Mark Cerny has played a pivotal role in the development of Sony’s next-gen PlayStation 4 console, and has been responsible for many of the system’s touted features including the PS4’s flexible architecture that is optimized specifically for developers.
Now Cerny has recently commented in an interview with VG24/7 that the console’s flexibility is quite surprising, and that the PS4 will “give Sony and developers around the world more customization than they’d find on a PC”.
Sony has put emphasis on its focus to make the PS4 more accessible for developers in terms of its architecture–a sentiment that is expressed for developers of casual indies to AAA blockbusters. In 2007 Sony did a post mortem on the PS3 to figure out what went right and what didn’t fit, and they started contacting developers to see what they wanted with the PS4, and along with this feedback and the other data Sony collected, the PS4 was built with devs in mind.
“We wanted the focus to be on the games that the creative directors wanted to make,” Cerny began, “rather than the minutiae of the hardware. That’s universal. That’s true whether you’re talking Destiny with their 700-strong team or you’re talking one guy doing everything. They want to focus on the creative vision.
That Sony has reached out to developers and utilized their feedback to build the PS4’s architecture speaks volumes for the company itself, and it’s refreshing to see after the PS3’s complex infrastructure.
Although the PS4 will be markedly more uncomplicated to develop games for, Cerny assures that the system still has its fair share of robust features that developers will be able to utilize for years to come:
“At the same time we have to balance that out with a rich feature set that they can use in the later years of the hardware. The hardware has to grow over time. That’s why I refer to it as a super-charged PC architecture – there’s more in it than what you find in a PC.
“There are all these customisations, such as what we did to the GPU and other parts of the system to ensure that they would really be these systems that programmers could dig into in year three or four of the console life-cycle.”
Cerny further elaborates that the more time that developers spend with the console, the better they will understand its dynamic infrastructure and “learn its secrets”–a point that is true for any console, but thanks to the PS4’s PC-like architecture, devs will have an advantage straight away:
“The developers really have a chance to study that architecture because it doesn’t change for many years. They can learn its secrets and get progressively better performance out of it. Consoles also provide a stable platform.
“This is really important because some developers need five years to create a game. The fact that during that five year period the target hardware doesn’t change really allows them to bring titles to the world that couldn’t exist otherwise.”
The PS4’s Lead Architect was also at this year’s Build Conference, delivering a keynote at the event centered around the PS4. Afterward he sat down with DigitalFoundry to answer a few questions, one of which aimed at the purported latency issues that may arise with the PS4’s bandwidth:
Digital Foundry: Developers tell us that they love the GDDR5, they love the bandwidth but there are questions on latency. How do you cope with that in your set-up? It’s not something that developers have much experience with in terms of interfacing with a CPU.
Mark Cerny: Latency in GDDR5 isn’t particularly higher than the latency in DDR3. Also, GPUs are designed to be extraordinarily latency tolerant so I can’t imagine that being much of a factor.
Sony Computer Entertainment President Andrew House has also recently spoken out on how the PS4 will bring Sony “back to its roots” by focusing on consumers and developers first.
It will be interesting to see what developers have to say regarding Cerny’s comments about the PS4 “offering more customization than PC”, especially since Sony tailored the console’s architecture to the wants and needs of the devs themselves.
With the PS4’s impressive specs and flexible architecture–along with a myriad of other features–it’s clear that Sony aims to bring a true next-gen experience to the gaming world. These aspects (along with its $399 price point) have contributed directly to Sony’s current dominion over Microsoft’s Xbox One, and the two contenders will exchange blows at every opportunity and gaming event up until each respective console’s holiday release.
In any case, we’ll likely hear more next month during this year’s Gamescom, where Sony may deliver an official release date for the PS4–which millions of gamers around the world have been anticipating for some time now.
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