New job, new role - in Aces Studio

Hi, it’s been a while since I updated this blog, let me catch everyone up.


In July I moved over to Aces Studio on the Flight Sim team, to take up the role of Senior PM for Graphics and Terrain in Aces Studio. I joined Aces during the end-game of FSX and am now involved in all the studio projects moving forward.


First I want to give some background on myself, what I have worked on and why I love my new role in Aces. I have a long history, and have been in and around computer graphics since the beginning of my career. I hope I don’t bore you.


My first exposure to computer graphics was in 1982 at Florida Atlantic University, as an undergrad I talked my way into a grad-level math course on computer graphics given by a new Ph.d. with funding that got him a new computer lab outfitted with Apple IIs. Here I learned about vertices and matrices for the first time, and I still remember the code to enter the Apple II system monitor ( 3D0G ). I transferred to University of Maryland in 1983 and received my degree in 1984. My senior project was a robot arm simulation written on a 256k 2-floppy IBM PC using overlays, and I worked at Goddard Space Flight writing graphics applications for the scientists at GSFC while in school. It was there I learned the pleasures of the VAX architecture and OS.


My first job after graduating was at Intran working on Perq workstations where I learned the joy of bitmapped graphics and BitBlt. After that company went Chapter-11 (something I became intimately familiar with over the years) I went to a larger company, SAIC, and worked on a C3 system for a friendly foreign navy. After that product shipped, I joined TRW and worked on the main graphics app for an executive information system for Air Force Systems Command. In October of 1986, as I held my crisp new copy of that month’s PC Magazine in my hand and viewed the Compaq 386 on the cover I had a revelation that I had to start working on PCs or else, once they had a great 32-bit operating system working on these new 32-bit chips, I would be missing out.


So in 1987 (within 6 months of reading the PC magazine article) I left TRW and the warmth and comfort of DoD work for another small company to learn Windows. Little did I know I would be doing 16-bit programming for the next 9 years and come to love and hate the joys of segmented mode programming. While at this little geo-demographic marketing company I picked up the hard lessons of Windows programming. I was the reviewer of Petzold’s original Windows 2.0 programming book for Byte magazine, and my quote ( “broad in reach and omitting little” or some such ) still graces the covers of Petzold. When that company fell on hard times I left to do contract Windows programming on what became the largest collection of Windows programmers outside of MS at that time, on the ATT/BCS/CSC Federal Telephone System 2000 upgrade (which was the largest non DoD contract let by the government at that time) and learned more about Windows systems programming during my 2 years there. I then contracted to IBM Gaithersburg on a medical imaging system using OS/2 and performed a variety of other contracting jobs over the next year or 2 (including Chase Manhattan, ATT Bell Labs, MS Federal Systems, and more as my clients).


 In 1990 I was offered a lead position in California on what was then known as MacInTax and what was to become TurboTax for Windows. After the hard work of updating the application for protected mode, we shipped a great product for the 1991 tax season. The company became involved in a takeover, and unfortunately the takeover by Chipsoft was a bad business deal for all but 3 individuals. I left and joined Borland before BC++ 3.0 shipped and worked on multimedia extensions to OWL. I was part of the “old Borland” before the disastrous Ashton-Tate merger and enjoyed my time there immensely.


As Borland fell apart I took 9 months off and finished my book, “3D Graphics Programming in Windows, Addison-Wesley, 1994. When the book was in copy-edit I took a job as Staff Engineer at Kaleida, the joint startup venture of the IBM-Apple collaboration. While there I developed ScriptX3D, the 3D extensions to the ScriptX scripting language and runtime system. We used Rendermorphics Renderlib, which was bought by MS and became the basis for Direct3D.


As Apple’s problems got larger it was clear Kaleida was headed for funding issues and a fall. I left to join Dynamix in 1995 and work on DirectX games. I shipped 3 games in my year at Dynamix ( A-10 II, Earthsiege II, Mission Cyberstorm ) and learned a lot about how and how not to develop games.

Alex St.

John hired me in 1996 to be the 1st engineer on the DirectX evangelism team and I took over D3D evangelism. While it was a hard go for a while, eventually D3D turned into the leading graphics API it is today. Once the hard work of D3D evangelism was done, I joined the product team as DirectX SDK PM in 2000, and shipped the DX8, DX8.1, and DX9 SDKs. I then left MS to join ATI in 2002 and learn the hardware side of the business. After 2 years at ATI, I returned to MS in 2005 and joined the VS Core team working on VS extensibility. My time there was extremely valuable; I learned Scrum and became an Agile convert.


And now I am in Flight Sim and I am loving it. What a hard working, dedicated bunch this crew is. I can only hope to live up to the high standards and add value!