PS4 Separate Memories Would’ve Been Preferred, GPU Is Here To Stay, SDK Will Make Console Faster
Furthermore, Shadow Warrior developers took only 8 months to get the PS4 port up and running.
GamingBolt got an opportunity to speak with Flying Wild Hog’s Lead Engine Programmer Krzysztof Narkowicz and Michal Szustak who is the CEO and Director of Shadow Warrior about various technical aspects of developing the game on the PS4. When the PlayStation 4 was first announced, several games from the free to play and other genres were ported to the new console. Some of those games reportedly took only a few months to port on the PlayStation 4. We asked the duo about the porting process of Shadow Warrior on the PlayStation 4 and whether it was an easy or challenging.
“PS4 specific code took us around 23 months. Porting the entire game took us around 8 months , we needed to rewrite various parts of the engine,” explains Krzysztof. “For example we had to upgrade all the middleware to latest versions, as old versions didn’t support new consoles. Updating Havok a middleware that is so deeply integrated into the game, was a big change for the whole engine.”
The development team also added 64 bit support and also replaced DX9 with DX11, both of these features are supported by the new consoles. “Additionally we added 64 bit support. We replaced DX9 with DX11, which required to rewrite our renderer. It was also our first non PC platform and we had to abstract some platform specific code. The biggest effort was moving from 23 threads to task based architecture in order to optimally support multiple cores. We optimized the entire game in order to be able to run at 1080p and 60 fps on PS4. Last but not least we rewrote the gamepad support. Changes include better and less intrusive aim assist and easier menu navigation. To sum up PS4 is easy if you already support multiple platforms, DX11, 64 bit and if the middleware you are using is up to date.”
He also spoke about the unified memory architecture of PS4 and although it has generally been praised, Krzysztof believes that different memories would have actually improved PS4’s performance since it would result into different memory access patterns. As the name suggests, memory access patterns are ways that the developers will access memory, whether it will be a recently accessed portion or memory that follows a more predictable pattern. In short, memory access patterns are the most important things to consider in games development.
“Unified memory architecture simplifies development, but personally I would prefer two separate memories. It would allow to get a better performance as CPU and GPU have different memory access patterns, which require different memory types,” states Krzysztof.
He also claimed that the PS4 will get faster every month with improved coding and API. “PS4 is fast and with every month, due to increasing developer knowledge and SDK updates, it will be faster. Still if by ‘high end’ you mean multiple Titans then I don’t think it can rival them. On the other hand even making a PC exclusive game you can’t target high end configurations, so it doesn’t matter in practice.”
And finally he shared his thoughts on the PS4’s GPU. “It is a modern GPU. It’s based on GCN architecture, which will be here for some time.”
Shadow Warrior is due this Summer for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.