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Talking About CPU And GPU Architectures

Q&A With Magicka Developer, Arrowhead Game Studios
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Staying in tune with the hardware topic, we moved on to talk about CPUs, GPUs, and APIs. Given that today’s CPU architectures are pushing parallelism above all else, games typically haven’t taken advantage of multiple cores. I asked if Arrowhead's upcoming titles will do more in this regard. And, if so, where is the most benefit seen? If not, then why?

"We definitely think that parallel computing is the way to go," Stenmark says. "PS3 goes beyond the current gamer PC with the Cell processor and pushes developers to use parallel computation models. What effects this will have on a game is hard to say; this really depends on the type of game. In an FPS, it might be used for more realistic physics, while an RTS might use it for dynamic vegetation. There is no limit really, it all depends on what the game's focus is."

And what of GPU architectures?

"General-purpose programming on GPUs has gained tremendous ground the past few years, and for good reasons," Stenmark said. "There are great ways to compute complex particle systems, cloth, etc. on the GPU, though there are problems with computation that needs to send data back to the game code due to the latency between the GPU and CPU. Another problem is the rapid development of GPUs; games are expected to run on as many as five different generations of shader models, so the new features of the latest generation can’t be used for something that is important for the gameplay."

Looking at games and hardware from a bigger picture, which leads the way: the software or the GPU technology? To that question, Stanmark couldn't say for sure, as on the one hand, there are games that abuse hardware, and on the other, popular titles are expected to run on a wide range of hardware. "With enough time and people, it is possible to achieve both, but smaller developers may never be able to use the newest and fastest hardware to its full potential," he mentions, backing up previous comments about larger studios having the time and money to develop for a wider range of hardware.

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  • 0 Hide
    vexun11 , May 4, 2011 5:59 AM
    This is a fun game, worth the $ for sure
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    belltollsforthee , May 4, 2011 6:16 AM
    Great game, love the comedy and elemental spells
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    Ragnar-Kon , May 4, 2011 8:02 AM
    Great game, that is for sure. Arguably the best $10 I've spent in my life.

    Also a great article, particularly regarding DirectX/OpenGL and APIs. I remember reading an article a while back talking about removing the API and coding on the hardware directly. Having done some DirectX/OpenGL work myself, the first thing that came to mind for me was "wooah, thats gonna take forever." Glad someone else on this planet agrees with me. Just not feasible for smaller studios.

    Although he does seem to be a fan of DirectX, which I am not. Not only do I think OpenGL is easier to code with, using OpenGL could easily open up a whole new market for games, especially with the ever-increasing Mac popularity (not to mention make our Linux friends happy).
  • 0 Hide
    jrnyfan , May 4, 2011 10:08 AM
    This is one of my top 5 games I currently play, it's worth ~$20 but the fact that it is ~$10 makes it amazing. I haven't had this much fun in multiplayer since Goldeneye64...
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    cknobman , May 4, 2011 1:20 PM
    I just picked up Torchlight off of Steam and am currently having a blast. Magicka looks very appealing, especially for $10, but reading reviews it seems as though the game is very very buggy and unpolished. As the game was released 4 months ago can anyone comment on the state of the game now? Have any of the bugs been fixed or is it something you just have to live with?
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    Anonymous , May 4, 2011 2:03 PM
    Bought this game on Steam a couple of weeks ago. It's fun, but be aware that multiplayer may not be on the standard that you're used to. It's very much P2P hosting, which comes with its usual problems of having the right ports open/forwarded. The hosting machine has the save file, so if the person who's been hosting isn't available, the rest of you will have to start anew. Dedicated server software is something that would be pretty desirable here.
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    teaser , May 4, 2011 2:20 PM
    cknobmanI just picked up Torchlight off of Steam and am currently having a blast. Magicka looks very appealing, especially for $10, but reading reviews it seems as though the game is very very buggy and unpolished. As the game was released 4 months ago can anyone comment on the state of the game now? Have any of the bugs been fixed or is it something you just have to live with?

    So far ....21 updates since january,the game is in a much better state then it was on release day........
  • 0 Hide
    sirmorluk , May 4, 2011 2:33 PM
    Best $10 I have ever spent. My 6 year old spends hours on it and has completed it a couple of times along with the Nam challenge. Me? Well I suck at it.
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    Camikazi , May 4, 2011 3:20 PM
    sirmorlukBest $10 I have ever spent. My 6 year old spends hours on it and has completed it a couple of times along with the Nam challenge. Me? Well I suck at it.

    QRSAER as weapon enchantment or as AE spell is very helpful :)  and FQFQAAS for a beam :) 
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    Gman450 , May 4, 2011 3:24 PM
    Magicka is a great game. Really nice.
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    Trialsking , May 4, 2011 5:57 PM
    Its definitely a fun game. But it is alittle short. But its is only $10
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    ikefu , May 4, 2011 7:34 PM
    Hmmm, I think reading this article may have just cost me $10...
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    Niva , May 4, 2011 8:06 PM
    Really enjoyed this game, been meaning to pick up Vietnam. I never got all the spells my first time through the game though.

    I also never played multiplayer... hmmm, weekend project coming up, figure out how to play with my friends on that :) 
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    belltollsforthee , May 4, 2011 9:25 PM
    cknobman Have any of the bugs been fixed or is it something you just have to live with?


    @cknobmna
    I can only speak for my system,i52500k cpu, 6950, asus mobo. The game is great and no bugs that i have noticed, i just bought it 2 weeks ago, its great!
  • 0 Hide
    cmartin011 , May 4, 2011 10:07 PM
    this looks very promising to be a good short came this article just cost me 12.99 for the whole pack lol :-)
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    philipjacobs , May 4, 2011 11:52 PM
    qfqfsaa
    qrqrqrqr(s)"or"(a)
    qfassss

    Veitnam is awesome!
    Seriously though, I'm sick of zombie games, how about an aliens and predator mode?? Similar to Alien Swarm???
  • 0 Hide
    Camikazi , May 5, 2011 3:00 AM
    ikefuHmmm, I think reading this article may have just cost me $10...

    I lucked out, friend told me about it few weeks ago when the game and all it's expansions (minus the new Marsh one) were on sale for $5 :) 
  • 0 Hide
    Morton , May 8, 2011 12:07 AM
    Arrowhead Game Studios could make a fun remake of Cannon Fodder.
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    Anonymous , May 13, 2011 9:22 AM
    I see your angle, but IMHO this article misses the point of the game, which is hardly anything grafix related (1997 much?).
    In some respects this game is truly space age. I don't play it but if you watch the collabs on Ytube you get the social addictiveness shooting through the roof. It's very simple design and concept shine in an environment which is still mainly dominated by old age games, namely single player campaigns.