Tripwire Interactive talks about developing for the Xbox One X and how it compares to their experience on PS4 Pro.
The Xbox One X hasn’t even been out for six months but the effect it’s starting to have on the industry is palpable enough. Developers are leveraging its power to update their titles and doing so with relative ease. How the console fits into the overall ecosystem of this generation, especially in comparison to the PlayStation 4 Pro, is also a very interesting debate.
To learn more, GamingBolt spoke to Tripwire Interactive of Killing Floor 2 fame. How does support on the Xbox One X version compare to the PS4 Pro version? We spoke to technical director Andrew Ladenberger and associate producer David Amata about this and more.
"For us, it’s not about making it different, but using each version to the best of its strengths."
Last time around, you revealed to us the technical specifications behind bringing Killing Floor 2 on the PS4 Pro. And now you are bringing the game to Xbox One with full support for Xbox One X. How do you assess compatibility across, so many platforms specially given how both the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X are architecturally a bit different from their original base versions?
Andrew Ladenberger: Each platform has its own unique opportunities and capabilities that we had to access in deciding how we wanted to leverage them for Killing Floor 2. Fortunately, both the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X are not too dissimilar in architecture from their base level counterparts which made it significantly easier to support than an entirely new platform. We at Tripwire Interactive are very familiar with PC development which made scalability between platforms straightforward.
We already have a bit of information regarding how you are treating the Xbox One X version of Killing Floor 2. It will run at native 1800p which is the same as the PS4 Pro build. We are also aware that achieving higher frame rates may be an issue at native 4K, but what kind of challenges you came across while testing the game at native 4K on the Xbox One X?
Andrew Ladenberger: For us we were focused on providing the best overall experience between visual fidelity and performance that was right for Killing Floor 2. This is true for all the platforms we support. Microsoft and Sony have been strong advocates for us as developers to leverage both the Xbox One X and PS4 Pro how we see fit. The enhancements we included go beyond just a straight resolution boost. With our recent Xbox One X Enhanced update, we also included higher resolution textures, higher resolution shadow maps, increased shadow fade out distances, and smoother overall performance than on base Xbox One. We’re excited to see what the fans think and hear their feedback on our enhancements.
Besides the resolution, how different is the Xbox One X version from the PS4 Pro build. How are you ensuring that you are using the full potential of the Xbox One X so that the differences are noticeable from the PS4 Pro build?
Andrew Ladenberger: For us, it’s not about making it different, but using each version to the best of its strengths. For Xbox One X the focus has been on higher resolution, increased visual enhancements in our rendering tech, and higher performance.
Xbox One X took just 4 hours of programming effort to get Killing Floor 2 up and running. How helpful have Microsoft been in this regarding in terms of SDK?
David Amata: A lot of that can be attributed to just how similar the two architectures are from each other with the most significant difference being the removal of ESRAM from the Xbox One X. In terms of SDK, the two platforms share the same deployment process for development, so it’s been a smooth process to work simultaneously on both base and X hardware.
"The additional memory bandwidth available was a welcome change as it helps carry the load of streaming in higher resolution textures faster and disabling eSRAM was a painless process."
How did you find SDK of Xbox One X compared to Xbox One while developing Killing Floor 2?
David Amata: Because all the Xbox deployment and software used for Xbox One X is identical to base Xbox One, there has been no real difference in our development pipeline between the two platforms. As a result, getting up and running and using the full hardware of Xbox One X has been a seamless process for our talented development team.
How are you using Xbox One X improved hardware for Killing Floor 2’s?
David Amata: The increased CPU power present in both Xbox One X and PS4 Pro has been useful in being able to run our gameplay systems faster and provide an enhancement to overall performance.
The original Xbox One had eSRAM which was a pain to work with. The Xbox One X doesn’t have eSRAM. How has that helped things? Has it become an issue while porting the base Xbox One version to the Xbox One X?
Andrew Ladenberger: The additional memory bandwidth available was a welcome change as it helps carry the load of streaming in higher resolution textures faster and disabling eSRAM was a painless process.
Given that you have worked on both consoles now, and in terms of pure hardware perspective, the picture is clear. The Xbox One X is far ahead of PS4 Pro in terms of GPU and memory bandwidth. The differences in ROP counts and bandwidth are public knowledge. As a developer, who is the face of pushing visual boundaries, what is your take on the differences between the two and do you think this difference will be visible to the general audience?
David Amata: We looked at all our supported platforms and custom tailored each setting to its capabilities to offer the best overall visual and gameplay experience for our fans. Xbox One X and PS4 Pro offer a significant leap in technology that we leveraged towards making Killing Floor 2 even better for Xbox and PS4 owners alike. Both offer an enhanced experience that we think they will enjoy and even better they can play it on whatever ecosystem they prefer which as multiplayer focused experience is central to playing with friends.
"We think Xbox One X allows us to more players and we’re glad to be able to provide another excellent Killing Floor 2 experience, enhanced and tuned specifically for the system."
However, do you think Xbox One X’s higher ROP counts will matter for in-game scenarios or are they just theoretical numbers? There is also the fact that most developers will target the PS4 as a base for developing visuals (due to its higher install base) and then scale up, thereby wasting Xbox One X’s potential.
David Amata: The benefit of being experienced in PC development allows us to be highly flexible in how we scale our various visual and gameplay systems to the unique qualities of each platform. We treated each platform singular entity and did our best to max out and achieve the right optimization for the hardware. The Xbox One X offers its own unique capabilities and we are excited by what our fans will think of the results.
Hypothetically speaking, if Killing Floor 2 was an Xbox One X exclusive title with all your tools and engine developed precisely for it, what kind of results would have been possible?
Andrew Ladenberger: A singular focus certainly helps in development in terms of tuning and optimization, but what’s most important to everyone at Tripwire Interactive is that as many players as possible can access our game and play on the platform of their choice with an excellent experience. We think Xbox One X allows us to more players and we’re glad to be able to provide another excellent Killing Floor 2 experience, enhanced and tuned specifically for the system.
I will like to end this interview in a similar way like the last time around. Where is the Switch version?
David Amata: Thank you very much for taking the time for this interview. We’re encouraged by how the Nintendo Switch is being received by the gaming community at large, but have nothing to announce regarding the platform.