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PS4 "not designed in an ivory tower", is a console "for gamers by gamers"

Ben Parfitt
PS4

Sony went to extraordinary efforts to ensure that the PS4 was designed precisely as developers wanted.

"We've been very closely involved in the development of the machine," Guerrilla Games co-founder Herman Hulst told The Guardian. "We've had [PS4 system architect] Mark Cerny over several times. We got the entire group of core developers together and gave deep feedback on everything system-related.

“It's no longer designed in an Ivory tower somewhere in Tokyo, it's shared with us, with Naughty Dog, with Sony San Diego – and together we've built the machine.

“As Mark said at one point during the launch event, it's a console for gamers by gamers."

The ivory tower reference, of course, stems from the frustration created by PS3 uniquely odd architecture. Much like the PS2 before it, the machine was the creation of former PlayStation boss Ken Kuturagi.

It eschewed established hardware designs in favour of a bespoke approach that, while powerful in the hands of studios like Guerrilla, was a nightmare for others – particularly when porting games designed for the PC and Xbox 360.

It required extra learning and extra resource to get as game on PS3 and that became harder to justify when most titles shift in higher numbers on Microsoft’s Xbox 360.
All of which will be a thing of the past come the PS4.

"This platform is great to work on because of the PC-like architecture," Hulst added. "It's very easy for the engineers to get their heads around. We had the game up and running very early.

“We've now had two and a half years of development time, which was about what I'd want for a title of this scope – and the team size is about 150 people, it's only a little bigger than Killzone 3. We've invested a lot in tools, and in various clever ways of having more and more detailed assets, but tools are the key - we're getting smarter."

Furthermore, Killzone: Shadowfall game director Steven Ter Heide disagrees with the likes of BioWare who argue that the next-gen leap will less noticeable than in the past.

Indeed, he argues that we’re in for a more dramatic leap than the one we saw seven years ago.

"If you look at the transition between PS2 and PS3 and the launch titles on the latter machine, then look at the launch titles for PS4, I think you'll see a much more impressive leap in quality," he believes.

"I think the console and the ability for us to work with it has shown that we can make that leap much faster – we as developers are much closer to the insides of the thing."

Studios were even involved in the design of the new-look Dualshock 4 controller, with Evolution Studios’ Matt Southerns adding: "One of the most positive parts of the development was the work on the controller.

"We all had a secret meeting after E3 last summer and shared our own prototypes, we called it our science fair! There was lots of very open feedback and constructive criticism from a wide variety of studios. That was important because it meant we could build a controller that was a design classic but also embraced a new age."

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Tags: gamers , playstation 4 , PS4 , developers , studios , ivory tower

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