Ex-Harmonix Employee Bashes PlayStation 3
I realize the fanboys are waiting to just rip through these claims as soon as they’re posted, but it’s still an interesting story nonetheless. Jason Booth, a former Harmonix employee who worked on the first two Guitar Hero games and Rock Band before leaving the studio last month, has posted a fairly long blog post explaining, in his own words, “exactly why ports to the ps3 will never be as good as their 360 counter parts, and why most ps3 exclusives will likely continue to suck.”
While it can be equated to a bash fest (he addresses that exact point), it’s hard for anyone other than an actual developer to disagree with him. So far as I know, no one here at Gaming Today is experienced in the field, and while we can all cite as many other developers as we want, it doesn’t necessarily prove what Booth is saying to be wrong.
Why the PS3 version often pails in comparison to the 360 version, and why exclusives often suck:
As outlined above, getting equivalent performance out of the PS3 requires a lot of work unique to the platform, and in many cases, even with all these tricks, you still won’t see equivalent performance. Thus, many ps3 games have simplified shaders and run at lower native resolutions than the 360 versions. On top of this, there is shrinking incentive to do this work; the PS3 isn’t selling.
The code needed to make the PS3 work is most likely only useful to you on the PS3, as the types of tricks you need to do to make the thing perform are very unique to the platform and unlikely to be useful on any other architecture now or in the future. These issues all stem from unbalanced hardware design, and any future hardware that is this unbalanced will likely be unbalanced in a completely unique way.
Finally, there’s the problem of resources. Game Development is, at it’s heart, a resource management challenge. Given finite resources, do I have these five engineers work on optimizing the PS3 version to look better, or do I use them to make the game play better and fix bugs? Do I change my design to fit with what the PS3 hardware does well, or simply run the game at a slightly lower resolution on the PS3 to make up for it? Developers striving to push the PS3 hardware have often sacrificed their game in the process.
This post might come across as a lot of Sony bashing, but it’s just the reality from the trenches. Sony let their hardware be designed by a comity of business interests rather than a well thought out design that would serve the game development community. They are going to loose hard this round because of it, and I hope that in the next round they take lessons from this round and produce a more balanced and usable machine.
This doesn’t make Ratchet & Clank Future look any less beautiful, so even if this is all true, does it really matter?
Read the full blog post here.