Monday, December 29, 2008

Interesting GDC Talk #2: Hitting 60hz with the Unreal Engine

Hitting 60Hz with the Unreal Engine: Inside the Tech of MORTAL KOMBAT vs DC UNIVERSE

This is another talk I will be attending. I work at the same studio as Jon and have had more than a few conversations with him about this very topic, and he has given internal presentations on the subject. I don't want to give too much about the talk away, but it is a very interesting case study in taking a graphics pipeline completely designed for a 30hz game, and modifying it to meet a game's performance goals without sacrificing a whole bunch of functionality. Just one example: when we originally got our hands on Unreal, the sum of all post processing took nearly half of a 60hz frame. While Epic has optimized this over time, this gives an idea of some of the challenges on the GPU. It is easy enough to remove functionality until it runs fast enough, but the real trick is to preserve quite a bit of that functionality and still get it under time.

The section on porting the Unreal particle system to the SPU is definitely worth paying attention to - this was a collaborative effort done by a few tech group guys at Chicago. It underscores the difficulty of dealing with legacy code bases that are not designed for NUMA architectures, and the ingenuity and hard work required to overcome that hurdle. This talk should definitely be on your list.

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