We have some completely unexpected, tragic news to share. On Thursday, we lost a very dear friend and founding member of our close-knit Oculus family, Andrew Reisse.
Andrew was a brilliant computer graphics engineer, an avid photographer(1) and hiker who loved nature, and a loyal friend. Andrew was unique in so many interesting ways. He was extraordinarily kind and utterly selfless. He was a mentor and an inspiration to everyone around him.
Some of us have known Andrew since college, and have worked with him at multiple companies beginning with Scaleform in Maryland which he helped start at age 19, then at Gaikai in Aliso Viejo which brought him out to California, and finally at Oculus where he was a co-founder and lead engineer.
Andrew’s contributions span far and wide in the video game industry. His code is embedded in thousands of games played by millions of people around the world.
While studying Computer Science at University of Maryland College Park, he ended up sharing a dorm room with Michael Antonov second semester of his freshman year. He loved games, but even more, he loved the technology behind them. Just for fun, he made his own 3D rendering engine that could load Quake maps. That same year, the two met Brendan Iribe and set out to make a UI system for game developers, which was first used in Civilization IV and would later become Scaleform GFx – used by thousands of video games.
Andrew was a freethinker and stood by his opinions and ideals. He was against corporate agreements that restrict an employee’s ability to contribute to open source side projects. When pushed by Autodesk to sign such an agreement, Andrew opted instead to join Brendan at Gaikai, the cloud streaming company, in California. Michael and Nate joined Andrew and Brendan a week later, where the team worked on Gaikai’s cloud gaming platform and SDK until they started Oculus. Andrew continued his work on open-source projects all the while.
Andrew’s impact on the software and hardware we’ve developed at Oculus is immeasurable. He was a lead on the Oculus SDK, the Unreal Engine integration, Hawken VR, and nearly every demo we’ve shown since the company inception. Despite all his work, he never bragged or boasted. When he wasn’t programming at the office, he was learning, reading his favorite web site — slashdot.org — or helping other teammates brainstorm and innovate.
He believed in what we’re building and always pushed the team to be better than we thought we could be.
Andrew was taken from us long before his time. Words cannot express how sorely he will be missed or how deeply our sympathy runs for his family.
Andrew, you will always be in our thoughts and never forgotten. We love you, Reisse.
(1) Andrew’s photography can be found at www.reisse.net.