YaK:: WebLog #535 Topic : 2006-06-19 17.34.03 matt : nextgen consoles opinion : the PlayStation 3 [Changes]   [Calendar]   [Search]   [Index]   [PhotoTags]   
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nextgen consoles opinion: the PlayStation 3

Initial thoughts and current opinions on next-gen consoles such as Nintendo Wii, Microsoft XBox360, and Sony's Playstation 3.

First, I have many friends who work in the gaming industry on the hardware and software side. They tell me interesting things from time to time, like why I should play as Toad in X-Men Legends 2 (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0009O7HUS/matthargettbl-20/102-7244375-2893702?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&link%5Fcode=xm2). They also tell me about their frustrations and honest opinions. Let's start with the console that has the most bad news around it.

I predict the Playstation 3 will have the least number of launch titles and it will not really fill out quickly enough for Sony to recuperate. Once again, Sony is fucking the developers they rely so heavily upon for content. Besides the non-functional pre-alpha hardware and the amazing unstable and poorly optimizing development tools, they are once again refusing to incorporate feedback. Sony's arrogance is widely documented, but they have taken the success of the PS2 as a free pass to hurt consumers and the industry as a whole in the spectral light of their own hubris. On the PSP, there is a bug which makes the hardware clipper useless -- games have to implement their own clipping, for the most part. This wouldn't be a problem other than it's a portable platform and working hardware clippers have been around for quite some time now. Several top development companies told Sony of this problem, and Sony chose to ignore them. Sounds terrible, but maybe there was a good reason for this one-off thing?

The same thing happened on the PS2 at multiple levels. First, developers screamed about the lack of cache on the PS2's primary CPU. There was actually no good reason not to use a CPU with slightly more L1 cache, as the prices in large quantities were almost the same. The result of this, and the fact that Sony never really updated their development tools at all with better optimizing compilers, is Sony literally tells developers "don't use C++ or other forms of encapsulation" to avoid cache misses. Cache misses here and there are not too bad on most platforms, but because the PS2's memory bus architecture is so complicated, it is a really big deal. On top of this, the 'emotion' engine in the PS2 was documented very poorly and had bugs that required reverse engineering to work around. On top of even this was the fact that the DVD drives used in the first generations of the PS2 was so broken that nearly every game on the market has a loop to try and read from the DVD at least 5 times -- the first few times almost always fail. There are many great games on the PS2 despite Sony's disregard for the developers they refused to listen to. Still, I'll never buy one -- that's why I'm funding an Xbox port of the open source emulator PCSX2 (http://pcsx2.net).

The PS3 is looking to be a similar nightmare. Besides my friends working at Sony on the PS3 telling me things, there are various leaked things like this: http://www.theinquirer.net/images/articles/PS3_memory_bandwidths.jpg http://games.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/06/05/0933239&from=rss

They are also having amazing difficulty internally getting a reliable compiler that doesn't generate wrong-code and a debugger that doesn't itself need a debugger to figure why things are crashing. The most amusing part is that Sony is telling developers that cannot rely upon certain pieces of hardware being available because they might be busy with DVR (read: TiVo) activity.

Let's at least hope they release all the patches and source code for the compiler, linker, and debugger as open source so the developers don't have to suffer with gcc 2.95.1 and alignment bugs for 7 more years.


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