Oddworld Creator: PS2/3 "Put Half The Dev Community Out of Business"

SonOfVoorhees

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Also i remember when Lorne was against Xbox and went 100% over to the PS and cancelling all further games for the xbox. So he wasnt all that upset about the PS2/3. lol
 

Bob_McMillan

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zumbledum said:
Bob_McMillan said:
It would have been nice if you had added exactly why the PS2 was so developer unfriendly. The PS3 I can understand, but I thought that the PS2 was a gaming smorgasbord (prettu sure I both misspelled and misused that)

well i thought it was common knowledge of how weird and obscure the emotion and cell architectures were to develop on , at the time of their releases everyone seemed to be scratching their heads asking wtf is this and how does it work but hes also talking about the way sony just didnt communicate and wouldnt tell devs how much cost they were running into and messed everyone around with release dates, caused no end of cash flow problems especially for smaller teams.

i mean they made MS the better option and when a thieving lying bunch of dick smokers are the better option you know they fucked it hard.
I was a kid when the PS2 came out, I only got one when the PS3 had already been out for 2 years, so I dont know too much about it. I have to wonder why no one outside of Sony knew what the Emotion architecture was. Did Sony invent it themselves or something?
 

NPC009

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Bob_McMillan said:
I was a kid when the PS2 came out, I only got one when the PS3 had already been out for 2 years, so I dont know too much about it. I have to wonder why no one outside of Sony knew what the Emotion architecture was. Did Sony invent it themselves or something?
It was developed for the PS2, nothing else (aside from early PS3 models) uses it, yes. If I recall correctly it was with the help of Toshiba. The fact that the EE consisted of eight seperate units with unique functions was kind of mindblowing at the time.

Since consoles back then were devoted to doing just one thing and doing it well (running games), manufacturers didn't have to worry about much software outside of the game. It made sense to develop systems that worked well for games and games alone. The insides of consoles were these balancing acts of specialty CPUs, third-party components and everything in between. These systems were powerful on paper yet relatively cheap to produce, because they didn't need the raw power of a PC. Developers had to either learn how work with this strange architecture or move to another system. Of course there were limits, but since Sony was the grand victor of the 32/64-bit and 128-bit generations there was a lot they could get away with.

I remember Sony being very proud of both the Emotion Engine and the Cell. While they were both challenging to work with (the EE more so than the Cell), it meant dedicated developers would be able to see great improvements in their work if they stuck with it. And they were right. Games like Radiata Stories and Dragon Quest VIII still look lovely today. The developers who really worked on getting the most out of the PS2 and PS3 produced games nobody thought possible when the consoles were first introduced.

Nowadays consoles have a more PC-like architecture. Which makes sense, because they run slimmed down versions of OSs, all sorts of apps and so on. They need to be versatile and flexible, just like PCs. This is good for developers, because the differences between individual consoles are much smallers and PCs are familiar territory for most to begin with. The downside is that we likely won't be seeing any vast improvements during the lifespan of the Xbox One/PS4. The games coming out five years from now will only look slightly more impressive than the ones we have now. At best, high end graphics and such will become more accessible to smaller developers.
 

WeepingAngels

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SupahGamuh said:
The PS2 "hard to develop"?... Uh... Really?, I mean, there's literally hundreds upon hundreds of games for it, I thought it was the easiest to develop.
Um, the number of available games for the most popular console of that gen is not a testament to it's ease of development. The PS2 was well known for being hard to develop for. If I remember correctly, the idea was to weed out the bad devs and reduce the bad games.
 

Trishbot

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So, er... why didn't you put Oddworld on the GAMECUBE then? I hear that was easy to develop for.
 

ZippyDSMlee

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I can see how that can be said since the PS2 was almost more popular than the SNES, with the market size it reached and the developer mindset of the times to max out 3D rendering ya I can see how a high number of devs imploded.

The PS3 issues with devs came from Sony's lack of effort to ensure devs could easily build solid preforming software for their odd hardware choices......
 

NPC009

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Trishbot said:
So, er... why didn't you put Oddworld on the GAMECUBE then? I hear that was easy to develop for.
Probably because Microsoft was waving cash around. Nothing wrong with that, I mean, 'hey, we'll financially support you if you develop for our brand new system' is a damn good reason to jump platforms and a console can't succeed without some good game games to back it up. Heck, we love Nintendo for doing the same for Platinum and Bayonetta. Still, it would be nice if developers and console manufacturers were open about it.

(And yeah, Gamecube was easy to develop for compared to the PS2 and the N64. Components weren't all that weird (Nintendo wanted to keep the system affordable and you aren't going to develop all sorts of unique processors if that's your goal) and I guess Nintendo had a better grasp of what developers needed.)
 

Hyperstorm

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I think the number of quality Playstation exclusives kind of prove the bitterness is controlling this guy's speech.

Unless those were just because developers were bored and looking for a challenge.
 

CrystalShadow

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NPC009 said:
gigastar said:
Now i would have understood if he said the PS3 did that.

But the PS2? It was basically a PS1 with beefed up specs featuring close to no architecture changes. I doubt any veteran PS1 dev studio would have had issues developing for PS2 unless they overreached what they were capable of.
No, some things were quite different. The CPU, while powerful, was very different from what you'd find in most other gaming systems and PCs at the time. It was designed specifically for the PlayStation 2 and because it was divided into eight seperate 'units' many developers had a hard time figuring out how to use all that power. Due to a lack of tools it often came down to reinventing the wheel themselves.

This CPU, the Emotion Engine, was so unusual, the PlayStation 3's backwards compatibility relied on it. It's the reason why newer models aren't backwards compatible like the older ones: they left the Emotion Engine (which was fairly expensive component, even in 2012 when they were last produced) out as a costs saving measure.

While this developer does appear to be overreacting because of bitterness, the PlayStation 2 being hard to developer for is a completely valid complaint.

(Most Japanese gaming consoles have their own oddities, by the way. The Saturn was also notoriously difficult to develop for. The N64, on the other hand, was more flexible and quite powerful at the time, but the use of cartridges instead of discs had its own disadvantages. For instance, if a developer wanted to add a bunch of FMVs to a game and double or even triple the size of it - no problem, a few extra discs only raise the production costs slightly. Using a bigger cartridge was much more expensive, expensive to the point were some games cost 2/3 the price of the system itself.)
The Nintendo 64 was also supposed to be a pain to work with, relatively speaking. So much so that Nintendo made a big deal out of making the gamecube easy to work with. For whatever that was worth.
The original xbox benefited greatly from basically being a fixed spec pc, really very familiar to anyone who had been making pc games since windows 95 took over from dos.

The N64 on the other hand, while perhaps not too strangely set up had some serious flaws that made it hard to work with.
The cartridges get all the attention, but they aren't too bad, and have some advantages too. (which were exploited later on to help compensate for the system's real achilled heel)
Hackers and homebrew devs have done a lot to confirm the problems, and limits, as have leaked dev documentation.

Basically, the biggest problem is a 4kb texture cache, which also needs to hold the frame buffer. This means you are forced to use really tiny textures, or alternatively, really convoluted means of swapping things into and out of the cache. (which is plausible because the cartridges are fast enough to copy data from directly without too much of a performance hit)
The other issue is the gpu microcode. (a tiny bit like what a shader does in a modern gpu, but more primitive)
This microcode, which changed how the gpu behaved at a very low level, could be given custom code.
Unfortunately, Nintende refused to give 3rd party devs any documentation for how this worked. Instead, they supplied two standard microcode versions, a 'high quality' and a 'fast' version. But, they insisted devs were only allowed to use the high quality one, even though it was basically intended for film grade cgi work, and is overkill for games. (the n64 being derived from silicon graphics workstations used for 3d film effects at the time)
hackers have basically confirmed the 'fast' code was about 6 times faster, but nobody was allowed to use it...

The lack of documentation was worse though, given that all the most technically impressive games used custom microcode to do what earlier had seemed impossible...

Wow thats a lot of off-topic stuff.

Anyway, I don't know why people are surprised the ps2 is hard to work with. I knew this back when it was at the peak of it's popularity. Many devs have said so. Most difficult console of it's generation.

Popularity has nothing to do with this, and doesn't contradict it either. If something is popular enough, companies try harder to overcome any problens. Though the ps3 was supposedly worse. I guess Sony's prior success had made it arrogant. (while nintendo's prior failure had made it more inclined to try and fix these things, even if it was too little, too late to really help them any)
 

Mr.Mattress

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It appears to me that the PS2, while it might have been a little hard to work with, wasn't that hard to work with considering Everything from 2000-2010 was on it (Excluding Nintendo IP's and Halo). I believe Mr. Lanning and Mr. Kutaragi are only complaining about it now that 2/3rds of Consoles are really Mini-PC's. If the XBox never entered the market, or if only the PS4 had become a Mini-Computer now, Mr. Lanning wouldn't be able to say jack.

So really, this is just anger/criticism in hindsight. Mr. Kutaragi deserves the Achievement award.

CrystalShadow said:
Popularity has nothing to do with this, and doesn't contradict it either. If something is popular enough, companies try harder to overcome any problens.
Not to go off topic, but that's exactly why there was so many 3rd Party games on the Wii- Oh wait...
 

PunkRex

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So many peeps are criticizing the guy, claiming he's just butt hurt. arguing that the popularity of the PS2 disproves his claims... somehow, but I propose it is your love of the Playstation that fuels your contempt and indeed the actual harmed buttocks...

IS YOU!


Butt cereal, can you really blame the guy for being mad when the person who put him and his friends through such hard times is being lorded. I'm not saying the Playstation guy doesn't deserve the award just that I can see why the other fella's pissed.
 

FalloutJack

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kyoodle said:
FalloutJack said:
Alleged_Alec said:
Holy shit, this antagonism towards the guy for speaking his mind.
Well, that's just it. He isn't. He's bitter and shouting petty grievances because of what might have been.
So you're ignoring the part where Yoshida agreed with him?
Yeah, actually. Seems more like trying to keep the peace than anything else. Wouldn't it just suck if the whole ceremony were marred by a fight between two men over the gaming industry? It was suppose to be a happy occasion, after all. Better to throw him a bone than leave him discontent and grumbling at such an event.
 

NPC009

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CrystalShadow said:
Basically, the biggest problem is a 4kb texture cache, which also needs to hold the frame buffer. This means you are forced to use really tiny textures, or alternatively, really convoluted means of swapping things into and out of the cache. (which is plausible because the cartridges are fast enough to copy data from directly without too much of a performance hit)
The other issue is the gpu microcode. (a tiny bit like what a shader does in a modern gpu, but more primitive)
This microcode, which changed how the gpu behaved at a very low level, could be given custom code.
Unfortunately, Nintende refused to give 3rd party devs any documentation for how this worked. Instead, they supplied two standard microcode versions, a 'high quality' and a 'fast' version. But, they insisted devs were only allowed to use the high quality one, even though it was basically intended for film grade cgi work, and is overkill for games. (the n64 being derived from silicon graphics workstations used for 3d film effects at the time)
hackers have basically confirmed the 'fast' code was about 6 times faster, but nobody was allowed to use it...

The lack of documentation was worse though, given that all the most technically impressive games used custom microcode to do what earlier had seemed impossible...

Wow thats a lot of off-topic stuff.
Interesting stuff, though. Thanks for the clarifications. I had heard about the lack of proper tools and documentation, but didn't know about the gpu microcode. It's no wonder many of the developers that did support the N64 stuck with it: once they had written custom microcodes it was easier to reuse what they it in a new game rather than move to another system and learn to work with that nearly from scratch.

After all these years I'm still not quite sure what to think of the cartridges. On one hand they were great: little no loading times, for instance. The better developers really did understand how it could contribute to a smooth gaming experience and the importance of that. On the other hand, it did feel like developers felt limited when it came to more story oriented games, what with the amount of spoken dialogue and FMVs having to be kept to a minimum. Though, it was fun to see them do all sorts of crazy stuff with the ingame graphics instead of defaulting to FMVs. I mean, Conker's Bad Fur Day? That shit's awesome.
 

zumbledum

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Bob_McMillan said:
I was a kid when the PS2 came out, I only got one when the PS3 had already been out for 2 years, so I dont know too much about it. I have to wonder why no one outside of Sony knew what the Emotion architecture was. Did Sony invent it themselves or something?
yeah it was sony propriety tech , and im not tech savy enough to explain this well and it was a while back but i seem to recall people complaining about this gpu having a ton of things on it that normally were on other components and worked in odd ways , like the cpu had two VPU (visual processors doing the sort of thing a pc graphic card does) and they each worked on different things one was good at backing the other up but it didnt work in reverse etc. it was just brand new very different and caused a lot of devs some headaches.
 

Atmos Duality

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NPC009 said:
This CPU, the Emotion Engine, was so unusual, the PlayStation 3's backwards compatibility relied on it. It's the reason why newer models aren't backwards compatible like the older ones: they left the Emotion Engine (which was fairly expensive component, even in 2012 when they were last produced) out as a costs saving measure.

While this developer does appear to be overreacting because of bitterness, the PlayStation 2 being hard to developer for is a completely valid complaint.
I'll support that assertion fully.

In the early years of the PS2's cycle (99-2001 basically), it wasn't all that popular with developers.
A number of early PS2 games were WEIRD; basically, they were PS1 games being jury-rigged to use the PS2's architecture.

(Personally, I remember Armored Core 2/Another Age and Xenosaga Ep 1 having some VERY bizarre engine quirks that just aren't present in any of their successors)

I recall an article by EGM, where they interviewed a developer (IIRC, it was one of the Xenosaga devs) that said the transition from PS1 to PS2 was pretty damn infuriating, to the point where their in house pet-name for the Emotion Engine was the "Enigma Engine".

The PS2 went on to produce an incredible library of games, but that's just our perspective from the outside looking in.

Lanning wasn't kidding about the PS2's initial bumbling opening the doors for Microsoft; which itself had severe long-term consequences for Japan's game publishers. By the time the PS2 was done, the Xbox 360 had surged ahead largely on the backs of blockbuster titles from western developers (with the PS3 being slow to retake ground on account of its insane cost; and that was with it bootstrapping a LOT off of multi-platform titles).

There are obviously some high profile names from Japan (Final Fantasy, Metal Gear) but it's nothing like it was before.
 

CrystalShadow

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NPC009 said:
CrystalShadow said:
Basically, the biggest problem is a 4kb texture cache, which also needs to hold the frame buffer. This means you are forced to use really tiny textures, or alternatively, really convoluted means of swapping things into and out of the cache. (which is plausible because the cartridges are fast enough to copy data from directly without too much of a performance hit)
The other issue is the gpu microcode. (a tiny bit like what a shader does in a modern gpu, but more primitive)
This microcode, which changed how the gpu behaved at a very low level, could be given custom code.
Unfortunately, Nintende refused to give 3rd party devs any documentation for how this worked. Instead, they supplied two standard microcode versions, a 'high quality' and a 'fast' version. But, they insisted devs were only allowed to use the high quality one, even though it was basically intended for film grade cgi work, and is overkill for games. (the n64 being derived from silicon graphics workstations used for 3d film effects at the time)
hackers have basically confirmed the 'fast' code was about 6 times faster, but nobody was allowed to use it...

The lack of documentation was worse though, given that all the most technically impressive games used custom microcode to do what earlier had seemed impossible...

Wow thats a lot of off-topic stuff.
Interesting stuff, though. Thanks for the clarifications. I had heard about the lack of proper tools and documentation, but didn't know about the gpu microcode. It's no wonder many of the developers that did support the N64 stuck with it: once they had written custom microcodes it was easier to reuse what they it in a new game rather than move to another system and learn to work with that nearly from scratch.

After all these years I'm still not quite sure what to think of the cartridges. On one hand they were great: little no loading times, for instance. The better developers really did understand how it could contribute to a smooth gaming experience and the importance of that. On the other hand, it did feel like developers felt limited when it came to more story oriented games, what with the amount of spoken dialogue and FMVs having to be kept to a minimum. Though, it was fun to see them do all sorts of crazy stuff with the ingame graphics instead of defaulting to FMVs. I mean, Conker's Bad Fur Day? That shit's awesome.
Yeah, conker's bad fur day was an impressive feat, given they had (primitive) lip sync and full voice acting crammed onto a cartridge, although by that point we had 64 megabyte cartridges.

also an early example of what's possible with mp3 encoding, especially when storage is limited...


Cartridges have some interesting possibilities, but they are crazy expensive. The Snes also demonstrated another interesting feature of cartridges, in that it allowed expansion hardware in the cartridge. Most famously the super fx chip, (basically a very early gpu), but also several other kinds of chips and extra processors for various features. Some games literally only worked because the cartridge they came on included more powerful hardware than the snes itself...

The n64 never went down that road, but the advantages were clear. A cartridge had very fast dynamic access, while a cd is very slow mostly sequential access, and requires a lot of planning and foresight to use effectively.

The downside to cartridges is basically just one thing... Cost.
Lack of capacity is merely a side effect of this...

For comparison, in commercial mass production, (even in 1996) a cd cost about 10 cents...
A cartridge varied in cost depending on capacity, but generally started at $30...
That's 300 times as much! You can imagine what kind of consequences that has...
 

Steve the Pocket

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I suppose the PS2 owes its sizable catalog to its popularity, not the other way around. Makes sense to me. I remember all the hype surrounding the PS2, which started long before it was released. In hindsight, I'm still not sure why that was; was the original PlayStation just that much of a runaway success that people assumed its successor would be the Best Thing Ever?

Mr.Mattress said:
CrystalShadow said:
Popularity has nothing to do with this, and doesn't contradict it either. If something is popular enough, companies try harder to overcome any problens.
Not to go off topic, but that's exactly why there was so many 3rd Party games on the Wii- Oh wait...
Being literally restricted to previous-generation level graphics and forced to incorporate gimmicky controls into the gameplay is probably the point where a developer says "Yeah no thanks we'll take our chances with these other platforms here". Not to mention demographics; people who bought Wiis were probably not the same kind of people who would be interested in gritty M-rated shooters, which is what the other 90% of the market seemed to be composed of at that point.
 

NPC009

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CrystalShadow said:
Yeah, conker's bad fur day was an impressive feat, given they had (primitive) lip sync and full voice acting crammed onto a cartridge, although by that point we had 64 megabyte cartridges.

also an early example of what's possible with mp3 encoding, especially when storage is limited...

Cartridges have some interesting possibilities, but they are crazy expensive. The Snes also demonstrated another interesting feature of cartridges, in that it allowed expansion hardware in the cartridge. Most famously the super fx chip, (basically a very early gpu), but also several other kinds of chips and extra processors for various features. Some games literally only worked because the cartridge they came on included more powerful hardware than the snes itself...

The n64 never went down that road, but the advantages were clear. A cartridge had very fast dynamic access, while a cd is very slow mostly sequential access, and requires a lot of planning and foresight to use effectively.

The downside to cartridges is basically just one thing... Cost.
Lack of capacity is merely a side effect of this...
Yeah, the upgrades the N64 got were another type of external. I remember popping in that extra bit of RAM to see more enemies on screen in Majora's Mask. There was, of course, also the memorycard. Never was a fan of that one, because it was expensive and it felt like the games that needed it could have easily included a save function but developers skipped it to keep cartridge costs down.


For comparison, in commercial mass production, (even in 1996) a cd cost about 10 cents...
A cartridge varied in cost depending on capacity, but generally started at $30...
That's 300 times as much! You can imagine what kind of consequences that has...
It always hurt a little to see greatest hits editions cost the equivalent for ?35 while Sony's where closer to ?20... Not to mention games like CBFD having MSRPs of up to ?100. I was lucky one of my friends got one on 'sale' (as in: it cost as much as a regular new N64 game) or I wouldn't have been able to play it.

But, Nintendo didn't have to deal with widespread piracy like Sony did. Nearly my classmates with a PlayStation had their's modded and traded pirated games. On the other hand, I guess the piracy did contribute to PlayStation's popularity, so there's that...

Steve the Pocket said:
I suppose the PS2 owes its sizable catalog to its popularity, not the other way around. Makes sense to me. I remember all the hype surrounding the PS2, which started long before it was released. In hindsight, I'm still not sure why that was; was the original PlayStation just that much of a runaway success that people assumed its successor would be the Best Thing Ever?
Kind of. Sony had some insanely strong marketing campaigns and managed to convince millions and millions of people that gaming is totally awesome. It made the PS2 a system to keep an eye on, even if you weren't much of a PlayStation gamer. Plus, the PS2 was looking impressive on a technical level. The way they explained the Emotion Engine made it seem like a marvel of technology and the PS2 was shaping up to be one of the first (relatively) affordable DVD players. You could enter the future of gaming and watching movies at the same time. It was big.

Meanwhile, Nintendo's Dolphin was looking like a weird kid-friendly box with some decent, but not all that special tech in it. So... yeah.

(I love the design of the GameCube, though. It's simple, clean and just looks very... inviting? Like, 'hey, you like games? Me too! Please play games on me!' The PS2 was just this black monolith. Boring. Xbox? It looks toxic. I guess it looks like the coolest thing ever if you're 10 or something, but I was a fair bit older when it came out.)

Being literally restricted to previous-generation level graphics and forced to incorporate gimmicky controls into the gameplay is probably the point where a developer says "Yeah no thanks we'll take our chances with these other platforms here". Not to mention demographics; people who bought Wiis were probably not the same kind of people who would be interested in gritty M-rated shooters, which is what the other 90% of the market seemed to be composed of at that point.
The hardware limitations didn't have to be a bad thing... in theory. It made the system more accessible to smaller developers. Sadly, this didn't translate to lovely indie titles but to cheap shovelware. Lots and lots of shovelware.

I can't recall using motion controls was mandatory. Not even Nintendo used it in every game (Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn was the first game I bought for it and you play that by holding the Wiimote sideways). I think it's more a case of developers jumping the bandwagon. 'People love Wii Sports for its motion controls? Give 'em motion controls! Motion control is money!'