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Criterion: Nobody has ever "maxed out a console"

Criterion: Nobody has ever "maxed out a console"

Criterion Studios' says that anyone who claims to be maxing out a console is only proving that they aren't the best.

Last week Electronic Arts executive Patrick Soderlund claimed that the publisher was already reaching the limits of what the Xbox 360 could do and has pretty much maxed out the console. EA-owned Criterion Studios reckons differently though.

Speaking to Eurogamer recently, Criterion's Technical Director Richard Parr said instead that making claims like that only proves one thing; that you're not the best. According to Parr, if you think that you've completely maxed out any computer system then "It means you're out of ideas."

The sentiment was echoed by other technical bods from the Burnout: Paradise developer, including Senior Engineer Alex Fry, who said that there's no point in even making such claims.

"You always find new ways to do things, the constraints lift. Not just with a new console generation but with every game you do," said Fry. "The constraints go away because you learn. While it's nice to say you've maxed something out, there's not really any point."

Not only did Criterion take the point that the technical limitations of any system were always changing, but so were the actual designs of games and developers were constantly able to create better game experiences, as well as graphics.

Who do you think is right? Is it ever possible to reach an absolute system on what a console can do? Let us know your thoughts in the forums.

27 Comments

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p3n 15th June 2009, 11:11 Quote
The 360's GPU is definitely not going to learn any new tricks, devs can learn sneakier ways of clipping draw distance etc but its still 2 generations old now.
[USRF]Obiwan 15th June 2009, 11:31 Quote
Yo Patrick! Ever seen the demoscene tv and what is possible with just 4KB.
liratheal 15th June 2009, 11:39 Quote
He's right - It's a PR stunt at best - What does EA like?

PR.

Surprises anywhere?

Nope.
Krikkit 15th June 2009, 11:43 Quote
What a load of rubbish the EA claims are - look at how much devs managed to get from the PS2 before it died. That's a console which is fairly limited, but there were amazing-looking games produced for it for a long long time.
Veles 15th June 2009, 11:58 Quote
Quote:
Who do you think is right? Is it ever possible to reach an absolute system on what a console can do?

While it is possible to max out a system, it requires a perfectly crafted game, which is pretty much impossible. All games have flaws which can be improved to make them run better, because it's simply not possible to create one without them. The only thing that can happen is you get closer and closer to perfection.
Goty 15th June 2009, 12:09 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Krikkit
What a load of rubbish the EA claims are - look at how much devs managed to get from the PS2 before it died. That's a console which is fairly limited, but there were amazing-looking games produced for it for a long long time.

That's because the PS2 (like another console I could name) was very hard to code for and it took devs a long time unlock its full potential.
popcornuk1983 15th June 2009, 12:28 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Goty
That's because the PS2 (like another console I could name) was very hard to code for and it took devs a long time unlock its full potential.

Its the same for today's generation of consoles. If you look at the games that were released when the 360 and PS3 first came out and compare them to games that are soon to be released (Batman, Ghostbusters, Alan Wake, Mass effect 2 etc) then it obvious that it takes time to get to know a new system and how to correctly optimize it.

But EA claiming that it's already maxed out......Rubbish!!
tejas 15th June 2009, 12:50 Quote
Hmm I think EA Criterion are talking horsecrap. EA DICE's (Patrick Soderlund's studio)most recent game Mirrors Edge looks and plays(graphically and gameplaywise) a hell of a lot better than Burnout Paradise. Burnout paradise while a great fun game looks like it is built on the GTA 3 graphics engine (Renderware).

I'm sure that Epic also said something similar about Gears of War 2 being the prime example of pushing the X360 to its limits. Ubisoft also said that they could not push the X360 more than in Farcry 2.
sandys 15th June 2009, 12:59 Quote
You could easily max out a machine on your first few iterations of an engine but if you are continually improving that engine, reducing memory footprint, tweaking routines etc, then you will get more out of the engine for the same level of usage of a previous iteration of an engine, I doubt anyone's game engine is ever anywhere near 80% efficient let alone 100% even if they think it is.

Thing with a console is that the hardware is what it is, there are no hardware upgrades available to accommodate for sloppy programmers with inefficient code, so developers have to come up with new ways of doing things in the hardware they have, as time goes on new ways of doing things will be developed, this will be the same for 360 or PS3 though I think you will only ever see the best stuff from console exclusives where you can focus one set of hardware limitations rather than a compromise for all.

Criteron did a great job on Burnout, the engine is fast and fairly well detailed, neither platform suffered from the porting issues a lot of EA annual updates seem to have either, Criterion led on PS3 with that title unlike most others devs those giving some credence to claims that it is easier to go PS3 > 360 than 360 > PS3, probably due to more limitations on the PS3 with lower powered GPU when doing multiplatform and not wanting to load up SPUs with stuff that won't be so portable across platforms at a guess.
technogiant 15th June 2009, 14:54 Quote
I would imagine it is the same as most things on release of a new platform we will see improvements happening in what the developers can happening rapidly....but the number and impact of those developments will decrease logarithmically with time.
So you never get to a point where the console is maxed out but the number of inovations and their impact lessen.
benjamyn 15th June 2009, 15:11 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by tejas
Hmm I think EA Criterion are talking horsecrap. EA DICE's (Patrick Soderlund's studio)most recent game Mirrors Edge looks and plays(graphically and gameplaywise) a hell of a lot better than Burnout Paradise. Burnout paradise while a great fun game looks like it is built on the GTA 3 graphics engine (Renderware).

I'm sure that Epic also said something similar about Gears of War 2 being the prime example of pushing the X360 to its limits. Ubisoft also said that they could not push the X360 more than in Farcry 2.

What a load of bullshit.

Burnout Paradise came out Jan 2008 and looks brilliant, not the best looking game on the market but neither is Mirrors edge.

Mirrors edge uses the Unreal engine 3 however as opposed to an in-houe built engine.
B1GBUD 15th June 2009, 15:25 Quote
Sloppy programmers... nuff said
salesman 15th June 2009, 16:11 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by B1GBUD
Sloppy programmers... nuff said

EA make a good game and I'll believe you.
dylAndroid 15th June 2009, 16:57 Quote
One could make a good case about there being dimenishing returns on developing further graphical improvements. At some point, the amount of cost needed to significantly improve the graphics, or other part of the system, will be projected to be just to high to be worth the expected improvement.

In such a case, one could say they've maxed out what they expect to get from a set system.
Xir 15th June 2009, 18:43 Quote
well....no. There are definitely limits to what a given console can do.

Otherwise with enough brains behind it Ione could make an Atari2600 look like a PS3...
bagman 15th June 2009, 20:27 Quote
what a load of rubbish they have maxed out the xbox 360, but they havent maxed out the pc, if xbox 360 say has a 7900gtx and we all have 260 gtx there is obvioslily more power to come form pc grahics i don't understand how 360 graphics can be quite good with 7900gtx when we play with much more powerful gpu's what is going on? max out pc and then we will be able to see what it is caperble of
VipersGratitude 15th June 2009, 21:03 Quote
An awesome article that might give some insight to what exactly the argument is about - http://edusworld.org/ew/ficheros/2006/paginasWeb/making_of_sotc.html
Elton 15th June 2009, 22:05 Quote
Props to Criterion, they proved it with the PS2.

Look at Burnout Dominator and Black...

Bloody beautiful.
tejas 15th June 2009, 22:28 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by benjamyn
Quote:
Originally Posted by tejas
Hmm I think EA Criterion are talking horsecrap. EA DICE's (Patrick Soderlund's studio)most recent game Mirrors Edge looks and plays(graphically and gameplaywise) a hell of a lot better than Burnout Paradise. Burnout paradise while a great fun game looks like it is built on the GTA 3 graphics engine (Renderware).

I'm sure that Epic also said something similar about Gears of War 2 being the prime example of pushing the X360 to its limits. Ubisoft also said that they could not push the X360 more than in Farcry 2.

What a load of bullshit.

Burnout Paradise came out Jan 2008 and looks brilliant, not the best looking game on the market but neither is Mirrors edge.

Mirrors edge uses the Unreal engine 3 however as opposed to an in-houe built engine.

Now now it seems that you are a Criterion employee no? I am simply pointing out that Mirrors Edge is graphically superior to Burnout Paradise. Thus in fact EA DICE have done a better job at maxing out the Xbox 360 with a third party engine like UE3 than EA Criterion means that Criterion should shut the hell up. The EA CEO John Riccitiello should really step in and say something imho as DICE as far more valuable to EA than Criterion. Frankly DICE make better games too...
Frohicky1 15th June 2009, 23:47 Quote
Nice link VipersGratitude ;) what a game.
Aragon Speed 16th June 2009, 07:52 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Krikkit
What a load of rubbish the EA claims are - look at how much devs managed to get from the PS2 before it died. That's a console which is fairly limited, but there were amazing-looking games produced for it for a long long time.

Never mind the PS 2, look at some early and late games for the original PS.
Bauul 16th June 2009, 10:49 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by technogiant
I would imagine it is the same as most things on release of a new platform we will see improvements happening in what the developers can happening rapidly....but the number and impact of those developments will decrease logarithmically with time.
So you never get to a point where the console is maxed out but the number of inovations and their impact lessen.

This.

It's possible to push hardware to crazy levels. I've seen a guy get Doom 3 to work (fluidly) on a Voodoo 2. The point is it gets increasingly more difficult to get set levels of improvements from the same hardware.

To look at it another way, if you took even a simple room in UE3, with no graphical trickery or special effects, and tried to recreate it perfectly in Quake 2, the engine (and the hardware powering it) would fall over and die. All the super-computers in the world couldn't make the Quake 2 engine display soft lighting like the UE3 engine can. It's the software, not the hardware, that often dictates what's possible graphics wise.

Perfect example: Crysis on Low looks the same as Far Cry did on High, but runs smoother on the same hardware.
benjamyn 16th June 2009, 12:34 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by salesman
EA make a good game and I'll believe you.



Mirror's Edge
Dead Space
Burnout Paradise
Rock Band 1 + 2
Boom Blox
Crysis: Warhead
Battlefield: Bad Company (Didn't like it myself but has a high metacritic score)

not enough high quality titles for you to believe then?
Defiant306 17th June 2009, 00:57 Quote
Its all crap, the games are only as good as the programming in them. While hardware platforms differ the game is only as good as the coding that made it. Sorry there is some stunning games out there, but a lot of them run like crap. Crysis for one, give it 4-5 years down the line and it will still play like a dog. its like a massive SUV with an blotted engine and structure that drinks power because it doesnt know what efficence is.

One game I have always admired more than any other game so far is Half Life 2, for the games age its still looks good and it runs very good on a wide range of PC specs. Thats how to make a game in my view. I honestly cant wait for HL2 Ep3 cause the way Value are shutup tight about the engine for the game has me excited.
Defiant306 17th June 2009, 00:59 Quote
EA Publisher - Crap and interfering, same for activision.
Studios working for EA = Mixed, some good and some bad.
bobwya 17th June 2009, 17:58 Quote
"One game I have always admired more than any other game so far is Half Life 2, for the games age its still looks good and it runs very good on a wide range of PC specs. Thats how to make a game in my view."

Also works out of the box on Wine (very nicely in fact) in GNU/Linux unlike most EA DRM-ridden s***...

Bob
b5k 17th June 2009, 22:35 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Veles
While it is possible to max out a system, it requires a perfectly crafted game, which is pretty much impossible.
I'll say one thing to this. Crysis. I have a theory that the reason the game is so "demanding" on systems (come on, the graphics are GOOD but not that good) is that it's been badly written. The same was true of Far Cry and you could see it. The game was held together with duct tape ffs. :p
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