It's not something i can point at directly, but for example i want a programmer who can understand me when i tell him i want you to imitate the movement of this "X" character from "Y" game... and he would get me right away.
OK, your looking for a coder, who's a gamer, who plays the type of game your building, and is familiar with the existing titles out there.
Such things certainly do exist. the coder part is that hard to meet criteria. a gamer coder with gamedev experience won't be cheap. But as you said, you have a decent sized war chest for the project.
I would recommend advertising on career oriented gamedev sites like gammasutra. sample copy something along the lines of:
"experienced gamedev coder wanted. skilled in (list technologies / techniques). passionate about (whatever) type games, such as (list your titles you want them to be familiar with here). Generous compensation for the correct candidate."
when you interview them, talk about games, as that's the common knowledge base you share. this will let you get a good feel for whether they have the passion you seek. Sounds like you need to talk to some tech guys, or simply ask online here, to learn what the technologies/techniques are that "make character X in game Y" behave that way. That way you'll be able to tell if they can fulfill the technical requirements of the position.
Remember, when building games, its what you don't know how to do that you need to worry about, all the rest is just going through the motions. To the greatest extent possible, you should figure out how your going to do everything in the game and the required technologies and techniques to do that. This will give you a shopping list for coder skills you need to add to your team. When you interview candidates, focus on whether you think they can figure out the stuff they don't already know. Obviously, if you find someone with the full skill set, hire them, short of that, favor fast learners and innovative types.
"DirectX is like a belt fed machine gun, where every texture change is like hand loading in a new belt of ammo. worse, every mesh (vb) is a new belt of ammo, and a texture is like breaking the gun down, and setting it up again elsewhere, then loading it, then spraying triangles again. so you want to setup the gun once, string all your belts together, load it once, then just spray."
Rockland Software Productions
"Building PC games since 1988"
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