To watch God of War 3 in motion is to understand why Ken Kutaragi and his team of hardware engineers at IBM, Toshiba, and Sony deserve so much praise after years of unnecessary bashing and criticism. Sony typically touts that their games are “only possible on the PS3”, and after seeing this game in action at E3 it’s becoming increasingly harder to doubt them.
But as well designed as the hardware is, the software developers deserve just as much adoration and respect. SCE Santa Monica Studios, the team behind the God of War trilogy and other famous titles, has been busy crafting an epic world for Kratos to inhabit and destroy. And to make the experience as seamless as possible, their programmers have employed some clever tricks to keep the player as immersed as possible.
This is what Todd Papy, lead designer of God of War 3, had to say:
“Streaming is a big technological challenge that we’ve got in here. Our framerate is variable between 30 and 60 [frames per second] and so far the reaction on the framerate from players has been that it looks really good and plays really good. That’s been a challenge too.
I think it comes down to smart design. When we lay out our levels, we add a hallway, for example, to load the next section and drop the last section we just came from. So it’s very, very smart design in the way we lay it out so we can have that seamless gameplay.”
The ability to have a variable framerate is technology that originated at Insomniac Studios, one of the developers who make up Sony Worldwide Studios. SWS is comprised of almost two dozen studios, all of whom constantly share information, documentation, and code. The ability to dynamically adjust the framerate of a game both eliminates screen tearing (a major complaint amongst gamers) and helps out the developers in that they don’t have to worry about the gameplay slowing down unexpectedly.
The move to PS3 has also brought on some notable challenges and advantages over the previous hardware, the most obvious of which is the incredible graphics and lifelike animation of both Kratos and his enemies.
“…just working on the visuals on PS3 hardware, making that jump from PS2 to PS3 was a huge challenge. We’re still learning new technologies and new tools and we’re very, very happy with the outcome of the demo.”