Was: "What is a 'Technical Programmer'"?
I've noticed in job posting boards a few postings, all from European companies in the games industry, for a "Technical Programmer". The job description was similar, having to do with tools development, 3d graphics programming, etc. It seems to be somewhere between a Technical Artist who's more technical than artist or who can code, and a Technical Director but perhaps without the seniority/experience. Information elsewhere on the position is sparse. The title seems redundant and I haven't seen any American companies post jobs by that name, exactly.
One example is this job posting on gamedev.net which isn't exactly thorough.
In case the link dies:
Subject: Technical Programmer
Frictional Games, the creators of Amnesia: The Dark Descent and the Penumbra series, are looking for a talented programmer to join the company!
You will be working for a small team with a big focus on finding new and innovating solutions. We want you who are not afraid to explore uncharted territory and constantly learn new things. Self-discipline and independence are also important traits as all work will be done from home.
Some the things you will work with include:
- 3D math, rendering, shaders and everything else related.
- Console development (most likely Xbox 360).
- Hardware implementations (support for motion controls, etc).
All coding is in C++, so great skills in that is imperative.
Revised Summarised Question: So, where does a programmer of this nature fit in to software development team? If I had these on my team, what tasks am I expecting them to complete? Can I ask one to build a new level editor, or optimize the rendering engine?
It doesn't seem to be a "tools programmer" which focuses on producing artist tools, often in high-level languages like C#, Python, or Java. Nor does it seem to be working directly on the engine, nor a graphics programmer, as such. Yet, a strong C++ requirement, which was mirrored in other postings besides this one I quoted.
Edited To Add
As far as it being a low-level programmer, I had considered that but lacking from the posting was a requirement of Assembly. Instead, they tend to require familiarity with higher-level hardware APIs such as DirectX, or DirectInput.
I wasn't fully clear in my original post. I think, however, that Mathew Foscarini has it right in his answer, so barring someone who definitely works with or as a "Technical Programmer" stepping in to provide a clearer explanation, I'll go with that. A generalist, which also fits the description of a more-technical-than-artist TA.