Guerrilla Games’ technical director Michiel Van Der Leeuw has dismissed the notion that PS4 is little more than a high-end PC, suggesting that those describing the console that way are ‘trolls’ and ‘fanboys’.
Speaking in an interview to be published in E253, on sale Thursday, Van Der Leeuw explained that his studio was heavily involved in the creation of PS4’s arcitecture, and while it might be more PC-like than its predecessor, it is still very much a games console.
Referring to those calling PS4 a PC in a fancier box, he said: “That’s difficult because people are trolling, right. What do you say to a troll? You don’t feed the trolls, that’ll make them grow.”
“I mean, it has always been a piece of high-end hardware that we put in a box, we find exactly the right components that complement each other and make a really good gaming experience. This is exactly the same thing – it is a console. The fact that the best pieces of hardware are also devised from, or optimised versions of, the stuff we find in PCs doesn’t make it any less a console. I can imagine if you find people with a vested interest to say PC gaming has won, they will find lots of great arguments in the fact that we use some of the same parts. But you know that’s just fanboys on the internet, I guess.”
Van Der Leeuw went on to explain the differences between PS4 and a high-powered PC. “A PC is a number of parts which also has bridges in between where there are inefficiencies that may not be exactly the right match. We’ve got the right amount of memory, video card, everything balanced out. I know it was a very conscious effort to make sure that, with the speed of the memory, the amount of compute units, the speed of the hard-drive that we put in, that there would not be any bottlenecks. So the amount of pixel-pushers that you have, the amount of memory, the speed of your compute units make sure that you don’t hit any of the weakspots of the hardware.”
This balancing of PS4’s architecture and the use of complementary components make it simpler to work with, said Van Der Leeuw. “Whereas if you have a PC very often your buffs, or your express buffs are very slow compared to your video RAM which is GDDR5 and your main RAM then is even slower than that, but you compensate by sticking buffers in there… there’s a lot of things to contemplate in the fact that it is a replaceable-parts architecture. This [PS4] is where all of the parts are designed to work together, naturally.”
He added that Guerrilla was part of a constant iteration process with PS4’s innards. Guerrilla made at least five different major changes to the graphics chip, CPU and on the bandwidth between the different components, to define and then eliminate any disruption in performance.
“I think it was for more than a year that we knew the main ingredients and there was just discussion after discussion trying to find a bottleneck,” he added. “We actually had parts of both Killzone 3 and very early Killzone 4 art assets running through simulators to try to find out how it would behave on our speculative hardware that didn’t exist – trying to find bottlenecks in the hardware that we could fix before we could even think about the chip.”
You can read more about how the Killzone studio shaped Sony’s next console in the new issue of Edge magazine, on sale Thursday. You can buy or subscribe to Edge magazine in print, on iPad, on Google Play and through Zinio.
You can also find out how fellow firstparty Sony studio Evolution influenced the design of PS4’s DualShock 4 pad through the link.