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4 Developers on the PS4

by William Schwartz

PS4-box

With the PlayStation 4 arriving in a couple of months, it’s always interesting to hear from developers what they think of the hardware, and where they plan to take it. So Famitsu asked four developers (Shinji Mikami, Naoki Yoshida, Mark Cerny and Yu Yokogawa) those questions and their answers are positive, if not surprising.

Shinji MikamiThe Evil Within

When asked about the PS4’s features and specs he replied, “Actually, I haven’t fully grasped [the PS4’s specs]. In this day and age, for me, the evolution of engines and dev tools is more important to the development side than the evolution of the hardware. Naturally, the hardware has advanced a lot and as a frame is superb. But the important part is the engine and tools. And in the end, the most important part is the human element and the quality born from the developers. These days, because of the advancement of hardware, the development environment and skills are put into question. In that manner, it’s become much harder.”

Considering the amount of praise Sony has received for making the PS4 easier to develop for, it was a little surprising to hear Mikami say, “To be honest, we’re still finding our feet with it. It’s no longer the era where you can understand a piece of hardware by making just one game for it, so I think we’ll come to see its merits as we grow accustomed to developing for it.”

Finally, when pressed if the PlayStation 4 allowed him to achieve his vision, he replied, “I believe [the PS4] has allowed me to focus on the details. By piling up individual bits of ‘it can do this,’ ‘it can do that,’ the overall visual grade has increased. Details and reality are important for the horror genre. Even in a fictitious world, if you show visuals with reality in them, you begin to think that ‘such a world is possible.’ I feel that the next-gen hardware has raised the bar on expression in this respect.”

Naoki Yoshida – Final Fantasy XIV

When asked about his favorite part of the PS4, he replied, “Definitely the high memory capacity. It’s a never-ending battle with memory capacity for us, so having that is a big relief. Of course just because it’s a relief doesn’t mean things are easier. By increasing the memory, the freedom of design and expression increases. Characters and maps can be displayed in high quality. The SHARE button, the remote play capabilities, and the companion apps all allow for more freedom. It feels like the PS4 is saying to us, ‘I’ve prepared an amusement park for you. Here is some equipment, too. How you put it all together and what you express is up to you.’ So the next thing for us is to squeeze out an idea. In that way, the PS4 has made things easier but also challenges us.”

When asked what he’s been able to achieve with the PS4 he said, “As an MMORPG, Final Fantasy XIV is a world shared by thousands of players, and by seeing numerous high-quality characters on the screen at the same time, you can really come to understand how fun it is. The PS4 is a high-spec machine so we’re making use of its abilities to their full extent in the number of displayable characters and the individual quality of the character models.”

Mark Cerny – Knack

When asked on how he felt developing for the PS4 compared to previous generations he replied, “Making a test program and trying it out on the PS4 is easy. [Knack] requires physics calculations for 5,000 individual parts. With previous hardware, making a program for such calculations would have been extremely time consuming, but with the PS4, it’s relatively easy and allowed us to simply ‘make it and try it out.’ You have an idea, you try it out, and if it’s good, you keep it, if it’s not, you think of something else. This cycle has been accelerated as a result. By shortening this cycle, I believe PS4 games can be richer.”

Yu Yokogawa The Playroom

When asked about the Dual Shock 4 controller he replied, “When we were making the DualShock 4, we conducted research and development into the concept ‘What should we add or remove to make this controller more fun?’. We made assorted demo units, and as we tested out the controller’s functions and thought about what we could make with this assoted [sic] neat stuff, The Playroom became the result. What you see now is the fruit of a great deal of experimentation.”

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