inFAMOUS Dev on the Perks of Exclusivity: Chip Always Over 90%, Pushing it Until PS4 can “Barely Stand it”
inFAMOUS: Secons Son definitely looks beautiful visuals-wise, and it’s doubtless that the game benefited considerably from being a PS4 exclusive, like most games that have to cope with only one platform. Sucker Punch Co-Founder Chris Zimmerman explained why during an interview on the latest PlayStation Blogcast.
It was very freeing. It was very exciting going into it, because we started on the game before the specs for the hardware were really settled and we saw them evolve as we were working on the game.
It was great, because every time a decision was made, it was the right decision. It’s practical too. You can’t just jam everything… It’s not like you can have some liquid nitrogen cooled graphics chip in your thing right? There are practical limits to do what you can do and still have an afordable console, but the hardware design team did a spectacular job of listening to all the game developers, both internal and external and making good decisions. They always were looking at the decisions they were making in terms of “is this gonna let people make great games?” “Is this gonna help people build grat games?”
Having a lot of memory was good, having 8 gigabytes of memory was even better. For the first time ever, and I’ve been doing this for seventeen years, we didn’t have to worry about memory when we were building the game.
Zimmerman went on to explain that with previous consoles the studio was always having to put a lot of effort in squeezing the assets into the small memory included in the machine, but with the PS4 this hasn’t been the case, allowing them to focus on other things.
He also gave some very interesting insight about the open world nature of the game, and of about the tech side of not having any loading times:
That’s a place where we had to apply a lot of technology, to make it feel like there were no loading screens, because believe me, there’s a lot of stuff going on to make it feel like that, right?
So even down to the level of…we know exactly how fast Delsin can move through the city…He can move 18 meters per second. If he moves faster than that, we cannot guarantee than we can’t guarantee that we’ll be able to load the next block before you get to it.
So you wanna guess how fast he moves when he does the laser dash? 18 meters per second! We can go up to 18 meters per second and everyone was like “ok, then he’s going at 18 meters per second.”
It’s one of the advantages of being a Sony exclusive developer, is that when we’re building the game, we can make decisions like that, because we have exactly one platform we’re aiming for, and we can leverage the heck out of it. We know exactly how fast the hard drive is and these things, and we can design our games to run right up to the limit.
It’s the same with the graphics chip. We have the meters on screen showing how much of the chip we have that we’re using, and it’s in the nineties all the times.
Zimmerman explained that this allows them to always add a little bit more until the console “can barely stand it” and as long as they’re nailing the 30 frames per second goal they’re good and they can keep adding.
If you’re someone that has to support multiple platforms, especially if one is slightly less powerful than the other one, then you’re kinda in trouble right? Because you’re kinda having to work hard so that it can look as good as it can on all of them, and we don’t have to worry about that, we can just focus on making it look great on PS4 and just focus on having the game be as good as possible. We don’t have to wrestle with all that stuff, and that’s freeing.
He finally concluded by mentioning that people are surprised when they see the game on the screen live, because it really looks like the screenshots, and much better than what they see on YouTube, marred by bad video quality and compression artifacts. So he hopes that gamers will realize just how “awesome” the PS4 actually can be.
I can personally testify that the difference between YouTube videos and the real thing is very visible. When I first saw the game running at Gamescom I was floored, and I was even more surprised by what I saw at the most recent preview event. If you want to read more about my impressions, you can enjoy my hands-on preview.