Epic producer Jeff Morris on overcoming PS3 UT3 development hurdles

Unreal Tournament 3 - Image 1With its powerful yet complicated structure, developers have complained over how difficult it is to make games on the Sony PlayStation 3. However, looking at Epic GamesUnreal Tournament 3, it seems some people managed to figure out how to work on the challenging console. Jeff Morris talked about how Epic pursued UT3 on the PS3, and you can find the meat of what he said at the full article.

Unreal Tournament 3 on PS3 - Image 1During the first year of the Sony PlayStation 3, video game developers often complained about how difficult it is to make games run on the console. Epic Games, however, was able to invest effort on the PS3 and create a timed exclusive on a platform which is said to be more problematic to develop games for than its Microsoft Xbox 360 competitor. In an interview, Unreal Tournament 3 (Xbox 360PlayStation 3, Windows PC) producer Jeff Morris shed light on the console’s structure and how Epic managed to dish out an insanely smooth first-person shooter on the PS3.

Morris explained to GamePro, “the PS3 has two memory chunks, one for texture detail and one for geometry complexity.” This puts up the challenge of having to work on one chunk before another, unlike the Xbox 360 in which you can share those pools.

Fortunately, Epic has more than a few tricks up its sleeves to optimize UT3 on the PS3. Following Epic’s “optimization at no visual degradation” mantra, according to Morris, it was possible to reduce memory used in textures by half. One trick to do this is by combining two texture maps, such as the diffuse and specular textures on vehicles, into one without any noticeable changes.

Utilizing the PS3’s multiple Synergistic Processing Elements (SPEs) is another thing, and Epic is able to work on that as well. “We look for tasks that don’t require insane CPU power but could be done in the background, in parallel,” said Morris. Such  tasks take advantage of the SPEs, while the CPU handles AI and gameplay. “If you program the Cell CPU the correct way, it is like having all these simple things in parallel,” Morris further explained.

Knowing how capable Epic is to get the best out of the PS3, Morris said it’s still all about working hard. “You have to be disciplined and aggressive on where you optimize and how you organize it. And you have to make sure that artists aren’t building assets that are never going to work,” he told GamePro.

For the full interview, click on the “via” link below.

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