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Admin EP

Member Since 23 May 2006
Offline Last Active Jun 17 2015 04:23 PM

Topics I've Started

Steam announces the Steam Controller

28 September 2013 - 10:52 AM


Personal thoughts:

Kind of interesting. One of the biggest things that pushes me away from computer gaming is the controller. Keyboard and mouse is powerful, but you have to be at a desk to use it. On the other hand, it's hard to translate the keyboard and mouse into a traditional controller. This thing looks like it might actually be able to translate keyboard and mouse into a handheld device, which is pretty sweet, but it looks really weird. I think you'd have to hold it, but yeah that doesn't look very intuitive, lol.

The Phallacy of Believing the Better Hardware will have better Performance

14 June 2013 - 11:17 PM

Now that all we have to compare the PS4 and the One's performance is hardware specs, I'm seeing a lot of people proclaim the PS4 as being the more powerful system w.r.t. performance. The honest truth though is that it's impossible to figure out which one performs better based on hardware alone. I think I've brought this up several before, but I think it's easy to fall into the belief that hardware = performance just because naively, it makes sense. Game performance is how well the software runs on hardware, though.

If you look back at lest gen, it's clear that the PS3 is better than the 360 in the hardware category. Counter-intuitively, most games perform better on the 360. This is because the software runs on the hardware better. To really try to predict which console will perform better, you need to understand why software runs better on some hardware vs. others.

The first reason is better tools. When software is compiled down to machine code, it is optimized so that the code generated runs fast. Different compilers optimize differently, so even if the source code is exactly the same there can be double digit percentage differences in the amount of time it takes to run a program. I think this is one place Microsoft has an advantage - their toolchain is very likely to be based on their already existing x86 compiler, while the PS4's is likely to be an LLVM or GCC compiler (they've used LLVM in the past). If this is the case, then the MS compiler usually outperforms on x86.

Tools are also a huge factor in development itself. Development environments have a huge impact on the software being written. Whichever tools let developers understand how the code is behaving on the target really will let them eek out good performance numbers. I can't really give much insight on the PS dev environment, but I know that Microsoft's is great. The ones typically used with GCC kind of suck, but I'm not really well versed and feel there has to be a better solution being provided.

The second reason is better interaction with the hardware. I honestly believe this makes a big difference (I know I've personally seen 20% runtime swings in benchmarks just because of a single instruction that never gets executed, it just moves the code in a way that will effect caching at a hot spot in the program. Granted, this type of behavior is likely to even out on larger code). Whichever console is developed for natively will likely out-perform the other just because any optimizations done on the program will be for the program on that hardware (not that performance tuning won't occur on both systems, but the one being developed for natively will be much better tuned along the way, both consciously and subconsciously). This is also the reason that consoles can outperform more powerful PCs - since the target platform is the same for the developer and end-user, the software can be tuned to use these quirks to their advantage.

That is just my two cents the subject. I feel like people may believe that programming for two consoles is pretty similar just because the source code might be, but there is a lot that effects how software actually performs. I work on a compiler toolchain for a living that one of the next-gen consoles uses for all it's games, so this kind of stuff interests me. I thought I'd give my two cents, but it is worth noting that I also don't know how these companies usually work w.r.t to how their software tends to be created, I just know that these are real things that effect performance and are likely reasons why we see less powerful hardware outperform.

Microsoft's Botching of the Transition into a Digital Platform

12 June 2013 - 10:16 PM

I feel the general consensus out there right now (at least in the gaming community) is Microsoft screwed the pooch with how the Xbox One was announced. There is a surprising amount of hatred towards the Xbox One, with Big Brother type fears coming into play w.r.t DRM. I myself was turned way off by how the Xbox One's plan was described, and it tooks a surprising amount of time and required me to actually think about it to put the pieces together and realize it made sense. The fact that it was presented in a way that connected in the first place is the real mistake here.

Microsoft's model become painfully clear when you realize the console is _purely digital_ w.r.t game media. There is no physical games. "But you can buy disks at the store!". The disks in the Xbox One are the same as an ethernet cable, just something bits travel through to get onto your One's drive. If you break a disk in half, you don't lose the game. The game is purely digital. This hasn't been the case before in any video game console - with the Xbox 360, even if you installed the game onto the drive you still needed the disk to play*. (* yes, last gen there was digital game media as well but it wasn't the only form of distribution). Once you realize this, the restrictions make perfect sense. There has to be a singular item the game is tied to. For all other consoles it was the disk, cartridge, or card, but for the Xbox One it is an account, and you obviously have to log in to verify your account.

Now the real problem is that the first news we hear about the Xbox One is all the limitations on it. Instead of coming out and proclaiming it is the first system to make the leap to purely digital media, we heard about all the things you can't do and have to piece together the bigger picture. We actually find out later that it doesn't apply to first party titles (who knows, though, maybe this was a reaction to the public's reaction). The best part is they do this a week before E3 so Sony is able to watch and react for on the big stage where it actually matters. Sony, who actually has somewhat similar policies (see http://www.edge-onli...es-say-sources/ and http://www.techradar...for-ps4-1158324), capitalizes on the blunder by playing it out the sane way (lead with what's good about your setup and let the quirks be discovered along the way in as rational requirements to the bigger picture), and even gets to get in a few jabs at MS.

Whether or not a purely digital distribution is a good or bad thing is another question, but I feel is one that plays a lot better than the "Xbox One's crazy DRM policies" conversation which is playing out now. The Xbox One actually added some novel features like the ability to resell digital media. Whether or not this will make any difference come holiday season is another question, but now there is a heap load of misinformation that has started some disinformation from Sony, which can easily stick for people that just snippets of news and have "Xbox One doesn't support used games" stuck in their head.

Ace Attorney Dual Destinies to be download only

11 June 2013 - 10:16 PM


This is somewhat interesting, because I feel that Phoenix Wright is one of those franchises that probably has a solid following, but one that doesn't cross the threshold where it is super profitable (in the US, that is). Having games be download only seems like a way to crack bring over foreign games that might have lower margins since the only real cost is localization, instead of localization, production, distribution, and possible having to invest more in advertising to try to recoup the bigger investment.

It probably sucks for people that want a physical copy, but it seems like it could be a good thing for future localization efforst.

Which E3 showing did you enjoy most?

11 June 2013 - 09:24 PM


showing = all information we found out at E3.