Monday, February 11, 2008

B-Side News: Ubisoft Montreal Discusses PS3 Development with Far Cry 2

Wow, it's been months since I've last posted. I have a few things planned to post on here, but I just haven't taken the time to do it. Anyway, for now, the first B-Side News piece in even longer. Once again, I maintain that I'm usually not at fault when this happens. This is, of course, another instance where an entry truncation would be useful.

Impressed by the raw power the PS3 possesses, but worried about the difficulty in tapping that power.

Prolific developer, Ubisoft Montreal, whom have already released a few games on PlayStation 3, say that they’re a bit “worried” by the difficulty associated with the PS3’s complex architecture. Ubisoft Montreal’s Tech Director, Dominic Guay candidly reveals, "We were somewhat worried by some of the reported high complexity of developing for the PS3, but the raw processing power is impressive".

In the past, the PS3 hardware’s “wrath” has gotten the better of developers, which has caused for numerous delays from multi-platform games, and the PS3 version, usually, being the worse looking of the two. With time, though, this has improved, and games like Devil May Cry 4 and Burnout Paradise have showcased that Xbox 360 and PS3 multiplatform games can look and play nearly identical.

“We made sure we had a group of programmers that were not scared by complexity and had a large console programming experience to work on the initial PS3 R&D of Dunia (Far Cry 2's graphics engine). At that point, we didn't know what to expect.”

Tech Director Guay does feel that the PlayStation 3 plays up to some of Ubisoft Montreal’s technical prowess. He also mentions that, “We were positively surprised by how efficient the SPUs (the Cell processing units) were to do such things as run our vegetation simulation, our animations or our physics systems.”

“So while it did require quite a bit of R&D to understand how to use the system correctly, once we started having results we saw that it was a very capable console and that FC2 could run on it,” explained Guay.

One of the advantages that Blu-ray provides by having so much storage space available to developers, is the possibility to stream games in real-time. Guay’s intrigued by this possibility and feels it’ll prove useful for the PS3 version. "The hard drive and Blu-ray are making our life easy considering FC2 is an open world continuously streamed around the player. That streaming bandwidth and disk space is very appreciated. So, in terms of AI, game structure, physics, dynamic time of day, open world gameplay, dynamic weather system, destructible vegetation, all of those things where we had really pushed the envelope technically, they run well on PS3."

Of course, the PS3 version won’t be as impressive, visually, as the PC version that’s planned, but it’ll still hold its own, respectively. "However, the notable area where we had to make some tradeoffs is in some assets resolution which had to be brought down from the higher end PC configurations due to memory size difference. However, the good new is that since PS3 players are not outputting over the top resolutions like high end PC users, this is not a big deal. It's somewhat proportional to our video resolution output."

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