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Former Harmonix developer shoots down PS3 tech in rant


A former developer at Harmonix, the team behind the hotly anticipated Rock Band, had some choice words against Sony's PS3 in his personal blog. His outrage comes as the most recent in many public outcries against Sony's next generation machine. He tackles so-called "misconceptions" that PS3 fans seem to have. Firstly, he says that the graphics capabilities of the machine have been misconstrued. "Fill rate is one of the primary ways to measure graphics performance - in essence, it's a number describing how many pixel operations you can perform. The fill rate on the PS3 is significantly slower than on the 360, meaning that games either have to run at lower resolution or use simpler shader effects to achieve the same performance ... And I'm not talking about small differences here, we're talking roughly half the pixel pushing power."

In regards to Blu-ray, the developer criticized the lower read speeds of the medium. "Great for watching movies, but not so great for games. Getting data off the Blu-ray drive takes about twice as long as it does to get the same data off the 360's DVD drive. That translates into longer load times."

The challenges that developers face when coding for the PS3 have inevitably led to "sloppier" ports, where the PS3 versions of games on Xbox 360 run more sluggishly. Jason Booth postulates that "Getting equivalent performance out of the PS3 requires a lot of work unique to the platform, and in many cases, even with all these tricks, you still won't see equivalent performance. Thus, many PS3 games have simplified shaders and run at lower native resolutions than the 360 versions. On top of this, there is shrinking incentive to do this work; the PS3 isn't selling."

[Via NeoGAF]
[Update: Added "former" to description of employee.]

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Reader Comments

(Page 1)

1. If its so bad, then why do exclusive PS3 games look sooo damn good?

IMHO, PS3 exclusives look better than 360 exclusives.

But thats just my take, what the hell do I know? I'm just a naive consumer at the end of the day.

Posted at 10:34AM on Oct 26th 2007 by finelicker

2. If that's true, how come Halo 3 runs at a measly 640p?

Posted at 10:36AM on Oct 26th 2007 by Jevanzz

3. How does this guy even know?

It's ROCK BAND...I don't think they were pushing any graphical limits on ANY console were they?

Posted at 10:38AM on Oct 26th 2007 by Kspraydad

4. yeah kinda stupid to say you're doing a bad job.

Posted at 10:41AM on Oct 26th 2007 by Just me..

5. Both xbox and PS3 are great systems, the billbox has had its issues hardware wise along with DVD capacity (blue dragon on 3 discs anyone) the PS3 has its issues with slow uptake, lack of good games and the high price.

Pretty soon we will all know if PS3 fanboyage is a good thing Xmas will be the test.

Posted at 10:43AM on Oct 26th 2007 by Benjamizzle

6. In the comments for this article: PS3 fanboys pretend they know more than developers.

Posted at 10:44AM on Oct 26th 2007 by Hello

7. Oi, Benjamizzle, get off that fence, this website says ps3fanboy in the address. You'll follow the black behemoth like the rest of us. ;)

Posted at 10:45AM on Oct 26th 2007 by finelicker

8. It is like learning a new programing language for those guys. He is probably pissed because he is probably getting paid the same and not he is more stressed trying to learn the new tools. I guess that would suck for me too. But eventually they will learn it and really see the power of the PS3 like the exclusive titles are showing.

Posted at 10:46AM on Oct 26th 2007 by Anghel

9. Well, there goes some more negative press for Sony and it doesn't surprise me at all. It's true I don't remember how RockBand would push the power of the PS3 and what graphically impressive games have Harmonix came out with beside GH1/2? I think this guy is way out to lunch because right now I am playing Heavenly Sword running at 720p and it looks amazing....and it's a first year title.


Don't worry fellow PS3 fans next year will be huge and it's not our fault we get lazy developers that make brutal ports on the PS3.

Posted at 10:49AM on Oct 26th 2007 by SlantSeven

10. OK then, so why does Gran Turismo 5, MGS4 and Killzone 2 look better than anything on any other console?

Stupid EA, they really have no idea.

Posted at 10:52AM on Oct 26th 2007 by Naaiif

11. I seriously doubt anybody criticizing this guy is qualified to do so. Seriously, I have high hopes for the PS3 as a platform, but the news gets bleaker and bleaker every day. In my eyes, I still haven't seen the killer app for PS3 that will actually get me around to buying my first game. For now, my PS3 is only good as a blu-ray player. I'd hate to see this platform fail, as a lot of us have hopes and money invested into it. But let's not delude ourselves. Sony hasn't proven this platform yet. And it certainly isn't the premiere platform for gaming.

Yes, and I know I'm going to get flamed for this. But there's no sense in defending something, especially since none of us have ever tried to develop a game for the PS3.

Posted at 10:53AM on Oct 26th 2007 by wei

12. Love how everyone calls them "lazy developers" because they complain. Let's use a real word example everyone can understand.

You drive to work every day, it takes 30 minutes.

Now your boss (PS3) tells you that you now have to drive 15 minutes, and take 2 buses(we'll use carpooling as the motivation). It costs you more money, and it takes you an hour to get to work.

Wouldn't you be complaining? Something you're used to doing with no problem every day, then they go and tell you to do it entirely different, it's much more difficult, and it costs more.

I almost feel bad for the vicious circle that Sony/Ps3 devs are in. PS3 won't tell well until they get the games, developers don't want to make games because the install base is low and it's so difficult to program on.

Posted at 10:59AM on Oct 26th 2007 by Frank

13. It’s not like Rock Band and Guitar Hero are pumping out amazing top-of-the-line graphics or anything. When has Harmonix made a graphically intensive game?
Why is Blu-ray read speeds such a big deal, especially for a low graphic music intensive game? The Playstation 3 ships all units with a STANDARD Hard-Disk Drive. UTILIZE IT YOU LAZY DEVELOPERS. A HDD will be faster than any DVD drive.
If resolutions have to be lower than 360 games, why do many games look so amazing on the PS3? Why does Oblivion load and look better on the PS3 than the 360? Why couldn’t the 360 run Halo 3, the 360’s FLAGSHIP TITLE, at full 720p? It couldn’t handle it apparently and had to have the resolution dropped.
The Playstation 3 is amazing hardware and many developers have said it’s the best, but of course lazy developers wanting to make quick ports will be shedding bitter tears because they can’t hit the EASY BUTTON.

Posted at 11:00AM on Oct 26th 2007 by blindrocket

14. By the way...he is an EX Harmonix member...I wonder why.

Posted at 11:01AM on Oct 26th 2007 by Kspraydad

15. Thank God I own both...

TheSh0wstopper

Posted at 11:02AM on Oct 26th 2007 by TheSh0wstopper

16. According to wikipedia :

RSX - Maximum pixel fillrate: 4.4 GigaPixel per second (8 ROPs * 550 MHz)

Xenos - Maximum pixel fillrate: 4 Gigapixel per second (8 ROPs x 500 MHz)

Posted at 11:09AM on Oct 26th 2007 by H-V-H

17. @6, Hello.

Maybe next you should learn about Jason. He's an amateur developer more interested in music and start-ups. He's just recently taken up programing. Sounds like the typical amateur that is clearly over his head and then just rants about it. :(

@11, wei,

You need to look around. Maybe you'll find some videos on UT3, R&C, Uncharted.

Posted at 11:14AM on Oct 26th 2007 by GL

18. Harmonix BS fillrate: 436 turds per second

Posted at 11:14AM on Oct 26th 2007 by rawd

19. To Blindrocket -

The reason Halo runs at 720p (actually, it runs lower, but anyways..) is because the game engine is an out-dated piece of trash. Rather than make a new engine, Bungie merely updated the Halo 2 engine to use in Halo 3. Now THAT'S what I call a lazy developer. The end result was an engine that wasn't able to handle all of the bloom effects and HDR lighting that they tossed in to hide their underwhelming polygon counts.

Bottom line: Halo 3 may be the flagship title in sales and online activity, but it is FAR from the flagship title in graphical prowess.

Gears of War and Bioshock, however, look absolutely gorgeous running in 1080p. Those are both fantastic examples of what the 360 can do, graphically.

As for Oblivion, it runs better on the PS3 due to the guaranteed inclusion of a hard drive. The developers had to cache into memory more on the 360 because of the stupid Core SKU.

Now, to counter your argument, why didn't Heavenly Sword run at 1080p? What about Virtua Fighter 5, which runs at 720p on the PS3, but will support 1080p on the 360?

I'm gonna get totally flamed and hated-on for this post, but I really don't care. Yes, I own a 360, but I also own a PS3. And I have been let-down enough by my PS3s performance to start believing what all of the developers are saying about it. It's a great piece of hardware, guys, I just don't think it's one that properly optimized for gaming.

Posted at 11:17AM on Oct 26th 2007 by Ithilis

20. His comment about PS3 need a specific coding technique which is hard to master(or even learn) is understandable. But the part where he is saying that PS3 is worse than 360 is just intolerable. I mean, in term of raw power from the specs that PS3 have, it is more advanced than 360. Maybe not in term of graphic(they are roughly the same), but in term of Cell processor to produce a better AI, better physics, and better GAMEPLAY.

Posted at 11:17AM on Oct 26th 2007 by andiputra7

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