Filmic Worlds boss, John Hable also talks about the selection process at Naughty Dog.
When one looks back, Sony had a beast of CPU processor in the PlayStation 3. The CELL had amazing potential with its dedicated set of SPUs but as with everything that has so much potential, it can get a bit hard to optimize and master it. This is precisely the problem that developers faced with the PS3 during the last console cycle. In fact this was precise reason why Sony abandoned the CELL architecture for the PS4 and moved to the basic x86 architecture for its current gen console.
But having said that, was the PS3 ever maxed out? Did developers actually utilized the console’s technical prowess despite its complicated architecture? GamingBolt recently got in touch with John Hable, former Naughty Dog developer and founder of Filmic World to get the answer.
According to Hable, the console was already maxed out by the time Uncharted 2 came out and with Uncharted 3 and The Last of Us, Naughty Dog was just squeezing a bit more out of the tank.
“I’d say that the PS3 was more-or-less maxed out. On Uncharted 2 most of the code running on the SPUs was hand-optimized assembly, and at that point there is really no way to push it farther. Naughty Dog squeezed a little more water out of that rock for Uncharted 3 and The Last of Us, but there really isn’t much performance left to get. There are several other games that pushed the console about as far as it could go but I can’t talk specifics. Certainly the early Xbox One and PS4 games are doing things that would be impossible on the Xbox 360 and PS3.”
Naughty Dog is one of the most respected game studios in the industry today. With their critical and commercial success in developing visually stunning games, some fans have claimed that Naughty Dog have access to some secret sauce. Apparently that is not the case, Hable says. It all boils down to hiring good programmers.
“There isn’t really a magic bullet. On the graphics side, Naughty Dog has a very talented team. So I guess the secret to great graphics is you need to hire great people. That’s not much of a secret. But if there is one unique aspect of Naughty Dog, it is their hiring. On the programming side, no matter what your resume is they give everyone the same general questions, and if you can make it through you get the job. Naughty Dog programming interviews follow a pretty uniform standard so in my opinion they do a good job of actually testing candidates based on their ability.”
Hable further explains that Naughty Dog’s testing philosophy is different, as they don’t distinguish on the basis of what a candidate has delivered in the past. For example, a failed game may not necessarily be an indication of how good the candidate can be. In short, everyone goes through the screening process if they wish to work at the studio.
“In the industry, we have a tendancy to think that everyone who worked on a great game must be great, but it’s not true. When you interview someone with a great game on their resume, it is possible that the candidate was the superstar who made it great and you should hire him or her immediately. It is also possible that the candidate was dead weight and coasted off everyone else’s hard work. And on a terrible game there is probably at least one person who did a herculean job to get the game to actually ship. You can’t judge people solely by the games they worked on. The Naughty Dog philosophy is that everybody needs to be tested. All artists have to take an art test and all programmers have to pass programming test questions. It can come across the wrong way to people but it minimizes the bias.”
“So I guess my main advice about hiring would be to keep an open mind. If a candidate’s last game failed miserably, that person could have been the sane person in the asylum. Sometimes the leadership makes bad decisions which sabotages the efforts of a talented and hard-working team. My one takeaway is that you can’t judge someone by the games they worked.”
Stay tuned for more coverage from our exclusive interview with John Hable in the coming days.