If you've been reading the site over the past week or so, you've undoubtedly seen some of our posts talking about an exclusive interview with Techland COO, Pawel Zawodny. We've promised to post the interview in its entirety soon and luckily for you "soon" is now. In it, Zawodny talks a lot about next gen consoles and how they could change the industry.
Game On: When a developer like yourselves are approached about developing for next-generation consoles, what are some immediate changes or adjustments that the studio needs to make?
Pawel Zawodny: If you develop your own expandable, multi-platform technology, designed for future expandability, there are no sudden changes at the studio level when you are starting development for next-generation consoles. What's really important is not to suddenly change your mindset and try to fix things that aren’t broken, because you can easily fall into the "10-times more RAM, 5-times faster CPU" trap. Such thinking leads to poorly optimized solutions in the production pipeline of game content. It is easy to then waste the potential of new platforms, rather than harness them. Of course the pipeline itself has to be adjusted to the capabilities of new platforms, which can be quite expensive. Certainly, in my opinion this cannot be rushed into.
GO: What types of immediate costs does a developer incur when the company decides to commit to the next-generation of gaming development? What is the biggest adjustment that a gaming studio has to make when transitioning into the next-generation of gaming?
PZ: Two areas can be distinguished here. The first one is the technology, where of course you need additional resources to support new consoles, new ways of game build development process, QA resources to perform testing etc. It includes of course the cost of hardware development kits, which aren't in the bargain bin. The second area are the gameplay features in products. Here everything depends on the developer's ambitions and the specific design of these features. Regarding the upcoming generation of platforms the field is big and clear. Social features and companion apps require special development teams and these teams require extensive QA and technical support for specific devices.
Certainly a large adjustment to the studio is the aforementioned change in the content development pipeline. Depending on the type of games that are currently in production, additional costs can be generated by the new pipeline and more expensive ways to acquire specific assets can occur.
GO: How far in advance did Techland know they would be developing a game for next-generation consoles?
PZ: There has never been any doubt, that as soon as a new generation of consoles appears, a new iteration of our primary titles would be published. From the moment we receive sufficient information, work on a new generation begins. When we started work specific to the current next generation must remain a mystery.
GO: With the development you all have done so far, what type of a feeling is there from the standpoint of maximizing the PS4 and Xbox One performance? How long will it take for developers to master development on these next-generation consoles? Do you think it'll be sooner than what the previous generation provided?
PZ: Techland as a developer of its own proprietary technology has never been afraid of the challenges associated with it. From the beginning we saw the opportunity to harness the technology to the type of games we produce, and optimize for specific hardware platforms. We look on the optimizing process as an opportunity for our company to gain an advantage over other developers rather than a chore.
Yes, we believe that this time console developers will push for maximum, or near maximum performance much sooner than the previous generation. Xbox 360 & PS3 introduced to game development multi-threading, which in those days was really in its infancy on PC, particularly in computer games. Developers have now been using it for a long time. Creating a game engine architecture that can scale well with increasing the number of cores is really a big challenge, and high-performance multi-threading on PS3 was rather complicated. It was this difference in architecture of the previous generation that provided the motivation to create flexible, scalable technology that will now spread its wings with the new generation.
GO: When you all thought about what a game could be for the next-generation, what genres and styles of games immediately came to mind? Was Dying Light a game that just needed to wait for next-generation consoles to arrive or could it in theory have been made for the current generation consoles (assuming the Xbox One and PS4 were not around)?
PZ: Dying Light will also be available on X360 and PS3, so it isn't a matter of theory. It won’t surprise you that the best quality of graphics in Dying Light will be achieved on XO and PS4 (and on high-end PCs as well). Regardless of platform, we consider Dying Light as a next-generation gameplay experience.
GO: With the Xbox One and PS4, how will development be quicker and/or more efficient than it was with the Xbox 360 and PS3? Will game delays always be something we see happen or will these new systems help developers hit their deadlines more often?
PZ: We do not believe that game development delays happen due to the complexity of the production platform, or the complexity of publishing games on them. Delays are always caused by the realization of the project, frequently inflated by developer ambitions to make a perfect product. A new generation of consoles likely won’t change anything. Obviously there will be a period in which creating good games dedicated to next-gen consoles (excluding older), will be easier than ever, but the fast-paced competition in exploiting the full potential of these consoles will quickly erode the differences.
You've made it to the end! We'd like to thank Zawodny and Techland for taking the time to talk with us and we hope you enjoyed our coverage. Make sure to read more about their upcoming title Dying Light here. And as always, give us a like on Facebook and a follow on Twitter to stay up to date on all of our upcoming news, interviews, previews, giveaways, and more!