Meewella | Fragments

The Life of P

Fatal Relocations

Today has been spent filing and organising last term’s work, updating software on my family’s home computer, and designing business cards for Kirsten’s mother. All seem to have gone pretty well. I was also contacted by Bird & Bird who wished to inform me of a change of venue for our Christmas Party next week. Apparently our intended establishment, tapas bar and restaurant Shadans, is currently crawling with forensics experts following an involuntary forcible fatality (you know, a murder). I thought it might have added a little spice to the proceedings, but on second thoughts perhaps the relocation is for the best. We just want to have fun and those forensics bods are such sticklers for etiquette…

GameSpot produced an interesting graphical comparison of the Xbox 360 and PS3 based on the handful of games that are available for both systems. Having had a few months to tweak and polish the games for the PS3 launch, it certainly seemed like the probable victor. Surprisingly, then, it was the Xbox 360 that overwhelmingly came out on top. Even where the visuals were barely distinguishable it tended to produce better framerates. An alternative conclusion is that this simply means it will take developers a while to learn how to optimise code for the Cell processor, but it certainly makes these machines look far more evenly matched that Sony’s boastful claims.

Wired News reports that a Firefly MMO game may be on the cards. At first this sounds like great news for Browncoats but I have some reservations. The quality of the show was due largely to the characters and the patented blend of sharp Whedon dialogue, not just the world he created (like, arguably, Star Wars). This clearly will not translate into a player-controlled MMO. I’d love it to be a success because any external success increases the odds of willingness to reinvest in picking up the series again (I think it’s now accepted the format is better suited to television than film). Whether this proves to be a great expansion of the franchise, a last ditch attempt to save the Firefly/Serenity ‘verse, or simply an attempt to cash in on an established fanbase and proven addictive gametype remains to be seen.

2 Comments

  1. >An alternative conclusion is that this simply means it will take developers a while to learn how to optimise code for the Cell processor

    That would seem fairly likely to me.

    If my memory serves me correctly from the back of beyond when the PS3 was announced, its CPU architecture looked much less usual the XBox360 which just looked like a ‘normal’ multi-core gaming optimised processor.

    As much of the hardcore development for gaming has traditionally been done close to ‘bare metal’ as we call it, the learning curve of your developers is very important. Remember also that this is software, so the *only* cost that even remotely matters is your people. (Who the games industry treats like c***)

    If Sony have really made a mess of things and provided a CPU architecture that is just much harder to write for, (an extensive vector processor architecture, which is often used in custom scientific computers(!) (AKA take 48 sets of data, and a single instruction that applies to them all simultaneously) would certainly qualify for this, I currently consult on helping people write and manage vectorised software, it’s just hard for humans).

    So it could be that Sony have provided an architecture that is simply more expensive to write games for, given how competitive the gaming industry and how critical time-to-market considerations are, that would be a really dangerous thing to do.

    Market externalities wait round the corner for any company foolish enough to try and do something innovative.

    Originally when they were first announced I tried to persuade people that they wanted to provide me with 100 or so of the machines for use in cheap distributed computation, however the combination of them being several years late, managed by beaurcrats and err… expensive, means that it’s much much cheaper to use Dell desktops instead!

  2. Agreed. I think Microsoft’s console plans have always been to stick with computer-related components with which they (or least their developers) already have some experience.

    Meanwhile Nintendo seem to have hit a good middle ground – serious innovation in their control control mechanisms but running on hardware that is only slightly advanced from the previous generation. The result is a virtually seamless transition for developers who can then focus all their energy on getting their heads round the zany new controller.

    The gamble is different in that it requires adoption of the controller by the consumer vs. Sony’s requirement of adoption of the platform by developers. Sony no doubt expect that their existing overwhelming dominance in numbers of 3rd party developers will keep them secure. They may find a rude awakening on that point as Microsoft is swiftly gaining ground there too.

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"Lack of imagination is an occupational hazard for an apex predator."

(CC) BY-NC 2005-2019 Priyan Meewella

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