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Monday, August 15, 2005

ID boss give Xbox 360 Thumbs Up, PSP3 Thumbs Down

ID boss give Xbox 360 Thumbs Up, PSP3 Thumbs Down

"It’s been a few years since id Software’s co-owner and technical director John Carmack has made a keynote speech at QuakeCon, but today he unleashed an almost two hour long “stream of consciousness” speech that more or less touched on his thoughts about all aspects of gaming. While a majority of what he said went way over everyone’s head (it’s like the man spoke in binary code, or something), there was a number of interesting comments, thoughts, and news that to be discussed.

First off, Carmack stated that he has already been working on Xbox 360 development for a couple weeks, and will be taking the next six months of his time to primarily invest in Xbox 360 development. With that said Carmack announced that this would be the first time that id Software would be developing games to hopefully have simultaneous releases on both PCs and consoles. The key word here is “hopefully” and games may come out slightly before on PC in some cases.

He said he liked how the original Xbox was rather simple to develop for, except it was “pretty painful to get that out after the fact of Doom 3,” and it was difficult to scale Doom 3 back to work on the console, but he was pleased with how it turned out.

As far as Xbox 360 versus PlayStation 3, Carmack said that he felt that the Xbox 360 was more developer friendly than the PlayStation 3. “Hardware wise, there’s a lot of marketing hype about the consoles. A lot of it really needs to be taken with grains of salt about exactly how powerful it is.” Obviously since he’s been working on Xbox 360 development id Software has development kits, but Carmack said that he also has PlayStation 3 kits.

Overall, Carmack said that he wasn’t really happy with multi-core development, and that the returns initially will be disappointing. “The Xbox 360 has an architecture where you essentially have got three processors and they’re all running the same memory pool and they’re all synchronized, and cache coherent, and you can spawn off another thread in your program and make it go do some work. That’s kind of the best case and it’s still really difficult to turn into faster performance or getting it to get more stuff done in a game title.” While in his speech he said that this would all make developing games more time consuming and more difficult, he seemed to favor Microsoft over Sony. “Is the performance benefit that you get out of this worth the extra development time? There’s sort of an inclination to believe that, and there’s some truth to it, that Sony sort of takes this position where, ‘okay it’s going to be difficult, maybe its going to suck to do this, but the good game developers are going to suck it up and make it work.’ There’s some truth to that. There will be the developers that go ahead and have a miserable time and do get good performance out of some of these multi-core approaches. And Cell is worse than others in some respects, here. But I do somewhat question whether we might have been better off in this generation having an out-of-order main processor rather than splitting it all up in these multi-processors. It’s probably a good thing for us that we’re getting with the program now. The first generation of titles coming out for both platforms will not be anywhere close to taking full advantage of all of this extra capability. But, maybe by the time the next generation of consoles roll around the developers will be a little more comfortable with all this and be able to get more benefit out of it. It’s not a problem I actually think will have a solution. I think it’s going to stay hard.”

Another swipe at the Cell processor, he said while talking with an IBM designer that was working on the processor said that “now that graphics was now superior they could use the computing power of multi-core processing for physics and AI.” Carmack was not pleased with graphics in their current state and would like to make games look as good as The Lord of the Rings movies in real time. He’s more interested in graphics performance over physics or AI because not only does it not always make the game better, the less focus on those aspects can make a game run faster. “Personally I’d rather see our next generation run at 60 frames per second on a console rather than add a bunch more physics stuff. I actually don’t think we’ll make it. I think we’ll be at 30 frames per second for the consoles for most of what we’re doing. We’re going to be soaking up a lot of the CPU just for normal housekeeping types of things that we’re doing.” While he admitted that he seemed to be a bigger fan of Microsoft, he did say he was interested in Sony making waves in the sense that they may make PlayStation 3 more of an open platform, since he didn’t like closed development platforms and certification processes. “Nintendo was always the worst about that sort of thing, and that’s one of the reasons why we’re not real close.”" [more]

Related Links:
Video of John Carmack's keynote speach

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