Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Shut up long enough to make a good game.

My god, they've been running a smear campaign on the power of the 360 since the damn hardware was revealed (Xbox 1.5, anyone?), and 5 years later, against all odds (measured by Sony), the system has been able to hold its own, in many ways matching and even besting the PS3's lineup technically as well as artistically.

So why am I still reading lines like this?

"Well, yeah. Yeah. I mean we're still a way away from launching so we're probably going to throw more stuff on that Cell processor. So yeah... Do you think [Xbox 360] could pull off Uncharted 2? Everyone's comparing us to Uncharted 2, so if you think you can make Uncharted 2 on Xbox then OK maybe you can make Infamous 2 on Xbox."

--Darren Bridges, Sucker Punch

Nevermind the fact that inFamous wasn't a technical marvel to begin with and its sequel is really less than groundbreaking in the visuals department (compared to Uncharted 2? WHERE?)It's always the same thing. Somehow, some way, if you're making a PS3 game, it's absolutely imperative that you annouce it isn't possible on any other console at some point during its development.

I realize that mudslinging is a favorable part of any console makers strategy, but when does it stop being clever and start being shortsighted? I keep seeing this trend exemplified in first-party titles like Ratchet and Clank, God of War 3, Killzone 2, and most infamously in Assassin's Creed 5 years ago, with an all-too-catty Sony ready to declare that the game's advanced animation system and physics were too detailed for the 360 to handle. (The game later released with negligible differences.)

Anyone ever hear of Nintendo constantly defending the Wii's honor, touting its motion control like some kind of safety net? How about Microsoft? As far as I can see, they or Nintendo don't care, because at the end of the day, people either buy the games or they don't. Sony devs however, feel it necessary to prove themselves through statements and graphical or hardware specs instead of gameplay. Does PS3 have more raw power? Yes. However, all the potential in the world means nothing if no one's tapping it, and so far very few developers outside of their vaunted first party on PS3 has used it in a unique or compelling way.

Haven't I seen this before?

What WOULD be appreciated, are statements rooted in fact about actual limitations, and how they relate to a game's direction. Not some mini seminar about the PS3's SPUs, or the Cell processor, or the blu-ray disc, and how it adds up to some unassailable miracle formula. There are a ton of factors that go into a game's development on console, from how their CPUs delegate tasks, to their GPU and the amount of redering techniques possible (zzz), but at the end of the day, they are JUST SPECS. They aren't physical, or legal reasons a game can't be multiplatform, they are numbers, and numbers were invalidated the minute consoles became so complex we couldn't define them by bits anymore.

64-bit game. Seriously.

It's really unfortunate, but Media Molecule (LittleBigPlanet) has been the only exclusive Sony developer I can think of to buck the trend, citing that the game was not possible on another console not because of a technical reason, but because of the unique way they were using the PS3 hardware in regards to user-file sharing and other factors unrealated to the RELATIVE power of the console. In fact, they said it was very possible on a rival platform, given enough time and leniency of Microsoft's policies.

And that game is gorgeous.

I can't put my finger on it, but I think the thing that irks me the most is the fact that these baseless comments are being made from a limited, marketing perspective. If you are only using one kind of hardware, how exactly can you be absolutely sure that it's impossible anywhere else? It's cowardly, prattling on about how your game can't be done elsewhere when you have no plans to attempt bringing it aywhere else. It's akin to zealots declaring their religion the one true following, while turning a blind eye to even the slightest opposing idea. Any developer using both systems has stated that the systems both have their strengths and weaknesses (NOT that one is explicitly 'better'), and when a like-for-like game releases on both consoles and looks simply amazing, it only makes those who spoke up seem less talented than they actually are.

Post-Castlevania, No one has any excuse now.

"You'll look at it and see that there's no way we could have done this game on 360."

Really, Sucker Punch. I know Sony needs to market their first party titles and this tradition is a huge part of it. I know there's a need get the fanboy fires raging and the tin hats in play, but I really don't think I'm alone in saying that maybe they should focus less on how their game compares to Uncharted 2 (read:it doesn't), and more on just making a good enough game to be noticed in the glut of highly anticipated releases next year. Because I must say. inFamous barely held itself up when being relentlessly (unfairly?) compared to Prototype, and that was a new IP. In fact, I'd go as far to say that if it weren't for Prototype, it probably wouldn't have sold that well, relative quality be damned.

Many things in 2011 are sequels and reimaginings of some -very- strong titles.

With that in mind, and the prerequisite PS3 dev braggart quota filed, I hope it's back to work.

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