Meet the Team: Theodor Mader, Technical Director

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Image Find out about the future of CRYENGINE in our roadmap update and interview with Theodor Mader, CRYENGINE’s new Technical Director.

We chat with Theodor Mader, CRYENGINE’s Technical Director, about his history in game development, his vision for the engine, and some of the new features coming to CRYENGINE, including mobile support and ray tracing technology. Grab a coffee, have a read, and discover the future of CRYENGINE.

Hey Theodor, thanks for joining us. Can you tell us a bit about your background and your history with CRYENGINE?

My story with games technology began with studying computer science at ETH Zurich. Amongst many other things, I discovered computer graphics, my true passion. It was around this time that I first heard of the incredibly impressive video games Far Cry and Crysis. So I decided to pursue this direction, and after spending a couple of years working at a Canadian video game developer, HB Studios, I found my home at Crytek.

What was your journey to the position of Technical Director?

I joined Crytek in 2012 as a rendering engineer on the Xbox One launch title, Ryse: Son of Rome. After shipping the game, I transitioned into the rendering team of the core engine group, where I had the chance to learn from some of the best minds in the games industry. In 2018 I became the leader of the CRYENGINE rendering team, and earlier this year, I took on the role of Technical Director for CRYENGINE.

As Technical Director, what’s your overall vision for the engine going forward?

We currently focus heavily on bringing CRYENGINE to the mobile domain. Our goal is to give users the tools to bring their games to mobile devices, with the quality and visual fidelity CRYENGINE is known for. As a first step, we are focusing on the Android ecosystem, and we are working closely together with Google, ARM, and Qualcomm to ensure the best experience possible on compatible devices. Preparations to further expand into the Apple universe are also underway.

Another core focus is the general accessibility of CRYENGINE. We are always improving the user experience of our Sandbox editor tool and connected developer workflows. The new Visual Scripting system is also designed from the ground up for easy usage and extensibility for game developers.

And last but not least, we are also paying attention to improving the CRYENGINE code, stability, and performance. A large code base like CRYENGINE needs continuous maintenance to keep up with the latest updates to programming languages and compilers, and hardware trends like an increased number of CPU cores, fast storage mediums, and hardware-accelerated ray tracing all need to be supported.

We did update the CRYENGINE roadmap today alongside this interview. Considering past and present updates, which features you most excited about?

With the next CRYENGINE release, we are planning to release the GPU-independent, software-based ray tracing solution we first presented in our GDC 2019 Neon Noir demo and is now shipping in Crysis Remastered. With this technology, content creators will be able to render ray-traced reflections in real-time across a variety of platforms, thereby increasing the realism of their games.

We’re also adding specialized hardware support to our custom ray tracing solution. It allows us to use dedicated ray tracing hardware like RT cores to speed up parts of the CRYENGINE ray tracing pipeline, for example, in the ray-world intersection stage. The performance gains can subsequently be leveraged by simply shooting more rays in the same time budget, or by increasing quality elsewhere in the rendering pipeline. It’s essentially down to the engine users to decide.

Another exciting feature is displacement brushes. They are a new type of terrain painting tool which allows users to paint terrain with a predefined height map. It can speed up terrain creation workflows significantly by creating highly detailed brushes once and then simply applying them to larger terrain areas.

The next CRYENGINE release will come with a large number of new features and improvements, but the area I'm most excited about is the new mobile platform support. It represents a big step forward for CRYENGINE, expanding its reach to an entirely new ecosystem and I'm very excited to see what kind of games developers will come up with.

What does CRYENGINE bring to developers on mobile devices? Can you give us an update on how things are progressing?

Our goal is to empower developers on mobile platforms to deliver outstanding visuals and immersive games, and we are making it a top priority to ensure that CRYENGINE created content runs optimally. We are, for example, in the process of adding customized rendering pipelines for high-end mobile devices, which provide a visually rich experience for powerful devices. On the other side of the spectrum, we are adding a mobile VR rendering pipeline, which is highly optimized to render stereo images at 72 frames per second.

For the Apple ecosystem, we already have initial prototypes of the core engine running on iOS. Bringing the entire CRYENGINE toolkit to the Apple environments is a challenging task, though. We need to make sure that our Sandbox editor and various other tools, for example, the resource compiler, will run on macOS and that the core user experience matches the expectations in this environment.

There’s a lot going on! Do you have any time to play games anymore?

I mostly play games with my kids! For instance, Mario Kart, Unravel, Little Nightmares, and Portal, just to name a few.

Cheers, Theodor!

As ever, we look forward to your feedback in the comments, on the forum, or via Facebook and Twitter. You can ask questions, pick up tips and tricks, and more by joining our community and the CRYENGINE development team over on our official CRYENGINE Discord channel. If you find a bug in the engine, please report it directly on GitHub, which helps us to process the issue quickly and efficiently. Don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel, where we host a range of content, including tutorials covering all aspects of the engine and game design.

Are you looking for your next career move? At Crytek, we value diversity, and we actively encourage people from all kinds of backgrounds and experience levels to apply to our open positions, so join us over at LinkedIn and check out our careers page.

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