More effort for more reward.
The PS4 Pro is a pretty moderate upgrade over the existing PS4, with most development for one automatically translating to the other- but it still is an additional hardware SKU that developers now have to account for when they are developing games. In today’s world of multiplatform, high budget AAA game development, an additional SKU can often be exactly what developers don’t want.
Mark Cerny, the architect of the PS4, and often the PS4 Pro, has tried to allay fears and concerns on that front by noting that development for the Pro really shouldn’t take much time or resources- just 0.2 to 0.3 per cent of the overall effort, he has famously been quoted as saying. In a recent interview with GamingBolt, the fine folks over at Tripwire Interactive – whom you might know as the people behind Killing Floor 2 – discussed the PS4 Pro, however, noting that programming for it was more effort than Cerny claimed.
“Yes it was more work [to program for PS4 Pro],” said Dave Elder, senior graphics programmer for the game. “It was about one month out of twelve strictly for PS4 Pro (so 8% ish). Mark Cerny’s number might be more accurate for an engine written exclusively for PS4 (we use Unreal Engine 3, which targets multiple platforms),” he conceded.
Elder also emphasized some of the enhancements for the game specific to the PS4 Pro, pointing out that this version of the game is basically equivalent to the Ultra settings on the PC version.
“We use asynchronous compute to keep the GPU fully busy during parts of the frame that wouldn’t otherwise fully utilize the GPU (for instance, running SSAO alongside shadow map generation). That isn’t a player-visible feature, however, and the PS4 Pro version of the game is essentially equivalent to PC Ultra quality settings,” he said. Sakab Saikia, the principal graphics programmer, added,”Multithreading on the CPU allowed us to push more draw calls and increase shadow distances.”
So it sounds like the PS4 Pro can be more effort than developers bargained for- on the other hand, it also sounds like if those same developers work with it, they can get some stunning results out of it. It’s more work for more reward, but I don’t think anyone will complain in the end.