Being noticed in app stores is just one of challenges mobile devs face nowadays. As console-like gaming experiences on mobile are getting more popular, along with AR, cognitive assistant devices and premium devices with high-spec games, optimization is even more of a must. Despite the constantly upgrading specs of premium mobile devices, the issues of tight thermal limits and battery power create different restrictions than console and desktop. How to reduce development time and increase achievable fidelity of games running on premium mobile devices – Jonas Gustavsson and Joe Davis from Samsung Research Institute U.K. told at their Casual Connect Europe 2017 session.
Joe Davis is the Senior Developer Relations Engineer for Gaming Ecosystem at Samsung Research Institute U.K., and Jonas Gustavsson is the Head of Game Ecosystem at Samsung Research Institute U.K. Joe has worked for several years in 3D graphics application debugging and optimization, while Jonas’ background includes over 25 years in management, product development and research in graphics, games, computational imaging and distributed computing.
“Most of my time is spent helping rendering engine devs understand 3D graphics APIs. My CS degree was gamedev focused. After graduating, I joined Imagination’s PowerVR DevTech team to work 3D graphics demos and tools. Working with devs on difficult problems has always been interesting to me. I get to do that a lot at Samsung,” said Joe. “A deep understanding of how GPUs and graphics APIs work would have been tricky to get in other industry jobs.”
“Long background in computer graphics and games going back to ray tracers on the Commodore VIC-64, Games on Sega Megadrive, helped sinking the Titanic and beyond. Prior to joining Samsung I spent time at Sony, Ubisoft, NewTek,” noted Jonas. “During my time in VFX I developed an eye for details and the importance of prioritizing things that matter; that helps me on a daily basis today”
Pursued by a Career
Jonas and Joe love the fact that they get to meet a lot of interesting people and travel to far flung places, helping these new acquaintances make better products. Getting to work on new graphics tech is a bonus..
“I say that my career pursued me instead of the other way around!” laughed Jonas. “My primary goal has always been to work on fun things and keep learning new things.”
“I’ve always found rendering interactive 3D worlds really interesting. GPUs and APIs are constantly evolving,” added Joe. “Devs are frequently coming up with cool new rendering algorithms.”
Jonas says getting a computer was seminal in pursuing their career, while Joe describes it as playing too much Goldeneye and Ocarina of Time on their Nintendo 64.
“I was part of quite a few Demo groups on the Amiga and C-64 and released the first game I ever worked on the C-64 (a Marble Madness clone),” said Jonas.
“I played a lot of games. When I got my hands on an N64, I probably spent more time slashing trees, throwing rocks and trying to break games than a normal kid would have,” said Joe. “I didn’t start coding until much later though. Ending up in a games-related industry wasn’t particularly intentional. I’ve just always tried to work on things that interest me.”
When it came to others pursuing a similar career, Jonas suggested, “Best advice would be to have an open mind, then get a deep understanding of the graphics pipeline both offline and online; the rest of the stuff can probably be picked up on the go.”
“Play with existing engines. Get to know simple graphics APIs (e.g. OpenGL ES 2.0 or WebGL),” detailed Joe. “Think about how your code and API calls translate to work executed by drivers & hardware.”
Inspiration from Everywhere
Jonas jokingly said that the creative process starts in a state of panic, once they realize the deadline for things. Joe added more soberly that they work on the priorities of their development partners, dealing with the largest development problems.
When asked about inspiration and where it comes from, Jonas said, “Everywhere I think; most inspiration is interesting.”
For Joe, colleagues are the main source of inspiration. “Working with lots of clever people that want to achieve the same goals (but have different perspectives) keeps things interesting,” Joe noted.
Jonas points out that discoverability is a particularly important issue for developers nowadays. Samsung continues to work on this, as it is ongoing for mobile games and isn’t likely to be solved anytime soon.
When they need to get past a creative block, Jonas said the solution is: “Umbrella drinks, riding a bicycle and more umbrella drinks.”
“For me and creative blocks, it’s tea breaks,” said Joe. “Also, working through problems on paper/whiteboards, CCDs and SITSE.”
Optimize, Optimize, Optimize
High performance without battery-draining is a key motivation for mobile developers, and Jonas and Joe have similar messages for developers to accomplish that goal.
“Optimize, optimize, optimize, polish and performance always pays as you will gain in play session length, retention and customer happiness,” said Jonas.
“Find your bottlenecks and optimize,” added Joe. “Vulkan, Vulkan, Vulkan.”
Looking to the future, Jonas sees AR and cognitive assistance devices as a big trend in the industry moving forward. Premium devices (as defined by their price point, performance and specs) will also draw in high-spec games in the near future.
“Looking forward to seeing more high-end, console-like gaming experiences on mobile,” concluded Joe.
Jonas added, “If any game developers want to get in touch with us feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
David Radd is a staff writer for GameSauce.biz. David loves playing video games about as much as he enjoys writing about them, martial arts and composing his own novels.