The Oculus VR team paid tribute to founding member Andrew Reisse this weekend, days after he was killed in a police chase, calling him a "brilliant computer graphics engineer" who "was taken from us long before his time."
Reisse, who was 33, was in a crosswalk when he was struck by a speeding car being chased by the Santa Ana, Calif., police Thursday afternoon; he died at the scene, about four miles from the Oculus VR offices. According to the Santa Ana police, the car was being driven by gang members fleeing a fatal police-involved shooting.
"Andrew was a brilliant computer graphics engineer, an avid photographer and hiker who loved nature and a loyal friend," said the Oculus VR staff. "He was a mentor and an inspiration to everyone around him."
According to Oculus VR, some of the company's employees had known Reisse since his time at the University of Maryland, College Park, where he studied computer science. During college, Reisse met two current Oculus officials, CEO Brendan Iribe and chief software architect Michael Antonov, and teamed with them to build a user interface system that would eventually become the video game middleware known as Scaleform GFx.
The Oculus VR team also pointed out Reisse's commitment to open-source projects, including his decision to spurn Autodesk — which acquired the company Scaleform in March 2011 — in favor of Gaikai when Autodesk asked him to sign an agreement that would prevent him from working on open-source side projects. Reisse worked at Gaikai until he co-founded Oculus with Antonov and Iribe.
"Reisse was a mentor and an inspiration to everyone around him"
"Andrew's impact on the software and hardware we've developed at Oculus is immeasurable," said the company. Reisse served as Oculus VR's lead engineer, heading up the creation of the Oculus Rift software development kit and its Unreal Engine integration, as well as the Rift support for Hawken and "nearly every demo we've shown since the [company's] inception."
The Oculus VR team added, "He believed in what we're building and always pushed the team to be better than we thought we could be."
We at Polygon would like to offer our sincere condolences to Reisse's co-workers at Oculus VR and to his family.