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The modding capabilities of UT3 - with Sony’s Little Big Planet to follow, allowing users to trade levels, costumes and stickers online - are, as Rein reminds us, “a first for any game console… and way more important than polygons.”
Dave Connell, Lead Console Programmer over at Traveller’s Tales (of LEGO Star Wars fame) is equally pleased, describing PS3 as “a very powerful piece of kit”.
“Once you put the effort in and start to understand the hardware, you can see PS3’s huge technical potential,” Connell told us, observing that “the SPUs [Synergistic Processor Units] are key to unlocking PS3’s flexibility. The SPUs challenge us to come up with completely new tech ideas and to develop new features around them. We are going to see the quality of PS3 titles improve for many years to come as people get to grips with them. It might turn out that things we’ve not even thought of end up best demonstrating the power of PS3.”
Fallout 3’s Executive Producer Todd Howard - from Oblivion developer Bethesda - understands that PS3 “has more than enough power. No single game is using it all yet - not even close”. Back at E3 in July ‘07, Mercenaries 2 Lead Designer Scott Warner claimed their game was only using 30% of PS3’s power - while EA’s Chief Visual Officer Glenn Entis claimed their launch games like Fight Night 3 only tapped 20%. The figures sound hokum, but it wasn’t until five years into PS2’s life cycle that games tapped even 90% of its power - a statistic measured by Sony’s Performance Analyser tools, yet to be released on PS3.
Lighting effects will improve, claim middleware experts Geomerics. “Games will look more natural, with awesome reflection effects. None of our lighting is pre-calculated, as ‘pre-baking’ lightmaps is still industry practice. PS3’s power means we can use effects that were previously reserved for Hollywood, or high-end CGI applications and giant render farms.” The search for the new ‘lens flare’ starts here…