Metal Gear Solid V: Keeping PS3/Xbox 360 Caused Big Problems for the Devs: Here’s How They Were Solved

on December 22, 2015 6:16 PM

During a lecture held at the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie in Paris, attended by DualShockers, former Konami Technology Director Julien Merceron talked about the development of Metal Gear Solid V, mentioning that the idea of putting the game on old-generation consoles came from the management.

According to Merceron, one of the big problems encountered by the developers of Metal Gear Solid V was that the management did not want to get rid of PS3 and Xbox 360 as platforms, and they wanted to absolutely support PC, new generation consoles and old generation ones at the same time.

Many tried to convince the management to get rid of the old-gen consoles, even if in the end Merceron believes that they were right to keep them. It brought about many problems for the developers, because solutions that were compatible with powerful platforms, were a lot less fitting to older ones. The team had to struggle a lot, especially with animation, because animators at Kojima Productions are absolutely astonishing, but they’re also eternally dissatisfied, because programmers have a tendency to take their beautiful animations and apply compression rates which are absolutely catastrophic.

Two tricks had to be implemented, one on the engine side, and one on the tools side, because the solution couldn’t be found only in the engine.

On the engine side, they stored many of the animations on PS3 in the GPU’s memory. That’s something developers don’t normally do, because it causes a lot of transfers between memory. The team did bandwidth calculations to see if there was enough time to load them in memory, and implemented a system which allowed to have a small storage in local memory, but most of the animations were still on the GPU. This solution really worked well on PS3, and allowed the team to avoid reducing the quantity of animations on the console, keeping a level of functionality identical to current-gen platforms.

On the tools side, normally the tools apply compression to the animations, and then they’re loaded directly in the game. On the other hand, the team added an additional stage: the animator creates the animation, compression is applied, then the animator gets the animation back, and if there are problems, he can correct them to make the animation as clean as possible.

According to Merceron, several tricks like that have been implemented on the engine sides and in the development pipeline for artists.

The Video Game masterclass event in Paris was organized by Jeux Vidéo Magazine and Cité des Sciences.

[On-Location Reporting and Translation: Morgane Bouvais]

 /  Executive News Editor
Hailing from sunny (not as much as people think) Italy and long standing gamer since the age of Mattel Intellivision and Sinclair ZX Spectrum. Definitely a multi-platform gamer, he still holds the old dear PC nearest to his heart, while not disregarding any console on the market. RPGs (of any nationality) and MMORPGs are his daily bread, but he enjoys almost every other genre, prominently racing simulators, action and sandbox games. He is also one of the few surviving fans of the flight simulator genre on Earth.