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PlanetSide Engine’s “Big Challenge” is that AMD Chip “Heavily Relies on Multi-Threading”, “Not Something all Developers Will Have as a Hurdle” [Update]

August 5, 2013 Written by Jason Dunning

planetside2screenshot2

Update: After publication of this article, the developers reached out to us to clarify that the Forgelight Engine in particular struggles with AMD chips, and that it “is not something that is inherent in the PS4 hardware”, and “not something all developers will have as a hurdle,” but that the SOE team will have to overcome the issue. In light of the new information, we have changed the title.

Original story:

PlanetSide 2 from Sony Online Entertainment is just one of many F2P/MMO titles currently announced for the PlayStation 4. Something that has been widely requested from all of these games that are already available on PC is Cross Platform play between the PS4 and PC, but unfortunately, that won’t be happening in PlanetSide 2.

Matt Higby, Creative Director on PlanetSide 2, explained the reasoning behind this to Eurogamer by saying, “because of the update cadence, and the additional steps you have to go through to be able to release an update on the PlayStation network, we’re not going to be able to keep our servers in sync, so you won’t be able to just play with the same people.” On the bright side, they are looking at being able to transfer your character from PC to PS4 or PS4 to PC, but that has yet to be confirmed.

When it comes to actually getting the game up and running on PS4, as opposed to PC, Matt talked about how “the PS4 is a lot easier because you have a consistent set of hardware that you’re optimizing against. It really is a challenge to optimize high-end PC games to be able to work on the pantheon of hardware that’s available to players nowadays, it’s just insane.”

Higby went on to say that while the PS4 “is a much more consistent, stable platform for us to be able to develop for… the big challenge with the PS4 is its AMD chip, and it really, heavily relies on multi-threading.” Be warned, it’s about to get technical:

We have the exact same kind of Achilles’ heel on the PC too. People who have AMD chips have a disadvantage, because a single core on an AMD chip doesn’t really have as much horsepower and they really require you to kind of spread the load out across multiple cores to be able to take full advantage of the AMD processors.

Our engine sucks at that right now. We are multi-threaded, but the primary gameplay thread is very expensive. The biggest piece of engineering work that they’re doing right now, and it’s an enormous effort, is to go back through the engine and re-optimize it to be really, truly multi-threaded and break the gameplay thread up. That’s a very challenging thing to do because we’re doing a lot of stuff – tracking all these different players, all of their movements, all the projectiles, all the physics they’re doing.

It’s very challenging to split those really closely connected pieces of functionality across in multiple threads. So it’s a big engineering task for them to do, but thankfully once they do it, AMD players who’ve been having sub-par performance on the PC will suddenly get a massive boost – just because of being able to take the engine and re-implement it as multi-threaded.

I’m very excited about that because I have a lot of friends, lots of people who are more budget minded, going for AMD processors because nine times out of ten they give a lot of bang for the buck. Where it really breaks down is on games with one really big thread. PlanetSide’s probably a prime example of that.

Are you interested in PlanetSide 2 on PS4? Let us know in the comments below.

[Screenshot is from the PC version]

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