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The Developer's End of the Console War

by OniNemo

I'm not biased or anything, but I just noticed recently developers have been contradicting themselves. A few years ago they complained that it was to difficult to make games for the SEGA Saturn and Nintendo 64. So they didn't support them causing an early death for the Saturn. Then comes along the Playstation 2...... companies jumped for the chance to develop for it, ignoring the programming difficulties involved. Companies hesitated to develop for the Saturn and N64 for that reason, but why didn't they do the same for the PS2? And these same companies have supported mainly the Playstation.

The PSX is simple to develop for, and so is the Dreamcast. But these companies ignore the DC and it's ease of development and develop for the PS2. Sure Namco released Soul Caliber for the DC, but what about future games for the DC from Namco? I heard about one more title, but most of their attention is focused on the PS2. Namco already released two titles for the PS2 within one month of the system's release in Japan.

I was reading an interview at IGN, it was with developers of companies that are making games for the PS2. One developer said, "Everybody's nay-saying comes down to a misunderstanding about this system...It's not simple," said one popular PlayStation and PS2 developer. "That doesn't mean it's bad. It just means it's not simple, and the first generation stuff is going to look weaker in comparison to second-generation stuff than ever before on another system. But believe me, PlayStation 2 is a race car. It's going to kick @ss. Everything you hear people complaining about on this system is just whining. PS2 has everything. You can program anything on this system. It's more like a computer than ever before," - what were they doing with the Saturn and N64? They whined and went to the PSX.

Another one said, "Let me put it this way," said another developer, who asked not to be mentioned by name, because his company hasn't announced its PS2 games yet. "My technical director is the last person on earth to lend himself to hyperbole. It could be the most glorious sunny day, and he's kind of, 'ho-hum, just another day. Grumble grumble...' He says this, with his feet fully planted on the ground, 'When you fully maximize it, the PS2 is more powerful than the most powerful SGIs -- as far as just pumping out polys on the screen.' And coming from this guy, that's amazing. So, we're really happy with the system. Right now, it is just awesome." - sure it can push loads of polygons, but that don't matter if you can't maximize the power of the system, and more off, graphics don't effect gameplay much. Why don't companies worry about the games gameplay and fun factor then it's graphics. Nowadays companies think graphics, sex, and names sell....they just help sell it.

And another one said, "Let's take those one at a time," explained another developer. "Texture RAM and VRAM are the same thing. You have a certain amount, in this case you have 4MBs. And you have to fit your screens and your textures into it. So, if you have a lot of VRAM for your screens, then you don't have much texture RAM, and you use less for your screens then you have plenty of VRAM. This isn't the whole story. You also have 32MBs of DRAM, and that DRAM, which is were all of your code and data goes, can have textures in it. And you can take textures from the DRAM and shove it into VRAM. So, for example, you can have 2 MBs of screen memory out of your 4 MBs, 2 MBs of texture RAM. Well that's not the whole story. You can have another 4 MBs of texture RAM in DRAM, and you can say, 'all right, I am going to draw all of my backgrounds using the 2 MBs that's in VRAM, and I am going to swap that out for 2 MBs of foreground texture, and we're going to swap that out for some other kind of texture.' Well, then total, you have 6 MBs, which is far larger than the VRAM that the machine has. But of course that takes a lot of really, really intricate programming and it takes a second-generation game to get through to it.

"Everybody working right now [on PS2 games] is asking how much can they shove into memory, and saying, 'I don't want to deal with any of that complicated stuff, because the executives in my company only understand deadlines and all they want is for me to do this game. So, I'm going to do it as quick as I can.'

"But once you start playing around with the PS2, you have plenty of memory to go around. Yes, it's a little tighter, maybe percentage wise than it's been in the past, but hey you also have more power to do smart things to get around it. So, it's simply going to take somebody in the second generation to show you, 'Yes, you can work with that much texture RAM.' - that's nice, but why go through all that crap to make a game? Right there shows an example of the extremes that companies have to go through to get crap out the system. I don't think any other system needed this much programming to get power and performance from it.

This programmer didn't think before he spoke, he said, "More than any other system in the history of video games the PlayStation 2 has a great learning curve. I remember with the Saturn, and it's almost a joke, people said, 'They haven't found the secret chip.' Some people thought there was a chip that wasn't getting used in the Saturn. 'Just wait until they use the other graphics capabilities, etc, etc.,' its all BS, but the Saturn stuff got better. This system actually has, for the first time, chips that people will not use until second generation comes around. People haven't used the VU to its potential." - First off, the Saturn had more abilities then what companies got from it ever. The line "More than any other system in the history of video games the PlayStation 2 has a great learning curve." would scare off companies.

I know it's not true but companies like Square and Konami seem to be paid off by Sony. Konami is showing no effort towards the DC or N64. But it's jumping to release games left and right for the PSX and PS2. Same with Square, it seems they have a grudge on SEGA and Nintendo. Companies like them are causing this so-called "Console War." I know I'm going to get crap for this, but I felt I had to write this and show a side of the gaming industry which is pretty much ignored.

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