, following their release. via patches that come regularly, but unfortunately those could take months to fix the game entirely, if they manage to do that completely.



GameDev’s forum member ‘Promit‘ (who was an ex-NVIDIA driver developer) claims that almost all AAA game ships broken:

“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' continued to talk further regarding other issues, such as multi-GPUs. Nvidia's former developer, explained that multi-GPUs are 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.”

The Ex-Nvidia developer believes that new APIs will alleviate most of the issues

In closing Promit concluded, that the new APIs will alleviate the issues to a great extend, and they benefit older hardware greatly.

Even though we were quite aware of most of these issues, having them verified from an Nvidia developer further proves the sad state in which some AAA titles are at the time of release. It could be a case of having too many developing teams at work at the same time, on overlapping projects in order to meet annual releases, as well as certain relatively inexperienced teams being given more duties that they can handle. Regardless, it seems that some issues will keep on plaguing game releases, and we can only hope that the arrival of the new APIs, namely DirectX 12 and Vulkan, do play a positive role in addressing some of these issues and enabling developers to work more efficiently.

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