I spent a fair amount of time developing my ability to render graphics with OpenGL, eventually getting into shaders and loading geometry into vertex arrays, etc. I've done bump mapping, specular maps, lighting, shadows (spotlight, directional, point), a couple versions of fog, and wrote a polygon and particle queue so I could just submit geometry from the cpu side then upload it all with one upload statement and render it with one render call. I wrote a portal engine so that I could do mirrors and render a large randomly generated map. On my future list are rippling water reflections, light shafts with shadows cutting through them, arrays of shadowmaps for shadowing a large area of outside terrain at various levels of detail, and deferred rendering to allow many lights, decals, light bloom, and the big one for me, ambient occlusion. I have also rendered red-blue anaglyph to view with the glasses and side by side scenes for Google Cardboard.
I've written code that will automatically generate the shader code that I need, depending on the model composition, texture requirements and lights and shadowmaps and other options that I'm using for the render. It saved me having to write and debug thousands of shaders. Retooling the code to perform deferred rendering will be a chore, but it should be a healthy exercise.
I've thought through my head how to solve the future stuff, and I know I can do it, I just haven't. Yet.
So I can solve graphics rendering problems. I also coded a minimal UI framework and a networking framework to get other things working. You can see my work in my signature.
The question I have is - am I of use to the game industry?
The Unity and Unreal 4 engines do most of this stuff out of the box. But I've always been curious about how things work under the hood. I like to see and feel the code that I write working. So instead of learning those engines and making games, I solved the lower level graphics coding so I could see how things happen. A company might want me for my ability to understand the graphics pipeline and how shaders work, and to write custom shaders for their specific needs, interfacing with the content generators to agree on what they need to provide to get the results. But would that be a full time job? I might be able to contribute to design discussions or the evolving product evaluation in an additive capacity, but I couldn't design a game from scratch. I'm interested in AI and might be able to come up with an infrastructure for a game that other coders could fill in the blanks with, using the AI code they write for the behaviors and interactions of specific objects.
The main reason I haven't really probed the industry yet is because I'm not sure where I would fit in it. What is my skill set good for? Are there companies that would want someone like me, and what would I do there? Or where should I go from here?
If anyone has any insights, I'd like to hear them. Thanks!
The most moving games right now for me are silent narrative types with good presentation, like Inside, Little Nightmares, Shadow of the Colossus and The Last Guardian.