PlayStation Universe

Epic Games knows its way around Cell maze

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The guys over at Epic games have displayed acts of greatness in the video game industry. No individual can deny that. With their recent release of Unreal Tournament III onto the PlayStation 3 console, gamers were given the opportunity to witness what the Unreal 3 engine is capable of producing. Those early demonstrations have been given through other titles, none as user-oriented as UT3. Unreal allows its userbase to create mods for the game itself. A first for console gaming. With recent rumblings from Rockstar about the difficulty and setbacks that the PS3 can cause to developers, it makes us wonder how Epic is able to leap these hurdles with what seems like little to no effort.

Jeff Morris, producer for Unreal Tournament III, sat down with Gamepro for an interview to further explain how they tackled the infamous PS3 hardware. Jeff mentions first off that the PS3 is all about memory optimization and technological optimization hurdles. Once those are passed over, it should be smooth sailing from that point forward.

When questioned about how they went about optimizing these aspects for the game , Jeff had this to say, “…the texture for a vehicle includes many different texture maps, each with their own unique detail. One of those is the "diffuse texture," which is basically a checkerboard. There is also a "specular texture," which includes the way light catches on the object, such as crinkles on a bottle. You overlay the specular over the diffuser. We say, "I bet we could combine the diffuse and the specular textures into one texture," which can [halve the memory requirements]. We look at them and put them side by side and there is almost no difference; you just can't tell in game play. Our optimization philosophy is "optimization at no visual degradation." We can also do things like reduce the polygon count of an object to one-tenth, and you can't tell the difference.”

What can be gathered from this response is that the PS3 is closer to a PC’s setup which could allow for bigger and better things in the future. With the mod system that UT3 provides its community, you can only assume that other developers will have the same architecture to work with in terms of offering up the same possibilities overall.

A big issue with gamers has always been the one surrounding Sony’s many SPE’s. However, Jeff Morris seems to feel as though the SPEs give developers an extra advantage over what they have to work with on other platforms. He mentioned how it allows them to put many tasks on a similar parallel in order for things to work together in a more cohesive fashion.

With many developers crying like a kid who dropped his ice cream cone over the difficulty regarding the PS3, it’s amazing to see a team with such a strong grasp. It’s obvious that with the right discipline and enough dedication, it’s been made apparent that great things can come from the hardware itself. Hopefully other developers follow in Epic’s footsteps and start churning up the performance and feel of their products.