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Author Topic: Multiplatform = Recipe for Disaster?  (Read 2409 times)
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Knightshade Dragon
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« on: June 22, 2004, 03:30:38 PM »

When I look at the reviews for games like Driv3r and I see that they have split their attention between the PS2 and Xbox, I have to question the viability of multiplatform titles.  When I look at Splinter Cell, I have to say that it is amazing what they can pull off multiplatform, but they used seperate engines to do it.  

So....what is the deal?  Is it shoddy workmanship?  Not enough testing?  Publisher pressure?  Too much compromize?  What's the skinny?  Jump in and give us your thoughts...
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aledromo
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« Reply #1 on: June 22, 2004, 04:26:17 PM »

I'm no programmer, but I'm sure it's incredibly difficult to write code for multiple operating systems at once.  I mean, how many websites run on Windows but not Mac OS (and sometimes vice versa)?  I tend to feel that unless there is a clear plan and experience on all machines -maybe even separate teams-, developers going for the cross-platform payday are usually on the road to producing a disappointment.  The biggest losers are game buyers.

I look at the current thing going on with Spider-Man 2, how there's a completely different usage of the license on the PC version, and I wonder if that wouldn't be a better model.  Just make separate games and try to focus on strengths of each platform.  Probably never happen, though.  Too much work as it is.
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« Reply #2 on: June 22, 2004, 04:39:00 PM »

Quote from: "aledromo"
I look at the current thing going on with Spider-Man 2, how there's a completely different usage of the license on the PC version, and I wonder if that wouldn't be a better model.  Just make separate games and try to focus on strengths of each platform.  Probably never happen, though.  Too much work as it is.

But then I look at Spider-Man 2 and I'm amazed just how well the cross-porting of the game worked out.

Is it only certain developers who can pump out a good multiplatform title without it looking like a simple PS2 port? Only certain types of games (one that doesn't push the processor/limits of the console)?
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aledromo
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« Reply #3 on: June 22, 2004, 04:51:38 PM »

I haven't played Spider-man 2 yet on the consoles, and while I am excited by what I've heard, even there one of the most prevalent comments on the title is that the visuals seem to be set at a benchmark for the PS2.  I'm sure the game will continue to be a blast on any platform regardless, but it seems a shame to let the enhanced graphical capability of the other systems go to waste.
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« Reply #4 on: June 22, 2004, 05:23:47 PM »

Don't multi-platforms games usually 'start' for the PS2 and are then 'manipulated' for the X-Box/GC?

I think most companies won't make a game all decked out for X-Box and then scale it down for PS2. Why put all the time into the the extras if you're going to sell more of the PS2 version?

Start where the money is and go out from there. Makes sense on a business level.
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« Reply #5 on: June 22, 2004, 05:27:06 PM »

Quote from: "aledromo"
I'm no programmer, but I'm sure it's incredibly difficult to write code for multiple operating systems at once.  I mean, how many websites run on Windows but not Mac OS (and sometimes vice versa)?  I tend to feel that unless there is a clear plan and experience on all machines -maybe even separate teams-, developers going for the cross-platform payday are usually on the road to producing a disappointment.  The biggest losers are game buyers.


I was not aware that there were websites that worked for Windows and not Mac.  HTML and Java are platform-independent.  The browser looks at the code and displays it.  Granted, a Mac (or Windows) browser might be better, faster, or pay more attention to standards, but the website should (if coded properly) look the same regardless of platform.

Which takes us to the next point: game engines.  I am sure there are a lot of compromises that need to be made when programming the same title across platforms with different strengths and weaknesses.  Even with a standard cross-platform engine like RenderWare things will perform differently on the Xbox, PS2, and GC.  Are developers going to spend time tweaking each title to the specific platform or are they going to just play to the lowest common denominator?

A lot of the cutting edge games today have their own engines, which must be tweaked to perform well across different systems.  That is going to be a lot of work for the developers.  I think that a lot of development time and resources are spent making sure each platform recieves attention.  It is only prudent to ask whether spreading the resources across three platforms will produce three mediocre works.  Would the game be more polished if the developers focused on one platform to devote all of their attention to?

With different teams you might not have as many problems, but it's going to cost more for to produce.  I suppose that's why a lot of games are made for a either a single platform or use a standard multi-platform engine.

I don't think the trend is likely to change.  Companies stand to make more money if they are able to offer their game to more people.  It makes too much sense to produce a PS2 port just because of the huge user base.  It would be wise to ensure that port also plays as good as the others but that is not really necessary.

That they spent the time to create an entirely new engine for the Splinter Cell port is amazing.  It shows that Ubi sees great potential for PS2 sales, even months after the original Xbox release.  Kudos to Ubi for giving it the same attention.

I am glad to see some of the Capcom GC games being ported to the PS2.  Whether they are as good as the original remains to be seen.
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« Reply #6 on: June 22, 2004, 05:43:36 PM »

Quote
That they spent the time to create an entirely new engine for the Splinter Cell port is amazing. It shows that Ubi sees great potential for PS2 sales, even months after the original Xbox release. Kudos to Ubi for giving it the same attention.
Rumor has it that Ubi was paid the cost of developing that engine by Sony.  Hard not to make it when somebody foots the bill.
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« Reply #7 on: June 22, 2004, 05:43:50 PM »

Quote
I was not aware that there were websites that worked for Windows and not Mac. HTML and Java are platform-independent. The browser looks at the code and displays it. Granted, a Mac (or Windows) browser might be better, faster, or pay more attention to standards, but the website should (if coded properly) look the same regardless of platform.
 Before I even get to read the rest of your post, as the owner of a mac, let me say that indeed: some sites just don't work.  As the owner of very little technical knowledge besides this, let me say that: I have no idea why.  Now then, on to your post.
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« Reply #8 on: June 22, 2004, 06:19:55 PM »

Quote from: "aledromo"
Before I even get to read the rest of your post, as the owner of a mac, let me say that indeed: some sites just don't work.  As the owner of very little technical knowledge besides this, let me say that: I have no idea why.  Now then, on to your post.

The issue has more to do with a browser than the OS.  You are probably not using Internet Explorer, so if someone codes something in asp rather than Java, your browser can't display it.
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« Reply #9 on: June 22, 2004, 06:20:05 PM »

Quote from: "aledromo"
Quote
Before I even get to read the rest of your post, as the owner of a mac, let me say that indeed: some sites just don't work.  As the owner of very little technical knowledge besides this, let me say that: I have no idea why.  Now then, on to your post.


Thanks for the clarification.  That is certainly unfortunate, as it should never be the case.  I could understand Windows Media Player files not working, but anything else is just shoddy coding.  Not owning a Mac I had no idea that was the case.

Interesting note on Sony footing the bill for the development of the SC PS2 engine.  I know it is a popular franchise, apparently it is something that Sony feels the need for on their system.  I am interested in reading some comparisons between the two versions.
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« Reply #10 on: June 22, 2004, 06:27:32 PM »

Quote from: "stiffler"
Quote from: "aledromo"
I'm no programmer, but I'm sure it's incredibly difficult to write code for multiple operating systems at once.  I mean, how many websites run on Windows but not Mac OS (and sometimes vice versa)?


There are a few - some sites (mostly banks) check for Internet Explorer 6, and since such a beast doesn't exist on the Mac, there ya go.  As well as sites that utilize ActiveX plugins
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« Reply #11 on: June 22, 2004, 06:39:25 PM »

Quote from: "Laner"
There are a few - some sites (mostly banks) check for Internet Explorer 6, and since such a beast doesn't exist on the Mac, there ya go.  As well as sites that utilize ActiveX plugins


I do know that Opera (multi-platform) will identify itself as IE6 if you so wish.  No idea about the ActivX plugins, but I would consider it a benifit that you can't run those!

Trying to remember what this thread was originally about...  Oh yeah, multi-platform.  I added that Opera was multi-platform in hopes of not going too far off topic.
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« Reply #12 on: June 24, 2004, 02:17:43 PM »

...
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« Reply #13 on: June 24, 2004, 02:19:13 PM »

...
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aledromo
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« Reply #14 on: June 24, 2004, 02:29:44 PM »

I take it back.  Game developing is tough enough without me whining like a baby.  If they can turn the above line of nonsense into a playable version of Pong, I feel that I owe them $50.  Godspeed, developers.
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« Reply #15 on: June 24, 2004, 02:39:55 PM »

Hear, hear.
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« Reply #16 on: June 24, 2004, 05:44:23 PM »

It is definitely not as simple as DragonFyre's example.

There is a portion of the development(the hardest parts) that can be shared, the design and specification. This is the process of basically saying 1. what you want to make, 2. and how. You do not write any code during these steps which take approximately 70-80% of the development time. The third and "easiest step" is giving this specification to a code monkey to write a game engine, which then levels, characters, AI, etc can be created on top of.

Merely making a game for one system is hard enough. Think about the hardest work you've done and then do it for months, and even then many 18 hour days in the days leading up to the code's completion. Here is why:

I am a programmer, I don't think you understand the amount of work that is required to actually code the game for 3 platforms with different kinds of memory, different video cards, different sound cards, different processors. Each of the systems handles these 4 devices in a completely different way. They may share some similarities between programming languages(if then else statements, looping structure), but the specific commands to say print a box on a screen are going to be different.
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