Do you guys have plans to
go multi-SKU at this point, across multiple consoles?
What do you think of the 360 and PS3 as hardware platforms right now?
CK: We've achieved parity between them, but it's not like you can hit a button and all of a sudden it's working the same. The development environment, in terms of Unreal 3, is fastest on PC. It's easier to get that moved over and debugged on the Xbox 360. And we have to keep an eye on the PS3, because the Xbox 360 does a lot of things that really slow down the PS3. It doesn't mean that you can't do it on the PS3, it just means that you have to do it in a different way.
Can you envision how long it's going to take before you can really get what you want out of the PS3?
CK: We have this "beach head" team -- it's the concept of sending this one group of people first on the beach head and opening the way. They've been working exclusively on the PS3 for almost a year. They're looking at future tech from a generic gameplay point of view, but they're also looking at the PS3. My goal was for them to become experts on the Cell processor.
The secondary goal is to find what kind of games you can build if you have to build an engine from the ground up to take advantage of just [the PS3] and ignore all other platforms. My impression is that there's only so far you can go by taking this general purpose approach on the 360 over to the PS3.
One thing we do with art is that, rather than procedurally generating trees and other stuff in real time, we replace that with low CPU-cost art that's all been calculated ahead of time. With CPU costs going down, though, memory costs go up.
Do you find that's taking
a lot of extra time? Is it ultimately going to be worthwhile?
CK: It ultimately is. I'm not sure if it is on this generation, though. With this beach head team, they keep hitting bottlenecks, and it's getting harder and harder to get past those bottlenecks, much as it was on the PS2. The theoretical [performance] is never going to be met on any platform, but I think in the next generation, they'll hopefully start to address some of these bottlenecks a bit better.
I kind of wonder what the
next hardware generation's going to be like. At some point, people are
going to stop noticing the difference in bigger, badder graphics.
CK: As developers, we're a
little myopic about that, because we could always use more, and we're
always pushing the limits. You also have to consider that the number
one console is the Wii. Microsoft and Sony have to be looking at that.
A year ago, they were probably laughing at the strategy.
Does that ever make you wonder why you're spending all this time on the 360 and PS3, when the Wii is selling like gangbusters?
CK: Yeah. As a platform, it's something we keep looking at and wondering if Unreal 3 is ever going to work on it. It's probably not. We've got some development kits, and I'd love to get another beach head team looking at that and exploring it.