Which Hardware Considerations Matter During Development?
Tom's Hardware: Even game developers trying simplify their business by focusing on a single operating system still struggle with supporting updates and different hardware specifications. For example, Android comes in several versions and supports an array of platforms including OMAP, Snapdragon, Tegra, and Exynos, with Intel and Huawei soon to follow. How do you cope with different hardware and software variables?
Fishlabs: The Android platform is characterized by a very high level of fragmentation. For us, this is particularly relevant because we have to make sure that the texture compression of our titles is always optimized for and adjusted to the capabilities of the devices in question. For the upcoming All Android version of Galaxy on Fire 2, for example, we had to create half a dozen individual texture sets in order to make sure that the game runs as smoothly as possible on each of the 700+ supported devices. If all goes as planned, the app will recognize the corresponding device’s GPU automatically and download the required texture assets during the installation process.
The CPU, on the other hand, does not yet play as important of a role for us because all our games are GPU-bound. That is to say the GPU limits our titles’ performances. So far, all Fishlabs games perform smoothly on single-core devices as well.
Madfinger: Thanks to our Unity 3D engine, different architectures and OS version do not need much consideration. We can pay more attention to the game itself, instead of the hardware. We focus on Tegra devices because Nvidia provides us with a great support. Moreover, all Tegra devices have similar specifications, so we use it as our main development platform right now.
Mediocre: We originally ported Sprinkle for the Tegra platform. After a couple of months, during which we had a chance to get a feel for the Android market, we decided to do a general port. We restricted ourselves to Android 2.3 and ARM v7 to simplify the development, and block-out devices that are not powerful enough to run the complex fluid simulation in Sprinkle.
We set up a beta program where anyone could apply, and we selected about 50 people with different devices to try the game and report issues. The whole process was smooth, and within a few weeks, Sprinkle was stable on most devices. Hardware manufacturers typically make it sound like their product is very different from the competition, while in reality they are all actually similar from a developer point of view.
Vector Unit: Our approach is to get a representative sampling of each platform in-house for testing, cover as many cases as we can, and then respond to specific issues raised by users when new devices come out.
Personally, I think any hardware like Tegra that supports DirectX textures is easiest to work with. PowerVR has many restrictions (like square textures for compression, as an example). But ultimately, they are all fairly similar.
Tom's Hardware: Current mobile benchmarks used to identify the best-performing platforms do not always utilize the latest 3D graphics technologies. How important is it to use the latest 3D capabilities to balance realism and performance in your games?
Fishlabs: Imagination Technology’s PowerVR is one of the best architectures on the market because its overall texture compression is very good. There are still minor issues with the processing of normal maps, but apart from that, the visual quality of PowerVR-encoded textures is among the best you’re going to find, especially in relation to the file size.
GPU-wise, Adreno and Mali are both quite powerful. The same is also valid for Tegra 2, which supports DXT texture compression that's well-suited for the creation of state-of-the-art visuals in PC or console quality. Let’s wait and see if Tegra 3 will be able to up the ante even further.
Madfinger: There is really no impetus to support the latest graphic techniques. Remember, there is always going to be a lag between standards and actual implementation. We know this from our experience on the desktop, but we have been able to find various different ways to render better graphics.
Mediocre: It is hard to say. However, generally, performance tends to depend more on screen resolution and the graphics driver to some extent, rather than which chip or technology being used. As a disclaimer, we haven't done any side-by-side benchmarks between all of the various SoCs.
Vector Unit: All of our games are somewhat high-end 3D games, and for us fill rate and GPU performance are usually the gating factors. We almost never have issues on the CPU side, even with dual-core or fast single-core devices. Quad-core is great, but what we are really looking for, going forward, is increases in GPU performance.
True that HD version is the way, but developers should not charge additional fees for it. Imagine if PC game developers implement this...you pay for the 1024x768 pix version, then when you upgrade your resolution to 1680x1050 pix, do you have to buy the game again?
Therefore, whichever platform you like I hope you can 'get' what you like. I do hope that all platforms can make it easier for the developers.
these mobile games are a joke...they are clearly made for the lowest common denominator of people (the stupid)
You two are exaggerating by way too much. Mobile gaming isn't for the stupid, not in the least. It's for people who want to game when they are mobile. Desktops are for a completely different market with different goals. Mobile gaming is not about matching PC gaming in quality, it's about cheap, affordable games that can be played when you are mobile. Of course they won't come close to desktop quality. Mobile games are not for the stupid, they are for the mobile. You two are just elitest pricks who don't recognize that your ways of life can't be sustained by everyone else and even if they could, not everyone wants to be like you. If I'm on a train for two hours a day to go between work in a city and my home in a cheaper suburb outside of the city, then wth am I supposed to do? PCs obviously aren't a viable choice here. However, I have my phone on me, so I can use it. Mobile gaming markets are pretty similar to the Game Boys and such, except the smart phones are both for gaming and many other uses.
Sure, mobile gaming can also be done at the house and such for people who want to do it. It is FAR more affordable than PC or console gaming is, so many more people can do it who would have otherwise been left without any good games at all. Furthermore, games obviously don't need tons of memory if they are written well. For example, the PS3 only has 256MB of GDDR3 VRAM and only 256MB of XDR system RAM and most modern smart phones have at least that much memory, if not even more. Smart phones have more than enough memory for mobile gaming.
Furthermore, smart phones are approaching the processing power of the PS3 and Xbox 360. Tablets have already matched them with the newest iPad (although I'd wait until a non-Apple tablet/smart phone had such power before buying something like this). Most people simply can't afford or can't justify spending hundreds to thousands of dollars to get high performance gaming systems and games for those systems, especially when they can get a far cheaper phone that is also needed for other things and get the games for less than $10 each (many are free). Sure, they aren't as high quality as some PC games, but it's not like most PC games we see today are nearly as good for the time as we have seen in the past. So many potentially good games have been dumbed down or were just made poorly.
Sure, we still have some good games, but most of them simply aren't anymore. Sometimes, I'd rather just play an older game nowadays just because they were simply better games, despite not having as much eye candy. Seriously now... Most people need a phone for a variety of reasons (be they convenience or through necessities such as jobs requiring phones and other important reasons). Most people don't really need a computer for anything except internet access. Sure, some people, such as developers, IT, and others need them for their jobs, but most people don't really need them and can do a lot of what needed a PC on a cheap laptop or even on a good smart phone. So, phones are obviously pretty much universally needed by the majority. You can just get a free or a cheap game, or a bunch of them, for the prices of a single PC/console game. They don't even need to be as good... At least smart phone games don't have DRM problems and such that PC games (and possibly console games soon enough) have.
Games are there to entertain, and to have fun. If I can have fun playing World of Goo on my android phone while running errands with my wife, or play Machinarium on my Playbook while flying to my destination, then at is gaming at it's essence. Honestly the Wii was probably the best and worst thing to happen to gaming. Obviously it brought out alot of shovelware (that otherwise would have targeted another console) but it also showed the world that people don't need serious games, we need fun games. Not everyone wants to compete all the time, they just want something to pass the time, to tell a story.
There's room in the market for all game types. Hell, I even backed Takedown since I do enjoy a "serious" game occasionally. But claiming that people will stop playing tablet games "once they see what a PC can do" is ignorant. I'm well aware of what a PC can do, and will continue to play games on all my devices, when convenient. I don't need great graphics to have fun, just remember that video games started out with a dot and 2 lines.
You can always tell when someone is out of logical, focused arguements. They start calling names. "Elitist prick"? What do I care how you spend your 2 hour commute? Next you'll be telling me it's OK to game and drive. Something tells me you're an itard.
What was more interesting is the way they completely avoided talking about anything related to x86. Can't be sure why but i think they've not got much experience at all with the arch.