6
Parzi
30d

It's always amazing to fire up a PS2 game and go "Wow... this PS3 game looks great!" an hour later before realizing it's still a PS2. Take Final Fantasy 12, for example: the environments are massive and gorgeous, all the textures look nice, and it's a MASSIVE GAME. Sure, in some areas the environment flavor stuff has really noticeable draw-in and there's no AA and some of the area textures (buildings, floors, the like) are noticeably low-res on close inspection and it's only running at 480i, but when playing, lack of AA and resolution are basically invisible and in most areas the env flavor draw-in is still really far off. It *feels* like a mid-life PS3 game, which the creators deserve mad props for. (I have yet to try upscaling via homebrew, when I get a hackable PS2 i'll see if it looks any better at 720p or 1080i.)

This isn't the only game like this, I have at least 4 that look like PS3 games on-disc, and like 12 more waiting for a hacked PS2, this isn't uncommon. They crammed so much flavor and life into 40MB of total VRAM and it's absolutely fucking nuts.

Comments
  • 6
    Back when programmers (software engineers?) actually knew what they were doing and had real skills.

    Now it's a rarity because, honestly, you get yelled at for optimizing when "resources are dirt cheap" and "unused ram is wasted ram." Ugh.
  • 2
    I'd share these sentiments if I weren't stuck on the labs dungeon.
  • 3
    @Root it's not even entirely just skill, it's *cleverness.* Most of the games like this are very clever, and use disk streaming and bumpmapping and resource reuse and all sorts of other tricks to make everything pop way more. Even in this game, for example, each and every weapon has a different model, but the armor doesn't even show as the characters always use the same 2 or 3 outfits (one default and a couple for story-related reasons.) That allows room for more stuff to be loaded, and considering the textures do a lot of the heavy lifting on the detail work, the outfits still look amazing despite the clothes the characters wear being rather low-poly.

    Skill definitely helps, as optimization was king at this time, but it's mainly just being really fucking clever.
  • 4
    Hell they used to only pitchshift the same wavesound back then for a ton of different sound fx
  • 3
    @Root it's a valid argument though. Clever tricks don't generate sales, the game does. For that matter the end user doesn't care about clever tricks either (and they shouldn't). I'd much rather have the increased productivity.

    Bad game design in so many modern games is because of bad game design, not because of hardware that is powerful enough that you don't have to care about micro-optimizing everything. Plenty of really well designed modern games around.

    For that matter there's a ton of cleverness in current gen stuff too. The sheer amount of efforr and detail that goes into modern game animation and crowdsim and making it fast enough to run at target framerates is crazy, for example. Similarly, render passes. I'm pretty sure any decent modern gamedev can cobble together a streaming or virtual memory system or whatever (not thay they weren't massive achievements, I fully respect the devs who had to work with such limited resources).
  • 5
    @Parzi That's my field you're talking about 🙂

    I group those under optimizations, but you're right that they're often damned clever. It makes me proud and excited

    @RememberMe I'm well aware. So very well aware. I worked in the industry for twelve years. I've seen everything from beautifully elegant code to arcane voodoo wizardry to modules built out of poo, dried and pressed into bricks.

    I am also still amazed that game engines are bloody free now! And some of the things they can do... it blows my mind. That last Unity demo on a smartphone was just. I still don't know what to say. Some of the features I've seen, e.g. terrain stitching in UE4 (and n-body particle efrects!) were things I wanted to build, but the hardware simply wasn't capable.

    Still, I've found a lot less cleverness now than I did then. It still exists ofc, but it seems like it's only present in low-level areas like compiler design, embedded systems, and game engines. Everywhere else is basically its antithesis. Especially web dev.
  • 1
    @Root I totally agree with your statement to @RememberMe
  • 3
    Still today you find cleverness here and there,but it is getting rare in the game industry.Today graphics and cinematics are more important than proper code.I go to gamejams and been connected with the industry.I have the feeling you have really good or really bad software developers in the industry. Pretty much no middle ground.The game engine tutorials, which gets you going fast without knowing anything aren't helping. People don't learn the craft properly. I had to hire one for a team back then. Simple task write an a* pathfinding algorithm.After 8h I talk about their approach.I just asked one question, explain me your code.At the Manhattan part he said this is blackbox. I mean we are not talking about rocket science, let's just open the code you obviously copied and go over it. We don't copy code we don't understand. He was shocked! He btw. couldn't explain anything. It was a simple traversing loop!
    On the other side I met a dev of quantum break talking about D. He was impressive.
  • 2
    @KDSBest I'm talking about legit devs, not Unity script kiddies. No lack of either the former or the latter.
  • 3
    @KDSBest I loved the talk that guy did about integrating D into their dev pipeline on Quantum Break.

    its like porn for programmers.
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