It’s no secret that developers across the industry are excited by the potential of next-gen hardware, and what the PS5 and the Xbox Series X will allow them to make for games in the coming years. Of all aspects of upcoming hardware though, the one that’s grabbed the most headlines – especially with the PS5 – is their solid state drives.
We recently asked Ljubomir Peklar, director of the upcoming first person horror game Scorn, about the same. When asked about the PS5’s solid state drive, what his thoughts are on what it will enable in the development of games, and how much it differs from a performance perspective from the Xbox Series X, Peklar had a detailed response ready.
He started by explaining the biggest advantages that new SSDs bring with them, saying that such improvements – in addition to other technological next-gen advancements, such as those brought about by Unreal Engine 5 – have become necessary.
“For a system to take the full advantage of the next gen CPU/GPUs, the amount of data needed to be streamed in and out of memory is pretty big,” Peklar explained. “That’s the main reason why both console manufactures went with the SSDs and a specialized I/O approach. This approach was pretty much a necessity. You could, for example, get similar results with average SSD speeds and more memory. You would have to preload more game data into memory, but on the other hand your SSD wouldn’t need to fetch that much data every second. When next-gen engines start to incorporate these kinds of workflows, some new possibilities will open up in theory. Like having an open world game with high fidelity assets found in smaller scale games, or as they said in the Unreal 5 tech demo, movie quality assets.”
Peklar went on to talk to us about why these possibilities are not possible on current console hardware. He did, however, go on to say that developers should not take this to mean that they should make even bigger games going forward, warning about the pitfalls of that sort of a design philosophy.
“There are two reason why this is not possible on current gen. One is hardware,” he said. “Mechanical drives simply can’t keep up with the amount of data- there’s not enough memory, current CPU/GPU would struggle to compute it all adequately etc. Second is the amount of work/time needed for developers to create all these very high quality assets, for any game size, let alone for a large open world game. I feel that this second problem will stand as a decent obstacle, even with Unreal 5 automatically helping with optimization. And if developers foolishly decide to go for even bigger size maps, and they will, because bigger is always better in their minds, then these open world games will look beautiful at first glance but end up even more copy-pasted and padded with samey content than they are now. And it’s already a sad affair in that regard.”
Of course, that doesn’t mean Peklar doesn’t think we won’t see any tangible benefits to games. He said that experiences that are impossible to create on current console hardware will in all likeliness come down the road, but that that’s something that developers will arrive at organically, and that designing games purely around the new technology on hand won’t be the way to do that.
“I’m positive that down the road, developers will find a way to create experiences that would be impossible to realize on current gen, but that journey starts with interesting concepts that will be organically realized by having these technologies available,” he said. “You shouldn’t design solely from the perspective of technology, as you could end up having peculiar things like a game with all reflective surfaces just so you could show off ray tracing.”
Peklar suggested in conclusion that as far as the difference between the SSDs that both next-gen consoles employe is concerned, it’s effectively not going to seem as big as it seems on paper right now. “As for differences between the two solutions I feel that it will end up a matter of diminishing returns,” he said.
Scorn is currently in development for Xbox Series X and PC. In this same interview, Peklar also spoke to us about why the game is launching as a console exclusive for the Xbox Series X, saying that the system allows their game to have parity with its PC version. Read more on that through here.
Our full interview with Peklar will be live soon, so stay tuned for that.