"Tech Talk" Presentations

CMSC 491/691, Spring 2012


It is common for game developers to need to present technical topics to a knowledgeable audience. There are internal presentations on possible approaches before starting development on a new feature. After the method works, there will be presentations within the company to encourage algorithmic reuse between games, and so others will know enough to get started tracking down bugs if the original developer leaves. It is also common to present particularly new or successful methods outside the company, with presentations at conferences (especially GDC or SIGGRAPH courses) or publications (blogs, book chapters, or focused conferences like I3D). From the game company's perspective, these help to raise the profile of the studio, promote the game, and attract new top talent.


Several components of this class are designed to help you learn how to give these types of presentations. Two are associated with the final project: the status report and final presentation. In addition, each of you will choose two days to do a 10-minute presentation about a cutting edge game graphics method as described in a game developer's blog or chapter in a book such as Game Programming Gems, Shader X, GPU Gems, etc. Keep in mind your audience's background. Spend just enough time on background material they may not already know for them to be able to follow the main new idea. Present the new technique as a whole, this is where you can go into more detail on critical background, but be sure to emphasize what is new and how the new method compares to the alternatives. Game developers usually focus on stability (even occasional frame stalls or bad results can kill a method), performance (in milliseconds, not frames per second, since other stuff is happening during a frame), memory usage (CPU and GPU), and scalability (sure it works on a single disembodied head in the middle of the screen, but how will it do on an army?). You're reporting someone elses work, so won't necessarily have all of this data, but be sure to report any of this that appears in the original.

Your presentation should use prepared powerpoint slides (which you should make) and, if available, images, video or demos (from the original author or games that use the technique). Submit your slides to the techtalk directory in the class repository. There will only be one tech talk presentation on any one class day, which I will assign on a first-come first-served basis. Sign up early to get the days you want. Day assignments will be listed on the course web page.