Star Citizen + Mantle + Linux
Good neeews everybody!
I figured it was best to post this in its own thread instead of one of the many "Star Citizen on PS4, the sky is falling!" threads that sprung up this weekend after a PS4 devkit was spied in background on Jason Spangler (our CTOs) desk.
While some could view the 1+1 = 256 logic that it required to come to the conclusion that we were ditching the PC for PS4 as an overreaction it does show how passionate everyone is in this community about the PC as the best gaming platform, which warms my heart!
So let me say this.
Star Citizen IS a PC game. It will NEVER be dumbed down for a lesser platform. We will NOT limit the input options or supported peripherals to the lowest common denominator. We will NOT pass on features and technology just because they will only run on some hardware configurations.
I just upgraded my office rig to a pair of Titans running in SLI, driving a 4K monitor and a 1440P one (Thanks NVidia for the goodies!). We’re about ready to build the ultimate AMD rig with FOUR R9 290Xs and AMD’s eight core CPU driving a set of 4K monitors in Eyefinity (Thanks AMD!)
You think that’s a good approximation for console, even a next gen one like PS4 or Xbox One?
I LOVE the PC as a platform because it is open, is always moving forward, with new powerful components (usually at cheaper prices) becoming available to gamers available every year. A $3,000 high end PC gaming rig of today wipes the floor of dedicated graphics supercomputers costing over $1M 10 years ago. People were amazed at being able to get Giga flops of performance. Now we can obtain over 5 TERA flops on a single PCI-E GPU!!! The PC platform is great because it isn't static. It doesn't have rules or some controlling entity that decides what will and won’t be in the eco system. If a cool new disruptive technology like the Oculus Rift comes along it can have a chance to gain traction and become the next big thing.
Because of this Star Citizen will always be primarily a PC game and will embrace the best and newest tech.
Some of you may have seen that we announced our intention to support AMD’s Mantle with Star Citizen. We didn't do this because AMD sends us lots of high cards (although that doesn’t hurt). We are doing this because it increases the ability of a PC to get the most out of its incredibly powerful hardware. Going to the hardware without an huge inefficient API like DirectX allows us to radically increase the number of draw calls in a frame – At last week’s AMD developer conference Nitrous, which is a new company working on a next gen PC engine, demoed a scene with over 100,000 drawcalls per frame running at over 60 FPS through Mantle. To put that in context last gen stuff (and a bunch of PC games gated by DirectX) have been stuck around 2,000 - 3,000 drawcalls and next gen consoles (like PS4) can do 10,000 - 15,000 or so. We’re supporting Mantle to push PC graphics performance higher – it’s been gated too long by DirectX’s inefficiency and abstraction, which has only gotten worse as Microsoft becomes less interested in the PC as a gaming platform. I would love NVidia and Intel to have Mantle drivers (as the API is designed to be non GPU architecture specific) but if not we would support NVidia or Intel drivers that would allow us to get to the metal (GPU Hardware) efficiently and take advantage of parallelism in CPU cores (for efficient batching of data between the game and the GPU).
This is ironically the advantage the next gen consoles have like PS4 and Xbox One – they abstract the low level hardware much less, so what is essentially a mid-level gaming PC of today (which are what the PS4 and Xbox One specs are) punches above its performance weight while Windows and Direct X do a nice job of handicapping the high end PC.
I'm supporting Mantle to push the PC as a gaming platform even further and negate one of the advantages of a console over a PC. Hardly the actions of someone about to sell out! :-)
As far as consoles go Star Citizen will never be on the PS3 or Xbox 360. As for the next gen consoles, PS4 and Xbox One, we have NO CURRENT PLANS, but my stance remains open and is consistent with the many interviews I’ve given -
IF the platform holders (Sony & Microsoft) allow us to update the code and data without restrictions and odious time consuming QC procedures, IF they allow our community to openly interact with each other across platforms then I would CONSIDER supporting them.
Well because then they are essentially inexpensive small form factor PCs with a custom operating system focused on gaming and who wouldn't want a bigger community of Star Citizens? If Sony or Microsoft are willing to let their platform be open, then I see no real difference between them or Valve’s Steambox, a Mac or a PC running Linux, all of which are platforms that I don’t think this community would mind supporting as they are all viewed as “PCs”. In fact most Macs are probably much worse gaming machines than a next gen console (as Apple is the antithesis of what I love about PCs)
But this is a big IF as it’s asking a lot. To their credit Sony seems to be the most eager to embrace indie games and the idea of openness, and they chased us down to give us some dev kits to play with but we’ve been very clear on what it would take to get Star Citizen onto PS4.
And even then it would only be contemplated as a port from the PC, not the other way around plus we would require a financial commitment by Sony to make it happen. If some of the coolest features or peripherals don’t make it because the PS4 can’t handle it we would never gimp the PC version. This is no different than the issues you face in PC development – we could be like Blizzard or Riot and focus on a game that works on the widest array of PC hardware – but that’s not the spirit of Star Citizen. We are shooting for the stars both virtually and technology wise. For me this game is about pushing boundaries on all levels and is something that I hope is still breathing strong ten years from now. Instead of Crysis benchmarks when they test a new GPU I want to see Star Citizen!
One last thing to think about - normally developers "sell out" to a console platform (Bungie or Epic going XBox exclusive for instance) because the platform holder is funding the budget. Thanks to everyone that has backed Star Citizen we have no need to sell out to anyone! You've funded a AAA PC game that will compete with the biggest and best. By the time the game is officially "done", I'm pretty sure that the final funding will be larger than most AAA console games outside the very biggest like GTA or CoD - and our money goes much further as we don't have any corporate overhead or fancy marketing budgets. You have all proven there is at least as much demand for a high end PC game as most console games.
So fear not! The PC is the platform of Star Citizen. Anything else, if it happens at all, will just be after the fact.