Putting theory into practice
All this talk of principles and manifestos sounds great, but what about results? To make AMD's case, Robison pointed to the quick adoption of DirectX 11, which is now supported by a number of big-name titles, including DiRT 2, Aliens vs. Predator, Battlefield: Bad Company 2, Metro: 2033, BattleForge and S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat. That's an impressive list, especially considering that the first DirectX 11-compliant Radeon launched just six months ago. Convincing developers to take advantage of the latest major DirectX release might seem like an easy sell, but AMD surely deserves some credit for getting so many titles to support the standard so quickly.
Although AMD kept Eyefinity under wraps until the launch of the Radeon 5000 series, numerous developers have started to support the multi-display technology. Alongside all the DirectX 11 games mentioned above, Eyefinity also works with a slew of additional titles, such as Supreme Commander 2, H.A.W.X., Command & Conquer 4, Crysis Warhead, World of Warcraft, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Need for Speed: Shift, and a stack of Source-engine offerings, just to name a few. Getting games working with Eyefinity has apparently been an easy task. Chris Kingsley, CTO of Aliens vs. Predator developer Rebellion, said it only took "a day or two" to implement Eyefinity in the game. Gas Powered Games CEO Chris Taylor echoed those sentiments, joking that the company spent more time setting up its multi-display array than it did actually adding Eyefinity support to Supreme Commander 2.
Despite the apparent ease with which developers have been able make their games play nicely with Eyefinity, Robison admitted that much work remains to be done. An Eyefinity SDK is coming soon, and AMD has a new validation program that will test games for multi-display support.
Somewhat surprisingly, though, Robison thinks Eyefinity is more important for gamers than GPU-accelerated physics. That assumption might make sense if you're just talking about PhysX rather than an open or at least vendor-neutral GPU-accelerated physics implementation. However, I have to wonder if the number of gamers who would appreciate better in-game physics is really greater than the number who are willing to put together a multi-display Eyefinity wall, bezels and all. Let's hope that AMD's apparent focus on DirectX 11 and Eyefinity doesn't doom the Open Physics initiative to be yet another Radeon-accelerated physics implementation that never quite materializes in games.
As a statement of principles, the Gamers Manifesto hits all the right notes, even if they're obvious ones. AMD may have been living under these guidelines for a long time, but I like seeing the specifics laid out in writing for all the world to see. Nvidia actually gave a similar presentation during its CES briefings, albeit without an explicit manifesto. While the green team has chosen to push its proprietary CUDA and PhysX technologies, Nvidia Director of Developer Technology Ashu Rege says "do no harm" is a key tenet of the company's developer engagements
At least officially, then, neither AMD nor Nvidia is trying to gain an advantage at the expense of the other. Unofficially, plenty of accusations have flown back and forth over whether that's actually the case. However, we're not going to entertain that particular he-said, she-said debate todaythe legal departments at both companies appear to have successfully sapped the juiciness from all on-the-record comments on the subject.
At the end of the day, I have a feeling the majority of gamers are going to care more about results than behind-the-scenes shenanigans. AMD can point to an impressive list of DirectX 11 and Eyefinity-ready games to make the case that it's working with developers effectively. I can't recall any recent examples of new games that performed poorly or otherwise had issues with the latest Radeon graphics drivers, either, suggesting that AMD's optimization and compatibility efforts are paying off. However, I do wonder whether AMD will be able to get developers onboard with its Open Physics and upcoming stereoscopic 3D initiatives. AMD certainly has the most capable graphics hardware on the market right now; perhaps that competitive advantage will help persuade game developers to embrace its technology agenda.
101 comments — Last by SiliconSlick at 7:08 AM on 05/23/10
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