Boss Fight is really busy right now getting Dungeon Boss ready for its worldwide release, but we wanted to give you all a small peek into the studio, so we took a few minutes to talk with Boss Fight’s Chief Technical Officer, Rich Geldreich!
What is your role at Boss Fight?
I’m CTO, but we’re a small company so I wear multiple hats. I’m at heart someone who loves to program, mostly in various native language like C, C++, or Objective-C. I’m also CTO and lead programmer on our main project, which boils down to a lot of planning, listening, coordination, and problem solving with the other engineers and our art/design leads.
How did you get into the game industry?
A friend already in the industry noticed a job posting on Usenet for a game developer position at Utopia Technologies in Hoboken NJ, which was right up the street from me. One of Utopia’s owners wrote the original “Montezuma’s Return” classic 80’s game as a high school student, and years later decided to create a sequel in 3D. I wrote Monte’s AI, low-level graphics systems, and all the Windows/DirectX code.
What (if any) other games have you worked on other than Dungeon Boss?
I’ve worked on Shrek (one of the original Xbox launch titles), Matchbox Emergency Patrol, Sega’s World Series Baseball, Age of Empires 3, Halo Wars, Portal 2, Dota 2, Counterstrike GO, and the Linux versions of a bunch of Valve’s games. I’ve also written several data compression libraries (both for Microsoft and later in the open source world) which have shipped in titles such as Titanfall, Planetside 2, Halo 3, and Forza 2. I also rewrote and optimized togl (Valve’s D3D to GL translation layer), which is used on all of Valve’s Linux releases and was open sourced last year, and I designed and wrote the OpenGL capture/playback code in vogl, Valve’s open source OpenGL debugger project.
How did you come to work for Boss Fight?
I worked closely with Bill Jackson, one of Boss Fight’s founders, for years while at Ensemble Studios. He would contact me every few months to see what I was up to while I was at Valve. I really liked working with the Ensemble crew in Dallas, I’ve been really wanting to work on mobile products since the iPhone was first released, and I was at the point in my career where having access to a steady stream of dependable sunlight was very desirable. It was a no brainer to make the jump to Boss Fight last year after releasing vogl on github.
What is an average day for you at Boss Fight?
If I’m coding or debugging something, I’ll be spending most of my day in front of Xcode, Unity, and MonoDevelop. Recently, I’ve been doing a lot of debugging and profiling of our game running on various iPhone and iPad devices, trying to diagnose problems that occur outside of running our title within Unity itself. Other days involve less coding, and more collaborative things such as directing our weekly programmer meeting, or meeting with small strike teams focusing on new features or specific problems.
What is your favorite tool/software related to your work and why?
My favorite tools are debuggers. I live and die by the availability of solid developer tools. Microsoft’s Visual Studio is my favorite IDE to code in, and it has a wonderful CPU/GPU debugger. I’ve yet to see anything on any platform that can compete against Visual Studio. When I worked on Xbox titles I loved using PIX for debugging shaders and profiling the GPU workload on Halo Wars.
What do you consider to be the most important trait for someone in your role?
The ability to listen and understand problems from both a developer’s and customer’s perspectives, and the ability to mentally model complex systems are some important traits.
What’s your proudest contribution to any of the games you have worked on?
Back in early 2001 I wrote the first lighting/shadowing engine that used deferred shading, which shipped in “Shrek”. Squeezing a fully deferred shaded pipeline with static and dynamic stencil shadowing and proper omnidirectional lights into the limited Xbox’s GPU was no easy task. Deferred shading is now a standard rendering technique used by many engines, so looking back it’s pretty cool to have created the first one.
What part of the world do you call “home”? (Where did you grow up/go to school/etc.)
I grew up in South Jersey. I call McKinney, TX home. My great grandmother was born in Tyler, TX so very indirectly I’m a (sorta native) Texan.
What’s your favorite part about working at Boss Fight?
Boss Fight is now as large as Ensemble Studios was when I first started there in early 2004. I remember thinking of Ensemble Studios as a “big” company at the time, but even though Boss Fight is approximately the same size it still feels like a small company.