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Naughty Dog: Barely scratching surface of PS3

Naughty Dog: Barely scratching surface of PS3

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Germany — 

In a recent interview dealing with the added trophy support to Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, Richard Lemarchand (co-game designer for developer Naughty Dog) also talked about the system PS3 and some development tools. The PS3 consists of eight mini-processors (SPU's) and six of those can be given tasks to perform. According to Lemarchand, the biggest issue with developing games for the Sony console is to cleverly get the graphics processor to farm out jobs to those six SPU's. This is apparently not very easy (and it has often been confirmed that it's very difficult to program on the PS3), but a set of tools called Edge developed by Sony could, in his opinion, help changing that.

[W]e think we’re probably only using 30 or 40 per cent of the power of the PS3 right now, and there’s this great, untapped potential. All third-party developers can get the Edge libraries for free and are going to be able to use them in their own ways, to get more and more and more out of the PS3 over the years.

Uncharted definitely looks like a really good game and the graphics are among the best you can find on consoles up to now. So if Lemarchand should really be right with what he is saying, and the PS3 still doesn't use even half of its potential, the next game of Naughty Dog could well have graphics that will just blow us away. Or is Lemarchand just exxagerating a bit too much?

We can't tell, but at its current stage the PS3 is still a losing bargain for Sony. So making the PS3 a platform much easier to develop on and thereby probably really outshining the graphics of competitor XBox 360 would definitely be a good move.

What do you think? Are developers still barely scratching the surface of PS3's potential?

Leonard McCoy
2459 EXP -
August 6, 2008 - 16:46 #

In theory ... "in theory!" (as John Carmack said about the PS3 alleged performance) ...

Performance doesn't increase with the number of cores a processor has. Each core has to get addressed and synchronized with the others which, in fact, causes a decrease of performance. Multi-core processors only work well if the code is especially tailored for them, so that all cores are used equally and no performance is wasted.

Above that, even if it were true (in theory) that the PS3 is only at 40% of its (theoretical) performance, it still doesn't matter. The limitation of the RAM (2x256MB minus 90MB for the running OS), and the graphic device (nVidia - comparable to the Xbox 360 ATI chip) will always pull the PS3 back to reality.

For current-gen development the Xbox 360 remains the flagship.

John Carmack wrote:
Here Carmack heaped praise on the decisions that Microsoft has made with the Xbox 360. "It's the best development environment I've seen on a console," he says. Microsoft has taken a very developer-centric approach, creating a system that's both powerful but easy to code for. This is in contrast to Nintendo, Sony, and (formerly) Sega, who generally focused on the hardware.

1470 EXP -
August 9, 2008 - 00:51 #

I think he is exaggerating a bit, "theoretical" means just that, a theory. A mad Nazi scientist harnessing the power of lightnings to reach that potential is also that: a theory.

As I wrote in my article Has the PS3 already reached it's limit?, what we currently see is a decrease in resolutions on the PS3 to keep up with current titles, which sounds a bit different like what Mr. Lemarchand is talking about.

I'm sure he is right and there is still untapped potential, but since you can never reach 100%, there will always be "more theoretical potential".

Leonard McCoy
2459 EXP -
August 9, 2008 - 08:53 #

The decrease of resolution can't be put so simply into the bag of whether the PS3 is at it's full potential or not. Upscaling has always been a consideration for multi-platform titles - whether it's Halo 3, Soul Calibur 4, or several other titles for PS3 and Xbox 360 alike. Also, if the original version of a game comes from another system -- say from an arcade machine -- then the port of it will surely not run in some resolution especially designed for the target system. Rather, it will still run in the standard native resolution of the arcade.

At times, this has also to do with shadow-mapping, or with the particular specifications of the target hardware. Speaking about Haze -- well, the production time and expenses were limited for that title. Squeezing performance out of the PS3 takes a considerable amount of time and resources (money), as reported by several high-ranked developers. I think the developers of Haze simply couldn't offer their title all these resources so that upscaling became not only a consideration but the reality for improving the performance with the least effort.

1470 EXP -
August 9, 2008 - 18:40 #

You made some good points why reducing the resolution is sometimes necessary, but Haze should have been a glowing example of what the PS3 could do, it was long and loud praised as an exclusive title for the PS3. So when it's that difficult to get something out of the system, I think you are making my point for me in a way.

Mind you, I own a PS3 myself, so I'm not blindly bashing.