From the presentation, it feels like there is a lot of importance and focus being placed on Lair on the Sony side. Sony always used to focus on exclusive titles, and that's not as possible now with budgets people have. How important do you think first- and second-party titles are to Sony's and the PS3's future?
JE: I think they make all the difference. That's why it's important that you have a strong first-party slate throughout the year. The fact that the other games are multiplatform inherently means that most of them probably won't take advantage of the platform the way they should. That applies to both [the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3].
I'm sure that there are enough titles which come out on 360 because they also have to be on the PS3, which don't even take full advantage of the 360. It's a two-way street. That's the one thing where you really have to show the strength of your system: with the first-party exclusives.
Secondly, there's this generation's very interesting structure regarding controllers. We've never had that before, that we've had so vastly different controllers. And who else but first-parties will take advantage of that in the way it should be?
It seems like a game like Lair would be relied upon to move system units, too, when you have multiple SKUs and other systems have been out longer.
JE: We've never designed like that. Lair is fresh in terms of genre because it's a new genre - we call it "fight and flight" - and using the controller actually came out of the fundamental design involving dragons.
When the dragon thing happened, the motion control aspect was just a glimpse on the horizon. It might have happened, it might have not happened. I think we just lucked out, but on the other hand we also always try to use every single feature in a new machine simply because we get a kick out of it.
How far do you think there is to go, graphically, on PS3?
JE: It's huge. I think (PS3 GPU) RSX isn't a big secret. What's really interesting is that we're starting these days in the optimization process for Lair to use Cell to do certain things on the graphics side, which you normally wouldn't expect.
I think there is a huge room for growth. RSX, as well as the GPU in the 360, are known quantities. Around the middle of the cycle, most people will have figured out what you can do with them. But then you suddenly have the connection between Cell and the SPUs and RSX, and you can do a lot more with that, graphically.
How are you splitting stuff up to the SPUs? What sorts of things are you finding you're able to stick in there?
JE: We initially started out by saying, "Wow, we're going to do physics," and everybody should do that at least. But it very quickly became a matter of "oh, let's put this on the SPUs, and now let's put this on there." We've got the fluid dynamics, all of the physics including ragdoll, and all of the collisions.
In a game like Lair, if you've got a couple of thousand soldiers running around and hundreds of dragons, one of the big issues you have is a ton of collision checks, which other games simply don't have. It's always been a big issue, and the SPUs are perfect for number-crunching like that. Other things which you can do nicely on the SPUs is to prepare tasks for the RSX, which normally you'd have to do with the CPU, because the GPU really can't do it at that moment.
We've got a lot of things, including army AI. If you have primitive AI for the distant armies, you can easily run that on the SPUs. As the army comes closer and these guys need to get more intelligent, you move the more intelligent army AI code onto the PPU.