Naughty Dog says no new engine for next gen PS4? I’m concerned, are you?
(Singing) No new engine, No new engine, No new engine, No No New…still using the same engine from day one… Excuse me while I remix DJ Khaled’s “No New Friends”.
Just poking fun, but on a serious note this piece was set to be written awhile ago. I drew some real concern right around the time when I first read the news of Naughty Dog choosing not to upgrade their engine for the next generation console of games on the PlayStation 4. Here’s why.
Now don’t get me wrong if there was ever a engine not to upgrade for next gen ND’s probably would be it. It was the most technologically advanced of all this current gaming generation, so I could see the confidence they would have to just port it over. The engine they used in this generation ranked among the best if not thee best but that’s for the current. I want a future engine built for future games.
I remember awhile ago when Uncharted 3 was in development and how somebody from the ND team (might’ve been Co-President Evan Wells) was talking about how the game was just a modified version of the Uncharted 2 engine, so although slightly better we as gamers were not going to see the “jump” we saw from the first Uncharted to Uncharted 2.
Also touching on how they made a mistake building two new engines from the ground up in one generation…well, ground up on the first Uncharted and a touch up on every single aspect of the already built engine for Uncharted 2, which essentially felt like building an engine from the ground up. Further reiterated by Bruce Straley, Game Director (The Last of Us) via Digital Spy “We learned a big lesson coming from PS2 to PS3,” he was quoted.
ND hoped to never do that again, mentioning something to the effect of the goal being to build a brand new engine once a generation and then tweak it to optimization on future projects. Well guess what? this qualifies as a new generation Naughty! Where’s the brand new engine you promised?
Funny enough I spent a whole article talking about “Top 5 video game engines that need to be overhauled” ND was not one of them. In strange irony though the biggest gripe I had in that piece was developers carrying over old engines into a new generation, thus not maximizing a new hardware’s potential. I think the Uncharted series shined because it was new hardware and a new engine being married together not to mention a new IP — the perfect combo; it had no prior engine to piggyback off of to potentially shortchange the power of the PS3.
What seemingly backs up this theory is a quote from Thomas Puha, director of developer relations at Umbra which offers world creation solutions for games like The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Destiny and other titles. Via Gamingbolt:
“Really, the more memory we have, the better. It’s as simple as that. Right now, as most developers are porting their current systems and engines to next-generation platforms, the engine pipelines cannot even take advantage of the PS4’s 8 gigs of super-fast RAM as we simply cannot push data fast enough into memory right now.
“So really at this point, everybody’s just really taking advantage of the memory to make life easier on making the first next-gen games, and then a few years down the the line you will see really memory, CPU optimized games just as in this generation. Right now on PS3 and Xbox 360 Umbra 3 data for a level can be between a 1-3 megabytes and on current gen every byte of memory counts….
I’m no expert but it seems like he’s saying that just porting over a engine from current generation — which most devs are doing is not good enough to maximize PS4’s memory or overall power. Which means until devs really feel the need to upgrade the jump in this generation is going to be slight, and we may have to wait a few years until we’re blown away when really, we could’ve been blown away out the gate if everyone built their engines from the ground up from the very beginning.
Will ND’s current engine even hold up in 2-3-years? We don’t even know when Naughty’s next game will be, it might already be 2-3 years into the generation before we see a game from them, by then it may really show signs of a aging engine. At a time, mind you when we as gamers typically start to see the true power of a console.
And all this modify talk ND is throwing out doesn’t console me. New on New is always better than Old on New. I liken it to 1080p being upscaled, although good I would rather much play in “true” 1080p.
Think about it, would Uncharted 2, 3 or even the The Last of Us look how it looked and play how it played if they didn’t build the engine from scratch? Now who really knows the damaging effects one can have by not building a brand new engine specifically for brand new tech; Madden, WWE games, Resident Evil maybe?
Now again I’m no tech savant but it could be argued that if ND didn’t go through what they went through — building a brand new engine that would eventually become Uncharted that the successors, Uncharted 2 and 3 or even the The Last of Us wouldn’t have turned out the way they did.
But I trust ND, at least I want to. With their track record they’ve earned that and I don’t think they’re willing to “dirty” their brand so I hope they get this right and keep the gold standard that we’re used to seeing.
Are you concerned that Naughty Dog is taken a current gen engine and bringing it into next gen? CCU wants to hear from you.