A recent interview with a the Housemarque developers gave us the scoop of their perceptions of the Xbox One and PS4, its computing units, the importance of the gaming console memory, and their prediction of how gaming will change in the coming years.
The independent development team is located in a small studio in Finland and they have created downloadable games with popular titles, from Super Stardust HD, Dead Nation, and Outland.
Their most popular game is Super Stardust HD, which is available on the PlayStation network. The game has received excellent reviews from their great visuals to the amount of depth in its graphics and gameplays. The company has confirmed that they are working on a successor to their Super Stardust HD game for the next-gen PS4 console.
Community Manager of Housemarque Tommaso De Benetti says, “We try to build up a more personal relationship with the people who play our games and I think we are moving it piece by piece in the right direction. Housemarque fans are a really dedicated bunch, so it’s often fun to talk with them.”
The company talks about the time jumps of generations of console releases, and how innovative generations of gaming have been. They also mention the obvious differences between the upcoming games for the next- gen consoles, in comparison to PCs.
“If PS4 and Xbox one on the market, many of these restrictions would be lifted so that developers have the freedom to take advantage of the variety of new technologies that can actually have an effect on gameplay – with the knowledge that everyone is able , best to enjoy it.
“An important difference of this new generation of consoles compared to high-end PCs will be their exclusive services and features. Think of PlayStation Plus, or the possibility to interrupt a game at any time and turn off the console – incidentally, my favorite feature of PS Vita!
“This simple innovation is the way people perceive games in the living room, completely change. Also the possibility to easily share gameplay with other users will make some games on the console much more pleasant, because all obstacles are cleared away that might be lurking on your PC.”
Computer Units are processing units used for graphic calculations and general CPU functions. The PS4 and Xbox One will have one of these graphic chips in their upcoming consoles, which will be used for games where it can create a physics simulation from smaller functions.
Senior Programmer Jere Sanisalo explains, “These tasks include, for example, the collision detection, rigid body update and more. CUs but also do all other such pay-intensive tasks.
“This includes the simulation of soft objects, the simulation of liquids and gases, advanced audio processing and mixing, computation advanced animations, complex AI and path finding, complex visibility calculations (So that you can look, for example, only partly offset by a bush) and so on.
“While CUs are well established in the PC area for a while, their availability is with the new consoles (because each of them has CUs) increased tremendously. In addition, their simultaneous use has been simplified parallel to the graph representation, so that it is easier to weave compute and graphics calculations to each other.”
Controlling downloads and updates through special features and background services on the new consoles are going to affect the way games are developed.
Sanisalo states, “Every new platform has a certain influence on the games development. However, it seems the console manufacturers to be important that all these background activities are relatively easy to integrate into the game. With a little extra effort, therefore, can significantly enrich the gaming experience.”
The challenge of developing for the next-gen consoles may increase the costs of developing games, but not necessarily bigger teams. The best thing developers can work on is making their games better.
Benetti says, “In the future we will see more and more people, which will remove a little bit of realism. Because if you in that direction, is the effort to make a game look 10% better, not proportional to what it costs to achieve all that. In a way, that’s fine. In the coming years we will see many games that are supported by their style rather than their technique. You do not necessarily have something realistic effect, so it looks cool.”
Sony has shown numerous amount of support towards indie gamers, letting those companies self-publish and name their own price for their games. Whereas Microsoft has made it clear that self-publishing is not allowed for independent developers. It is great that Sony is helping the little guys get out there, not everyone wants to play mainstream games all the time.
“The past few years have shown that the indie community will not only win momentum, but is also of great importance for innovation. Certain games that would make a AAA blockbuster game does not make sense, can still function as a small, author-driven productions that might have a smaller circumference, but explore some aspects that are denied blockbusters.”, says Benetti.
PS4 will have 8 GB of GDDR5 memory, which means they have upper hand, because the Xbox One is going to have the DDR3 memory. This shows that the PS4 is going to have more bandwidth than tan the Xbox One.
Sanisalo explains why bandwidth may be important, “The way how the PS4 uses GDDR5, offers a higher bandwidth for demanding tasks. These include obvious as the graphics display with higher resolution textures or more sampling and filtering for visual effects – such as volumetric lighting and global illumination in real-time. Also Processor cores and CUs use the same memory – Calculation results can thus be easily shared between them. This will make it easier to distribute some demanding calculations from the processor to the CUs.
“As for the 8 gigabyte, I’m not sure but I think the price of the memory modules since played a role. However, there is another important variable that you should consider: The load times. Blu-ray drives do not come with the transfer speeds and hard drives will have their effort to come along since. So when it comes to games, will be the big problem is how best to load all data into memory in order to use it effectively. When considered as an upgrade from 8GB to 16GB would provide a great advantage less than the upgrade from 4GB to 8GB.”
Lastly, the community manager talks about the importance of features in the next-gen consoles, “It seems to me that common games in the future is always central. And not just as a co-op in games, but also by things like “remote play” if you need help at one point. It may sound boring for experienced players but look at it this way: if you’re really good at something, what keeps you from helping your friends, teach them something and make it as good as her own? I think that’s super cool!”