Dan Greenwalt – “PC is an Unstable platform”

Posted By | On 23rd, Sep. 2011 Under News | Follow This Author @KartikMdgl

On the right.

Dan Greenwalt, Creative Director of Turn 10 studio, had a lot to say in this fantastic interview with Eurogamer. He mentioned that PC’s are an unstable platform and most developers can’t utilize the resources because they have to develop for the lowest common denominator.

We think he is right, because people with average PC’s vastly outnumber the ones with high-end PC’s. Developers like Blizzard make games that are capable of running on plenty of PC’s, and hence that reflects in sales.

This is what Greenwalt had to say, “There are a lot of PCs that are really powerful now and yet a lot of the games don’t look much better because it’s an unstable platform. You have to make it for the lowest common denominator. So, would more power and more RAM help? Always. But it wouldn’t help immediately.”

It is a fact that with sheer brute force you can make any game look and run better, and even though it is not optimized well, the performance towers over the consoles. Game developers when developing for the PC usually make sure that the game runs on decent PC’s as well. Compared to the modded GTA 4 and the vanilla one, there is a huge gulf of difference, which shows how much the latest PC’s are capable of.

Tell us what you think in the comments section below. Do you agree with Greenwalt?

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  • I wouldn’t say the PC platform is unstable. It’s certainly more difficult to develop for it, but it’s not impossible.

    It just needs a lot more testing on different PC configurations. Sure it means that more money has to be spent buying PC parts and paying more testers. But it pays off, as a game can run on high-end PCs with a high resolution and many graphic settings turned on, and run on low to average PCs with lower resolutions and some settings turned off.

    Another possibility is, like stated here, mods for high-end PCs.

    Maybe developers think that this would be a waste of time and money, but they shouldn’t. Mobile gaming is becoming increasingly popular, and with a more powerful smartphones every 3 month or so (dual-core, quad-core, more RAM)… it’s a reality they’ll face there too. A good strategy to handle different PC settings would be useful to tackle the same problems on mobile platforms.

  • One of the amazing thing about the PC is that it’s open and flexible if developers allow it to. Unofficial patches and fixes usually appear first for the PC version of a game compared to a console version that have to wait at least a weak for the official patch. Like Fallout 3. Developers should see this as strength and exploit instead of bitching about how unstable the PC is. Even cracked games tend to have fast solutions to bugs and glitches. Really. Some games just needed for some config files to be modified or DLLs to be deleted to get it running smoothly.

    The PC’s wild nature can also attributed to the developers’ own unwillingness to explore it’s potential. Look at DX 10 and 11. They lay dormant in a lot of PCs for years, waiting for someone to pick them up and abuse them properly. But no, not even Microsoft, who invented them, want to get near them. Only recently there’s a rash of games starting to use them. Even then some of the developers are apprehensive of putting those codes into their PC versions, lest their console version look crappy. Which is evident the Battlefield 3.

    Another example is mobile gaming. Netbooks appeared and there were rumours that they’ll usher in a new age of gaming. Well, they fizzled out since developers tend to ignore of their dubious potentials. C’mon, who in their right mind wants to play a low res games on a mini laptop that can barely do anything other than Word or surf? Even Microsoft gave a half-hearted attempt to support it with Win 7 but alas, no games to get the ball rolling.

    Then came along iPad and everyone suddenly jumped into the band wagon. They are basically netbooks with touch screens. And yet no one seem to have any problem making tons of games for it and other tablets.

  • dox

    Pc is incredibly unstable. The sheer volume of different hardware, drivers and operating systems means a PC game can never be fully optimized like a console game. There are billions of possible systems a game has to work on so you have to write unoptimized code so it always plays nice.

    Not only is varying hardware and drivers an issue but operating system overhead is a big issue. Developers on PC can’t directly interact with the hardware like they can on a console. They have to go through layers of performance hindering apis.


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