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Games Entertainment

The Problems With Porting Games 330

mr_sifter writes "There's a large lexicon of monosyllabic, four-letter words for describing something you don't like — but only PC gamers use the word 'port' with such a fervent degree of repulsion. Common complaints about console ports include meager graphics options, dodgy third-person camera angles, poorly-thought-out controls and sparsely distributed save points. In this feature, Bit-tech talks to developers of games such as Dead Space, Red Faction and Tales of Monkey Island to find out why porting games between the three major consoles and the PC is so difficult. Radically different CPU, graphics and memory architectures play their part, as do the differences in control methods and the rules Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo set about how games should work on their systems."
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The Problems With Porting Games

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  • by Smidge207 ( 1278042 ) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @10:49AM (#29105723) Journal

    Since the vast majority of developers can achieve the vast majority of technical feats with enough time and effort. The problem is the fact time and effort costs money. The Guitar Hero 3 port was crap because no-one put any real money behind it, simply because chances are, no-one would buy it. That only makes sense.

    I understand a lot of what the devs are saying, but if I'm going to be really negative about this I couldn't help get an uneasy feeling reading about Dead Space. So, essentially he's saying "don't blame the consoles for the restrictive PC experience, blame us, we chose to make it restrictive!" Surely saying they designed it explicitly for consoles, so natrually it wouldn't work well on the PC, is the epitome of consolification? If I designed a game that only worked "as intended" on my Nokia 3210, and thus doesn't work well on anything else, claiming no-one can complain because it was originally designed for a phone is not an excuse. It's still just poor design choices.

  • Re:Obligatory (Score:1, Insightful)

    by narfman0 ( 979017 ) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @10:52AM (#29105763)
    Troll? Really?
  • Punchline: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @10:52AM (#29105775) Journal
    All the stuff about CPU architectures and rendering pipelines and things falls into the "Hard; but we have smart people who can do that, if EA gives them enough time" pile.

    Making an interface that actually works properly on both Mouse+keyboard and gamepad(never mind wii stick) falls into the "squaring the circle with world peace" pile.
  • by zaibazu ( 976612 ) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @11:03AM (#29105915)
    Having trouble making a good conversion from pad to keyboard is one thing, but not being able to remap the keys is just stupid.
  • by King_TJ ( 85913 ) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @11:14AM (#29106043) Journal

    "...only PC gamers use the word 'port' with such a fervent degree of repulsion"??

    How about Mac OS X users!!?

    Every time they give us a "port" these days, it's just someone repackaging the PC game code around the Cider engine, tweaking some of Cider's parameters until it appears to "basically run ok" and then they turn around and charge full retail price for it, AFTER it's been out at least 3 months for the PC already!

    Never-mind the PC version might ALREADY have just been ported from a console.....

  • Re:Punchline: (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @11:30AM (#29106261) Journal
    True enough, though they do seem entirely willing to take plenty of overtime from developers...
  • Re:Punchline: (Score:4, Insightful)

    by timster ( 32400 ) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @11:32AM (#29106283)

    I'm not sure whether to take this straight or as satire. Does the "performance crown" in PC games really mean the game that runs the slowest?

  • by Jurily ( 900488 ) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <yliruj>> on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @11:33AM (#29106303)

    Yes, it's really fucking hard to have redefinable keyboard layouts. I don't know much about console programming, but if there's an event loop capable of calling a buttonpressed routine, you have no excuse.

  • Re:Obligatory (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Lord Ender ( 156273 ) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @11:35AM (#29106317) Homepage

    The mouse is a superior controller for anything that involves aiming (FPS) or pointing (RTS). The PC can have superior graphics to any console (at the price of a $300 GPU). That said, PC gamers still aren't justified in claiming the overall superiority of their platform because certain types of controllers aren't really there for PC gaming yet.

    If one of the major game publishers (EA or Valve?) were to start selling Bluetooth-enabled motion sensor style controllers, and supporting them on multiple titles, we really could see PC gaming become superior to console gaming in all categories (except price, of course).

  • DX? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by msormune ( 808119 ) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @11:40AM (#29106379)
    How can DirectX games be hard to port between PC and XBox as they use DirectX for pretty much everything?
  • by Yvan256 ( 722131 ) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @11:52AM (#29106563) Homepage Journal

    All three consoles now have USB ports. Let us use a mouse and keyboard with games that are appropriate for this kind of setup (FPS, RTS, etc).

    You don't play MegaMan with a godamn keyboard and mouse and you don't play Starcraft with a godamn gamepad.

  • Re:Obligatory (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tenebrousedge ( 1226584 ) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (egdesuorbenet)> on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @12:43PM (#29107369)

    Boot time isn't an issue, just use linux! Moblin boots in less than ten seconds! You can go from zero to NetHack in less time than it takes to display the console game developer's logo.

    Yessir, you can have games on linux in any color you want, so long as it's black. Nethack, Falcon's Eye, Slash'em: It's a regular gamer's utopia!

  • Re:PORT to Linux!! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Desler ( 1608317 ) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @12:45PM (#29107387)

    It's not like linux doesn't run great on high end hardware or anything. So, don't worry about the poor little consoles for a moment and PORT to Linux!!

    Yeah, clearly Bungie was stupid for targeting Halo 3 for that crappy 360 and selling 8 million copies in 3 months when they could have gone straight for the Linux gaming market and have garnered 15 sales in a year.

  • Re:PORT to Linux!! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Desler ( 1608317 ) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @12:48PM (#29107463)
    It's not just the video stack that is a complete mess. The Linux audio stack is a huge pile of cruft and crap too. Combine that with the lack of any standardization between libraries on any one Linux distro and it's not hard to see why they would just a locked-down and stable console platform over the unstable ecosystem of Linux distros.
  • Re:Obligatory (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tepples ( 727027 ) <> on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @02:06PM (#29108817) Homepage Journal

    Other consumer electronics don't come with "special monitor manuals".

    Yes it does. The manual for a Wii explains how to connect it to a TV using any of several methods.

    If they machine has an HDMI port, you're set. Otherwise it's going to be a PAIN

    Which means that in most cases that one encounters, it will be a pain. Most PCs I see at Best Buy do not have HDMI ports, nor do any SDTVs.

    Some allow the native panel resolution, some allow some lesser 16:9 mode and some only allow 4:3.

    But even that is better than allowing only a blank screen because the PC is HD-only and the TV is SD-only.

  • Re:Obligatory (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Yosho ( 135835 ) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @02:24PM (#29109081)

    The measure of a good input device is how accurately it can transform what the user wants into what happens.

    So how would you feel about having a single button labelled "Shoot enemies" that, when pushed, shoots all of the enemies on the screen? It'll translate what you want into what happens much more accurately than a mouse will.

    On the other hand, when it comes to playing games, I'd say that the measure of a good input device is how fun it is to use when playing the game.

    I can say that when playing MP3 with the wiimote, it didn't feel quite as accurate as using my highly-tuned mouse skills to play Quake or Half-life -- but it was still accurate enough to make me feel like I was completely in control of the game, and it was a lot more fun than a traditional mouse/keyboard setup.

  • by Stupendoussteve ( 891822 ) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @02:43PM (#29109393)

    Final Fantasy XI on the 360 allows you to use a USB keyboard as a controller, to include full WASD movement and not just typing messages.

  • by twidarkling ( 1537077 ) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @04:09PM (#29110633)

    That was before the ESRB. Nintendo doesn't do that any more.

  • by KDR_11k ( 778916 ) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @04:11PM (#29110659)

    Hell, my C64 has the words "personal computer" printed on it.

  • by twidarkling ( 1537077 ) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @04:23PM (#29110851)

    Fuck, revisionists.

    It was "IBM-Compatible." Not "PC-Compatible." I never. Ever. EVER heard "PC-Compatible." Why? Because originally, Macintoshes, Amigas, Commodores, et al were also personal computers. However, they had different architecture. So, you needed to know what company's architecture was in mind when buying software. When people came out with clones, they identified what company's software they'd run. Saying "PC" wasn't useful, since that only meant "Not a Server/Mainframe."

  • Re:Obligatory (Score:2, Insightful)

    by markkezner ( 1209776 ) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @06:16PM (#29112203)
    Your combative blanket statements show that you're more interested in a pissing contest than a real discussion. You fit elrous0's stereotype so closely that I almost wonder if you're kidding.

"The eleventh commandment was `Thou Shalt Compute' or `Thou Shalt Not Compute' -- I forget which." -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982