The Whole PS3 Debacle

Veteran TPS staffer Robbie Otal collects some of the more recent happenings with Sony's multi-core beast.
Published: January 12, 2006
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Well now that I have time, its time to talk about the current mess with the PlayStation 3. Rumors began over at Kotaku on December 30th, that the PS3 was "riddled" with issues, and that a delay was very likely. The scoop came in from an industry insider going by the name "Fishie", who claimed that he got some hands-on time with the PS3 behind closed doors. Fishie started by proclaiming that there was no way this machine would be arriving by March, stating that the games "just aren't there" and that there were lots of other issues that he couldn't divulge at the time. While Fishie's credibility could have been called into question, Kotaku defended the scooper, saying that Fishie also managed to get several scoops about the XBox 360 prior to its launch -- all of which turned out to be dead on facts when the system was launched in November.


The very next day, Kotaku posted a follow-up to the previous story, this time speaking with yet another individual -- this one working for a developer for the PS3. The scooper, referred to as "In The Know", claimed that Sony would have to scramble hard if it wanted to make its supposed Spring 2006 release date. He also claimed that the current lineup of games for the PS3 were "way off". Originally, the scooper believed that the system would be relatively easy to program for, given how long it had taken Epic Games to come up with their Unreal demo at the 2005 Electronic Entertainment Expo.

But "In The Know" went on to explain that Unreal was only a demo, and that full featured games proved to be exceedingly more difficult to produce than anticipated. He then used an example, in this case the rendering of a butterfly running in high-definition at 60 frames-per-second using the PS3 hardware (at this point Kotaku theorized that the scooper was actually referring to the upcoming game Lair, currently in development for the PS3 by Factor 5). "In The Know" explained that when making the butterfly controllable by the user (rather than keeping it as a random uncontrollable element within the gameworld), the game's engine would suddenly experience all types of problems before the user even touched the controller. He explained that the developers would then need to go back to their code, to begin optimizing certain elements and changing various parameters so that the engine wouldn't "break" in this manner.

He then used another example, this time taking an analogy from a car. He started with a 350 horsepower engine (presumably referring to the Cell processor), which would run successfully at 350 horsepower on its own. Now, take the motor and place it within a car and utilize faulty screws (presumably referring to actually utilizing the Cell processor within the PS3), and of course you wind up in a situation where the car would be torn apart by the sheer power of the engine. The scooper claimed that this sort of problem was essentially affecting every game being produced for the PS3, but not before claiming that Microsoft also had similar problems in the past with the XBox 360.

"In The Know" finally makes the mention that Sony miscalculated the added complexities within the Cell infrastructure, and the adverse effects that would be created within the development cycle. The scooper again mentions how Microsoft had similar problems with the 360, and apparently this was why many of the 360 launch titles didn't showcase the true power of that console, making many of the games look more akin to "XBox 1.5" software rather than a true upgrade. The scooper ended the interview with Kotaku by telling readers that they should check out in-game footage from a game known as Fatal Inertia, which apparently happens to be the only true in-game footage of PS3 code in action.
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