Mass Creation discusses the improvements that next gen consoles can provide for loading times.
Sony recently announced that the PlayStation 5 would be releasing in Holiday 2020. A proper reveal will be coming next year itself but until then, we know that the console will feature an 8-core AMD Zen 2 CPU, hardware-based ray-tracing and a solid state drive. We’ve heard quite about the SSD already – lead architect Mark Cerny noted in April that the PS5’s loading would be 19 times faster than PS4.
However, what do other developers think of the drive’s potential? Is it simply a case of faster loading times? We recently spoke to game director Grzegorz Kurek and game design Andrzej Sugier from Mass Creation about the same. The studio is working on Shing!, a 2.5D action title releasing next year for Xbox One, PS4, PC and Nintendo Switch.
“There is only so much data you can stream with standard drives. Levels in Shing! load almost instantly and we load and unload things that camera can and cannot see. Shing! is in 2.5D, so it’s pretty a simple task to cull objects that are out of view, but we have to be careful when loading and unloading data during gameplay. Heavier objects or enemies may cause stuttering if they stream during intense action, so we try to avoid that.”
However, there’s more to it than just sticking an SSD into the console. “With SSD this is a less of a problem – but on consoles the drive is not solely responsible for performance, but how the console handles the data traveling from and to the drive. There is no reason to go to technical details here, but there is a lot of funky stuff going on there. This is why switching to SSD on PS4 or Xbox does not affect loading times as much as it should. This kind of process will probably be improved on the newer platforms hence we can expect an improvement in loading times.”
From a development perspective, it’s the architecture of the entire console that’s facilitating better loading times with the SSD. We’re still a ways off from the release of both the Xbox Scarlett and PS5 but thus far, their hardware seems promising. Stay tuned for more details in the coming months.