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Blizzard's PC Stance

Computer and Video Games quotes Blizzard's Mike Ryder on the company's PC commitment. "Its [sic] certainly not written off by us. PC development has a number of unique challenges that console developers don't face, but Blizzard is one of the few companies that is there making great PC games," he said, admitting that console development would be easier. "We've spent a lot of time in development focussing on scalablity, on new PC hardware and old. If you were just designing for a console it would be a much easier task." Thanks joao.

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44. Re: Blizzard's PC Stance Aug 13, 2010, 05:12 peteham
 
Jerykk wrote on Aug 13, 2010, 01:28:
Look, I understand and can even respect your position. Games should be far more optimized than they are and some programmers can do amazing things with few resources. However, the fact remains that more powerful hardware increases the potential for better presentations and bigger games.
Indeed. You simply have to compare the first games of this console-generation with the latest ones to see what better optimization (or should I say utilization?) can do, but the same amount of optimization effort on better hardware would - as Jerykk points out - give even better results; so...

At some point, obsessive profiling and optimization simply becomes prohibitively expensive, and it's just easier cheaper and, frankly, better, to throw more resources and computing power at the problem and just solve the damn integral rather than trying to discover some hack or approximation that produces acceptable results.

Don't get me wrong, I think the stuff some enthusiasts have done on the C64 (for example) in in later years is amazing, probably going far beyond what the hardware creators thought possible; but they're still not running Crysis.. Moreover, most of their tricks/hacks have no application outside the C64 scene.
 
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43. Re: Blizzard's PC Stance Aug 13, 2010, 01:28 Jerykk
 
And seeing the Playstation 3 only has 256mb of ram and people can still produce games like Crysis 2, kinda nullifies your argument now doesnt it?

No, because you have your numbers wrong. The PS3 has 512MB of total memory. 256 megs are dedicated to video, 256 megs are dedicated to system. The X360 has 512MB of total memory but you can allocate it however you want. This is why programmers generally dislike doing 360-to-PS3 ports; reduced flexibility.

While, it's certainly impressive what can be done with such limited memory on consoles, I can guarantee that no AAA developer actually enjoys working within those constraints. Think of it this way: If you're impressed that Crysis 2 can be optimized to run with 256 MB of video memory, imagine what developers could do if they optimized games to run with 1 gig of video memory.

There are awesome games one the Nintendo DS, Awesome games on the iPod Touch.. ALL have less storage and limits than we are touting...

Again, you're making invalid comparisons. Handheld games are not comparable to big-budget AAA X360/PS3/PC games. I'm not talking about gameplay quality here, I'm talking about production values. Can a game with the presentation of Crysis be done on a DS? Or an iPod? No. Trying to make such a game with those limitations would be a nightmare. John Carmack might enjoy it but 99.9% of developers would not.

Look, I understand and can even respect your position. Games should be far more optimized than they are and some programmers can do amazing things with few resources. However, the fact remains that more powerful hardware increases the potential for better presentations and bigger games.
 
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42. Re: Blizzard's PC Stance Aug 12, 2010, 09:53 CythrawL
 
And seeing the Playstation 3 only has 256mb of ram and people can still produce games like Crysis 2, kinda nullifies your argument now doesnt it?

Thats HALF the ram and MORE storage than we are touting around...

and I am sure nearly every GOOD coder will disagree with you.. As I said it has NOTHING to do with Tech Demos, I gave that as an EXAMPLE of what can be done with limitations. There are awesome games one the Nintendo DS, Awesome games on the iPod Touch.. ALL have less storage and limits than we are touting... Again you are missing the point, and on why I called you on those two points you gave on your list. They have NOTHING to do with better games or game development.

The other 3 points you came up with, RIGHT on the money.. I just dont agree with the 2 we are debating about.
 
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41. Re: Blizzard's PC Stance Aug 12, 2010, 00:43 Jerykk
 
You can code a great game with much MUCH less resources.

I'm sure you could. After all, a game's entertainment value is not completely dependent on its production values. But that's not the point. We're not talking about tech demos here. We're talking about large games with tons of unique, detailed, hand-crafted assets. Textures, models, animations, SFX, VFX, VO, music, FMV, level geometry and lighting, collision, scripting, UI... these things take space. Yes, you can optimize them and the demo scene guys do a great job of that. However, the fact remains that designing a game with fewer hardware/media limitations is easier and allows for potentially better game.

Crysis could not be made for a 286, no matter how well you optimized it. You view 512 megs of memory and 6.8 gigs of disk space as plentiful but it's completely relative. Back in the day, 6 megs of RAM was considered plentiful. I'm sure there were people back then saying "Hah! Who needs 6 megs of RAM?! What a waste! I can make awesome games with only 32k!"

This comment was edited on Aug 12, 2010, 00:53.
 
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40. Re: Blizzard's PC Stance Aug 11, 2010, 18:41 bhcompy
 
You can't code audio fidelity though. The reason that MGS4 takes up most of the BRD is probably more because of the endless hours of dialogue than high fidelity textures. Games have gotten out of prerendered FMV, so that is a positive for your argument, but in the meantime they've replaced it with HD textures and high fidelity audio, and audio is seemingly always the larger of the two because it's much easier to notice.  
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39. Re: Blizzard's PC Stance Aug 11, 2010, 17:19 CythrawL
 
NKD wrote on Aug 11, 2010, 14:31:
Jerykk wrote on Aug 11, 2010, 12:36:
If you cant program a game in 512mb of memory with the pool of 6.8gb to store your data, then I am sorry you are in the wrong job and should not be called a programmer.

You do realize that there's a significant difference between a 4k tech demo and a full AAA game, right? Completely procedural content is a cool idea but doesn't work very well for most games.

You asked me if I was joking but now I have to ask the same of you.

This.

The reality of modern game development is that the art assets are big. It's not about laziness or failure to optimize. It's just a fact that you can't compress the art assets any further without losing significant quality.

Lowering the visual quality of your game isn't optimization anymore than optimizing a website by removing half the content.

Sorry but procedurally generated textures are bland and repetitive by their very nature, and the renderers in those demos are barebones as hell. The framerates are only acceptable because the assets they deal with aren't at all demanding.

It's a fun and challenging thing, the demo scene, but it's not a viable AAA game development strategy.

I think you BOTH missed my point and zeroed in on the 4k example I gave you.. The point I was making is that you think that 512mb of ram and 6.8GB of Storage is not enough for a game. I call utter Bullshit. You can code a great game with much MUCH less resources. Those 2 points is why I said you are joking right?. My 4k example was showing what is POSSIBLE if you code WELL with limitations bestowed upon you.. Thats the whole reason they have 4k, 64k compos, to show their skills. Now granted Coding Demos and games are a different kettle of fish, but if you remember the Silents they went on to be Digital Illusions. Triton, ended up being Starbreeze, and so on and so forth.

It used to be about taking those limitations and coding a great game around that. What you are saying the limitations are to small and give us moar moar MOAR!! which is exactly where game development is heading now. Which is ashame and I think its the totally wrong way to go.

Could you imagine what people like Stavros Fasoulas and Andrew Braybrook could do if they coded on the same level as they did back then with the resources of the Xbox 360 now??? I mean jeezus it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see what I am trying to get at here!

I still hate it when you get games, and its not been coded or optimized for the platform, you get slow downs and frame drops, where there really should not be.. There are very few teams out these days who polish their games till they shine, Blizzard is one of them and you can SEE it with their titles.

This comment was edited on Aug 11, 2010, 17:24.
 
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38. Re: Blizzard's PC Stance Aug 11, 2010, 16:03 ASJD
 
NKD wrote on Aug 11, 2010, 14:31:
This.

The reality of modern game development is that the art assets are big. It's not about laziness or failure to optimize. It's just a fact that you can't compress the art assets any further without losing significant quality.

So what you're really saying is 'wow, that game looks great' isn't good enough. You need 'wow, that game looks even better'.
 
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37. Re: Blizzard's PC Stance Aug 11, 2010, 15:55 Verno
 
bhcompy wrote on Aug 11, 2010, 14:18:

I have no problem with it. The patches are infrequent, major firmware updates are infrequent, and when it does happen it gives me a chance to go grab a beer, make a snack, whatever. Most firmware updates take less than 3 minutes to complete.

Firmware updates take longer than 3 minutes to download, let alone update. I know because they refuse to use iterative firmware updates over slowass PSN and instead every time you get the full firmware. On any other service this would be a one minute process but PSN is slow as molasses despite a 20mbps cable connection.

Patches vary, but you're generally only patching games once or twice within the span that you're playing the game(and that is the same with the 360). The only people that complain are the people that use their PS3 infrequently

Sure that's fair. People like myself who are multiplatform gamers notice it because we don't play the PS3 every day and see the systems in place on the 360 and PC which are far better and faster.

As far as the HDD space, when I'm done with a game I clean up the installed portion of the game, which is saved separately from the save game files. Done with MGS4? Bye bye tens of gigs install

I don't really see the HD space as an issue. 120gigs is plenty even with the mandatory installs on many PS3 games.
 
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36. Re: Blizzard's PC Stance Aug 11, 2010, 14:32 m00t
 
I agree with what you're saying, m00t. But it's not what I meant exactly.

GPUs should indeed still have different features and all, and be different from eachother as a whole, but wouldn't it be a good thing if they all had this same... well, let's say basic technology. PC game developers can then build their games on that basis. In this way, I think (but my logic may be flawed since I'm no expert) games shouldn't have to crash anymore on one GPU and work fine on another. Same with CPUs.

Well, you would think. But even within a single company this isn't the case. nVidia, AMD, Intel, and other chip mfgs revise their core technologies from time to time. Even Intel chips only implement the x86 interface in microcode and run a somewhat more RISC like architecture at it's core. OpenGL and DirectX are an attempt to insulate developers from the differences in hardware implementation, but even then some hardware bugs creep through. Drivers are filled with per-game / per-card combinations of fixes for one problem or another.

Also I think the technology is still evolving too fast to settle down. Backwards compatibility, while useful, is also a huge bottle-neck in terms of growing the capabilities of a design. Look at Windows. Many of the backwards compatibility features are really just preserving the behavior of bugs that people started to rely on. This adds complexity and leaves potential vulnerabilities.
 
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35. Re: Blizzard's PC Stance Aug 11, 2010, 14:31 NKD
 
Jerykk wrote on Aug 11, 2010, 12:36:
If you cant program a game in 512mb of memory with the pool of 6.8gb to store your data, then I am sorry you are in the wrong job and should not be called a programmer.

You do realize that there's a significant difference between a 4k tech demo and a full AAA game, right? Completely procedural content is a cool idea but doesn't work very well for most games.

You asked me if I was joking but now I have to ask the same of you.

This.

The reality of modern game development is that the art assets are big. It's not about laziness or failure to optimize. It's just a fact that you can't compress the art assets any further without losing significant quality.

Lowering the visual quality of your game isn't optimization anymore than optimizing a website by removing half the content.

Sorry but procedurally generated textures are bland and repetitive by their very nature, and the renderers in those demos are barebones as hell. The framerates are only acceptable because the assets they deal with aren't at all demanding.

It's a fun and challenging thing, the demo scene, but it's not a viable AAA game development strategy.
 
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34. Re: Blizzard's PC Stance Aug 11, 2010, 14:18 bhcompy
 
Verno wrote on Aug 11, 2010, 08:49:
My PS3 is a constant battle of freeing up space, granted I have the smaller HDD but still... its a pain. Between games having mandatory installs, large/frequent game saves, and the very rare PSN demo/purchase, I fill up way too quickly.

My PS3 is a constant battle to see if it will let me game at all or sit there waiting on updates for an hour. I want to strangle the intern who came up with their update process. People ding the PC for the constant patches and driver updates but all of that shit barely takes any time compared to Sony's abysmal firmware/game updating.

I have no problem with it. The patches are infrequent, major firmware updates are infrequent, and when it does happen it gives me a chance to go grab a beer, make a snack, whatever. Most firmware updates take less than 3 minutes to complete. Patches vary, but you're generally only patching games once or twice within the span that you're playing the game(and that is the same with the 360). The only people that complain are the people that use their PS3 infrequently or the people that need to up their dose of ritalin.

As far as the HDD space, when I'm done with a game I clean up the installed portion of the game, which is saved separately from the save game files. Done with MGS4? Bye bye tens of gigs install
 
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33. Re: Blizzard's PC Stance Aug 11, 2010, 12:36 Jerykk
 
If you cant program a game in 512mb of memory with the pool of 6.8gb to store your data, then I am sorry you are in the wrong job and should not be called a programmer.

You do realize that there's a significant difference between a 4k tech demo and a full AAA game, right? Completely procedural content is a cool idea but doesn't work very well for most games.

You asked me if I was joking but now I have to ask the same of you.
 
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32. Re: Blizzard's PC Stance Aug 11, 2010, 12:15 ASeven
 
CythrawL wrote on Aug 11, 2010, 12:04:
I would have KILLED for that kind of power when developing for the Amiga almost 20 years ago. In fact go and check some of the games being done in the Demo Scene.. 3d FPS games with procedural textures in 4k... playable..

The demos coming out of Assembly are simply amazing. The demoscene is still where the best coders in the entire world can be found, as it was in the C64/Amiga days.
 
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31. Re: Blizzard's PC Stance Aug 11, 2010, 12:04 CythrawL
 
Jerykk wrote on Aug 11, 2010, 00:47:

2) Having to work with only 512MB of memory TOTAL (system + video).

3) Trying to fit your game onto a 6.8 gig DVD (for X360, at least).

I'm sorry but those 2 points are a joke yes?

If you cant program a game in 512mb of memory with the pool of 6.8gb to store your data, then I am sorry you are in the wrong job and should not be called a programmer.

I think it was Jeff Minter who said "if you cant program a playable game in 1k of memory then you are NOT a games programmer"

I would have KILLED for that kind of power when developing for the Amiga almost 20 years ago. In fact go and check some of the games being done in the Demo Scene.. 3d FPS games with procedural textures in 4k... playable..

Programmers are lazy these days, they get everything done for them (engines and such like) and their games are huge, unoptimized, bloated, and not very innovative usually.

 
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30. Re: Blizzard's PC Stance Aug 11, 2010, 11:21 Eldaron Imotholin
 
m00t wrote on Aug 10, 2010, 21:07:
No. It would harm computing significantly and would likely incur anti-trust lawsuits from the government. The competition (what there is of it) is good and, theoretically, helps keep the prices lower.

I agree with what you're saying, m00t. But it's not what I meant exactly.

GPUs should indeed still have different features and all, and be different from eachother as a whole, but wouldn't it be a good thing if they all had this same... well, let's say basic technology. PC game developers can then build their games on that basis. In this way, I think (but my logic may be flawed since I'm no expert) games shouldn't have to crash anymore on one GPU and work fine on another. Same with CPUs.
 
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29. Re: Blizzard's PC Stance Aug 11, 2010, 08:49 Verno
 
My PS3 is a constant battle of freeing up space, granted I have the smaller HDD but still... its a pain. Between games having mandatory installs, large/frequent game saves, and the very rare PSN demo/purchase, I fill up way too quickly.

My PS3 is a constant battle to see if it will let me game at all or sit there waiting on updates for an hour. I want to strangle the intern who came up with their update process. People ding the PC for the constant patches and driver updates but all of that shit barely takes any time compared to Sony's abysmal firmware/game updating.
 
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28. Re: Blizzard's PC Stance Aug 11, 2010, 08:29 kanniballl
 
Jerykk wrote on Aug 11, 2010, 02:13:
That being said, as far as I can remember every PS3 comes with a HD built in it, and personally (your mileage might vary) I have yet to meet someone that has bought an Xbox360 without a hard drive.

This is true but MS and Sony generally require that your game be playable from disc. Console developers would love it if HD installs were mandatory but alas, that's not the case just yet.

Some Sony games require installation, not the whole thing mind you but still a decent chunk.

My PS3 is a constant battle of freeing up space, granted I have the smaller HDD but still... its a pain. Between games having mandatory installs, large/frequent game saves, and the very rare PSN demo/purchase, I fill up way too quickly.

I'm already playing disk-space-manager fairly often with my PS3, almost to the point of wanting to upgrade the HDD.


Consoles are becoming too much like PCs. Don't get me wrong, I love PC gaming but I play the console to get away from some of the PC stuff. A "set it and forget it" attitude, not worrying about hardware requirements or HDD space, etc. If I have to start worrying about those things, then the only thing I'm getting out of the console is the console-only games.
 
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27. Re: Blizzard's PC Stance Aug 11, 2010, 03:52 Prez
 
Of course, they probably notice that the top game sales for August were PC games. WoW and Starcraft 2 aren't on consoles, and probably wouldn't work nearly as well if they were. Diablo 3 will probably work rather well though.  
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26. Re: Blizzard's PC Stance Aug 11, 2010, 02:13 Jerykk
 
That being said, as far as I can remember every PS3 comes with a HD built in it, and personally (your mileage might vary) I have yet to meet someone that has bought an Xbox360 without a hard drive.

This is true but MS and Sony generally require that your game be playable from disc. Console developers would love it if HD installs were mandatory but alas, that's not the case just yet.
 
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25. Re: Blizzard's PC Stance Aug 11, 2010, 02:09 Cutter
 
You could have a rudimentary control system of course, but you'd be at a massive disadvantage against a PC player. Untill consoles come standard with mice and keyboards console forget it.
 
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