Monday, January 30, 2006

Is The PS3 Easy To Programme For?

The question of the PS3's ease of development has come into question in the past few weeks and why should we care?! I mean it's not us gamers that will be making these games, but after comparing the quality of the graphics between the XBox and PS2 in the last generation it is easy to see that the PS2 was more of a PlayStation1.5 than anything that could match the XBox, but games like Black (that aren't out yet) do match what is available on the XBox. And the reason for this is that the XBox is an easier console to make games for, where as developers have had to work long and hard for many years to get anything out of the PS2. So yes gamers do care because if a developer has a hard time making games for a console then the games will suffer.

In the past week a few people have said that the PS3 isn't as hard to develop for as others first thought. What has been said is that it is very much like developing for the PS2 (not good) and that games have to be very thread intensive to make sure that all seven PPEs are working inside the Cell Chip. Now this might sound ok, but multi-threading in C++ is horrible and in traditional software development (for the XBox360 for example) threading is only used when it is of benefit (physics, AI, control input etc). So creating more threads, just for the sake of it is simply going to complicate things. I could go into what threading is and why it is good, but the bad side of it is that it creates non-deterministic bugs. These are errors which are extremely difficult to track. I mean ultra difficult and that is with using great debugging tools like Visual Studio. So any thread creating where it hasn't been architected properly will have a detrimental effect on development and mean that released games will crash or stutter badly (as it recovers from a near crash) occasionally.

Looking at Screenshots from games in development for the PS3 I don't think they look much better than what the XBox can do. Sure there is a lot of stuff on screen, but a lot of what is in the screens all has very simple textures and low polly counts. I might even go as far to say that those pictures aren't any better than These new screens from the latest PS2 games. So I do feel that developers are struggling badly.

Still all that being said even if Sony ships empty boxes with PS3 logos on the side they will sell loads.