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Uber Gaming: Jon Mavor on Monday Night Combat

By Arti Gupta

Arti Gupta talks to Jon Mavor, CTO of Uber Entertainment, the creators of Monday Night Combat.

Arti Gupta: Tell us a little bit about your role at Uber.

Jon Mavor: Uber is a company that I co-founded with my business partner, Bob Barry, in 2008. I am the CTO, but in a small company that means I do a lot of things: business development, technical direction, product design, etc.

A.G.: On Monday Night Combat, you had a chance to play with a multicore architecture. Are there any optimization tips that you’d share with developers?

J.M.: I think the first thing to keep in mind is that this isn’t a solved problem; this is one of the most active areas of research in computer science: how to map things to multiple cores. Amdahl had a lot to say about this back in the day: “You can only parallelize what’s actually parallelizable.” That’s basically Amdahl’s Law, so it is tricky from the tips perspective.

No. 1: Understand how you are going to map your algorithms to multicore -- understand what’s slow and what’s worth mapping. There may be things that if you move them to multicore, it’ll actually slow them down.

No. 2: Use the tools that are available. There are many performance-analysis tools and other types of tools to allow you to write multicore quickly or at least experiment with it. Also, only believe numbers that you can actually measure, and don’t make any assumptions.

A.G.: What was the most exciting part of working on Monday Night Combat?

J.M.: The most exciting part for me was actually just releasing it and seeing all of the fan reactions. The highlight was when we first put Monday Night Combat in front of the public at PAX East 2010. We had a booth that was absolutely mobbed with people because they had never heard of the game and they’d never seen it before. We put it in front of them and let them play it.

Obviously, when you start a game company and you make a game from the ground up, there are a lot of milestones that are exciting, like the first time you actually get to play the game in a simple form and the first time you reach certain goals with it. But for me, just getting it out there in front of the fans is the best part, no question.

A.G.: Is there anything you want to share with your fans about what is coming up next after Monday Night Combat?

J.M.: We’re going to continue to work on Monday Night Combat. We are going to keep updating it, adding new features and playing with the balance to make as many people as happy as possible. Really, it’s a fan-driven game. We get feedback in the forums and we take that feedback seriously and try to roll that in. We also have ideas of our own that we want to try out. We’re excited about the franchise. It’s a long-term thing for us, not a one-off, so we’re going to keep working on Monday Night Combat for a while.

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