The discussion even brought some developers out of the woodworks who went on the record and disclosed the ways how nVidia is supporting them through TWIMTBP program. On XtremeSystems, developer known as DilTech
said that he "can tell you first hand NVidia supports developers with things besides money. Certain people here will tell you about the toy they had in our hands back when the 7800GTX 512MB came out. They give developers hardware that never sees the light of day as far as the consumers know, just to make sure they have a way to test their code that isn't a software renderer. I can tell you right now that ATi have never put a single piece of hardware in our hands... and it's not like we haven't asked for anything to test on.
On the subject of that particular toy, I still have it. If we are on the same page, that "toy"
used a very cool looking dual-slot cooler and was clocked that nobody believed it. Naturally, it could never pass FCC certification or OEM qualy process.
"They have a test lab with just about every possible configuration when it comes to nVidia hardware to test your application on to make sure it's going to work across a wide spectrum of hardware. You also have to remember that nVidia employ a lot more people than ATI. They have people, whose sole job IS testing said applications, finding the bugs, verifying if it's the game code or the driver, and giving a list of possible fixes to the developer. If anything, nVidia does more for the game industry than ATi has ever dreamed of doing, and pays for it with the money the consumer spends on their video card... How is that bad for the consumer?"
During the past 14 years of work experience, I also had the privilege working for two major publishers on their simulation titles and had a stint as CTO [Chief Technology Officer] in a then Croatian start-up developer. Back in the day [2003-2004], I worked with Intel, AMD, ATI and nVidia, so I had tasted the experience working with all four vendors. Being a small start-up that was yet to sign a publisher, we didn't exactly have high hopes of getting the level of support from giants in the industry.
After contacting AMD, the company offered us AMD Athlon 64 based systems for development at no cost to us as soon as we sign a publisher. Intel replied with an application to Intel Developer Program. By paying $500/year membership, we were entitled to use all the Intel software [regardless of what you may or may not think - Intel has the best C++ compiler in the industry] and stand to receive an Intel Development machine every 12 months. The machines consisted out of top of the pops CPU, motherboard, memory filled to the brink, multiple hard drives and top of the pops graphics card. We are talking about a three grand-worth system for 500 bucks. For some reason, Intel preferred to use ATI cards even back then. Coming to GPU vendors, things are really interesting and you might get a context of what happened back in 2003 - and compare it with what happened with Batman: Anti-Aliasing... pardon, Arkham Asylum.
We received visits from Cyril and Karen from nVidia, and Richard and Kevin from ATI. The results from first visits were interesting - nVidia sent us an application to TWIMTBP even though we didn't have a publisher. We were told that nVidia usually doesn't do that [offer TWIMTBP membership to start-ups unless they were promising], but those first visits resulted in nVidia sending us shipload of hardware - each of our systems ended up with GeForce FX 5850, 6800 - even a Quadro SDI for post-production. When it came to ATI, the company also sent out several cards, but the level of involvement was nowhere near the attention the company got from nVidia, followed by Intel and AMD.
To this date, that developer has yet to receive a single dime of marketing money from nVidia, yet the support given to the team from the company was invaluable in creating a casual game vendor that released eight games since 2003 [and several others under anonymity contracts]. This independent team cannot compete on AA or AAA titles, but yet, nVidia is there to support this kind of teams in that crucial incubating stage.